Divorce can wreak havoc on your self-esteem, and the effects can be brutal.
For starters, you lose your status as a chosen partner. You lose the unique role you played in your family. Some friends might choose to side with your ex, while other friends completely abandon both of you. You undergo a bit of an identity crisis. Whether you're the leaver or the leavee, there are many opportunities to second-guess yourself and your value in this world.
But, never fear! There are steps you can take to feel better and rebuild your sense of self-worth:
Sit with Your Feelings.
I know, I know… nobody wants to stew in negative emotions. However, your feelings offer valuable insight into your own personal needs. Take some time to investigate and discover what needs aren't being met in your life. Do you need more autonomy? Better understanding? Perhaps you're needing a greater sense of competence or deeper contribution to the world around you. When you know more about why you feel the way you do, you're better able to get some relief.
Spend Time with Your Support Squad.
Hopefully, you've chosen a support squad composed of those who will lift you up, not hold you back. When you're feeling worthless, ask them for compassion, understanding, empathy, and encouragement. Remember, these are people who love you and have likely chosen you to be in their lives for years. Let them remind you why.
Focus on Work.
When I was going through my divorce, I found my office cubicle to be a source of hope and inspiration. Work was a place where I could excel regardless of what might have been happening in my personal life. I don't advocate becoming a total workaholic, but for a while, you might find comfort, promise, and purpose in putting in a few extra hours or taking on additional responsibilities.
Consider Your Children.
If you have kids, remind yourself of the awesome responsibility you've accepted by being a parent. Remember all the hugs you gave, the noses you wiped, the medicine you administered, and the encouragement you offered. Consider the positive impact you've had on the future, just by being a parent.
Make a List of Your Accomplishments.
Depending on how you feel, you could list all of your lifetime accomplishments. Or, you might choose to list all the tiny hurdles you've crossed since separating from your ex. I remember the exhilaration I felt the first time I walked two dogs at the same time by myself. All accomplishments count.
Invest in Yourself.
Do you have a mental image of an ideal version of yourself? If so, take some steps necessary to become that person. There are a multitude of investments you can make in your finances, education, appearance, and social life.
Serve Your Community.
Another way to boost your confidence is to volunteer. Pick a cause you care about, and seek opportunities to contribute. Those in charge will be grateful for the help, and you'll feel good about yourself while enjoying the outcome of your efforts.
NOTE: DO NOT attempt to boost your own self-esteem by comparing yourself and tearing down your ex. That's an ugly game with no positive outcome.
If you're feeling bad about yourself, there's no reason to feel ashamed. It's something everyone struggles with on some level in the aftermath of a separation. The key to feeling better is to practice self-awareness and take positive steps toward inner peace.
Written by Tara Eisenhard
Tara Eisenhard is a divorce coach who helps struggling singles overcome shame and frustration, en route to finding peace and cultivating a life they love. She is also the author of the novel "The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child's Eyes." Other articles by Tara can be found at her blog, Relative Evolutions.