Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
Has Your Breakup or Divorce Shattered Your Self Esteem?
Hands down, one of the most horrible parts about going through a bad breakup or divorce is the way it mangles your self esteem. I know, from so many years as a therapist and life coach, that many people experience post-divorce depression (or post-breakup depression). There are many parts to this experience: Grief and loss, or feeling overwhelmed by all the practical aspects of putting your life back together.
However, for most people, the most terrible depression after a breakup comes when it damages your self esteem, and makes you start to feel badly about yourself.
If you’ve been feeling down on yourself since your relationship ended I want you to know something right off the bat, which is that feeling this way does not mean that you’re actually “less than.”
Really: I talk to a LOT of people about the most vulnerable parts of their life. I know for a fact that even the most gorgeous, amazing, successful people second-guess themselves after a divorce or breakup. Even the most naturally confident, strong, and reasonable among us — in the throes of a devastating break up — still have these types of horrible, torturous conversations with themselves in their darkest moments:
- Anxious Thought: “Why did this relationship fail?” Self-Esteem Crushing Answer: Because of all your personal shortcomings and the mistakes you made in this marriage or relationship.
- Anxious Thought: “Why doesn’t the person I love more than anything want to be with me anymore?” Self Esteem Crushing Answer: Because you aren’t interesting / fun / sexy / smart / successful enough.
- Anxious Thought: “Why didn’t my Ex care enough about me to treat me better while we were together?” Self Esteem Crushing Answer: Because you’re just not that worthy or lovable.
- Anxious Thought: “Why did my Ex cheat on me or get together with someone new?” Self Esteem Crushing Answer: Because that someone new is much more interesting, attractive, worthy of love and respect. Basically, they’re just a better person than you.
If you’re going through a bad breakup, chances are you’re probably nodding to yourself as you see this self-destructive internal dialogue put to paper. You’ve probably been being tortured by these ideas too.
And it’s making you feel terrible about yourself.
But, believe it or not, as bad as that is…. that’s not even the most toxic, ruinous thing that can happen to your already fragile self-esteem in the aftermath of a traumatic break up.
The most terrible thing is not when your Ex betrays you or mistreats you. It’s not even when you blame yourself for why it didn’t work out, or torture yourself with ongoing commentary about all of your shortcomings and failures.
The Most Destructive Part of a Breakup: Breaking Your Trust in Yourself
Yes, your self esteem gets throttled when you feel rejected, or blame yourself for what went wrong. But it gets ground up into sausage and squished into the dirt when you betray or mistreat yourself in the aftermath of a terrible breakup:
- When you fail to protect yourself from a toxic or abusive Ex.
- When you do things that you’re ashamed of… all in desperate efforts to even briefly escape the pain of heartbreak, and reconnect with your Ex.
- When you keep contacting or spying on your Ex through social media, even when you know you shouldn’t.
- When you are still sleeping or hooking up with your Ex, even when you feel more devastated afterwords.
- When your mental and emotional energy is still completely focused on your Ex, and your mood for the entire day (not to mention your worth as a person) depends on what they are doing or not doing.
- When you are compromising your ethics, morals, and self respect in efforts to regain the love and approval of your Ex.
This darkness is not something that usually gets discussed openly. But it’s very real, and very destructive to your long term health, your happiness, and your self worth. And as you know only too well if you’re going through it, you need support and compassion on your path of healing and recovery.
I have spent years helping broken hearted people with divorce and break-up recovery counseling and coaching, and poured through oceans of research to write my book, “Exaholics: Breaking your addiction to an Ex Love.” I’ve spent years helping my private clients heal their self esteem in the aftermath of a bad breakup, and now we’re addressing it today on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.
On today’s show I’m going to help you understand how your self esteem was damaged, and how to develop new compassion and empathy for yourself. We’re also going to discuss the five steps to healing your self esteem after a break up, so that you can start putting yourself back together again.
I hope that this helps support you on your journey of growth and healing.
xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
PS: In this podcast, we discuss a number of resources. Here are links to all the breakup recovery resources I shared:
My private Online Breakup Support Group on Facebook. (It’s a hidden group, so you have to request access).
Online Breakup Recovery Program: www.breakup-recovery.com
Book: Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love
Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast
How To Repair Your Self Esteem After a Breakup
Music Credit: PJ Harvey, “To Bring You My Love”