Learning to trust yourself and developing self-love is an inner journey that involves examining your past from a fresh perspective. If you don’t believe you are good enough, how can you believe a new partner would choose you? Self-awareness is the first step in learning to love yourself.
Take the time to examine how your relationships have played themselves out, and lessons you have learned from the experience. Try not to wallow in self-pity for too long. Joke. Laugh. Regaining your sense of humor can help you accept yourself and to transform your life after a divorce or a breakup.
Create a Positive Vision of Your Future Before Looking for Love After Divorce
Before seeking a new relationship with someone who is a good match for you, begin to challenge any persistent negative thoughts you have about yourself and change them to positive ones. For instance, if you tell yourself you don’t accomplish enough, start a daily success journal and write down three things that you accomplish each day. Your self-worth will grow as you accumulate evidence of your accomplishments.
Keeping track of negative automatic thoughts that pop into your head can cause you to feel distressed. Words have power, so whenever you realize you’re thinking a negative thought, replace it with a positive one such as “I am learning to love and accept myself each day.” Keeping a daily log or writing negative thoughts in a journal can help you with this process. It may seem unnatural at first but will become second nature after a while.
Often it is a great idea to create a vision board where you post quotes, positive intentions, affirmations, goals, and photos of images that inspire you to feel good about yourself and your potential. Include ideas and images about cultivating relationships with people who can help you grow. Healthy relationships are about mutual respect and reciprocity – they are not one-sided.
Learn to Set Healthy Boundaries Before a New Relationship After Divorce
You may come to realize that you can’t be all things to all people. A life without setting boundaries can be exhausting. One way women express self-esteem (or lack of it) is through boundaries. A boundary sets a limit on the way others treat you. Being more aware of boundaries will keep you from violating others boundaries, as well as protect you from those who would try to impose upon you in an inappropriate way.
An example of a boundary would be not tolerating being put down by a partner. If he or she says something mean or insulting, you need to speak up and say “I can’t accept that behavior.” You can ask your partner to modify their behavior or say you will take action (leave the room or hang up the phone). For many women, verbalizing a boundary and establishing a consequence for it is a new idea. However, setting healthy boundaries is a fundamental aspect of a healthy relationship.
People-pleasing habits are ingrained in girls from an early age and can happen as a result of not setting good boundaries in relationships. Growing up, you were probably taught to look pretty and not to complain – to worry about others’ happiness more than our own. Setting boundaries can help you reclaim parts of your authentic self and to learn to love yourself again.
During my divorce, it became obvious to me that I had not been setting healthy boundaries and that I had lost the essence of myself in my marriage. Like many women, I was a people pleaser who spent a lot of energy trying to comfort and appease others – neglecting my own needs. As a result, I often put my needs last. In the process, I compromised too much and was left feeling like I had morphed into someone else.
Believing in yourself and having sufficient self-esteem is crucial to building relationships based on mutual respect, integrity, and honesty. If you practice self-love, you can get out from under the shadow of your past and restore your self-confidence.
Here are 8 reasons why you should focus more on learning to love yourself instead of finding new love after divorce:
1. Developing a mindset of self-acceptance will allow you to conquer self-defeating messages. Cultivate a mindset that relationships are our teachers and you have the power to learn and grow from your past. Counseling, blogging, and reading can aid you in this process of self-awareness – the first step to change.
2. If you practice self-love, you’ll stop beating yourself up over mistakes. Instead, you’ll develop a healthy response to errors in judgment or failing. If you practice forgiving yourself, your self-love will grow. If genuine forgiveness is not possible, practice acceptance.
3. If you love yourself, you won’t become a victim and you’ll begin to make decisions that reflect your strengths. You’ll be better able to give yourself permission to “think big” and want more.
4. Learning to love yourself will help you to take good care of yourself. Following rituals such as practicing yoga or walking daily (or going to the gym three times each week) will improve your mood and self-esteem. Other self-care rituals include unplugging for a few hours a day and reading daily. Also, consider spending time with friends or family to connect and socialize.
5. Practicing self-love will allow you explore new relationships carefully. You don’t have to pick your next partner on the first date, so have fun and approach dating as a learning experience.
6. If you love yourself, you’ll be more assertive in relationships. If you want to form a new relationship based on trust, practice speaking up when something upsets you or you have a request. Dating can help you to determine your non-negotiable deal breakers.
7. If you have feelings of self-worth, you’ll be better able to shed toxic relationships and develop healthy ones. Surround yourself with people who support your journey and can allow you to build self-confidence. Never settle for less than you deserve.
8. Learning to love yourself will bring feelings of contentment and you will be less likely to look to a relationship to fulfill you. After all, it’s impossible to love someone else in an authentic way if you do not love yourself.
With self-awareness and patience, you can turn your negative beliefs about yourself into power-packed positive thoughts. You don’t have to let your past dictate the decisions you make today or your view of yourself or relationships. Over time, you will learn to trust your own judgment and replace feelings of failure with optimism about your future. Like all challenges in life, greater awareness and willingness to work on an issue can spark change.
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Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book, Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship was published by Sourcebooks in 2016.