How to Regain Confidence After a Divorce


The end of any relationship can be hard, but this is especially true in cases of divorce. Moving into a life without someone you have grown used to counting on is difficult, and it may seem impossible to move forward without them by your side.

So how do you regain confidence after a divorce? The best way to regain confidence after divorce and rebuild your self-esteem is to focus on what you love about yourself and get reconnected to the things that help you feel fulfilled. Discover your contribution to the divorce and reinvent yourself by getting rid of or dealing with negative traits.

I’ve been through divorce, and there is hope.

You might have to remind yourself that you are strong and wonderful. It may take some time to see that in yourself again.

If you read that and thought “that’s not true for me,” it is especially true for you, and this article is the perfect place to begin to see that.

The most important thing to acknowledge is that regaining confidence after a divorce will take time. Your former partner entered your life slowly, and they will leave it the same way.

Just as you began to depend and rely on them gradually, you will gradually learn to see your own abilities and strengths again.

While regaining confidence may seem like an impossible task, the following are suggestions or action steps that you can take to help the move process along.

Just remember that while this will be a long road, there is a life waiting at the end of it that is better than anything you could imagine.

Rebuild Your Confidence After Divorce by Fixing Your Environment

Lean on your Support System

While it is easy to feel alone following a divorce, it is important to remember that there are people in your life who will love and support you.

Consider reaching out to your family or friends who knew you before your former partner entered your life.

Remembering that you were happy, confident, and fulfilled before you married them can help you remember that your happiness is not dependent on their approval.

These friends are also more likely to be a bit more removed from the situation and may be able to provide some clarity or advice from the outside.

Consider using the internet to reach out to friends who live farther away.

While a video conferencing site like Skype may be the most obvious way to do this, multiplayer online games or more specialized sites like Roll20 for tabletop games may be more up your alley.

Perhaps a workout app is a perfect way for you to feel that you are connected with an old exercise buddy in another city.

Don’t be afraid to try new ways to connect with old friends.

The important thing to remember is that your self-worth is not dependent on your former partner.

You were a good friend and wonderful person before them, and you are still that same good friend and wonderful person.

Your friends can help you to see all of the wonderful things about yourself that it may be hard to acknowledge right now.

Investing in platonic or familial relationships can also help you remember that there are more kinds of love in the world than romantic.

There is a love for your friends, your family, your pets, yourself, your work… the list goes on and on. While it will take time to find romantic love again (if that is what you want), other forms of love are equally fulfilling and important.

Take this time to strengthen non-romantic bonds while you wait to be ready for another romantic partner. Getting involved with a support group for recent divorcees could help as well.

These people will understand what you are going through and be able to encourage you, and it will be helpful to realize that you are not the only one struggling after a divorce.

Remember that you don’t have to do this alone and that struggling does not make you weak. Pain is a part of the human experience, and while it stinks, sharing that experience with others can help it stink less.

Finally, it may help to lean on a spiritual or faith-based community.

While admitting your divorce to a spiritual community may seem daunting, it is important to remember that no one is perfect or problem free, even in a religious space.

Everyone is struggling with something, and admitting your struggles will not only help you get the support you need, but it may give others the confidence to admit their own.

Divorcing a Manipulator – Important Rules of Engagement

You are going to want to put some space between you and your former partner. This rings especially true if your partner was manipulative.

The easiest way to determine this is to ask the question as to how they motivated you to do things for them.

Was there any emotional blackmail going on? Was their currency of verbal trade wriddled with any of the following three abusive techniques?

  • Fear (if you don’t comply, this (bad thing) will happen)
  • Obligation (you owe me)
  • Guilt (you should feel ashamed for not doing this for me)

It’s quite okay (and necessary) to shield yourself from the toxicity that comes with divorcing a manipulator.

–Block and/or Unfriend your Former Partner

As you work to regain your confidence and sense of self, it will be tempting to continue to stay connected to or to check up on your former partner’s social media.

Don’t.

Your former partner’s social media will likely not show their low points, which will create the illusion that they are not struggling. While posting good things may help their self-confidence, seeing only their high points will hurt your own.

Constantly dwelling on what was or how well they are doing now will most likely stand in the way of your personal recovery.

Be sure to block or unfollow their friends as well, as this may pose the same problems as maintaining connections with your former spouse.

While cutting this person out of your life may be painful, think of it as a sort of pruning. Cutting them lose will allow you to grow in new and interesting ways beyond what you can even imagine.

