How to Stop Being a Grumpy Old Man: 3 Steps to Overcome

July 9, 2024

First of all, let’s define grumpy.

You are grumpy if you are a drag to be around. There may not even be many left who want to be around you. You complain, you judge, you whine, and you find the cloud inside every silver lining. You have resigned yourself to being the curmudgeon you are. You ignore the many signs and people in your life suggesting that you are due for a tune-up…or total rebuild. You have resisted all suggestions around self-help and self-awareness because you have grown comfortable with your bitterness and selfishness. 

If you’re in a marriage, your wife has probably tried numerous times to encourage you to change. She feels like a failure because she has failed to get through to you due to your fear of acknowledging your issues and asking for some help. Sex in your relationship is likely a distant memory. Your relationships with your kids are not even close to what you or they would like them to be. “Leave me alone,” might be your mantra.

For the purposes of this discussion, old can be just about any age.

If you are in your 50s or 60s, you probably look older than your years for all of the energy you have put into being miserable. If you are in your 30s or 40s, you are a grumpy old man in training, and the first two paragraphs here should scare the shit out of you. This is the road you are on if you do not start paying attention. Old is beautiful. Old and grumpy is sad and avoidable.

So, what is an old grump to do?

Time should have shown you by now that you cannot make the changes necessary on your own. And that does not make you unique. All men can benefit from help in all areas throughout their lives. But there have been experiences in your early life that have negatively impacted you. And because no one was around to help you through those times, or at least someone you trusted, you never healed properly from those traumatic events. Rather, emotional scar tissue developed that led to a coping mechanism designed to ensure that you would never experience those same painful situations again. Essentially, to protect your heart, you closed it. And now, you are more alone than you ever intended and certainly more alone than is healthy for you.

As a men’s life coach, these are, oftentimes, the kind of men I work with. They are lost with little hope of being found again. After so many years, it is hard for these guys to even imagine having what they have not had, feeling what they have longed to feel, or being who they once hoped to be. My message to those resonating with the description is this: as long as you are ready to make a commitment to change and are open to being held accountable, all things are still possible. In fact, it just may be the case that you had to experience this pain for as long as you have to finally be ready to move on and be the happy, pleasant, and successful man you still want to be.

How Not To Be A Grumpy Old Man?

The challenge now is to actually believe that change is possible. To do that you will need the guidance of someone whom you can trust, or, at least, learn to trust. That is where an experienced life coach for men is indispensable.

Across the board, no matter what has brought a man to seek out this male life coach, the first order of business is to establish the basis for a trusting relationship, and then to instil a sense of hope for a positive outcome. Without hope, we are all stuck in our negative stories and shame spirals.

A Real Life Example

Steve was a client of mine years ago, both in one on one life coaching for men and in one of my men’s groups. He was a very well-defended man. By that I mean, he came into the room being defensive before anyone gave him anything to defend. In fact, this is how he walked through life. He could never be wrong because being wrong was perhaps the most painful thing he could consciously imagine. 

For that reason, all of his energy went into being hyper-vigilant and always at the ready for a response that would protect his territory, his argument, his purpose. You can just imagine how tiresome that was for anyone close to him. Why would anyone even want to engage in a conversation with this guy? And, in fact, not many wanted to anymore.

It took quite a long time to break through Steve’s defences. To do that, he first needed to find something to trust in me. I think what initially built that trust was my ability to fairly quickly suggest what I believed was the source of his deep fear and unhappiness, and thus his hypervigilance. The source, is an extremely abusive father and a shockingly toxic childhood. 

Steve had every reason to learn to defend himself because, as a kid, he was constantly under attack. This skill set saved his life! And this early development of essential coping mechanisms is common to many, many men. The problem only develops later in life when this child, now a young man or middle-aged man, though no longer confronted with the abuse and toxicity of his childhood, continues to interact with all of the people in his life as if they are his father, or mother, or grandparent, etc.

Once Steve resonated with this assessment, he had a reason to begin to trust the relationship coach for men sitting across from him. That connection gave me the opportunity to instill a little hope in him that, despite the many years and water under the bridge, he could learn to be a healthier, happier husband, father and friend.

Steve is just one man of many who have found themselves unhappy with the man they have become, and clueless as to how to change himself, his relationships and his course in life. But in the 30 years I have been coaching men, I would say that it comes down to personal accountability and commitment.

Three Steps to Overcome It

The first commitment is to ask for help. The second commitment is to be held accountable by the coach who is going to guide you. The third commitment, ultimately, is to accept full responsibility for holding yourself accountable to the commitments you make. A lot of men come to me and tell me that they need me to hold them accountable. Well, they are grown-ass men, I tell them, and although I can guide them toward their goals, eventually, they are going to have to take on that accountability role themselves.

This is part of what it looks like in a masculine model of one-on-one coaching. This is part of what it looks like for a man to start feeling like the man he wants to be. Feeling like that strong, confident man is one of the main reasons men work with me. They feel something is missing in them and they know that it will take the mentoring of a masculine role model to show them how to find it.

How to Get Started?

Now may be the best time for you to begin your work to become that better man. To get started, you can either schedule a free 15-minute consult or book a 90-minute BetterMen Evaluation & Coaching Session with me at BetterMen Coaching.