People who resist change as they get older usually display these 7 behaviors (without realizing it)

Change isn’t always easy, especially if it’s unexpected. Nobody wants their world to be turned upside down, and as we age, we don’t embrace things that make us feel uncomfortable as easily as in our younger years. 

But why is it so hard to accept change? 

Call it routine or habit; when things stay the same, it gives us a sense of comfort, stability, and predictability. So when something comes along to disrupt our comfort zone, it creates fear. 

For older adults who are facing life-changing events such as divorce, employment concerns, or health restrictions, the fear and lack of control over their circumstances stop them from working towards adapting to a new way of living. 

Facing a “change-over” later in life forces one to question their self-image, independence, and confidence, which makes adjusting incredibly stressful and hard to accept.  

So, let’s better understand why people who resist change as they get older usually display these 7 behaviors (without realizing it) and how to cope with the fear and anxiety that comes with it. 

1) Avoidance

A sure sign that someone doesn’t want to deal with change is avoidance. They tend to make excuses when confronted about it because they just don’t want to face the reality of it. 

Let’s say that they’ve had a health scare and need to modify their lifestyle by doing things such as quitting smoking and getting more active. Rather than do the work, they make every excuse in the book as to why they’re delaying their new diet and exercise. 

Along with making excuses, they’ll avoid talking about the subject.

If you’ve established your career and relationships and you’re at the stage where you don’t want to be tested or deal with major upheavals, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to focus on your fears. 

The problem with avoidance is that, firstly, it doesn’t get you anywhere, and secondly, it leaves you with many unanswered questions that worsen fear and stress. 

What many older adults don’t realize is that talking about their concerns can provide a different perspective on the situation, leading to understanding and acceptance. 

Another point worth mentioning is that they aren’t always aware of their avoidance or denial. 

Subconsciously, they don’t want to deal with the subject, so as soon as it’s brought to their attention, their entire body language becomes closed off. They’ll lose eye contact, turn away from you, or start fidgeting, which are clear non-verbal signs of uneasiness. 

If you are concerned about a loved one struggling with change, it’s a good idea to gently broach the topic with them. Let them know that you care and that you only want the best for them. 

2) Backsliding

If you’ve grown accustomed to a routine and something upsets it, it’s hard to adapt to a new way of doing things. 

People may resist change as they get older because they have experience doing things that worked for them. Whether in their jobs or personal lives, they’ve already worked out the kinks and have the attitude that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

This behavior is typical in the workplace. 

For example, you’ve been issuing reports or processing orders a certain way for years, and then suddenly, the company introduces a new software or technique to do the job. When you’re in the spotlight, you attempt the new approach, but when nobody’s looking, you go back to doing it your way or the old way. This is known as backsliding. 

For some people, they slip into old habits without even realizing it. 

The problem with backsliding is that it can be counterproductive. If the latest software or techniques can get the job done more efficiently and reduce errors, there’s no reason to stick to outdated or less effective methods. 

Sometimes, adapting to a new way of doing something can make your life a lot easier! 

3) Procrastination

Regardless of age, most of us are guilty of procrastination. Rather than focus on getting something done, we continuously delay it and distract ourselves with other menial tasks. 

In this case, it’s not that they’re uninterested or unenthusiastic about change; it’s just that getting down to the task is overwhelming, and this is where procrastination takes hold. 

They’re aware of what they have to do, but the reality of it creates such anxiety that it’s easier to avoid it altogether. 

For mature people, they might overestimate the amount of time they have to attend to a job or task and delay until they crumble under pressure. 

I’ve seen this behavior in relationships that are coming to an end. One person might delay collecting their belongings from a former partner or fail to take the steps to officially separate because it forces them to accept a reality they don’t like. 

It’s incredibly tough to deal with a failed relationship, especially if you’re married or in a long-term commitment. But the healthy thing to do is to accept reality so that you can move forward in life, and that means getting over the procrastination. 

4) Reminiscing

man low self worth People who resist change as they get older usually display these 7 behaviors (without realizing it)

Mature people have the habit of wishing for days gone by when they’re facing uncomfortable circumstances

It’s easier to think about positive things from the past, whether an event or a relationship, than deal with changes. 

Older adults who are going through adjustments in their jobs or the diagnosis of a medical condition may frequently talk about their younger years or a time when things were better in their lives. This is a sign that they’re probably resisting change. 

We can all reminisce about the happy moments in our lives, but things can’t stay the same because that’s the nature of life. 

For many people, replaying specific memories provides a sense of comfort. They fear that whatever they’re facing is too hard, and they won’t be able to cope with or overcome it. So, repeatedly reliving positive memories momentarily eases their stress. 

5) Irritability and anxiety

Anxious behavior is a clear sign that you’re resistant to change. I have to admit that unexpected news or life events can turn your world upside down, and as you get older, it’s the last thing that you want to deal with. 

At a certain stage in your life, you want control and predictability. But when a switch happens that you didn’t see coming, it creates intense fear and anxiety. 

Someone who was once confident and independent may become increasingly concerned about little things or second-guess themselves at work as self-doubt creeps in. 

Anxious people will need reassurance, and you’ll notice instability in their mood. They get irritated quickly and appear impatient or short-tempered. 

The more they fret about how a situation is going to impact their lives, their anxiety increases and influences their attitude and behavior. 

Unfortunately, we all have to deal with transformation, and if anxiety gets in the way of coping with it, the next best step is to reach out to someone you trust for guidance. 

6) Mistrust

Some people simply refuse to accept change because they’re mistrustful. 

It’s easier to understand this type of behavior in the context of a dispute at work. An individual concerned about their job security hears a rumor about retrenchments or downscaling. They feel threatened or disheartened after years of service and are concerned about their position. 

This person becomes defensive and paranoid around their colleagues because they’re unsure of the situation they’re in. But rather than address the elephant in the room, they continue to avoid it, which creates ongoing paranoia. 

Mistrust makes it hard to deal with change because you’re constantly second-guessing what people say or misinterpreting information. 

Getting to the source will provide clarity and let you know exactly where you stand rather than make assumptions. 

7) Emotional outbursts

If you constantly feel anxious and unsure, you’ll walk around with a huge chip on your shoulder. 

All it takes is for one person to say or do something that you find insensitive or offensive to trigger a negative reaction from you. 

This is what happens to people who resist change as they get older. 

With more responsibilities, they question how they’ll cope when they’re forced to adapt both personally and professionally. 

This creates ongoing fear, anxiety, and stress that affect one’s mental and physical health. 

Lashing out at friends and family hurts healthy relationships, while insomnia and poor eating habits, brought on by stress, create exhaustion, which further impacts one’s emotional regulation. 

Final thoughts

When you have achieved wisdom and experience over the years, you want independence and, to a degree, predictability and control.

So when something unforeseen happens, such as receiving a difficult medical diagnosis or dealing with loss, it disrupts your life, and you find yourself resisting change without even realizing it. 

There’s no question that change can be intimidating, but rather than fight it, which creates more anxiety, frustration, and confusion, use the wisdom and experience that you’ve gained and adopt a different perspective on the matter. 

It’s normal to strive for stability as we get older, but when things don’t go our way, unhelpful behaviors prevent us from moving forward. Don’t miss out on making new and exciting memories. 

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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