One of the most difficult parts 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 who we identify as evolves. We don’t evolve in a vacuum, however. Our experiences, our choices, and our relationships actively impact our self-image. In this way, our decisions are influenced by what we believe we should be doing.
If you believe you are a good person with high moral standards, then the choices and actions you take will be more deliberate and conscious of the impact it has on others. Conversely, if you see yourself as not worthy of love and inferior, you may not take many social risks for fear of rejection or embarrassment. How you see yourself influences your daily habits and your moment to moment decisions.
When you are in a committed, monogamous relationship the fears and reservations you may have had in the beginning start to fade away. You become more confident in the relationship and you carry yourself more confidently. Many studies in social psychology have supported the positive life impacts when an individual is in a healthy romantic relationship. Increased levels of happiness, self-confidence, healthier platonic relationships, improved physical health, improved job performance, etc.
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 efficacy 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. You want to remind yourself of what you contributed to your previous relationship and the positive characterizations your loved ones would say about 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. Go on and list your positive traits and feel free to read through the list every morning before you start your day. You’ll be able to go out into the world radiating your confidence.
2. Write (and read) your personal story. Write about how you have positively grown since the beginning of the relationship to its end. You have undoubtedly grown and learned about yourself, relationships, and what you want (or don’t want) in your life. Who you are was shaped by a series of experiences and emotions. 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.
3. Showcase your unique skills. Begin an activity or task that will require your unique skills to accomplish. Remind yourself of your ability to achieve a set goal. If you are good at baking, then bake a cake for a friend’s birthday. If you are handy with tools, then design and build a piece of furniture for your living room or study. You have skills and using them, honing them, will raise your self-efficacy. You will have the confidence to set larger goals that will require more time and effort, but will lead to a reward that holds an important, 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 have seen individuals bounce back from the lowest points in their lives to a place of triumph and genuine happiness. They did this by being deliberate about their goals, the habits they wanted to form, and person they wanted to see in the mirror.
Being deliberate means putting pen to paper and writing where you want to be emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. The more detailed you can be, the better able you will 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.
"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."