I noticed something recently that I want to talk to you about.
Do you ever find yourself thinking the following deep thoughts…
Ugh. Why do I still feel like crap? I thought I’d be totally confident after all of this divorce stuff was over, so why is my confidence still in the dumpster? Like, what is wrong with me?
Ain’t nothing wrong with you, sweetheart. You’re feeling like this because you may have never been given that confidence early on in your life–the confidence that would have helped you not feel terrible once you were newly single.
Okay, here’s the best way I can think of it.
If you were raised by parents who applauded the fact that you were strong-willed, and if you had people in your life growing up and as a young woman, who encouraged you to speak your mind, to plan your own careers and reach for your own individual dreams, then you most likely had a foundation of confidence that carried you through the divorce with your self-esteem still intact.
If that’s you, congratulations. And hug and thank your parents and the teachers and anybody else in your childhood who gave you that confidence. And please pay it forward and do the same with all the other kiddos in your life.
But if that’s not you, you’re the other 99%, boo.
If you were raised being told to pipe down, that girls should always act like little ladies, that girls should never get angry or raise their voices, that girls should not like mud pies nor frogs nor sports or anything else that boys like, and that the #1 thing a woman should aim for is to be a perfect wife and perfect mother and all your actions were based against your ability to fulfill these ideals, then chances are, you did not get that foundation of confidence growing up.
And chances are, that lack of self-esteem then is why you’re feeling terrible now.
If this is you, I don’t want you to fret or feel bad about this fact. I want you to understand that this may be just another thing you need to work on to get yourself to the level of confidence you deserve so you can move the hell on with your life.
This lack of confidence foundation is *not* an excuse to feel sorry for yourself though. But it is knowledge that you must work harder.
Think of confidence like learning a foreign language. You know why so many people in Sweden and Norway and Germany speak such amazing English? It’s because they started to learn in when they were six years old, when their cognition was more open to absorbing new language.
You know why you struggle learning to pronounce French words in that adult education class you’re taking? It’s because your mind is resistant to picking up that new information. Does that mean you throw your hands up in frustration and say, “forget this–I’ll never learn this foreign language. It’s too late for me.”
You could, but you’re better than that. What you do instead of giving up is work your ass off, do your homework, listen to YouTube videos, put French subtitles on your Netflix, and join a French meetup group. Why? Because you’re dedicated to learning the language and you’re passionate about doing this for yourself.
Getting confident is the same thing.
Feeling strong, setting boundaries, investing in yourself, and internalizing that you don’t have to please anybody and that you don’t owe anybody anything are the foundations to feeling confidence as a divorcee. And although it will take a lot of work and a lot of patience to feel secure in all of these things, it is 100% possible to learn them.
Even if people in your life made you feel terrible.
Even if you were conditioned into believing that you should put others needs ahead of your own.
Even if you were raised on the lie that it was selfish for a woman to have her own goals and dreams that didn’t revolve around her family.
Even if that playful, carefree, confident, younger version of yourself has been missing for years.
It’s never too late to learn that foreign language.
You have a beautiful choice right here, right now. Do you want to fall into your past narratives that told you that you’d never be good enough, that you weren’t worth it, and that your goals don’t matter? Are you just going to throw your hands up and say, “I’ll never get confident! I’ll never learn that foreign language!”
Or, will you take the high road, know you deserve better, and work your ass off? Will you learn that foreign language of confidence, regardless of how hard the journey will be?
Le choix est à vous, ma chère.
Martha Bodyfelt is a certified Divorce Recovery and Dating Coach whose website, “Surviving Your Split,” helps readers break out of their divorce rut, regain their confidence, and move on with their lives.
For your free gift, “The Divorce Goddess Recovery Guide,” stop by survivingyoursplit.com today or say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.