People who become more rigid and inflexible as they get older often exhibit these 8 behaviors (without realizing it)

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Getting older can be a tricky business, right?

Sure, there’s wisdom and the satisfaction of accumulated experiences. But I’ve also seen a strange trend in myself and others as we age.

We seem to lose our flexibility, our adaptability, and not just physically. We become more set in our ways, more rigid in our thinking, and often without even realizing it.

This isn’t to say it happens to everyone or that it’s a bad thing necessarily. It’s just an observation that’s been nagging at me for a while now.

I’ve pinpointed 8 behaviors that often signal this shift towards inflexibility in older age. And before you raise your eyebrows, just hear me out. You might find yourself nodding along more than you’d expect.

1) A growing intolerance for change

Ever noticed how some older folks tend to struggle with change?

It could be something as trivial as a new coffee shop opening in place of their old favorite, or something more significant like technological advancement.

Any sort of change starts to feel like a personal affront, and they resist it with all their might.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here. It’s perfectly okay to have preferences and stick to them. But when it reaches a point where any deviation from the norm becomes a source of stress or irritation, that’s when it becomes a problem.

The world is constantly evolving, and our ability to adapt is essential for our growth, no matter what our age. If you find yourself increasingly resistant to change, you might be sliding into inflexibility without even realizing it.

2) My personal struggle with new perspectives

Recently, I discovered something about myself that was quite surprising.

I’ve always considered myself open-minded. I love learning new things and hearing different points of view. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed a strange pattern.

When presented with a new perspective, especially one that challenges my existing beliefs, my first instinct isn’t curiosity or intrigue like it used to be. Instead, it’s skepticism, even defensiveness.

I find myself dismissing these novel viewpoints before even giving them a fair chance. It’s as if my mind has built up this fortress of beliefs over the years and is unwilling to let anything penetrate it.

This bias towards my own perspective didn’t sit well with me. After all, isn’t the whole point of communication and interaction to learn from each other? To grow?

I realized then that this was another sign of rigidity creeping in, another wall I needed to consciously work on tearing down.

3) My resistance to adopting new technologies

I remember the day my daughter presented me with a smartphone.

She was all excited, showing me all the features, explaining how it would make my life easier. But all I could feel was overwhelmed.

I’ve always been fine with my old flip phone. It made calls, it sent texts – what more did I need? This new gadget just seemed like an unnecessary complication.

But the truth is, it wasn’t just the smartphone. It was the smart TV, the iPad, even the new car with its myriad of buttons and screens. All these advances that were supposed to make life better just seemed to make it more complicated.

It took me a while to realize that this resistance was not about the technology itself. It was about change – my unwillingness to step out of my comfort zone, to learn something new.

This resistance to new technologies, I discovered, is another behavior that can signal growing rigidity as we age.

4) The tendency to stick with the same routine

Humans are creatures of habit. We find comfort in routine, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But here’s something I noticed. As we get older, our routines tend to become more rigid. We wake up at the same time, eat the same breakfast, go about our day in pretty much the same way.

Now, routine can be good. It provides a sense of structure and stability. But when it becomes so rigid that the thought of breaking it causes anxiety, it can be a sign of inflexibility.

So if you find yourself getting overly anxious about changes in your daily routine, it might be worth examining whether rigidity is creeping into other areas of your life as well.

5) An increasing dependence on certainty

I’ve always been a planner. I like to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen. But over the years, I’ve noticed that this need for certainty has escalated.

I’ve found myself getting more and more uneasy with uncertainty. Unplanned events or spontaneous decisions, things I used to enjoy, started to cause me stress.

And it’s not just me. I’ve seen this pattern in many of my peers too. As we grow older, we seem to yearn for more predictability in our lives. We want to know exactly what’s coming so we can be prepared.

While it’s good to be prepared, life is inherently unpredictable. This increasing dependence on certainty can often make us rigid and inflexible, unable to adapt when life throws a curveball our way.

It’s a subtle shift, but if you find yourself craving certainty more than embracing the uncertainty of life, you might be becoming more rigid as you age.

6) A diminishing willingness to take risks

Growing up, I used to be quite the daredevil. I loved trying new things, whether it was a new sport, a new dish, or a new destination. There was something thrilling about stepping into the unknown.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed a shift. The unknown doesn’t thrill me anymore. It scares me. I’ve become more cautious, more wary. The risks that once excited me now seem unnecessary and unwise.

And it’s not just physical risks. It’s emotional risks too. Opening up to new people, venturing into new relationships, exploring new ideas – it all feels like too much.

This reluctance to take risks is another behavior that can signal growing rigidity as we age. It’s a natural response to the vulnerabilities that come with age, but it can also hold us back from new experiences and growth.

So if you find yourself shying away from risks more than you used to, it might be a sign of increasing inflexibility in your life.

7) Shrinking social circles

I remember my younger years, filled with countless friends from various walks of life. There was always someone new to meet, some new connection to make.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed my social circle shrinking. I’ve become more selective in who I spend time with, preferring the company of a few close friends over large social gatherings.

On one hand, it’s a natural progression. We tend to value deeper connections as we age, and that’s a good thing. But on the flip side, this shrinking of social circles can also be a sign of growing inflexibility.

Why? Because when we limit our interactions, we limit our exposure to different perspectives and experiences. We create a comfortable bubble for ourselves that reinforces our existing beliefs and behaviors.

So if you notice your social circle shrinking and your interactions becoming more homogenous, it might be an indication of increasing rigidity in your life.

8) A reluctance to self-reflect and self-improve

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years is the importance of self-reflection and self-improvement. No matter how old we get, there’s always room to grow, to learn, to change.

But I’ve observed a certain reluctance in myself and others as we age. We become more set in our ways, more resistant to feedback. It’s as if we’ve decided that we’ve done enough growing, enough changing.

This reluctance to self-reflect and self-improve can be a clear sign of rigidity. It’s a subtle indication that we’re no longer as open to growth and change as we once were.

So if you find yourself dismissing feedback more often or avoiding introspection, it might be a sign that rigidity is creeping into your life.

Embracing flexibility

If you see yourself in these behaviors, don’t fret. The realization itself is a significant step towards change.

Just because we’re growing older doesn’t mean we’re destined to become rigid and inflexible. We can challenge this trend, remain adaptable, and continue to grow, no matter our age.

Make a conscious effort to expose yourself to new experiences, perspectives, and ideas. Take risks, however small. Embrace change, instead of resisting it.

Catch yourself when you’re falling into old patterns of rigidity. Question it. Challenge it. Change it.

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Hack Spirit! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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