How to Feel Good About Yourself After Divorce

Important Ideas that Can Help You Reinvent Yourself After Divorce

Fix your Space (Make it Your Own)

For the first time in a long time, you will likely be living in a space that belongs only to you.

Your space can have a direct impact on your mood and confidence, so it is important to fill it with things that will make you happy.

Consider hosting friends or adopting a pet to make your home feel less lonely, and do not be afraid to donate or otherwise get rid of things that remind you of your partner, no matter how foolish it may seem.

If a dish towel brings up negative memories, that dish towel needs to go. If you need to, don’t hesitate replace the things you discard with things that bring you joy and confidence.

When replacing things, consider shopping with a friend or family member rather than alone.

Not only will they help keep your spirits up, but the items you buy will be connected to the memory of spending time with someone you love.

Each time you use that item, it will provide a boost of happiness and confidence rather than a memory of what you’ve lost.

If you are living in a space that you used to share with your partner, consider moving furniture or re-painting rooms.

This will help make the space feel new and may help you to get a fresh start and make the space your own.

Fill Your Time to Rediscover Your Post-Divorce Freedom

Try Something New

Following a divorce, it is easy to see your former partner everywhere. Activities that you did with that person will likely remind you of them, and these memories can have a negative influence on your budding self-confidence.

Simply cutting out these activities will likely leave gaps in your schedule, so it may be helpful to fill those gaps with activities that you enjoy.

This is especially true if you have children who you are now spending less time with.

Rather than allowing the gaps in your schedule to fester, consider trying something new.

If you can, choose a new activity that has little or nothing to do with your former partner.

For example, maybe you have always wanted to try yoga but never got around to it because they thought it was a waste.

Perhaps you’ve been meaning to take up knitting or plant a garden or run a marathon, but just never had the time or initiative. This may be the perfect time to invest in yourself.

Learning a new skill or trying a new activity can help build confidence in your own abilities, and doing so at a physical class will help you to meet new people.

Reach out to a local community center, library, or community college to see if they offer classes that fit your schedule and budget. The internet will likely be able to help connect you with classes on anything from swimming to needlework in your area.

Improv classes in particular are a good way to build confidence and meet people. While it may seem frightening at first, these classes can help you gain reassurance in your ability to talk to people and handle whatever is thrown your way.

Consider looking for classes or clubs in your area that can connect you with others and help you realize your abilities. If physical classes are inaccessible for any reason, try looking for something online.

There are tutorials available to teach you anything from ASL to how to fillet a fish. While these may not provide as many connections to people, they will still help you learn a new skill and boost confidence.

You could also try doing a ‘class’ like this with a friend, both to keep you accountable and to provide interpersonal connection.

Start a Project

If you’ve always wanted to knit a blanket or start a vegetable garden, now is the time.

Investing time in a project that you have been putting off will stop you from dwelling on what you’ve lost, and watching yourself make progress on it will help boost your confidence.

If you end up with a finished product that you are proud of, display it in a prominent place in your home so that you are reminded of your own abilities to create something wonderful.

If you hate it or it reminds you of your former partner, give it away. Your friend or family member won’t see your mistakes or bad memories, and their enjoyment of the thing you created will help boost your confidence.

This could be especially helpful if you enjoy working with your hands.

As our work (and our world) moves more and more toward a digital space, we often leave behind more tactile skills.

Routine actions like those associated with knitting or chopping vegetables help calm our busy minds, and seeing the final product of a hand-made item creates an invaluable sense of pride and accomplishment.

Volunteer

Volunteering is another great way to build confidence.

For many people, it is rewarding to know that they are giving back to their community and helping others.

Consider reaching out to a local animal shelter, food bank, or other charity to ask about their volunteer opportunities.

Not only will it help you meet new people and learn new skills, but you will also get the reward of knowing that you are helping others and creating good in your community.

If conventional volunteering options like stocking a food bank or fostering animals don’t seem interesting, try making a list of things you enjoy doing and offering those skills to a local non-profit.

For example, if you enjoy woodworking (or would like to learn about it), consider reaching out to a local theatre to help build sets.

Learning to use a power saw can certainly help make you more sure of yourself. If you’d like to work with children but can’t volunteer in a school due to your work schedule, maybe the school could connect you with a weekend program.

Another idea if you can’t find something that interests you is to reach out to your local library or community center.

They may know of less common or more specialized non-profits that could use your help.

