How to Improve your Self Esteem after a Divorce
Although divorce is far more common in our society than it was a couple generations ago, it can still be damaging to your self-esteem. Just contemplating the fact that the marriage you made a lifelong commitment to “didn’t work” can make you feel like a failure. You may have also had a manipulative or abusive spouse who kept you down, and you are still feeling this way even though you no longer live under the same roof.
There is no getting around the fact that divorce is painful and can negatively affect your self-esteem. But things do not have to stay this way. There is life after divorce, and there are countless examples of people who have picked themselves up and gone on to experience the best years of their lives after their marriage ended.
Here are some ways you can improve your confidence and self-esteem after a divorce:
Stop Thinking of Yourself as a “Failure” Because of the Divorce
This may seem obvious, but it is much easier said than done. One of the first steps in improving your self-esteem after divorce is to change what divorce means to you. You may have religious beliefs that tell you divorce is wrong. You may have family members and others around you who are judging you because of what happened. You cannot let these influences tear you down. Your marriage didn’t work out. That is not something you planned for or hoped for, but that is reality not only for you and for millions of other couples as well.
Getting divorced may not have been an ideal outcome, but it does not make you a failure. Look at it as a season in your life that you went through and learned from. And resolve to use the lessons learned (from this experience) to build a better future for yourself and your family.
Dispel the Notion that Divorce Irreparably Harms Children
If you have children with your ex-spouse, this could be one of the reasons you feel like a failure because of the divorce. Conventional wisdom states that children are better off living with both parents, and that parents separating is really hard on them. There is certainly some truth to this, but it is not a cut-and-dry issue. For example, if you were in a high conflict marriage, this is not good for children either and it may be better for them if the parents are separated.
The thing to remember is that every child is unique, and each one deals with their childhood experiences differently. There are plenty of children from divorced homes who have gone on to be highly successful, and in fact, this is also true of children that were raised in orphanages and grew up with other adverse circumstances.
The key for is how you handle the situation going forward. Show your children plenty of love, reassure them that the divorce was not their fault, try your best never to talk badly about the other parent in front of them, and make an effort to maintain an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse. If you do these things, chances are your kids will adjust successfully to life after the divorce.
List Some of Your Greatest Strengths and Accomplishments
Throughout the course of your life, you have surely developed some talents and accomplished some things that you are proud of. As you look forward to your new life, it is helpful to take a little time and look at some of your greatest strengths and accomplishments. What are some things you do really well? What do others say you are good at? What are some things you really like about yourself? Most of us have a tendency to be hard on ourselves, especially when we go through an experience like a divorce. During times like these, it is good to reflect on everything we have going for us in our lives. If you think about it, you can probably come up with a healthy list of things you can feel good about.
Incorporate Physical Activity into your Regular Routine
Getting into shape and maintaining regular physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your self-esteem. If you do not exercise regularly, now is a good time to start – assuming it is okay with your doctor. If you already work out on a regular basis, keep that up and consider even increasing your activity.
Associate with People who Will Support and Encourage You
The people you choose to spend your time with have more impact on your self-esteem than you may realize. If you associate with negative people that are always putting others down, you will become that way yourself, and you will develop a low self-esteem in the process. But if you associate with people who give you support and encouragement, you will be lifted up and motivated to support and encourage others as well.
Choose your friends wisely and spend your time with people who will build you up. You may also want to consider joining a divorce support group. There are plenty of groups like these in your local area or online where you can share your experiences with those who have gone through what you are going through. Finally, you may want to consider professional help from a divorce therapist if you have some deeper issues that you believe need to be resolved.