When you’re working to get your confidence back and build boundaries at 60 and better, there is one “hiding in plain sight” barrier that will keep you from reaching your goals. 

And that’s surrounding yourself with toxic people. 

You know exactly who they are…

  • The pushy one with unsolicited advice that makes you doubt your decisions.
  • The catty woman with snide comments and back-handed compliments.
  • The one who blames you and makes herself the victim when you call her out. 

Sound Like Anyone You Know? 

Is this a sister? Your mother? Your adult daughter? That “friend” who says she’s “only trying to help you”?

Every woman over 60 deals with these folks daily. And their comments are so hurtful because they know which button of yours to push. They’ve known you for a long time and are well aware of your sore spots, triggers, and vulnerabilities. They’ve had decades to perfect them.

That’s why one of their comments can leave you devastated for days. 

The Secret About Toxic People in Your Life

100% of the criticism coming from those people has nothing to do with you. They are projecting their own insecurities onto you instead of taking responsibility for their own problems.

Remember the time your sister said, “That dress looks a little snug on you, don’t you think?” although she knew you were counting calories and going to yoga three times a week?

You can bet she’d stepped on the scale that morning and seen she was 12 pounds heavier after that Over-50 cruise. 

Remember that time you got that promotion at work and, instead of congratulating you, your mother said, “Oh, so I guess that means you’ll be spending even less time with your kids”? 

She’s simply feeling resentful that she stepped down from her job to stay full-time with her children and didn’t go back into the workplace. 

What Can You Do About Toxic People? 

Option 1: Do Nothing

Of course, you can continue to let them walk all over you, saying, “That’s just her. She’s over 50 like me, and she just won’t change.” This option is risky though, because you subject yourself to continued frustration and hurt feelings.

Option 2: Stand Up for Yourself

Defending yourself doesn’t have to look like a Jerry Springer fight. But it takes courage, especially if this type of person has treated you a certain disrespectful way for years or decades. You can say, for instance:

  • “Hey, (insert person’s name), it really hurts my feelings when you do/say (insert harmful action here). I would ask that you keep those comments to yourself.”
  • “Hey, (insert person’s name). I notice that you’re always commenting or giving me unsolicited advice on my divorce/looks/weight/recovery/ (insert whatever they’re always commenting on). I would ask that you don’t do that anymore, at least until I specifically ask for your advice.” 

So, here’s my quick heads-up when you stand up for yourself as a strong woman over 50:

If the person has any amount of emotional intelligence, they may take a step back and say, “Oh, wow. Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad,” or something along those lines. 

Or… they may get defensive and turn it on you. They may say, “I’m only trying to help you. If you don’t want my honest opinion, then fine. And then they might stomp away or hang up the phone or stonewall you or some other 5-year-old-at-the-playground silliness.

If that reaction occurs, that is a HUGE RED FLAG that maybe this relationship is unhealthy. This isn’t the end of the world – it’s just an opportunity to set up healthy boundaries

No Free Passes for Relatives

Oh, and I get you may not be able to just walk away from that person so easily. They might be a relative or a close friend you have known for years.

But being related to someone does not give them carte blanche to disrespect you.

It takes a herculean effort to be confident enough to speak up and stand your ground when they push back. Just remember:

  • Be aware that some of the most toxic people may be the ones closest to you.
  • Their hurtful words have nothing to do with you, but everything to do with their own insecurities.
  • You have the power to speak up for yourself… even if you’re over 50 and haven’t done much of it.
  • Family members and close friends do not get to be disrespectful just because they’re in your life and have done so for decades.

How many times have you been put down by close friends and family? Do you stand up for yourself or do you ignore their hurtful behavior? What two steps will you take the next time it happens? Please share in the comments below.

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