No matter which way you offer, few organizations will turn down free help.

Keep in mind that you are offering them your valuable time and effort, and don’t be afraid to keep trying if your first choices don’t work out.

Find your Own Traditions

With the end of any relationship, but especially a marriage, comes the end of shared traditions and habits.

While it may be tempting to cling to vestiges of these traditions for the good memories associated with them, it is important to develop new ones unrelated to your former spouse.

These new traditions could be focused on your relationship with others in your life or simply on your own self-improvement.

For example, if Tuesday used to be date night, it could become anything from Girls’ Night to gym night to ‘practice ukulele night’.

If you have children with your former partner, this could also be a good time to develop unique traditions with them and maximize your time together, especially on holidays and birthdays.

You could start to celebrate half birthdays, which would ensure that you and your former partner both get to celebrate your children on a special day every year.

While developing these traditions, just keep in mind that they are to celebrate and spend time with your children, not to spite or attempt to one-up your former partner.

The important thing here is to hold onto the good memories without letting the past spoil special days in your present or future.

While it may feel like holding on to old traditions is a way of honoring the good memories associated with them, in truth, traditions that feel incomplete without your partner will only serve as reminders of what you’ve lost.

Deciding which traditions to hold onto and which to let go will be difficult, but it is important and well worth your time.

Heal Your Self-Doubt After Divorce

How Divorce Affects Self-Esteem

Whether you filed for divorce or were served papers, at some point you are most likely to experience a loss of self-esteem.

If you were served, it may have been quite traumatic. However, even if you filed, the aftermath and drama that unfolds after divorce and the hurtful things that are said can leave you feeling hurt and isolated.

It is common for people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. One of the best pieces of advice my husband heard after his divorce was not to start drinking.

It’s a slippery slope when we are dealing with trauma.

It’s important to recognize the situation for what it is. It is the death of a relationship, a death of a couple.

You will need to grieve the process. Look up the stages of grieving in order to anticipate some of the emotions you will experience.

Here they are just in case you aren’t aware of the 5 stages of grief:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Designing a Life After Divorce

Moving Forward

Give Yourself Time

While it may be tempting to try to ignore your feelings or try dating again, this is a bad idea.

If you refuse to acknowledge your feelings, you will continue to drag the baggage from this experience into the rest of your life.

Instead, make sure to take time to address your negative emotions and the things that went wrong on both sides of your relationship.

If you can, take time off work or cut back on other activities if you are using them as a distraction, and make sure to take time and reflect on your relationship, as difficult as that may be.

It is especially important to deal with this baggage before you begin dating again.

If you want to find another romantic partner in the future that is perfectly fine, but you should not look for someone else until you have first moved through the emotions associated with your divorce.

Spend time with yourself and those close to you and learn about both your own flaws and the red flags you may have missed or ignored while married to your former partner.

This will not only make you a better future partner, but it will also teach you what you need in a romantic partner and help make you a better person.

—Acknowledge and Forgive Yourself For Your Mistakes (while Working to Correct Them)

Following a divorce, it can be easy to fixate on what you could have done to avoid it.

Whether these faults were pointed out by your former partner or are a result of your own overthinking, it is easy to focus on them to the point of paralysis.

However, it is important to learn to forgive yourself let these things go. Making mistakes is part of the human experience, and they can only make you a bad person if you refuse to take action to correct them.

Taking measurable steps to correct your mistakes can help you regain any confidence they may be hurting.

For example, if your partner was angry with you for refusing to attend their events, consider attending events for things your friends are interested in.

If they were frustrated by mess, consider working cleaning into your weekly routine.

Keeping track of your progress or asking others to watch for improvement can help you see yourself getting better and help you regain the confidence you may have lost.

It may help to begin by making two lists: one of traits that you admire about yourself and one of things that you want to improve.

Having a positive list will help keep your spirits up while you work on strengthening your weaknesses.

If you are having difficulty building a positive list, reach out to people close to you and ask them what they admire or appreciate about you.

The positive list will help you regain confidence in the moment, and working toward self-improvement will help you gain long-term confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Additionally, if (or when) you fall back on bad habits, the positive list can help you remember your strengths and encourage you to try again.

Remind Yourself of Past Success

While getting through a divorce with your self-confidence intact may seem impossible, try to remember all of the “impossible” things you’ve already done or gotten through.

