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When Being Stubborn is a Flaw

Being stubborn is a flaw when it is harmful to others or to us. Recently I wrote about how stubbornness is a strength; and it is. However, I’ve worked with countless retirees who are stubborn to their own detriment.

Typically this shows up around unhealthy personal habits. These include isolating oneself socially, smoking, eating poorly, drinking too much, refusing to ask for help, hoarding and more.

These behaviors may be manageable when you are in your 50’s and 60’s. However, as you age, the habits will GREATLY diminish your ability to remain independent. They will also be harder to change.

How Being Stubborn Affects Relationships

If you ever get to the point where you stubborn defend an unhealthy behavior, you will likely butt heads with at least one person who really cares about you. You might find yourself in solitary confinement with behaviors that are slowly incapacitating you

A more severe viewpoint is that you are slowly killing yourself.

Holding onto an unfortunate habit over taking care of yourself not only drives a wedge between you and yourself but you and others. So not only do you make a choice to harm yourself, you leave a legacy of sadness and guilt.

When your loved ones try to convince you to change your habits and you don’t, they are left feeling like they did not do enough. They watch a train wreck in slow motion and it’s extremely painful.

Stubbornness can also be a way that retirees strain relationships. Holding onto viewpoints or treating others in a way they do not like drives people away from us. This can strain the very relationships that we need most as we age.

Sidestepping Stubbornness

Do you know you’re stubborn? Do others complain about it? If so, then you have to find ways to be kinder to yourself. Leaving a legacy of at least attempting to care for your own health and well-being is a demonstration of love for your family and friends. Not just yourself.

Asking for help from a trained therapist can be a good way to address your behavior. A therapist a neutral party so their approach is often taken less personally. If fitness is a concern, hiring a trainer or dietician could prove to be helpful.

People often say they don’t have the money to hire a professional. These are the same people who would have no problem paying for prescription pills or a hospital stay. Consider that if you paid a professional to help you to be healthier, you wouldn’t need to pay for those pills or a medical specialist.

If you find yourself digging into a stubborn viewpoint, try stepping back or to the side and seeing things a different way. You may be able to find a way to make room for a different opinion or habit. At the very least, you could see that messages from family and friends are laced with love and care. It’s a much healthier piece of real estate to stand on!

Want more tips, download a cheat sheet: Stubbornness Cheat Sheet

Stubbornness is a Strength

Stubbornness is a strength though it is typically perceived as a negative character trait. It is synonymous with obstinacy, bullheadedness, and inflexibility. Other synonyms: Persistent. Determined.

I’ve met many retired individuals who have been labeled as stubborn. Family, friends, and health professionals see the characteristic as toxic and difficult to work with.

This perception creates an adversarial relationship. The narrative is anchored around others being right and the retired person being wrong, frustrating, stupid, etc.

Health problems tend to exacerbate others desire to make an older person do what they want. Which in turn makes a stubborn person dig in. However, health problems do force us to evaluate what we can do to be healthier. We have to consider serious behavioral changes to their diet or lifestyle.

Stubbornness is the SAME character trait that can help us establish better health habits or keep them at bay. It’s what keeps you away from sugar. Makes you determined to stay independent. Gets you to work out consistently. Keeps you loyal to whatever it is that you REALLY want in your own life.

Stubbornness in Your Goals

The first person I’ve ever met who is truly stubborn is myself. Maybe that’s why I see stubbornness as a strength. I look at history and see those who are most successful in life STUCK to their goals.

In my career, I have seen countless retired individuals use stubbornness to their advantage. They’ve become visually impaired and learn to use the computer to communicate with their loved ones. They are told they won’t walk again after a stroke and they get up out of that wheelchair. They get a Parkinson’s diagnosis and start religiously attending yoga classes. One day, they pop up into wheel pose, despite their body shaking with tremors.

I just love it when I observe someone being stubborn. Agefully was started in part because I saw how things like stubbornness can be a strength where others saw it as a liability. I wanted to celebrate the independence that older people are able to maintain in their life through a determination and commitment to their goals.

We can only do this through a strong will. One that creates healthy goals and STICKS to them!

I’m going to do my part by willfully growing this business. I am going to be ridiculously stubborn in my pursuit to support you in your retirement transition. Being stubborn is such a big part of who I am. I embrace it in myself and encourage you to do the same!

