General Question

Jude's avatar

How do you avoid becoming bitter and jaded as you grow older?

Asked by Jude (32098points) February 2nd, 2012

I have had a rough couple of years and have about had it with some of the people in my life. I am finding now, that my attitude sucks towards people in general, and I don’t like being this way.

Ways to change? To prevent it from getting worse?

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51 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Many of us seem to have a problem with or are hesitant about getting rid of problems in our life because we may feel like it’s the wrong thing to do. We’re taught that “ditching” or giving up on things is bad, and sticking with things until the end is good, when that is clearly BS.

If something or someone is causing you problems, drop them like a hot potato.

gailcalled's avatar

Do some serious self-examination, possibly with professional help to avoid circular reasoning.

Then plan some healthy emotional housekeeping.

Do it, step by step.

Mary Oliver said, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

― Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

janbb's avatar

I don’t know: I have plenty of people who’ve “done me wrong” in my life but there are also so many wonderful, giving people. Why paint humanity with a single brush?

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled What a wonderful quote!

Coloma's avatar

You learn to emotionally detach from those that are in the duh and have not, nor do they care, to pursue any personal growth work.

You create your OWN happiness by doing and being around those that are positive, fun and supportive, not negative drama mongers.

You become your own best friend, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like your pets, nature, a good book, a movie.

You find a “spiritual” philosophy that works for you and you allow things to be as they are without needing to try to control others and outcomes.

You make your #1 priority PEACE and realize that your little spin on this rock is no more or less significant than anyone elses while at the same time being appriciative and grateful for all of the beauty and good times.

Most importantly you live in the now, and do not cling to the past in any way, shape or form.

philosopher's avatar

I stay close to my family.

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s more Mary Oliver.

”“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

Jude's avatar

I’m wonder if @gailcalled would consider adopting me..

janbb's avatar

Here’s one of my recent favorites on a similar topic from Robert Frost:

“The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
a change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.”

john65pennington's avatar

The following has worked wonders for me. I hope it will work for you.

My dad died first, my mom died second. I was left as the executor of their estate. I was preparing all of their personal property for an estate sale, when I ran across an old Bible belonging to my dad. I would never sell this.

I have placed my dads Bible beside my bed, so when I wake up each morning, I can place my hand on it and say a “thank you” to my dad and God for another day of life and to help someone each and every day.

This starts my day off just right. It seems to control me from being ill(from all the victims of crime I have seen) and to love my family even more.

This may seem like a small procedure to some people, but it works and prevents me from having to take a bunch of tranquilizers.

“Ask, and ye shall receive”.

marinelife's avatar

Cut some of the poisonous people out of your life—either for a while or for good.

Keep your focus on the wonder of life and nature. I can be up for a day after seeing something wild and beautiful.

Say thank you every night before bed for all of the positive things in your life.

Jude's avatar

Thanks, everyone.

I am staying at my g/f’s for a week and I’m about to head out for a beach walk along Lake Huron. I’ll take pictures.

Rock2's avatar

Life stinks. Get use to it.

wundayatta's avatar

Honestly, set-backs don’t matter. People may behave is some scummy ways, but I have never had any difficulty in believing people are basically good. I believe people want to treat each other well, but they’ve been put off, as you have, by some negative experiences.

Well, most people aren’t like that. Most people will respond to decency with decency. If you trust people, they will usually respond well to that trust. I’m not saying to trust blindly. More a trust but verify kind of thing. But if you are consistent and build trust one little step at a time, I have found most people will go along with me.

Some people I don’t trust, but I find ways of disengaging with them without having to try to hurt them more than they hurt me. I always give back what people give to me, and I try to give it back in the same measure—not more than they gave me (for attacks).

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve found I get back what I give out. If I take responsibility for initiating, then I usually get some good stuff back. Sometimes I’ll have a fight, but that is just a tactic for me. I just want to show I’m not rolling over for anything. But I’m also not going to attack for nothing. Obviously these are not always perceived the same way by others, but it’s a good starting point.

I try to give out love, and I think I’ve gotten more than my share of love in return. This is good, because I’ve needed it more that I have even received it. But I care. I think most people will pick up on that, and treat me kindly.

I do make mistakes and when I see that, I admit it and try to fix it, if I can. I think people respect that.

You’re a good person, @Jude. I don’t know if you think that or not, but you want good things for the world and from the world. Hold onto that. Believe that if you put out what you want to see in the world, it will also come back to you. Not necessarily right away, but often enough. And some things take years to come back, but you find yourself there in twenty or thirty years, hardly able to believe it finally happened the way you wanted it to.