These could be related to your career, your hobbies, or even just your daily life. Maybe you’ve re-built your life after a hard move or are still in touch with friends from high school.

Maybe you planned a great event, got a promotion that seemed out of reach, or made the best steak you’ve ever eaten.

Making a list of these past successes can help remind you of how incredible you are and motivate you to continue doing the “impossible”. Keep the list updated, and someday, ‘survived a divorce’ will be on it.

What to Do When it Gets To Be Too Much

Missing your former partner or feeling self-conscious can come in waves.

In the moment of overwhelming sadness or insecurity, it may help to have a mantra. It could be something as simple as taking a deep breath and muttering ‘okay’ over and over as you breathe out.

It could also help to list some of your favorite positive qualities about yourself or to name the people you can depend on for support.

Doing this when you are even slightly flustered will help develop a habit of reassuring yourself and make it easier to do when you feel overwhelmed.

When you have calmed down and are in a safe place to do so, consider reflecting on the situation that left you feeling overwhelmed.

Did something in your environment trigger memories of your former partner? If so, it may help to think of ways that you can avoid that trigger or prepare yourself to face it again.

Consider reaching out to a friend and telling them about the experience so that they can help you identify possible triggers and suggest ways to deal with them.

Consider Seeking Professional Help

While the internet is a wonderful place, not every solution can be found in a blog post. If the situation doesn’t improve, it may be time to reach out to a professional.

Therapists, life coaches, and other mental health professionals will have experience helping people regain confidence and will likely be able to help you move forward at your own pace.

Beginning therapy or finding a therapist is frightening, but it may be the best option.

When working on confidence in particular, a psychologist may be the best option, as they often use a method called cognitive behavioral therapy “to help people identify and change inaccurate perceptions they may have of themselves and the world around them” (source).

A psychologist may be just the person to help you see your own strengths and abilities in a fresh light and get back on your feet. You can search for therapists based on your city or zip code here. If the situation is more immediate, consider calling a hotline or reaching out to an online therapist.

While these are not necessarily substitutes for in-person therapy, they may be able to help more quickly and be more able to fit in your schedule or budget.

You can find a list of hotlines from the National Alliance on Mental Illness here, a texting-based anxiety hotline here, an emotional support hotline here, and a list of helplines for a variety of topics here.

Don’t Give Up – Every Life Experience Eventually Can Be Turned into a Test of Your Resolve and an Opportunity for Personal Growth

The fact that one relationship has failed does not mean that another won’t work out.

Following a divorce, it is easy to feel unlovable or unwanted, but this is not the case.

This world is full of people, all of them unique and wonderful.

You and your former partner are only two of the billions of people on our planet, and while it may feel as though your divorce has left you unqualified for a relationship, that is not the case.

There are more people in this world than you could meet in a lifetime, and the next great love of your life could be anywhere.

While it is important to take this time to focus on yourself, do not discount or ignore any new opportunities in your path.

Keep an open mind; you may meet the right person when you least expect them.

Further, if you open yourself up to dating again, it may serve to remind you that others do still find you romantic and desirable.

While this ultimately should not be where your confidence comes from, it can still provide a nice boost.

For Members of the LGBTQ+ Community Dealing with Divorce

After fighting so long for marriage equality, getting a divorce may feel like you are somehow failing your community or letting down a plethora of strangers.

However, it is important to remember that the fight for marriage equality was (and is) a fight to marry like anyone else.

For many couples, straight or otherwise, that, unfortunately, includes divorce.

While this is a difficult time, it is important to acknowledge that sometimes relationships don’t work out and not to beat yourself up for that.

Lean on your support network, and do not be afraid to reach out to friends or a mental health professional if you need to.

If your relationship to your birth family is less than ideal, it is important to remember the value of a found family.

While losing a spouse is painful, you are not alone.

Your found family has chosen you, and they continue to choose you every day, and there is no love more powerful than that.

Take comfort in them and their love for you, and do not be afraid to try again when you are ready. While going through a divorce is hard, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

By reading this article, you have already taken the first step toward recovery and personal growth. While it may be a long journey, you can use this hard time to strengthen your relationships with others and your confidence in yourself.

Kat Clukey

I am so glad you are here, and have chosen to spend your time reading my blog. For the past 4 plus years, I have been on an intense mission to read books, go to seminars, and generally turn myself inside out to find out why some people seem to feel good in their own skin while I've struggled with self-worth and low self-esteem most of my adult life. I hope you find insights that help you on your journey!

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