Retirement Complaint: I don’t get any respect!

Rodney Dangerfield's comedy album No Respect.
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Do you feel like Rodney Dangerfield in your retirement?

Do you get the respect you think you are entitled to in your retirement lifestyle? Or is it something more subtle? Do you feel like you just don’t matter? That nobody really cares that you exist or enjoys your company and wants to spend time with you? Do your kids avoid your company and when they do visit do they leave as quickly as possible? How many friends do you see regularly/  Do you have a circle of friends that invite you to spend time with them regularly or do you wait by the telephone for someone to call? If you like solitude; If you don’t like the complications of close relationships then you have the lifestyle that you want.  Maybe, however,  you would like more people that care about you in your life.

But people don’t seem to like me.

Are you thinking that you invite people to spend time with you but it doesn’t help?  For some reason asking people to spend more time with you doesn’t work.  As a parent, you can put the guilt trip on your kids to come over but just because you get them to come doesn’t mean that anyone enjoys the visit. Next time it will be harder to get them to come.  If you don’t have much to say or it is all about telling them what they are doing wrong, they aren’t going to like spending time with you.   Do you find that your old friends from work just never seem to think about you any more and the get together lunches just don’t happen?  You used to be a pretty social guy but something seems to have changed.  You keep asking  for attention and respect but it doesn’t seem to make any difference.  Your social calendar is blank.  Something needs to change if you are going to have your ideal retirement lifestyle.

Put up or shut up time- Change Something!

At this point, it is cleat that continuing to operate in the same way will continue to produce the same unsatisfying lifestyle so you need to make a decision? You can accept your life as it is,  depending on the behavior of others to treat you with respect or you can take responsibility. Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is it your life or not?
  2. Is there anyone else who cares?

People are not going to change in order to make you happy and nothing you can do will change that. Your kids can’t hide the fact that you are a drag to be around even though guilt will make them show up from time to time. Your old work friend are not going out of their way to remember you now that you are out of their daily life – unless maybe they pity your lonely lifestyle. If your retirement lifestyle is lonely then take responsibility. It is your life and right now, it is all about you.

What does that mean?

If it is to be it is up to me. It means that it is time to stop thinking dependently. It means that it is time to stop being needy – or at least acting like you are needy. It means taking responsibility for your life and your happiness. You may want people in your life but they won’t be there  just because you need or want them. What are your retirement wishes? You don’t want pity! You don’t want mercy! You want love and respect. You want people to enjoy your company and look forward to getting together with you. If that is not how you make people feel, take responsibility and change. People are responding to who you are (or how you seem to them).  If you are not someone that they want to be around then become a different person.

This is the first of a series of posts about changing your focus away from others and to yourself as the generator of a happy and fulfilled lifestyle – particularly in retirement. Please weigh in with comments about your retirement lifestyle and changes you have made to make it better. If you have examples from your own life or questions, they will make the exploration of this important issue richer. Remember, when you are planning your perfect retirement lifestyle, it is all about you.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Joan September 15, 2010, 4:45 am

    I think you’re very right that we can allow ourselves, for good or bad, to be defined by our jobs before retirement. I know many women have a hard time most of their working lives, being defined as “housewives” or “secretaries” or whatever. If you aren’t a rocket scientist then you “don’t matter” as much.

    I spent 10 years as a home daycare provider (notice I didn’t say baby sitter!) Since I had a license I was required to attend training for 2 hours each month. The first lesson we learned and one that was drilled into us over and over is “You are a professional. Insist that you are treated like one.” That meant being businesslike, having contracts and so forth. If we saw ourselves as professional, then our customers would also.

    It’s hard not to be defined by what others think but what really matters is what we think about ourselves. In retirement, we can choose to still do something that makes us feel like we matter, that we are important. Whether it’s volunteering, becoming an “expert” on something and writing a blog, or whatever.

    Great article and well worth thinking about!

  • Ralph September 15, 2010, 7:10 am

    Joan,
    Thanks so much for adding to the conversation. I think that happiness has a lot to do with what we think about ourselves. If we let ourselves be defined by something else like a job I don’t think we can ever be happy.
    Ralph’s last Blog Post ..60′s Nostalgia – The Animals

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