One of the many things we struggle with as we learn to recover from a divorce is learning how to rebuild our self-esteem.
It’s easy to understand why this is such an issue. When your marriage ends, you may feel rejected. You may feel unworthy. You sit crying on your coach, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at hand, wondering why your partner does not love you anymore. You may think, as you’re stumbling through the list of to-do’s and stress of everything else going on in your life, that nobody will ever find you attractive and worthy of love.
But I am here to tell you to knock it off, because it’s simply not true.
Never forget for a second that you are strong and beautiful.
So, today, as we get a quick lesson on rebuilding our self-esteem, you need to embrace the following self-esteem revelation.
What happened to you does not define you.
Ending a marriage, or any relationship for that matter, is not fun. It causes us to question who we are, what we thought our life was, and where we are in this universe. We tend to define ourselves solely within the terms of being a partner and we become dependent on that position as a mean to validate ourselves. We start to place our entire value on being a spouse, rather than putting that focus on something healthy—the independent, kind person that you are.
So it’s no surprise that our self-esteem shatters when the one pillar we have used to define ourselves goes away. We make this false connection that end of a relationship = bad unworthy person. It’s no wonder why you’re feeling like crap.
But think about this for a second. When you stumbled and sprained your ankle that one time, the way you defined yourself didn’t go negative just because your ankle hurt. And if you were ever in a car accident, or if you have ever been hospitalized, you didn’t tie your identity and your self-worth into that one event happening in your life. Hell no. You knew that it was an inconvenience, but you were soon back to life.
So, why don’t you treat your divorce the same way? Sure, this is a hiccup in your life. But that doesn’t mean that you are any less of a person, or somehow not worthy or self-respect and love because you’re going through this situation. It’s quite the opposite. The fact that you have the grace to navigate through this stressful time, and the strength to carry on and taking care of everything else you have going on speaks volumes of your character, of your intellect, and your all-around awesomeness. You should applaud yourself for the amazing job you’re doing and give yourself credit.
But if you’re still struggling with rebuilding your self-esteem, I understand. And because it can be difficult to change your mindset, I have a few exercises for you!
Reclaiming your Self- Esteem Exercise: Embracing the fact that you’re amazing.
Step 1: List all the things that you’re good at.
Don’t be shy with this one! Every day, you no doubt accomplish things that would cause others to whimper—things that you most likely don’t give yourself credit for. But it’s time to change that. What are things that you know you rock at? This has nothing to do with bragging or being immodest. Acknowledging your awesome skills is an important step to nurture yourself.
If you need some inspiration, take a look at my examples below.
My friends say I’m a good listener.
I’m a go-getter and know how to take initiative.
I’m good at plan things and getting stuff done.
Now it’s your turn! And if you can’t think of many things all at once, come back to this exercise to continue listing all of the amazing stuff you’re good at.
Step 2: List all the things that you love about yourself.
Many times, we struggle with celebrating the great stuff about ourselves. Many of us were taught to be modest, and that it was wrong and extravagant to “toot our own horn.” But that misguided thinking meant that many of us weren’t taught how to be self-confidence and to hold ourselves in the high regard that we should. But it’s not too late to kick that negative thinking aside and start acknowledging how beautiful and amazing we really are. So, here are some examples to inspire you!
I love my long hair.
I love to read.
I love to explore new things.
I love that I am a good cook and know how to entertain.
See how easy it is? How about you? What do you love about yourself? Some things may come to you later, so it’s okay to come back to this list as often as you need to!
Step 3: The next time your self-esteem bothers you, how will you incorporate Step 1 and 2 to neutralize the Self Esteem Monster?
The next time my self-esteem starts playing tricks on me, I will consciously stop myself and remind myself of two things that I am good at, and two things that I love about myself, turning this negativity into kindness. As an example…
Now that my relationship is over, who in the hell would ever want me?
STOP. I am kind. I am a good friend. And I’m damn good at my profession.
I feel so stupid—this break-up is all my fault.
STOP. I did my best. I have a good heart. I have much to contribute to this world. This a break-up does not define me.
Okay, now it’s your turn! Are there self-esteem issues that you deal with when it comes to recovering from your relationship? What types of thought do you have when you are not feeling confident?
And, more importantly, what kind, loving messages will you start to tell yourself as you begin to repair your self-esteem?
Remember that no matter what anybody has told you in life, you are enough. You are worthy of respect and love. And you are stronger and smarter than you can imagine.
Martha Bodyfelt is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® whose website “Surviving Your Split” helps readers navigate their divorce with less stress and drama, so they can move on with their lives. For your Free Divorce Goddess Recovery Kit, stop by http://survivingyoursplit.com/ or drop Martha a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.