Want a cheat sheet on the helpful and hurtful aspects of being stubborn in Retirement? Stubbornness Cheat Sheet

From doing to being…

Since February, my husband and I have been planning to leave Chicago. He was hired at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Virginia so we made plans to make it happen. We had wanted to get out of Chicago to find something more affordable with a good quality of life. Affordability, community, meaningful work…the American dream?

I paused my entrepreneurial pursuits, packed and planned. At the end of May, I made my way to the beautiful New River Valley!

From the beginning of April through the end of June, I spent most of the day, packing/unpacking, saying hello/goodbye, getting rid of things and find a new place, learning about a new city…then things kind of dropped off. Being in a college town, there were no students, not a lot of activity. It was hot and quiet.

I went from doing to being…well. But not right away.

How to get there

Being is not sitting there doing nothing. It is a state of mind. Accepting your current circumstance and putting emotion and energy behind your activity.

It took me a while to go into a state of being. Mostly I was anxious to get something started. So I did every project around our new place. Started looking for activities to get involved in so I could learn about the area and meet people. I was rushing around.

Many people enter into retirement in this way. They begin with all the home repairs and projects they had been putting off.

It started to make me irritated when things didn’t go my way or go as quickly as I would have liked. Almost like I wanted my newly planted plants to go from seed to fruition- immediately! Eventually, I realized it would be best to let things unfold as they may. Do what I can each day and moment.

A state of being is not rushing through one thing to get to the next and the next and the next. It is not feeling the pressure to get through one thing quickly because if not then you will not be able to do the next planned thing and then feel overwhelmed by all that you need to do.

Doing might be deciding to clean the whole house and making a list of all the detailed things that will move you toward this goal.

Being might look like setting two hours aside on a certain day to do some cleaning, looking at what might be the highest priorities. Then enjoyably get a few of them done.

I am going to explore with you ways to move from doing to being. I am enjoying the process of learning how best to support you in your retirement transition. This .PDF download gives some more tips on how best to stay in the moment: Click here to download

Connecting over Difficult Conversations

When an older parent or grandparent is doing or not doing something that concerns us, we want to talk to them about it. The difficulty lies in being respectful to their right to self-determination, while still feeling like you are helping them to be or remain independent. For example, one of your parents isn’t getting involved in anything and staying home all the time. What you want is for them to join a group or spend time with friends more regularly.

If you push them to do so, they may only resist. A way to remain respectful and still nudge them in that direction is to take the following steps. First, find something that you think might be a good fit for them. If they like playing cards find a regular game at a nearby senior or community center.

Get a flyer for the activity or link to it in an email. When you first present it to them, mention it briefly through email or in person. Then don’t talk about it again. Wait a week or two and then bring it up again. Ask them if they read about it and what they thought. Let them do all the talking and then let it go.

Wait a week and then bring it up again. This time be a little more persistent by highlighting all the reasons that you think this is a good idea. Encourage them to have more of a conversation about it, pushing slightly more than you had previously.

This tactic can be used with any topic that an older person might not want to discuss. Things like letting go of driving, moving to an assisted living, using an assistive device, taking better care of themself, etc. It’s very difficult to deal with the resentment, stubbornness, or even anger that an older person may express when these conversations are presented.

If you focus on taking your time, allowing them space and time to reflect on the issue, and how much you care about them, you will probably end up with a better result. This could be that you discover the reason behind their resistance, become closer to them in the process, and share how deeply connected you feel to them.

You may be able to convince them to do what you think is right or find another solution that is more amenable to them and to you. Either way, you did your best to find a way to support them and to understand them, essential ingredients for connection.

Yoga Pose for Caregivers – Shower on the Wall

The first pose is called ‘Shower on the Wall.’ The reason for the name is that you can actually do this in the shower. It helps to open up the shoulders and neck. Below is a video that demonstrates the pose with variations for those with very tight shoulders, who become dizzy in the pose, or have balance problems.

Watch the video or follow the instructions shown below the video:

  1. Breathe deeply (If you are not familiar with Ujjayi breath, take a look at this video)
  2. Place hands on a wall at the height of your shoulders
  3. Press your hands firmly into the wall, straighten them, and sink your chest toward the floor
  4. Continue to press hands into the wall, sink the chest and let the neck go completely so that the head is hanging
  5. Turn the elbow creases up to the ceiling while squeezing the elbows toward each other
  6. Keep reaching the hips back as the shoulders open
  7. Stay in the pose for as long as it feels good, breathing deeply the entire time while pressing into the wall and sinking chest with a relaxed neck