Divorce can really knock your self-esteem for a loop. When you’re in an intimate relationship with another human being, a huge sense of who you are and your self-worth is tied up in the relationship. When that committed relationship ends, the degree to which you’re reliant on someone else for your sense of self-worth becomes painfully obvious. The ending of a committed relationship brings up some of the darkest thoughts and fears we hold about ourselves, particularly if the divorce was not your idea. Often my divorce coaching clients wonder whether they are “good enough” to have a successful, long-term relationship. Some doubt whether they’ll be able to pick up the pieces or be able to trust themselves to make good choices going forward.
Regaining and building your self-worth and self-esteem is a critical ingredient to healing and growing from your divorce experience. The word “worth” means “good or important enough to justify something” or “usefulness or importance.” Do you consider yourself worthy of having a life that you love and relationships you cherish, even in the aftermath of divorce?
One of the greatest gifts I’ve received from my divorce experience was to learn how much I depended upon others for my sense of self-worth. Whether it was my husband, my children, my employers or even my volunteer committee members, at some level I continuously looked to people outside myself for their appreciation and acknowledgement in order to feel good about myself. I was reluctant to sing my own praises for fear of being too “selfish” or “self-centered.” My experience as a divorce coach confirms that I am not alone in this type of behavior.
At the end of the day, standing alone as a divorced woman with many of my external support systems ruptured, I came to realize that it was my responsibility to value and respect myself. It was a moment of awakening and a doorway to living with new levels of self-acceptance, compassion and love. To paraphrase Rabbi Hillel, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” If I wouldn’t deem myself worthy of love and respect, who else would? Being willing to value yourself and respect yourself lays the foundation for getting clear on your direction and setting healthy boundaries in future relationships. Self-worth fosters self-confidence, a quality that can become very infectious to those around you as well!
Here are some strategies to ramp up your self-worth:
1. Take an Inventory
Make a list of the people, organizations or structures in your life that you may be currently using as a source of your self-worth. Is it your family? The size of your pay check? The first step is to simply note where you may be relying on outside sources to fuel your self-esteem.
2. If not You, Who?
Have you ever noticed how we’re often our own worst critics? Self-worth and self-esteem is definitely an inside job, so it’s your responsibility to give yourself all the acknowledgement, kudos, respect and love you may be looking for others to give you. Daily, written self-acknowledgements can be very powerful. Do a victory dance when you’ve accomplished a goal. Notice if consciously celebrating your victories makes you uncomfortable at all. If it does, great! That means you’re expanding your comfort zone and are on the right track to learning how to source yourself.
3. If not Now, When?
Life is so short, so what are you waiting for? Make a commitment for at least the next seven days to value yourself as if you were the most precious resource on the planet. Indulge yourself with loving, caring thoughts and tender acts of kindness towards yourself. View this like a scientific experiment. You can judge the results at the end of the experiment and decide if you’d like to continue or not.
4. Build a Team
Find a buddy or coach who can hold you accountable for building your sense of self-worth. Tell someone you trust that you’re taking responsibility for your own happiness and treating yourself more kindly. If they hear you overlooking a good deed or minimizing yourself in any way, ask them to call you on it.
Carolyn B. Ellis is the Founder of Thrive After Divorce, Inc. A Harvard University graduate, Carolyn is a Certified Master Integrative Coach™, Teleclass Leader and the first Canadian to be certified as a Spiritual Divorce Coach. She has also served as a Staff Coach at the Institute for Integrative Coaching at John F. Kennedy University in San Francisco, CA, and has been trained personally by its founder, NY Times best-selling author Debbie Ford. Her book, The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce is available at www.thriveafterdivorce.com
. She is a member of Collaborative Practice Toronto. Her three amazing school age children and bouncy labradoodle dog are her daily sources of inspiration and joy.
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