When our relationship takes a turn for the worst, typically our self-respect suffers. We may find that suddenly all of our feelings of self-worth go out the window.  For some, there will be a tendency to hyper-focus on what went wrong. We may question each decision that was made along the way. While this kind of analysis certainly has its place, there are some simple steps that you can take that will help you to reframe how you are feeling about yourself, right here and now.  It is IS possible to rebuild your self-esteem after divorce. Once you clear the emotional cobwebs, you can start to think clearly, make better choices, and begin to reframe your perspective as you move forward.

It can be so easy to wallow in sorrow.  While feeling your feelings and processing them is absolutely essential to move forward, you can simultaneously begin to elevate your self-respect through the separation journey.

In my professional and personal experience, I know how difficult it can be to meaningfully turn around our mindset.  However, if we give ourselves permission to embrace an open mindset, we can actually powerfully effectuate transform our day to day, without actually making any giant (and likely unrealistic) changes.

Here are a few simple tips that can help you to bring a sense of well-being and self-respect back into your life.


1. Accentuate the Positives.

Once you become an active participant in your life, everything begins to shift.  Rather than thinking of respect as some kind of unattainable ideal, simply consider what brings you joy. What activities or people make you feel happy?  Spend more time engaging in what brings you joy. My grandpa Walter used to say, “never throw anyone away, just put them on a shelf.”  For now, shelve the things that are bringing you down and are not serving your positive internal story. You can always re-integrate who and what serves you in the future. And, while you’re engaging in all things positive, this is also a time to potentially confront your insecurities that you can control and improve. If thinning hair is harming your confidence, there are hair loss treatments you can purchase online. If you’re physical wellness is an ongoing issue, this is a great time to begin a personal wellness program (many are online, and some are even free!) Whatever it is that you need to feel good, now is the time to begin to recalibrate, with radical self-acceptance.


2. Write Down Everything That Lifts You Up.

You have the power to change your perspectives by choosing to tend to the activities and people who lift your spirits.   Is there a particular place you have visited that warms your heart and soul?  Describe it. Was there a time in your life that you felt especially powerful?  What were you doing at that time? Think back to when you were playing as a child. What kind of game or activity did you like to play. Describe it in great detail. How did it make you feel?  Make a list of all the things you like or love about yourself. Make a list of the things you are good at doing.Commit to writing a daily conscious list of the people and circumstances that lift you up.  Do this each day when you first arise, and then again before you go to bed each night. Be sure to do this as a daily practice. By writing these positives down, you are cementing uplifting thought patterns. Remember, by engaging in an activity every day it will cement that intention. Practice makes permanent.


3. Act the Way You Want to Feel.

Engage in activities that lift your spirits. Find the actions that bring you joy and intentionally engage in them for even just thirty minutes a day.  Take a walk outside.  Sit at your desk and stretch, reaching up to the sky and take in several nourishing breaths. Smile often and every day, even if you don’t feel like your happiest help. It will bring positive energy no matter what the moment is bringing. Make it a point to greet at least one person with positivity each day.  By behaving in an uplifted, positive manner, you can create more upbeat internal energy for yourself and start to rebuild your self-esteem after your divorce.


4. Allow Yourself to Mourn

Look in the mirror and recognize your humanity.  Processing your sadness, or even a sense of shame and disappointment of your failed relationship is completely normal and healthy. You likely need to navigate some or all the stages of mourning as proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross; denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Over time, as you release your sense of loss, you can begin to return your attention to your greater forward moving goals and dreams.


5. End the Blame Game and Move Forward Gracefully.

As you begin to move forward, begin taking ownership of your own choices.  Owning your part can be frightening, but once you begin to truly embrace your piece of the equation, your experience will be one of courageous evolution.  Accepting your part in creating your path is essential to move forward. Maybe the negative dynamic was truly caused by the other person.  Even if that is the case, remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life


6. Shift Into Neutral.

Expecting to feel at ease and at your best while you are going through a divorce is typically not realistic. In this age of immediacy, this can be especially difficult to accept. A great place to begin building your self-respect is by mindfully recognizing every moment that is “good enough.”  It is from there that you can truly begin to blossom. Neutrality is the launchpad for all things positive and energizing.  We need to hear approximately eight positives to process even one negative comment. Apply this logic to yourself and see how many times you can notice yourself succeeding.  Remember, to begin with, just getting through the day is a win.

As you move through the process of actively re-building your self-respect, you will begin to notice that within you is a tremendous (often forgotten) personal agency. By courageously listening to, and engaging with your inner voice, you are going to begin to feel better.  As if by magic.

As you engage in these practices, you will be able to begin to rebuild your self-esteem after divorce.

During the breakup, you may feel like your life is over.  But over time, with some active engagement and intentional effort, your break up can truly be your launchpad to a better next chapter.  You have all the power within you to radically recalibrate your life by rebuilding your self-respect, starting right now. One day at a time, one moment at a time.

Learn more about these practices and exercises in my book, Better Apart: The Radically Positive Way to Separate. Available on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!


With support and strength,

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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 


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