From a reader with lack of self-love: I have let go of my divorce anger and I can tell you that my life did not get better. It seems to get worse and worse. I feel trapped… like maybe I deserve to be mistreated by everyone around me.
Being picked up and then thrown down has damaged my ability to trust men. My self-worth and esteem have been taken to astounding lows. I feel like no one could ever love someone like me. I still hurt even as the anger has subsided. I guess some wounds can’t be healed or soothed.
Here is my response to:
…maybe I deserve to be mistreated by everyone around me.
…I feel like no one could ever love someone like me.
These statements clearly show low self-esteem and lack of self-love. What I want to ask her is, what happened specifically that made you feel this way?
I truly think many people (including me) who go through a divorce lose themselves temporarily, and their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-love sometimes take a big hit.
Why? Possible reasons: they’ve been treated so badly for so long that they are used to it. They’ve been emotionally or physically abused. Or, maybe they’ve acted badly, said things and done things about which they are angry at themselves.
So, how do you get self-love back?
1. You recognize that you have lack of self-love and try to figure out where it is stemming from.
2. You seek help.
Yes, that means therapy. You go to someone and you find the time and the courage to get help.
3. You start doing things that promote self-love.
These things might include self-care, like taking better care of your body physically–working out, eating healthy, minimizing drinking… Or, maybe volunteer work, or doing more kind, thoughtful acts for others.
4. You surround yourself with people who care about you and love you–family, old friends, new friends.
5. You surround yourself with people who are good for you. What I mean by that is, people who you like yourself around, who you are in healthy relationships with.
6. You stop hanging around people who are toxic and who make you not like yourself.
7. You remember where you came from before you were married.
Before this divorce thing whisked away your self-love.
8. Perhaps most importantly (if you have kids), you start with your kids.
You start being the best parent you possibly can (or continue being the best parent if you feel you already are.) No one can take that away from you.
Ask yourself, “Why don’t I like myself?” “What would make me like myself?” “What can I change to like myself?”
Obtaining self-love doesn’t happen overnight. That said, one night of volunteer work might give you a big jumpstart. But what I’m saying is, don’t try to make huge changes really quickly.
Start with little things and build up to meeting your goals. In other words, you don’t have to say, “I’m going on a diet and am going to lose 30 pounds.” Instead, say, “I’m going to start eating healthier right now. I’m going to cut out sugar and stop drinking for a week. ”
After a week say, “Now I’m going to cut out bread and start eating whole grains.” The next week say, “I’m going to try a yoga class.” The week after that, “This week, I’m going to walk 2 miles after work for at least 3 nights.”
These changes are obtainable and so you won’t feel like a failure if you eat a cookie. Try it. What have you got to lose? I know for myself, if I eat healthy even for one day, I like myself more. I realize this is only one tiny piece of the puzzle, but lack of self-love comes from doing things that you don’t like about yourself.
So, in everything you do, ask yourself, “Is this promoting self-love?” If the answer is yes, keep doing it or do more of it. If the answer is no, then stop. Just stop.
Stop badmouthing your ex to others, stop badmouthing your ex in front of the kids, apologize to people for things you said recently, do your job better, pay an elderly person a visit, call you mom and tell her you love her (for no reason.) Do things that make other people feel good. That promotes self-love.
Also regarding lack of self-love…
Remember that no one is perfect and if you happen to be looking back at your relationship and blaming yourself for things, STOP! Of course you probably did some things you wish you could take back, or you wish you’d have treated your ex differently at times. We all feel that way. But no one is perfect and to be healthy and happy, we need to forgive ourselves. All we can do is strive to be better in the future and not make the same mistakes.
Self-love is probably the most important aspect of having a better life after divorce.
Remember that there are certain things you can control and certain things you can’t. And, making changes in your life–even little ones, takes courage. When you find the courage to change, that helps self-love, too.