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Learning to Put Yourself First After Silver Divorce

By Martha Bodyfelt December 14, 2021 Mindset

Are you over 50, divorced and – despite all your professional success and beautiful home you’ve created for yourself – afraid to step on anybody’s toes? 

Are you the kind of woman who, despite wanting to take Friday afternoon for yourself to run errands and get ready for the week ahead, regretfully says “yes” when your grown daughter asks you to watch your grandson at the last minute? 

Or how about when you’re enjoying your vacation, a margarita in your hand as you sun yourself by the hotel pool, and a text comes in from that one friend who complains all the time but never bothers to ask how you’re doing. Even though you’ve been friends for decades.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many divorced women over 50 struggle with people-pleasing.

In my work as a divorce recovery coach for women over 50, the most common struggle women deal with is the need to people-please, even at the expense of their own health and happiness. 

But that ends today. In these 3 steps, you can learn to let go of people-pleasing with 100% confidence and 0% guilt. 

Step 1: Understand the Source of Your People-Pleasing 

None of us were born people-pleasers. 

But as we started to grow up, we most likely learned that keeping our room clean, not getting into fights with our siblings, making sure we didn’t tear or stain our clothes, and getting straight A’s would get positive attention from our parents. So even at a young age, we started to associate making other people happy with being recognized and praised. 

As part of your marriage, you probably attached a lot of your self-esteem onto how healthy your marriage was, and what your husband thought of you. 

It’s no surprise that even after the divorce, you were a people-pleaser, turning your attention to not wanting to let anybody at work down or your family down or your family group down. 

But it’s not your fault. Women are conditioned at an early age to not rock the boat, to be the perfect daughter, the perfect sister and friend and wife and co-worker and mother and aunt, so much that we aren’t even aware of the fact that we can say no and not feel guilty. 

Your need to people-please was a survival mechanism that helped you navigate your life until this point. But it’s no longer serving you. It’s time to let go. 

Step 2: Recognize the Danger of People-Pleasing

Like most women over 50, you may be kicking yourself, using negative self-talk such as “Agggggh why do I do this?” 

You get mad. 

You know you need to stop. 

But then you take no serious action to change the behavior. 

So what happens is you acknowledge that people-pleasing helped you up until this point, but you then stay stuck, unable to move on after your divorce. 

That’s a dangerous position to put yourself in after 50. Because the more you sacrifice your own happiness, your own convenience, and your own boundaries, the more you tell yourself: 

  • That your needs aren’t a priority.
  • That you don’t deserve to be happy.

You would *never* tell somebody you cared about those terrible things. But every time you people-please, that is exactly what you’re telling yourself. 

It’s no wonder that you feel stuck right now. It’s not a surprise that you still feel frustrated and lonely and unable to move on after divorce. It’s because you’ve let people run all over you without taking into consideration what you need. 

And if you continue down this path, the following will happen:

  • You won’t build the self-esteem and internal value you absolutely need and deserve.
  • You’ll continue to let people intrude on your boundaries and put their needs above your own. 
  • You’ll remain stuck, missing out on the incredible post-divorce life of your dreams that you deserve. 

I don’t want that for you. You deserve better. 

Step 3: Start Putting Yourself First. Even If You’re Divorced. Even If You’re Over 50

It’s time for you to: 

Say “No” to Things That No Longer Give You Joy, Even If…

  • You’ve said yes before
  • You’re afraid people will be “mad” at you if you do
  • You feel guilty for doing so. 

Remember – it no longer matters if somebody doesn’t like you saying no. And every time you say no, remember that you are deriving a whisper of internal value and worth, because you put yourself first.

Those whispers will one day become the roar that you use to resonate your own self-love, boundaries, and worth – things that nobody can take away from you because you built them internally and didn’t rely on others to give to you.

Say “Yes” to Things That…

  • Fill your cup and make you feel energized
  • Let you see your internal value and worth, instead of causing you to question it
  • Make you feel confident, beautiful, and powerful.

I get that it can be easier said than done, especially if you grew up with the mindset that you should be happy just with what you have. But that messaging was created to make you doubt yourself and pull you into the people-pleasing mindset that takes and takes but never gives back. 

It’s time for you to kick that old messaging to the curb. 

Now is the time for you to let go of people-pleasing. It no longer serves you and is keeping you stuck. 

The time to put yourself first after divorce is now. 

Here is your golden opportunity to cast aside those old mindsets. 

You are a new woman with boundaries and strength. 

It’s your turn. 

Do you struggle with people-pleasing, even in your 50s and beyond? What one small step will you take today to let go of this self-destructing behavior? 

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The Author

Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach who helps professional divorced women over 50 overcome their divorce loneliness and break free from the patterns keeping them stuck so they can feel fulfilled, have more fun, and live fearlessly. To find out what's *really* keeping you stuck after divorce, take the 30-second quiz.

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