"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." – Maya Angelou
Ending a relationship whether it was a marriage or long term relationship is painful. There’s no way around this feeling of devastation whether it was your decision to end the relationship or not. As a result, one’s self-esteem can take a beating. The aftermath of which, can last months or years.
How Divorce Rocks Your Self-Esteem to the Core
No two people experience divorce the same way, but most can agree that it is painful process that can create emotional and physical problems. All too often, people who get divorced have feelings of guilt and shame. They have thoughts of being a failure or that they have done something wrong. They may experience chronic fear of finding love again. Often people will decide to enter a new relationship quickly to avoid dealing with these feelings. The trauma of divorce can drastically alter your perceptions, feelings and expectations about relationships and your future. It’s easy to lose an essence of yourself without getting support from family friends or mental health professionals.
Here are a few tips to keep your self-esteem from slipping as you navigate a challenging path.
Work on Releasing the Past
If you stay stuck in the rabbit hole or hamster wheel of reliving or clinging to what was rather than what is, you’ll have a harder time building your self-esteem and opening the door to the next brighter chapter of your life. Look for new opportunities to laugh, try new things and practice self-care. Making space in your life for new friends, activities or career options is essential for rebuilding your self-esteem. Challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs of yourself as a failure. Remember what Rachel Hollis says - "other people's opinions of you are none of your business." Start looking at the future as a positive beginning for you and you’ll be surprised about what you can create.
Being divorced does not mean YOU are a failure
Think of divorce as a transition to the next phase in your life. It takes courage to let go of the things that cause you pain and that no longer feeds your soul. It is not courageous to remain in a marriage because you fear that you will not be able to take care of yourself financially. It is not courageous to make others responsible for your happiness and your children do not thank you for modeling chronic unhappiness and blame.
BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS - THE MIND IS A POWERFUL WEAPON.
It is important to become aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You can do this by simply observing the thoughts you are having about yourself and the relationship ending. When you have these thoughts what are the feelings you experience in your body? How do you then behave, do you avoid people, over-eat, date more, shop more, over-exercise, stop taking care of yourself? We know that self-denial often contributes to low self-esteem. Increasing your emotional honesty and accountability for what went wrong can increase your self-esteem.
The key to this is to avoid judging your emotions as good or bad, while trying to avoid feeling those feelings. Developing coping skills to avoid avoiding will build confidence. When we lack insight and awareness of ourselves we tend to blame others and ask others to solve our problems which contribute to low self-esteem. It is important to grieve the loss of your relationship and to recognize that while the relationship ended you did not.