You know that friend or family member who’s never satisfied with life? You’re patient with him for awhile until you realize your work is fruitless. He must make his own choice to change. It’s not up to you.
I used to be a grumpy person. My bad attitude could partially be attributed to the hormonal teenage years, coupled with some minor depression and anxiety. However, those were really just excuses to be rude. At the time, I didn’t think it was possible to be a pleasant person while struggling with depression, anxiety and hormonal instability.
Grumpiness seeps into identity. I thought that changing my mood would make me a hypocrite. Everyone knew me as a quiet and unhappy person. Changing my personality would be like admitting I was wrong to live a gloomy life for so many years. Instead of fighting my emotions, I convinced myself that it wasn’t me who needed to change, but everyone else. I wasn’t the problem. They were.
My experience with grumpiness wasn’t unique. More and more often, people in the 21st century find excuses for being unkind and cold to others. Our society prizes independence. We rid ourselves of relationships to the point of self-destruction.
Humans need relationships. Even introverts and shy people need stable, loving connections with other people. Healthy relationships only function on two-way roads. You have to give just as much — if not more — than you take.
The problem with grumpiness? It’s self-perpetuating. If you allow the cycle to run it’s course, it will continue to add to the destruction and make it even harder to resurface from the depression and anger.
6 Steps to Recovering From Chronic Grumpiness
1. Understand the Cause
Unfortunate life circumstances. A bad childhood. Physical or mental illness. Unhealthy lifestyle choices. Hormones. Friends with a negative influence. Pessimism. Poisonous living situations. Harmful relationships. Lack of faith or belief in something greater than yourself. Anger. Bitterness. Pride. Envy. Jealousy. Hatred. Apathy. These are just some of the possible contributors to grumpiness.
Get to know yourself. Track your emotions, habits and choices. Look for patterns. Know how the people in your life affect your moods and feelings. Be aware of how people react to your comments and behaviors.
2. Be Honest With Yourself
It’s okay to not be perfect. Nobody is. It can take awhile to admit that you need an attitude adjustment.
It’s not okay to be mean. Grumpy people are not productive contributors to society. They hurt, offend and destroy true beauty.
If you’re worried that changing your grumpiness will hurt your ego, that’s a clue that self-improvement is necessary. Sorry to be blunt, but you need to get over yourself.
Yeah, it sucks to look back at your life and recognize the horrible things you’ve done or said or left undone. However, assessing your life (mistakes included) is a necessary step to finding areas that need improvement.
3. Breakup With Apathy
Oddly enough, apathy can be a wonderful feeling at first. It’s powerful and addictive. Hardship can’t hurt you when you just don’t care about anything. Some people embrace indifference and turn it into a lifestyle. Most grumpy people I’ve encountered have an apathetic thread running through their lives. They treat people like crap because they don’t care what effect of their actions have.
Adopting an uncaring attitude makes for a very lonely and depressive life. There’s a reason people don’t befriend statues. Relationships are built on shared emotional experiences.
Apathy levels out all the emotional peaks and valleys. It turns life into a dull monotone. That’s why many apathetic folks turn into grumps—they’re mean to stir up some kind of emotion, even if it’s not a pleasant one.
An article in Psychology Today gave an overview of the sources and solutions to apathy. Dr. Leon Seltzer said, “If there’s an overarching cause for apathy, it’s probably pessimism about your future. And that self-defeating attitude could derive either from early childhood programming, which led you to believe that no matter how conscientiously you applied yourself, you still couldn’t succeed—or, more commonly, a series of events in your present life that left you feeling you simply couldn’t win for losing.”
The Key Solution: Overcoming apathy requires an unrelenting internal warfare. You need to tackle the internal problems that are causing your indifference. Your mind might tell you the fight against apathy is futile—that you’re inherently broken or incapable of success.
Don’t listen to those thoughts. They’re self-destructive and you can overcome your present emotional hardships.
You are capable of getting better. You are capable of success and adding beauty and value to this world. You are not inherently broken or incapable of love. But you do need to hunker down and give your apathetic mind the fight of it’s life.
I’d recommend reading Dr. Seltzer’s step-by-step solutions outlined in his article.
3. Practice Humility
Grumpiness is a form of selfishness. When you choose to be rude or short with someone, you’re asserting superiority and dominance.
I’ve already said this, but you really have to choose to not be grumpy. Once you make that decision, you need to humble yourself. When you’re in a dispute, let the other person win. Let them be better than you. If the options are to (1) win by being a jerk or (2) lose and save the relationship, always pick the second option. What’s the point of always winning when it costs connection with people who are trying to care about you? After all, not everyone in the world is going to like you. Don’t sacrifice the few wonderful people who’ve decided to love you.
After several grumpy years, I had to rebuild the relationships I had damaged. I had to relearn how to be kind. I used to despise people who asked “stupid questions”. If I’d already told them the answer, or if the answer was “common sense” and easy to figure out, I would get angry and give short unhelpful replies. As part of my journey to be less grumpy, I would resist the urge to let my pride flare up in those situations. When I felt better than someone else, I’d quickly focus on all the great things they have to offer. When someone asked one of those “stupid questions,” I would give thoughtful replies and remind myself how silly it would be to get angry about a simple question.
Take note of things that hurt your pride. Then do everything in your power obliterate your swollen ego by diving headfirst into those areas. When pride controls you life, a large dose of humilty is the only dependable cure.
4. Positive Body Language
This sounds silly, but I had to practice smiling again. When I was in my lowest moments of depression, my resting face was droopy and unhappy. Eventually, my facial muscles weren’t strong enough to regularly emote positive expressions.
I did a “facial workout” every day for a few weeks, which made happy expressions more natural and regular. I would practice smiling with my mouth and my eyes while doing independent things like reading a book or biking on country roads.
Added Benefits: When you smile, your body releases dopamine, which makes you feel happier. There are many positive side effects of smiling. When I feel my mood going south, I’ll smile just to get back on track.
Non-verbal communication impacts how people interact with you. If you look happy when someone approaches you, it’s more likely that they’ll be nicer to you. If you look grumpy, they will probably be on-guard and distanced.
There are many online resources about positive body language. Here are a few to start:
- 12 Body Language Tips For Career Success
- 18 Ways to Send the Right Message With Body Language
- 18 Ways to Improve Your Body Language
5. Get Help
Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it! Ask a trusted friend or family member to keep you accountable to a more positive lifestyle. Going to see a therapist or counselor can also be a great way to understanding the causes of your negative moods.
Let’s get past this taboo: Asking for help when you need it isn’t a sign of weakness or brokenness. It’s a sign of healthy decision making and bravery.
6. Forgive Yourself
Self-forgiveness can take a long time when recovering from a chronic bad attitude. If you want to live a more positive life, accepting your past is a necessary step. It’s okay to mess up a few times on the road to recovery. Changing your outlook on life requires time, sacrifice and motivation. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself grace when you come up short.
You have to like yourself before you can truly like other people. Nobody is worthless. Everybody can add value and meaning to this world if they choose to.
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