I noticed as I age my patience shortens.
“Where’s my water?” I think after being seated in a restaurant for 2 minutes.
Recently, when a museum receptionist smiled as I entered and asked “Can I help you?” I became irritated and shot back, “No, but I can help you!” and handed her my museum membership card.
That response was completely uncalled for and I realized I needed to address the developmental possibility of this behavior being part of the aging process.
In Robert M. Sapolsky’s book, “Behave” he clearly explains how the amygdala is the part of our brain that is responsible for responding with aggression and its associative responses, anger or fear. In other ways this part of the brain is linked with social uncertainty and when we are unsure we tend to be a bit more fearful. As we age, I conjecture, some of our motor skills and as well as our general response timing changes and those loses throw us off balance and like being physically off balanced an initial response of fear and even panic arises. I posit the same theory for emotional responses.
Irritability can be regarded as an expression of frustration over nonreward. Nonreward can be when blocked from a goal or the attainment of a goal or being thwarted from expectations.
But then there’s an upside! The amygdala is part of the limbic system of the brain which is not only involved with the above emotions but is a processing center that is alert to incoming messages from our senses and internal organs. It’s involved with emotional responses. AND AS ONE AGES IT IS NOT UNLIKELY IN HEALTHY ADULTS THAT WE AVOID PROCESSING NEGATIVE STIMULI. In other words, we don’t absorb or perhaps see what we used to see as negative, thus are less likely to react as quickly or intensely to emotional input.
So while you might be annoyed faster, you also are less likely to be frightened.
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Why Am I So Grumpy?
Is The Amygdala To Blame?
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It’s easier to be grumpy. Grumpy doesn’t have to answer as many questions. People leave you along when you’re grumpy. I guess they’ll leave you alone if you haul around rotten fish, but then again it becomes tough to go to out in public.
Do you have to be oral to be grumpy? Can’t a snarl be enough of a signal? For the full affect, I guess it’s better to be vocal. The conditions that trigger annoyance seem to grow in proportion to our years or is it that we are less dependent on the responses of others for our sense of self. Just like a baby doesn’t really respond to the cajoling of adults when irritated or upset, as we age our reactions are less contingent on the responses of those around us.
Why Am I So Grumpy?
laugh and learn with the rhyme
If I have to wait another minute I will probably yell,
And my face will glow red with blood filling every cell
I’ll shout my annoyance even though I’m in a crowd,
With an angry vocalization in a tone extremely loud.
I find as I age my patience shortens with each passing day,
And my tolerance is miniscule if someone’s in my way.
I wasn’t always cranky but was often called laid back.
I’d rarely got exasperated or dished out any slack.
That changed as years piled on and one day I observed,
That my irritation would spike up in situations undeserved.
I learned that’s part of aging; we have an amygdala you see,
That lessens being frightened as we age but ironically,
Increases feeling angry or being aggressive, emotions that preserve,
Our safety in many ways, but on the down side affect our nerves.
So when your irritation spikes remember it’s because,
You feel less able to control things or enforce your set of laws.
When feeling vulnerable, striking out is an easy choice,
Feeling pumped up makes us feel we have a stronger voice.