One’s self-esteem can take a beating during marriage, particularly if wed to a spouse with a personality disorder. Some may find it difficult to trust again or not feel confident about decisions. Without a higher self-esteem as a buffer, we feel life’s hurts more acutely. First recognize that your self-esteem has dipped and seek ways to get back on course. Tips on boosting one’s self-esteem:
- Surround yourself with supportive and nurturing friends. This is not the time to deal with competitive or catty acquaintances. Take a break from people who are not your cheerleaders. If you have a few negative relatives who find fault, take a breather from them. Just say, ‘’I have a lot on my plate and will get back to you when my life is calmer.’’ You are not pointing a finger at anyone’s meanness, just stepping back to regroup and feel better about yourself.
- The key to boosting self-esteem is to follow your strengths to success. Kick-start your self-esteem by perfecting a talent. Karri had an acrimonious divorce and her self-esteem had plummeted. She had enjoyed dabbling in painting as a youngster and decided to give it a go again. Now her paintings hang in galleries across her state and she has a line of cards showcasing her artwork. I felt devalued during my marriage and put aside my love of writing. Post-divorce, my book got published and I am thrilled with my new career. Write down your strengths and talents. If you feel stuck, get some honest feedback from friends who will help get you thinking in a new direction. A life coach can be invaluable in exploring this area with you.
- Push yourself to accomplish new endeavors. This may be training and completing a marathon, or joining a choir. When self-esteem is low, doing something one did not think was possible gives a sense of achievement. Reaching new goals amps up a low self-esteem. Connie was divorced and decided to get out of her comfort zone and do a jungle trek through the interior of Bali. She was renewed and since then has completed more challenging physical feats. Other women have opted to take part in charity treks and bike rides globally to raise funds for various charities. The camaraderie and life changing experiences have increased their self-worth and esteem post-divorce.
- Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. Develop a positive outlook on life, realizing things just happen, and you are not a magnet for trouble. Instead of stating ‘’I could never do…’’ say ‘’With practice, I am getting better at …’’ Realize that other people’s moods do not revolve around you. When friends snap at you, avoid having the negative outlook that it is automatically your fault. Inquire why they seem on edge today and how can you help. Most likely you will hear about an annoying co-worker, or some other personal woe. I had a friend with a major self-esteem issue who felt like people were usually doing things to her. When her sister called and left a message, this friend declared that her sister called when she knew she was at work and really did not want to talk with her. Trying to point out that people call when it is convenient for them, did not get through to this former friend who viewed the world as a hostile place. Your self-esteem increases when you reframe thoughts that people are not trying to put you down.
- Get a job, you’ll feel valued. I lost my job in our co-owned business when my husband left me. I got another one soon afterwards during in my divorce, in spite of being out of the job market for twenty years. My self-esteem shot up more when I asked for a certain hourly amount and my boss disagreed and gave me two dollars more. The feedback from customers gave it another boost. An acquaintance had been a stay-at-home mom for two decades and got a sales job in a funky store with great co-workers right after her divorce. She became lively and said how great life was now. Being valued for one’s contribution and paid for it really boosts the self-esteem.
- Volunteer and reach out to others. Getting appreciation for your help, whether feeding the homeless people or animals at a shelter, really increases one’s self-esteem. Your self-worth gets immediate gratification with seeing what a difference you are making in many lives. If you are feeling that the world is against you, volunteering gives a reality check that many others are in worse situations.
- Learning to become more self-reliant builds self-esteem. I have learned how to do landscaping after buying my house during divorce. I have picked up a few minor DIY skills around the house and proudly mention these to my friends’ husbands. No I cannot figure out instructions and have to enlist my son to build shelves, but I feel empowered by what I can do around my house.
Understand that increasing one’s self esteem is a process and takes some time. Set realistic goals for what can be accomplished and bask in a sense of achievement when this is done. Stepping away from a toxic situation helps give clarity to what one’s strengths really are.