Science says all it takes is some belief in yourself.
Starting over again after divorce fills you with a terrifying (and slightly obsessive) set of fears. You’re afraid that your life after divorce can only be worse than your life was before. You hammer yourself with the thought that you failed at being married. And obviously this failure means there’s something wrong with you which, again obviously, means you deserve misery for the rest of your life.
Well, OK, maybe that’s not what your fears about your life after divorce are, but that’s what mine were. As you can tell, I quickly slid into the abyss of self-loathing.
But even with all my divorce depression and self-flagellation, I was also secretly excited about the possibilities my freedom opened up for me – at least sometimes. It was really an immensely confusing time for me.
I found my way out of my fog of misery by slowly changing my opinion of myself. I thought, “Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t unwanted trash because my marriage failed. Maybe I could kinda start believing my friends who said I was wonderful.” And that’s how I found the trailhead for my long trek from divorce back to living an ah-mazing life post-divorce.
What I want you to take from my experience is that the better you feel about yourself, the better your life after divorce will be and the quicker it will be that way!
But don’t just take my word for it. Researchers at Shahid Beheshti University found that a low self-efficacy increases emotional and social problems. And we both know that when you divorce you’ve got more than enough emotional and social problems without purposely adding to them.
So, what do you do with this research that says the better you feel about yourself and your capabilities, the better your life after divorce will be? You keep reading because what follows are several ideas (all of which have worked either for me or someone I know) to get you feeling better about you ASAP.
- Decide that you’re going to feel better about yourself. Yeah, this may sound a bit anti-climactic, but the truth is you can talk about it or you can commit to doing what it takes to actually feel better about yourself. This is the decision you’ve got to whole-heartedly make before you will notice any real progress here.
- Stop judging yourself so harshly. This is where the rubber starts meeting the road because you’ve got to become acutely aware of that itty-bitty shitty committee that’s been running things in your head for a while now. You know all those negative things you think about yourself? They’re all coming from this committee. And the only way to get them to shut up is to take control of them by choosing to think differently about yourself.
- Give yourself positive affirmations and afformations. No, you won’t turn into Stuart Smalley. What you will turn into is someone who can offer proof for the affirmations they make about themselves which increases their effectiveness and sets you up for a truly wonderful life after divorce.
- Accept and believe compliments. When you’re feeling bad about yourself, it’s really, really hard to believe anything good that anyone else says about it. That’s because your committee is in charge of beating you down and deciding all compliments are lies. Yup, when you don’t accept and believe the compliments others give you you’re essentially calling them liars. (Now, some people may just be blowing up your skirt/briefs because they want something from you, but not your true friends.)
- Nurture yourself daily. Yes, every single day you need to do something nice for you. You don’t have to do anything elaborate, but you do need to pamper yourself. Maybe you eat a wonderful meal, or meditate, or take 5 deep breaths, or take a walk to clear your mind. Well, I’m sure you get idea here. Nurturing yourself doesn’t have to mean that you’re getting a daily massage (although, if you do that’s fabulous!), it just means that you’re purposely spending time doing something that makes you feel good.
Improving your self-esteem isn’t as simple as choosing one of these suggestions and being done or as simple as doing each one once. Feeling better about yourself so your life after divorce is well worth living is a process.
Remember that trek I told you I took? Well, that’s what you can expect too. Your journey from the miasma of divorce misery to an ah-mazing post-divorce life will take time and effort. But I can assure you that the time and effort will be incredibly well spent because ah-mazing is totally worth it!
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want to survive and thrive after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Looking for more help navigating your post-divorce life? Read more advice about Life After Divorce.