Studies show that self-esteem tends to diminish during the time leading up to and during divorce. This is because divorce can feel like a failure, whether you wanted it or not. It's public - people know you’re getting divorced and you may feel like everyone is judging you. In addition, you can hyper focus on the negatives - what went wrong in the marriage and question every decision that you made.
However, you can improve your self-esteem with intentional actions. Here are 2 strategies to regain your self-esteem when it’s impacted by divorce.
If you’re struggling and feeling like a failure in your divorce, this has little to do with your character. The root is probably an internal voice that says, “I’m a failure. I should have known better. Why didn’t I do things differently?” Interrupt this negative thinking and reframe the way you look at yourself and the divorce. Talk to yourself and say, “I did the best that I could and that’s ok. I’m strong, I can be happy.”
Going through divorce does not equal failure, it's actually a demonstration of how strong you are. Many people are unhappy in their marriage but don’t have the strength to leave and can’t imagine a different life. Every day you move forward in your divorce is a success. Each time you interrupt your negative thinking and replace it with a positive truth, this is a win.
I don’t know you personally, but I know a few of your strengths. Because I’ve been through divorce myself and have worked with hundreds of people going through divorce, I know how difficult it is. If you’re going through divorce, you’re resilient and adaptable because life brought you this difficult circumstance and you’re making it through. All that life is throwing at you - every day you get out of bed, every time you file paperwork or show up for your kids during this time of grief, you show perseverance.
Take a look at this list of positive personality traits: warm, friendly, honest, loyal, responsible, funny, dependable, open-minded, kind, empathic, ambitious, intelligent, creative, generous, enthusiastic, observant, insightful, polite, energetic, organized, determined, forgiving, patient, artistic, thorough, witty.
There’s a lot to like about yourself, but you have to make an effort to notice these qualities. Most of us spend a lot of time encouraging others, but it is also important to encourage yourself. Write down at least 8 things from the list above and add your own that describe you. If you do this regularly, you’ll help improve your self-esteem and you’ll be amazed at the positive consequences of feeling good about yourself.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.