Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.
~ Guy Finley
Self-identity and self-concept are largely developed through friends, family, values and simple day-to-day activities – all of which become incredibly intertwined in a long-term relationship. So when a relationship ends, the self-identity and self-concept that we have developed with our partners is suddenly pulled like a rug from beneath our feet.
It leaves us feeling lost.
We struggle to find out who we are, without them.
This struggle for a new sense of self-identity without our partner is why we see many newly single people take drastic measures such as getting tattoos, changed haircuts or in some cases leaving their jobs; they are trying to rediscover a less ‘shared’ sense of self. This process however, can often leave people feeling even more confused – this removal from a previously comfortable self-identity can lead to emptiness and an even longer road to rediscovering our true sense of self.
So, how can you go about rediscovering who you are on your own – reserving your clarity on your self-identity? How can you start to navigate the path of being a single entity rather than a partnership?
Here is the advice I give my newly single clients on how to start this process:
One of the most important steps to take after a break up is realizing that you don’t have to do it alone. Men, in particular, find it hard to reach out to friends and family when they are in emotional turmoil, however, your support system is key in getting your self-identity back on track.
Spend time with people that love you, support you and that will offer a soothing rub and word of encouragement when you are down. If you share many of your friends with your ex, try and ensure you don’t concentrate on them as a topic – focus on yourself and enjoying the time spent with the special people you have in your life.
The typical break up scenario involves long hours on the couch, a couple of tubs of ice cream and a big serving of self-pity. While this is okay for a weekend or so after the break up, the sooner you get up and out – the better you will feel. Self-care is an essential aspect to rediscovering your self-identity and confidence after a break up.
Looking after yourself from the inside out is the best way to start feeling good again. Eat healthy, drink lots of water, join a gym and get out into nature if possible. Being happy really is closely linked to being healthy. It isn’t just your physical aspects to consider and you should work on your spiritual self too; take up meditation, yoga, writing, join a program such as Naked Divorce or another kind of support system that will help you get your mind back on track.
Setting goals is a wonderful way to get your mind focused on something other than the break up. Whether it’s as small as doing a yoga class or going for a walk three times a week, or something a little more large scale like running a marathon or getting a promotion at work – having a goal to work towards to will push your limits, help you to focus on positive things and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing sense of achievement once you’ve conquered what you set out to do. Set a goal and work towards it and you’ll be amazed at what happens to your self-confidence.
We are all passionate about something and doing things we love is incredibly nurturing for the soul. Think about the things you enjoyed before your relationship that you may have given up and if possible try and get stuck into doing them again. These could be anything from dance classes or drawing, to guitar or kayaking; do whatever it is that sets your soul on fire.
You can also try new things if you aren’t sure what you really love – take up a sculpting class, volunteer at a soup kitchen or walk dogs at animal shelters; activities that give you a sense of purpose are particularly effective at helping you to understand what it is that you are truly passionate about.
I often find that many of my clients jump into new relationships too soon. This mainly stems from the loss of identity and self-concept that is experienced after a traumatic break up – people tend to have forgotten how to be on their own.
My advice is always to take the time to grieve. You have lost an important part of your life and it’s only right that you spend enough time getting over the trauma rather than simply putting a band-aid on it. Don’t wallow in self-pity, but take the time to learn who you are without a partner, don’t rush into anything and you’ll find a renewed confidence within yourself when you are perfectly at home in your own body and your own mind.
These are just some of the many things you can do to try and rediscover who you are on your own, but most importantly, you need to practice self-love; your body and your mind are the only permanent home you’ll have forever.
At Naked Divorce, we are all about helping heal from past relationship traumas, and as a Divorce Angel myself, my door is always open and I am here to help you move forward free from hurt and full of confidence.
Sally is one of outstanding Naked Divorce Support Angels.
She supports those going through and post-divorce, as well as other related challenges such as Dating, Relationships and more. Sally host’s 1-2-1 Divorce Retreats in the beautiful Cape Town, South Africa where she lives with her husband. You can learn a little more about Sally here.