YoBob's avatar

Drat, here I was all ready to give a snippy jaded answer, then I read the poem that @gailcalled posted.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Gardening? Hiking? Wildcrafting? Stuff like that works for me.

CWOTUS's avatar

If you look around, @Jude, you’d see that most of us have already adopted you. Welcome to the fluther family collective.

serenade's avatar

A slightly different story.

There’s a nugget in “Eat Pray Love” that stuck out for me. It’s the healer’s claim that meditations through all levels of “heaven” (beauty, love, goodness, etc.) and meditations through all levels of hell (ugliness, hate, evil, etc.) both lead to the same state of bliss/nirvana. “Same same,” he says.

I don’t claim to know nirvana, but my experience of the latter path confirms for me that this is doable. The secret ingredient is pursuing the jaded path with unusual intensity & persistence.

If you work to avoid disappointment by minimizing its presence or by hating it without working to understand it, then you won’t really do the process below. I’m sure there are other processes. This just happened to be mine.

There’s also an element of “Don’t try to bend the spoon. Only seek to realize the truth. There is no spoon.” to this process if that helps at all.

So I think the process starts by waking up to and recognizing disillusion and disappointment. Next, is a mapping of all the disappointment and disillusion you can find. Turn over every rock and seek to gain a complete picture. At some point, you find yourself saturated with the all the workd’s shittiness, and you realize that despite your knowledge of this, more shittiness is being produced every day and faster than you can consume. So knowing this (and having emotional reactions to it), while a necessary step, produces no change.

When you realize this futility, it makes less sense to try fixing the problem with emotional reactions to seeing ugliness. This opens room to really ponder why this ugliness exists and why it persists. Then you start to see the causes behind the curtain: that people mostly just follow their habitual thinking, and that our habitual thinking is influenced by various metanarratives in our culture. That people react out of a misplaced feeling of or instinct for survival, and so on.

So where does that lead? For me, it’s a conclusion that all the things one gets jaded about originate in our hearts & minds. It originates in habitual thinking and the sly (or maybe just self important) thought purveyors who reinforce the narratives that encourage this habitual thinking.

And hopefully without glossing over any important steps, that suggests the key to not bring jaded. By not responding with emotional attachment/reaction, pondering the cause of ugliness, and by seeing the cause behind the curtain, one can simply understand that ugliness does what it is. It will whether you attend to it or not, but you can change the balance of the picture by changing your response, by choosing to replace it with light, and by accepting the people who are animated by it with the understanding that they don’t yet know how to see with such clarity.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Get good sleep. Eat well. Nourish self.

To do all of the ^ above ^ I personally cannot have toxic people in my life. I make a point of surrounding myself with kind people.

@Jude Since I know you have pets, I’ll add this: If I start feeling negative, I take the dogs for a walk or play with the kitties for a bit. It helps me alter my perspective.

6rant6's avatar

Take long walks out of doors.
1. Exercise is good for health and attitude.
2. Getting away from the distractions of office and home gives a chance to process and appreciate.
3. A long walk is an accomplishment in itself.
4. Exercise makes you fitter which in time will make you feel better about yourself.
5. Eventually, you’ll meet someone else who likes long walks.

Kardamom's avatar

Decide from today forth you are going to stop dwelling on the negative crap and negative people.

Instead, decide that you are going to pay it forward. Find a cause, even if it’s just a small cause, or many small causes and start participating in things that are helpful and useful to other people or animals or society or our planet.

Do you have any neighbors that are lonely or feeble? Plan to call or visit one or more of them soon and make it a regular thing. Go over to Mary’s house and make her some tea and bring her some homemade cookies. Do Bob and Alice have a hard time walking? Go over there once a week and take their trash out for them, or volunteer to walk their little doggie that they love so much. How about Jean the retired school teacher? Go over there and see if she would like you to read to her.

Find some people or organizatons that would be grateful for your presence or assistance and just jump right on in.

Either walk away from the toxic folks, or right them a very kind and polite not (if you feel like you need to give them or yourself some closure) and just say something like, “Dear Whomever, I’m making some small positive changes in my life, so I might not be around as much, or be available as much. I’m trying to figure out where I need to go and who I need to be. I’ve been stuck in a rut for awhile and now I’m planning to live my life in ways that make better sense for me, part of that involves not continuing down the same path as I have been walking before. I want to surround myself with positivity and learn new things and avoid the pitfalls that have plagued me in the past. So I’m still here, but I won’t be around as much or be available as much. I’ll be busy living my life.”

