One of the many things we struggle with as we recover from a breakup is learning how to rebuild our self-esteem.
It’s easy to understand why this is such an issue. When a relationship ends, we may feel rejected. We may feel unworthy. We sit crying on our couch, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in hand, wondering why our partner does not love us anymore.
You may think, as you’re stumbling through the list of to-dos and stress of everything else going on in your life, that nobody will ever find you attractive and worthy of love.
But, I am here to tell you to knock that bullsh*t off, because it’s simply not true.
Never forget for a second that you are a badass and that you are strong and beautiful.
So today, as we get a quick lesson on rebuilding our self-esteem, let’s embrace the following self-esteem revelation:
What happens to you does not define you.
Ending a relationship is not fun. It causes us to question who we are, what we think our life is, and where we are in this universe. We tend to define ourselves solely within the terms of being a partner, and we become dependent on that position as a mean to validate ourselves. We start to place our entire value on being a spouse, rather than putting that focus on something healthy—the independent, kind person that we are.
So, it’s no surprise that our self-esteem shatters when the one pillar we’ve used to define ourselves goes away. We make this false connection that end of a relationship equates to a bad, unworthy person. So, it’s no wonder that you’re feeling like crap.
But think about this for a second—when you stumbled and sprained your ankle that one time, the way you defined yourself didn’t go negative just because your ankle hurt. And if you were ever in a car accident, or if you have ever been hospitalized, you didn’t tie your identity and your self-worth into that one event happening in your life. Hell no. You knew that it was an inconvenience, but you were soon back living life.
So, why don’t you treat your breakup the same way? Sure, this is a hiccup in your life—but that doesn’t mean that you are any less of a person, or somehow not worthy of self-respect and love, because you’re going through this situation. It’s quite the opposite. The fact that you have the grace to navigate through this stressful time, and the strength to carry on taking care of everything else you have going on, speaks volumes of your character, your intellect, and your all-around awesomeness. You should applaud yourself for the amazing job you’re doing and give yourself credit.
However, if you’re still struggling with rebuilding your self-esteem, I understand. And because it can be difficult to change one’s mindset, I have a few exercises offer.
This is how you can reclaim your self-esteem:
Step 1: List all of 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—things that you most likely don’t give yourself credit for. But, it’s time to change that. What are things that you know you rock at? This has nothing to do with bragging or being immodest. Acknowledging your awesome skills is an important step to nurturing yourself.
If you need some inspiration, take a look at my examples below:
>> My friends say I’m a good listener.
>> My mom says that I am good at thinking logically.
>> 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 later 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, or that it’s wrong and extravagant to “toot our own horn.” But that misguided thinking means that many of us weren’t taught how to be self-confident or to hold ourselves in the high regard that we should. But it’s not too late to kick that negative thinking aside and start acknowledging how beautiful and amazing we really are.
So, here are some examples to inspire you:
>> I love my long hair.
>> I love to read, and I love that about myself.
>> I love that I 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? Some things may come to you later, so it’s okay to come back to this list as often as you need to.
Step 3: The next time your self-esteem hinders you, how will you incorporate the first two steps to neutralize the “Self-Esteem Monster”?
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 in the hell would ever want me?
Stop: I am kind. I am a good friend. And I’m damn good at my profession.
>> I feel so stupid—this breakup is all my fault.
Stop: I did my best. I have a good heart. I have much to contribute to this world. This breakup does not define me.
Okay, now it’s your turn! Are there self-esteem issues that you’ve dealt with when it comes to recovering from your relationship? What types of thoughts do you have when you are not feeling confident?
And more importantly, what kind, loving messages will you start to tell yourself as you begin to repair your self-esteem?
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 can imagine.
Author: Martha Bodyfelt
Image: film still
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis