One of the more difficult components of moving on after a divorce is redefining who you are. This is not to say that you were someone else when you were married. Just different.
You see, in the course of a lifetime our personality and how we identify ourselves evolves. However, we don’t evolve in a vacuum. Our experiences, our choices, and our relationships actively impact the evolution of our self-image and in turn our self-confidence.
In this way, our decisions are influenced by what we believe we can do and what we should be doing.
If you believe you’re a good person with high moral standards, you will be more conscientious about your actions. Conversely, if you see yourself as not worthy of love and inferior, you may not take social risks for fear of rejection or embarrassment. All this contributes to how you see yourself and it influences your daily habits.
When you are in a committed, monogamous relationship the fears and reservations you may have had in the beginning start to fade away. You feel secure in the relationship and you carry yourself with confidence. In fact, many studies in social psychology have supported the positive life influence of a healthy romantic relationship. Those studies highlight the increased levels of happiness, self-confidence, healthier platonic relationships, improved physical health, improved job performance, and many more.
It’s no wonder why being in a long term relationship becomes a core component in how we see ourselves. The question now is; how do we re-examine our self-worth and confidence after that once positive relationship has ended? Here are some suggestions that have helped my clients after a long term relationship has ended:
1. List your positive traits and accomplishments.
Remember what you contributed to your relationship and the positive traits your loved ones would ascribe to you. Even if you don’t believe them at this moment, you are trying to tip the scale of negative thoughts and negative self-talk back in your favor. This means simply having one more positive thought than negative thoughts begins to change your brain’s frequency. And you want a positive frequency. So go on and list your positive traits and feel free to read through the list every morning before you start your day. Doing this will help you go out into the world radiating with confidence.
2. Write (and read) your personal story.
Reflect on how you have positively grown throughout the relationship. You have undoubtedly grown and learned about yourself, relationships, and what you want (or don’t want) in your life. Learning these important details makes it easier to recognize who you are when things begin to change. The sooner you can recognize that individual happenings of your life don’t define you, the sooner you can look at the bigger picture and see the accumulation of experiences that have prepared you for this moment.
“Life is one epic novel full of excitement, plot twists, love, loss, fear, and triumph. The real magic is that we get to decide how it ends. Decide the ending and read every preceding chapter as an exciting journey in character development; preparing you for your greatest purpose. The climax of the story.”
3. Showcase your unique skills.
Begin an activity or task that will require your unique skills to accomplish. Remind yourself of your ability to work hard and accomplish something meaningful to you. For example, if you’re good at baking, then bake a cake for a friend’s birthday. If you’re handy with tools, then design and build a piece of furniture for your living room or study. You see, using the skills you already have and honing them will raise your self-efficacy (the belief that you can accomplish goals). You, in turn, will have the confidence to set larger goals that will require more time and effort but will lead to a reward that holds a greater intrinsic value.
4. Forecast the person you want to be.
How you project your future after the divorce will impact your actions and decisions as we’ve noted above. I work with individuals who have bounced back from the lowest points in their lives to a place of triumph and genuine happiness. And they did this by being deliberate about their goals, the habits they wanted to form, and the person they wanted to see in the mirror. What their success has shown me is that we have more control over our daily experiences than we once believed. Which means we have more control over what our future holds.
To be deliberate, put pen-to-paper and write where you want to be emotionally, physically, and financially. And the more detailed you can be, the better able you’ll be to visualize that person today. Let that positive image of yourself dictate the choices you make today and the people you are willing to allow into your life tomorrow.
The only opinion you should be concerned with is your own. That is why using these habits to reinforce your self-confidence allows you to pursue what makes you happy.