In this way, you’ve given these people notice (rather than just disappearing) but in the meantime, you might want to change your contact numbers, if not, simply screen your calls and messages better (and not feel guilty about it). You may want to quietly unfriend some FB people and if they try to contact you, either give them the above “letter” or don’t. You don’t owe anybody anything, but if it makes it easier or less painful, then just give them the letter and move forward.

Decide today, that you are going to do one nice thing for yourself and one nice thing for someone else. Even if it’s just one little tiny thing. Next time you go to the grocery store and you’re standing in a long line, see if the person in front of you or behind you looks bored or disgusted, then peek into their cart and say, “Mmmm, that spinach looks good. What are you going to make? I’ve been planning to add more veggies into my diet and I need some good ideas.” I’ve done this multiple times after witnessing one of my good friends do it. She’s always been very out-going and never seems to get depressed. She sees opportunities to spread a little bit of joy, wherever she goes and people (even the grumpy ones) always seem to appreciate her friendly words. People are caught off guard, because they’re usually treated to people yelling, “F*ck Off!” or having people flip them the bird.

Sometimes you have to change your own behavior first, and then eventually, your outlook will change too. Like the saying goes, “Be the change you want to see.”

Coloma's avatar


I like your friends attitude, I am the same way. I am always making small talk and tossing around my humor to strangers. I have NEVER had a negative response and most people welcome humor and a brief connection. I was killing an hour shopping in an import store the other night and had some really fun interactions with “strangers.”

It is all about energy and like attracts like is so true. Send out cheerful, humorous, open vibes and it will come back to you! :-)

Brian1946's avatar

I agree with @Blackberry: dump the bad baggage and your load will be lighter.

Kardamom's avatar

Aaaaack, I meant to say “write” them a letter, but it’s kind of ironic that I said “right” them a letter.

YARNLADY's avatar

Do volunteer work.
Read only good news.
BE the kind of person you want others to be.

wundayatta's avatar

@serenade That is a very charming tale. I like it a lot. Probably because it fits with the way I get through things. To summarize—I start by fighting. Then I fail. I blame myself for failing. At some point I come to see that it’s really not helpful to blame myself for my failure and I give up. Somehow, giving up the fight disempowers that which I am fighting against. As if I had been giving it all its energy—or a lot of it anyway.

I think that when we get jaded, it becomes easy to expect the worst of people, and of course, people usually give you what you expect. When you give up expecting the worst, people tend to give you something else other than the worst. This is true of your expectations of yourself as well as those of others.

Understanding jadedness also helps develop compassion for it. People respond quite differently to compassion than they do to bitterness and blame. What makes people behave the way they do? I don’t know. But I’ll ask. And when I ask, I’ll listen. People often seem to relax when they get a chance to tell their story and when they feel like someone listens. Sometimes, they feel understood, and that makes an even bigger difference.

But you can’t listen and you can’t have compassion and you can’t give into jadedness just by deciding to do so. You have to fight it, first, until, at some point, you realize you can’t fight any more. When you give up, you open the door for alternatives. And generally, you can expect you will try every single alternative that doesn’t work before you finally decide to try the one you hated so much—the one that works. Isn’t that how life is? Or am I being jaded?

tinyfaery's avatar

Just move to L.A. You’ll fit right in.

What you call jaded, I call realistic. People suck. That’s why I keep company with non-human animals. Small talk and idle chatter mean absolutely nothing. You aren’t really getting to know anybody. But I guess that’s the upside.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Look back, do you think these jaded jags are cyclical for you? Do they maybe come around about the same time you make big growth changes? If so then just let it ride and focus on what you want to come next.

Kardamom's avatar

@tinyfaery It sound like you live a kind of sad and depressing life. Do you not value friendship? I too love animals, and find some of them much nicer and more agreeable than a lot of people, but I also try to be a good person and treat people kindly and be friendly towards other people. The people that I love and truly like are people that have created profound joy in my life, despite the fact that there are plenty of people who do suck. It’s unfortunate for you that you think that most, if not all people suck. I’m so sorry.

I don’t mean to belittle your feelings or your opinion, but if I felt like you do, about people, I would seriously consider going to a doctor to find out if I could be treated for depression. If I felt like you do, I couldn’t imagine that there would be much joy in my life and that wouldn’t be acceptable to me.

I’m guessing that you have had some ugly experiences in your life and for that I am truly sorry. But like some people on other threads have said, about their troubled childhoods, your past does not define your future. I hope you are able to find some joy.

CWOTUS's avatar

Accept the bitterness, but don’t drown in it, dwell on it or make a meal of it. After all, it takes just the right dash of bitters to make the perfect martini, doesn’t it? (I wouldn’t know, not being a martini drinker, but the idea makes sense.)

If everything in life were perfect, then you’d take that for granted – and it would pall. For that reason, I would never want to go to Heaven, if such a place existed.

From my own experience, I was never so happy in my recent life as when I moved back from Southern California to New England and its quirky, unpredictable and sometimes wild weather. I never knew how much I could miss inconvenient rainstorms, slush on the road, muggy, hot summer days, snow and thunderstorms.

Jude's avatar

@CWOTUS That made me smile.

Blondesjon's avatar

I just became bitter and jaded as a very young man and fostered it in to the well rounded, well adjusted, well drinker that posts here every day.

auhsojsa's avatar

“have about had it with some of the people in my life”

Guess what @jude

It goes both ways. Perhaps others may feel the same about you, but my advice is to just try and always better the situation. You are conscious that you feel you are being horrible, that’s one more step than those who might be feeling anger towards you. Maybe try getting back into collecting music or something? For me, the arts is always an escape when dealing with the stresses of every day life and the people in it.

Coloma's avatar

I have a “secret” little psychological game I like to play, an experiment in wit and playfulness and like to engage others just to see what they toss back. Honestly, the vast majority of people DO have a playful and engaging side.
If you don’t turn over rocks you’ll never know what lies beneath.
For every creepy insect there are 3 nuggets of gold. :-)

tinyfaery's avatar

@Kardamom You know nothing about my life. I have a very few, TRUE friends, and that’s enough for me. I’m perfectly happy in my nihilism, TYVM.

Berserker's avatar

I like @Blackberry‘s advice. Sure, it often seems cowardly and just not right to ditch problems, but how is that any worse than sticking with them and just suffering all the more? There’s no need to put up with people who are simply no good for you. Shaft em if you can. It might not stop you from being jaded, but it could be a little relieving not to have to put up with bullshit you don’t have to put up with.
I know, probably easier said than done. Some people you just can’t ditch. A partner’s family members, coworkers, whatever else…

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Buddha helps me relax and he teaches me again that we are all one with the universe.

Kardamom's avatar

@tinyfaery I never said I knew a thing about your life (other than what I’ve read on your profile and your Q’s) and I don’t mean to hurt your feelings. I only said I felt sorry that you have such a dim outlook on life and that you think that most people suck. To me that screams of depression. You sound very unhappy and that makes me feel sad.

tinyfaery's avatar

I feel sorry you have deluded yourself.

Kardamom's avatar

@I’m not quite sure what you mean? Are you happy? Are you OK thinking that most people in the world suck? Or do you mean that by generally thinking that most people are horrible and bad is a normal situation for most folks? If that’s the case, then yes, I guess I am deluded. I tend to think that some people suck and that some people don’t suck, but I would have a hard time living my life and being happy if I thought that everyone sucked.

Berserker's avatar

I think @tinyfaery means that while a lot of everything sucks, she still finds happiness with pets or the few people she loves. A lot of the world can be bs, so it’s awesome when you find things that aren’t, and that make you happy, yeah?

Aethelwine's avatar

How do you avoid becoming bitter and jaded as you grow older?

By not allowing negativity in my life. If it comes anywhere near me I slam the door in its face. (with a big ol’ smile on my face, of course :D)

CWOTUS's avatar

Oh, I meant to add to my earlier answer:


fredTOG's avatar

There is no way i can think of its part of life.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Do things that make you laugh, and a few things that make you cry. Learn to love the small things in life: the motion of a bird’s wings, the smile of a small child, the love of an old dog. Realize that your life has not been in vain, that you have touched many, many other lives over the years, and will probably touch many more. Learn to appreciate the fact that you are still alive… there are many who are not. Be thankful for the opportunites that life brings. That’s what I endeavor to do. And most of all, find something you can do to make the world a better place just because you live! : )

augustlan's avatar

Love and be loved. Help and be helped. Always remember that it will get better. <3

Blondesjon's avatar

I get by with a little help from my friends . . .

Jude's avatar

From what I know of @tinyfaery, she’s great. Met her over the summer and have corresponded with her for the past few years. She has a good heart. She’s good people.

You all don’t know her.

tinyfaery's avatar

Aww. Love u.

yankeetooter's avatar

This is happening to me too, @Jude, and especially the older I get. I think part of it is due to my naive view of things gradually going away.

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