Divorce really has a way of wrecking our lives. Not only are we learning to be single again, we are also forced to adapt to new realities of a change in lifestyle, schedules, and retirement plans.
As if these challenges are not overwhelming enough, there’s another struggle we must endure after divorce: learning how to rebuild our self-esteem.
It’s easy to understand why this is such an issue. When your relationship ends, you may feel rejected. You may feel unworthy. You may think 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.
What happened to you does not define you.
Ending a relationship 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 may define ourselves as a partner and we may have become dependent on that identity. We start to place our entire value on being a spouse, not listening to our own wants and needs.
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 you’re feeling awful.
But think about this for a second.
When you sprained your ankle that one time, you didn’t see yourself differently because your ankle hurt. If you have ever been hospitalized, you didn’t tie your identity and your self-worth into that one event happening in your life. You knew that it was an inconvenience, but you were soon back to life.
So why don’t you treat the end of your marriage the same way? Sure, this is a hiccup in your life. But you are no less of a person because you’re going through this situation. The fact that you have the grace to navigate through this stressful time speaks volumes of your character. Applaud yourself for the amazing job you’re doing.
If you’re still struggling with self-esteem, I have a few exercises for you.
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. What are your talents and skills? This has nothing to do with bragging. Acknowledging all the good you do 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 planning 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 to “toot our own horn.” But that misguided thinking meant that many of us weren’t taught how to be self-confident. But it’s not too late to kick that negative thinking aside and start acknowledging how incredible we really are. Here are some examples to inspire you:
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?
Step 3: The next time your self-esteem bothers you, how will you incorporate Step 1 and 2 to feel better?
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 would ever want me?
STOP. I am kind. I am a good friend.
I feel so stupid—this split is all my fault.
STOP. I did my best. I have a good heart. I have much to contribute to this world. The end of this relationship does not define me.
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 know.