When the person with whom you were most vulnerable breaks your heart, it's easy to feel inadequate and worthless, even if you have a laundry list of reasons you should feel good about other areas of your life. When it comes to love, our rational mind isn't running the show. Instead, breakups often make us think the worst things about ourselves: The person who knew me best and loved me the most now thinks I'm a piece of garbage, so it must be true.
The journey back to who you are will take time and effort. Once you've taken the time to get over your breakup, you're ready to work on your next steps of personal growth. Here are six tips for finding yourself again and how to raise your self-esteem:
Realize you are not the many things that your ex (or others) said about you.
Likewise, sometimes the painful things that weren't explicitly said hurt just as much as those that were spoken. In any case, the first step is to be able to see yourself as distinct, whole, and separate from the painful energy of what the relationship was.
If the picture you have of yourself in your mind stems from angry comments, hurtful words, and painful descriptions of your behavior, recognize that this is simply not accurate. Once you can acknowledge that they hurt your self-esteem, then you can rebuild your self-worth. You define you.
Be extraordinarily compassionate to yourself.
Once you acknowledge that your self-image likely stems from your ex's perception of you, you are ready to handle your negative thoughts about yourself differently. Instead of allowing the harsh parting words to crush your self-esteem, treat the memories and verbal daggers with compassion. This doesn't mean to push those negative thoughts away or think they are problematic. Just let them be, and do so with care and love.
Whether you're finding yourself dwelling on angry things your ex said to hurt you or are simply rehashing memories, flood it all with compassion. Let the painful thoughts pass by like floating clouds instead of piercing you like fatal thunderbolts.
Forgive yourself for mistakes and forgive your ex for the pain caused.
You screwed up. They screwed up.
You regret what you did to them. They likely regret what they did to you.
Your relationship may feel like a colossal failure because of everything that went wrong. There is always plenty of blame and regret to go around for everyone in the relationship. There is plenty of pain and heartache that each of you caused.
But the only way to keep this from weighing on your self-worth for the rest of your life is to let go of this heavy burden. You must find it within yourself to forgive your ex and let go of the past. Do it because it's the right thing to do and because you're a kind, compassionate person. If not that, do it for yourself so that you can let go of the burning coals of resentment. You may not be able to move on until you forgive your ex.
If you're being unusually hard on yourself and feel like you're responsible for everything that went wrong, it will be hard to move on and rebuild your self-worth.
Create space for healing and love.
Much of your relationship may have been about being the "right" person for your ex. If you've forgotten who you are, remember that the authentic you is still there.
So to return to your truth, you have to dig deep and start living in tune with your intuition. Start listening to those strong feelings guiding you. Stop listening to the chatter of your ex and everyone else around you. Practice being present with yourself, by yourself, and working on your self-esteem.
Try visualizing yourself as a confident person. Use affirmations like these on a daily basis: "I am confident, and I trust myself," "I am a loving person, and I am worthy of love," and "I believe in myself and my abilities."
Be sure to take care of yourself and do good things for yourself while healing. Try yoga, meditation, getting more sleep, going for walks in nature, and having more leisure time for yourself. (Here are a bunch of ways to practice self-care after a breakup.)
Create a no-negativity zone.
Do this by setting healthy boundaries and saying no to things that aren't serving you:
- Say no to people who bring you down and make you feel bad about yourself.
- Say no to unwanted obligations, unnecessary commitments, and activities that suck your energy level.
- Say no when your ex tries to engage or pull you back into a dysfunctional relationship.
Instead, follow your passion and engage in activities that add more bliss to your life. Do things you enjoy with people who uplift you and support you.
Be kinder to others.
All of the previous tips will help you cultivate more love and compassion for yourself. But one way to continually cultivate and expand the love within is to think about serving others.
Service can be a great self-esteem booster. When you give of yourself without any expectation of return, you begin to feel lifted up. Think about ways to connect with others and direct your positive energy outward. Doing this will put you in a more compassionate and kind space, both of which help boost your self-worth.
Your past relationship coming to an end doesn't need to be a reason to squash your self-esteem. Instead, use your breakup as a springboard to practice self-love, show compassion, and rebuild confidence.
Vishnu Subramaniam is a writer, coach, and author of nine self published books, including The Sacred Art of Letting Go: Walk 12 Steps with Spiritual Masters to Let Go of Past Relationships and Find Peace Today. He attended UCLA and worked as an immigration lawyer, but left the legal professional to help people overcome breakups, get out of a rut and build a life they've always wanted.