“Self-love, self-respect, self-worth: There’s a reason they all start with ‘self.’ You can’t find them in anyone else.” ~Unknown
After my divorce, I felt like I was the most terrible person in the world.
I had zero self-worth, zero confidence, and zero belief in myself
If you’re going through a breakup or divorce now, your self-worth may suffer too. You might feel worthless. You might feel value-less. You might feel like a failure.
Think about it. The person who loved you, who wanted you, who fell in love with you is now rejecting you.
If you’ve been together for a couple years, you may take this hard. If you have been together for a couple decades, you may feel absolutely devastated.
They wanted you before and you felt complete. They rejected you now, so you must be a terrible person.
I’ve discovered that it’s not our partners who crushed our self-worth and self-esteem. Mine was already pretty low.
If you came from an abusive family or had a painful childhood, your self-esteem was likely already at rock bottom.
All this relationship did was bring the issue of self-worth to the surface. You now believe all the terrible things you used to tell yourself.
Your former partner has confirmed the sneaking suspicion of all the things that you thought about yourself. Their breaking up with you has confirmed to you that you’re useless, unattractive, flawed, and an all-around bad person to be around.
Not only did your former partner disappear from your life, but now all you have is yourself and these terrible feelings about yourself.
You lost your ex and gained yourself, except the person you gained is this terrible person that was rejected by the person they loved. It’s a sad and destructive cycle. Your inside world is burning and your outside world is up in smokes!
I know this all too well because this was how I found myself after my divorce.
All of these strong feelings about yourself will make you want to stay in bed. They will make you want to give up on the world.
Your partner thinks you’re horrible and you do too. Why even live? Suicide didn’t cross my mind, but I sometimes wanted to disappear from the world.
If you’re going through heartbreak right now, here’s what it’s going to take to repair your relationship with yourself and rebuild your self-worth so you can become a more confident, happier version of yourself.
9 Steps to Rebuild Your Self-Worth After Your Breakup
1. Accept where you’re at.
After my divorce, I realized that my self-worth had taken a major hit and that I had been harboring all these feelings toward myself for a very long time.
The first step is self-awareness. Acknowledge, accept, and notice the feelings of low self-worth within yourself. No judgment, okay? You don’t have to dislike yourself and dislike the fact that you dislike yourself. Just accept your feelings toward yourself for what they are.
2. Start noticing how you talk to yourself about yourself.
Your mind is constantly talking to you and saying negative things about you, fueling your low self-worth. Your job is to find a strategy to deal with your mind. Use mindfulness, journaling, observation, or even therapy to get an accurate picture of the thoughts you’re thinking about yourself. Awareness is the key to turning your thoughts and feelings about yourself around.
3. Think of yourself like a child that you love.
Imagine you are a parent who is speaking to this frightened child who is feeling terrible about themselves. What would this parent say? How would they comfort this tiny person? How would this parent speak to, treat, and help this helpless person who is struggling with loving themselves?
Start treating yourself as your own loving parent. Whatever the parent would say to the child, say to yourself. Whatever the person would do for the child, do for yourself.
4. Use affirmations, encouragement, and positive self-talk.
You may never have done anything like this in your life, but it’s a great way to reprogram your mind.
I did this practice for a couple years almost every other day, using affirmations that affirmed my worthiness and my value. I wrote things like:
- “I am worthy.”
- “I am enough.”
- “I am complete.”
- “I love myself.”
- “I value myself/”
- “I have everything I need within me.”
- “I love myself even if no one else loves me.”
These statements may sound weird and unnatural, but I’m telling you that they work. People have been telling you the opposite your entire life. Now you have to reprogram your mind and the thoughts you have about yourself.
5. Use visualization to help you see what’s possible.
Start imagining what it would feel like if you believed in yourself, accepted yourself, and had confidence in yourself. How would you act, react, and feel if you felt good about yourself?
Imagine and see what positive self-worth looks like. Look for people who have healthy self-worth and use them as an example. Think about people who are close to you, that treat you well. How they treat you is how you want to ultimately treat yourself. Start closing your eyes and feeling what having high self-worth would look like.
6. Start acknowledging the inherent qualities you have within yourself.
All the good things in yourself that you’ve discounted and ignored, start taking note of them.
When I was first trying to build my self-worth, I would wake up and think about all my good characteristics and virtues. I would say things like, “I’m thankful that I’m using my gift of writing to help other people,” I’m glad that I’m using my gift of compassion to be service to others,” “I’m glad that as an uncle I can bring happiness to the little people in my life.” I noted and recognized every positive quality, little and big .
7. Start making improvements in your life to change your quality of life.
Like that parent who treats their kid well, you’re going to treat yourself well. Whatever that means to you, do that.
For me, this meant getting out of the conflict-ridden legal field to work in NGO with the community. It meant world travel. It meant becoming a coach. It meant getting plenty of sleep. It meant minimizing my life so I wouldn’t have so much stress in it. I continually did things to improve the quality of my life because I was with someone I was starting to fall in love with—me.
8. Exit from everything that is harmful to you.
Thoughts, media, friends, family, and anything else that was negative, I stepped away from. If it didn’t make me feel good about myself, I didn’t go near it.
I know it’s better to process and work through the things that distress us, but as I was trying to rebuild my self-worth, none of that mattered. I was going to solely focus on having positivity in my life and ruthlessly cutting out everything that was harmful, dangerous, or self-sabotaging. This included relationships, activities, media sources, movies, reading materials, advertising, and everything else that didn’t serve me.
9. Becoming comfortable with yourself.
When the negative chatter, self-sabotaging relationships, and damaging people in your life all get out of the way, you’ll have the time and space to learn about who you are. This is the process of finding yourself and getting to like this person that’s underneath it all. Meet this person, discover their likes and dislikes, and be curious about them just like you would with someone you’re interested in.
None of these things are one-time things, or just for you to read today and go back to the rest of your life.
If you’re serious about your relationship with yourself, you have to commit to it. You have to keep showing up for yourself. You have to ritualize and habitualize all the practices I’ve shared.
I learned how to improve the relationship with myself and it improved every aspect of my life.
Now, I’m thankful to my ex for helping me put a spotlight on my self-worth. I have done so much work to heal the self-sabotaging parts of myself.
You too can use the pain of heartbreak to rebuild your self-worth after your breakup and become the most whole, complete, and happy version of yourself.
Vishnu is a writer and coach who helps people overcome breakups to rebuild their lives and live with purpose. He blogs at www.vishnusvirtues.com For Vishnu’s latest book, 10 Sacred Laws of Healing a Broken Heart, visit his Amazon page here.