We often use the words “confidence” and “self-esteem” interchangeably, but there is a difference. Confidence is a belief in our abilities while self-esteem is our overall sense of worth and self. It relates to who you are and what values you stand for. Clearly, the two are linked. Working on building your confidence is a great first step to improve your self-esteem.
Low self-esteem is the manifestation of negative feelings and self-criticism. If not managed they can lead to more deep-grained issues such as depression, anxiety, sadness, shame and guilt.
When our confidence is at a low, we usually have negative emotions swirling around within us. This is especially true when you are in the process of divorce. It’s hard to know where to start. Sometimes, though, especially at the beginning, the only thing you can do is sit with those emotions and gradually accept them. You’re going to go through all the stages of grief in your own specific way. The worst thing you can do is try to speed up the process or ignore it altogether.
Here are a few tips on how to regain confidence after divorce.
1.Walk or Exercise
Even if you don’t feel like it, try to go for a walk. If you’re an avid runner or gym-goer then go and do a session. However, if you’ve lost all energy, then a gentle stroll can do wonders for your mind. It’s a great way to get your muscles moving and re-energize your mind with more blood flow and oxygen. A good tip is also to remember to look up when you’re walking. Looking up has the added factor of giving yourself a break from your negative thoughts. Try it and see what happens. The simple act of raising your head usually involves opening up your chest so that you take a deeper breath.
Let’s not forget the main advantage of doing even a small amount of exercise. It’s all about creating happy chemicals in our brains. Endorphins are chemicals that are released into our brains when we exercise that make us feel good. If exercise doesn’t sound appealing, what about letting it all out to some loud, crazy music? That can help boost both your dopamine and serotonin levels, more happy chemicals that regulate mood and other functions, including sleep.
2.Practice Positive Self Talk
Have you ever considered how you talk to yourself? You know, those voices that go around and around in your head? Are you kind to yourself, or not?
If you suffer low self-esteem it is likely you are guilty of negative self-talk. This is an inner dialogue full of limiting beliefs that will ultimately make you doubt your abilities, make positive change or reach your full potential.
Stopping the cycle of negative self-talk can take practice and time. However, you can start today by trying these simple tricks:
- Catch yourself when you are talking negatively to yourself in your head
- Change the talk to make it positive, or at least neutral
- Consider why you were talking to yourself negatively
- Try to talk to yourself as you would a good friend
3.Write a List of Your Strengths and Read it Every Morning
Another great way to regain confidence after divorce is to remind yourself that you have strengths. It might sound strange if you’re reading this in the midst of despair but you do have something to offer the world. Sadly, the process of divorce often means that we forget about our strengths. Part of regaining your confidence is to reconnect with them.
Try out this worksheet on strengths. You simply highlight three strengths you have and then think about how to use them during that week. The other option is to list ten things you do well. Regardless of which list you prefer, you can keep it next to your bed and read it every morning. This helps force your negative thoughts out, if even for a brief moment. Moreover, waking up with positive thoughts everyday will gradually change your mindset. Believe it or not, those negative emotions and thoughts will get dimmer and more manageable over time.
4.Set Small Goals
Divorce is not a failure. It’s a change.
Anyone who’s been through divorce knows how much we blame ourselves. I can’t remember the amount of times I went over and over in my head what I could have done differently. I even had well-meaning family members telling me that I could fix this. There was nothing to fix though.
Divorce is not a failure. It’s one of those things that happens in life for various reasons, and like with any change, we learn to adapt and move on. We never forget the sense of loss but we find a way to live with it. Divorce changed my life for the better even if it took me years to see it.
Go back to your strengths list and think of small goals that you can do for yourself to honor your dreams and regain confidence. Even if you have to dig deep, there’s bound to be something you’ve put aside for a while that you want to do, whether it’s a new hobby or simply a book you’ve never read. Even cooking yourself a proper meal at least once a week can be a great goal. Again, keep it small but make sure it’s important to you and no one else
5.Find a Hobby to do Alone
If you are lacking in confidence it can also inhibit creativity or the ability to try because of what other people might think. Putting too much time into worrying about other people’s opinions of you can be soul destroying and is actually a waste of time and energy.
Find a space in your world that is just for you, where you feel at ease and without judgement. We recommend choosing a hobby which you can do alone. Something which is not too challenging, perhaps something you have been meaning to try for a while. Finding something new and enjoyable to add to your world that is just about you is hugely comforting and will give you the freedom to reconnect with your confidence.
6.Learn To Say No
The weeks and months following a separation or divorce when kids are involved are often filled with guilt. It is natural to worry about the effect your divorce will have on your children and how they will cope. To compensate for this guilt many separated parents unintentionally pander to their children’s needs at detriment to themselves i.e. they never say no.
Be careful not to fall into this trap. Not only will your children come to expect it which will make parenting harder for years to come, but if you reach burnout, you are no good to them as a parent.
Feeling comfortable to say ‘no’ does not just apply to your children. If a friend asks a favour or a family member has expectations of you which you are struggling to fulfil, it is OK to say no.
On a final note
7. Rebuild Your Children’s Trust
Divorce is a painful process, not just for the couple involved, but also for their children. Hurt, confusion, and mistrust set in, which can result in separation anxiety. The good thing is that parents can put in an effort to reconcile with their kids and work hard to bring back their trust. By doing this, the children may find healing.