To discover that your partner was unfaithful was a blow. A blow to your trust, your future together, and not least of all, a blow to who you imagine yourself to be.
And just as you must take measures to recover from the betrayal of your relationship, you’ll need to recover from the damage done to your self-esteem.
Are you unsure that your self-esteem has been wounded? Do you think your relationship should be the top priority instead?
Many people feel that way at first and sacrifice attention on their self-esteem, only to wish they’d looked deeper at how the affair affected their ideas of who they are, how they matter in and out of the relationship.
Why is it so important? Because the work you do inside can actually shape the work you do with your partner and direct the course of your relationship going forward.
After all, being betrayed is like a tsunami in your life. It can be traumatic to realize you weren’t liked, loved, or respected the way you thought. The waves of overwhelm, grief and self-doubt can be so disorienting that you may not even recognize yourself anymore.
So, to take time to examine the ways you’ve internalized your broken relationship just makes sense. Otherwise, dealing with the blame, shame, and negativity can make you feel as if you are broken or unloveable.
How can you check-in on your self-esteem and reclaim it, ensuring you are strong and confident as you move ahead? Listen to what you’re asking or telling yourself and choose to keep your best interests and need for mental and emotional care in mind:
1. Practice Putting Responsibility Where it Belongs.
Here’s the thing: Your partner’s affair wasn’t about you.
Your partner made a choice to betray you instead of dealing with their feelings, communicate openly, or exit the relationship respectfully. Those decisions were theirs. Dishonesty and disrespect are unacceptable in a committed relationship
Be careful not to accept blame for your partner’s feelings or failure to behave in a trustworthy manner. Do not allow your self-esteem to suffer by believing that you deserve such treatment in an effort to keep your relationship together.
Take a firm stand for truth and personal integrity as a good first step in honoring yourself and communicating the kind of relationship you are willing to accept.
2. Stop Asking, “What’s wrong with me?”
Squelch the unproductive tendency to find fault with yourself or measure your lovability against the affair partner. Beautiful, accomplished people experience infidelity all the time. No change in relationship circumstance, physical appearance, or social status supports your partner’s decision to cheat.
Asking “what’s wrong with me” gives power to others to judge you and find you lacking. Practice speaking to yourself kindly, pay attention to and challenge anything or anyone that undermine your confidence.
3. Find Time for Free and Healthy Self-expression.
Have you been holding on to your self-control for the sake of your kids? Maybe you’ve been burying your hurt with a lot of avoidance or one more glass of wine than you should have. Your self-esteem won’t be boosted by sacrificing the expression of your feelings.
Give your self-space to do what helps you release tension, trauma, and grief. Build confidence as you become comfortable finding a voice for your emotions. maybe you like to dance or create crafts or art. Perhaps cooking, writing, or even volunteering gives you the opportunity to show who you are and how you want to live out your life going forward. Don’t hold back now. You need to feel empowered and your partner needs to see you clearly
4. Give. You Still Have Much to Offer.
Studies show that happy, secure people are generous people. Why? Because they recognize that they are wanted and needed. They realize their place in the world is beyond one or two relationships. You have a story and life lessons to share. there are others who need to hear from you and know you. Once you plug into the lives of others it becomes difficult to see yourself as inconsequential or unworthy.
5. Deal with Your Self-Doubt and Internal Disrespect.
Life is complicated. You can see your trials as reason to beat yourself up or use them as a springboard for resilience and strength. But first, you have to know yourself. Self-talk and your personal past may be fueling the disconnect in your relationship and the way you see yourself. Take some time to simply look inward. Fearlesslessly record, your experiences past and present in a journal.
Then, set aside time to reflect on your perspectives and life patterns. Look at the story as a whole and love the person on those pages as whole human being, deserving of compassion and forgiveness. This is a good time to work through your experiences with a counselor.
Recognize that self-esteem is partly about acceptance and partly about empowerment. The better you are able to accept yourself as-is, own your emotions, and accept responsibility for making personal changes the stronger your self-esteem becomes. The more you see your strengths and weaknesses as valuable, the more capable you’ll be at dealing with change and disappointment. Your self-esteem may dip for a while, but you are always in control of reclaiming it and pushing it higher. Give yourself the time and grace to do so.
For more support as you cope with an affair, please contact me today. I am here to encourage you and would like to support you on your journey of personal recovery. Please click here for more information on how individual counseling may help you heal.