How to overcome low self-worth after a breakup?
A while back, I received an email from Roxie asking my opinion on how to overcome low self-worth after a breakup. I feel the information might help you too, so I decided to share.
My name is Roxie, and a few months ago, I met a young man named Derek on social media. We started texting and talking on facetime together. Gradually our feelings got more serious.
The trouble is that from the first moment I saw him, I thought he was so handsome and sort of out of my league. Nevertheless, we continued texting each other.
Two months ago, Derek suggested meeting one Saturday afternoon at the beach. Since it was my first time meeting him, to feel safer, I asked if we could both bring someone else along. He came with his friend Peter, and I asked my older sister, Bianca, to come along.
The whole encounter was awkward because my boyfriend and I couldn't find anything to talk about. I didn't know what to do or say. I felt clumsy and shy. My worst nightmare was the fear of losing Derek, yet I felt like this was too good to be true and I didn't deserve him. The truth is that once I saw him, my self-worth melted away into the ocean, and everything went wrong after that.
Then my sister stole the show. She became the popular one around the fire pit, and Derek seemed to only have eyes for her. I know it was selfish of me to think that way, but I got jealous! I felt overshadowed by my sister, and it hurt my feelings.
I know my sister is prettier than me; she has porcelain skin, whereas my skin is super oily, and I struggle with a lot of breakouts. But what infuriated me most was to see all three of them having a good laugh. I just knew in my heart that I wasn't good enough, not pretty enough, and he must like my sister more than me. So, I recoiled and said nothing all afternoon.
The next day I got a text from Derek saying it's best to be just friends for now. We haven't texted or talked since.
It's been two months, and I still feel miserable. I can't stop thinking about him even though I know my chances of being with him are slim to none.
My sister told me it's normal to feel awkward on the first date, and she was making good conversations with the guys to ease the mood. The truth is that I don't know how to get over all my blunders.
I guess what I'm really struggling with is finding myself. I have lived in my older sister's shadow my whole life, and now I realize it's not who I want to be, but I don't know what to do and wanted your opinion on the matter.
I appreciate your help! Thanks.
Be Easy on Yourself
Hello, Roxie. Thank you for reaching out and trusting me with such an important topic on self-worth and self-esteem.
First, I want you to realize that very few people have it all figured out. Life is about living and experiencing. It's through your life experience that you will develop your self-worth, self-esteem and build your character.
Your sister is correct when she says it's normal the first time you connect with someone you have feelings for to feel shy and awkward. It's the same for most of us. My first advice would be to be easy on yourself.
Tears Are Essential for Growth
The first step in recovery is to forgive yourself. If it helps, go somewhere you will not be disturbed and cry it all out. If you lack privacy in your home, go to a park, beach, or hiking trail. Nature has a way of helping you heal your soul.
Tears, as well as breathing, release toxins that build up in your body. Please, don't be ashamed of your tears and all your feelings. Living is to feel. And I want to add that a lot of the trouble comes when we try to suppress our feelings. It builds inside the body and turns into, as you've experienced, jealousy and disempowerment. Depending on the situation, it can also create resentment, fear, sadness, etc.
Remember that nature doesn't judge tears any more than the dew on the morning grass. Like an apple seed that's about to germinate, tears are essential, as they provide the necessary moisture to break open the shell you created around your heart. Allow for the tears to help you blossom in a new way. To ease the pain, keep breathing deeply, and don't let the weed of fear and self-doubt occupy your mind; otherwise, you will never flourish.
Learn to Discern Between Fact, Opinion, and Feeling
A theme that keeps coming up when I read your letter is that you make many assumptions. I learned a secret to help me sort things out when I do some "disempowering self-talk" —I ask myself: "Is whatever I'm thinking right now a FACT, an OPINION, or a FEELING?"
When someone says something hurtful to you, you can pause and ask: "What you are saying right now, is it a fact, an opinion, or a feeling?" Usually, they fall into the opinion or feeling category. And as you have noticed, opinions don't always mean that it's the truth; they are skewed thoughts depending on the person's state of mind.
Let's start with your first sentence: "The trouble is that he is so handsome and sort of out of my league."
Now I invite you to detach your emotion from the situation, meaning look at where you made that statement but as if you were a bird observing the event from above. Look at yourself saying these words, "Derek is so handsome and sort of out of my league," and now ask yourself, is this a fact, an opinion, or a feeling? I invite you to do the same with this sentence: "I just knew in my heart that I wasn't good enough, and he must like my sister more than me." The exercise is to help you see the illusion from the truth.
We Grow through Adversity
As you must have learned at school, the basic principle of science is a series of cells in our body that is constantly moving. We are at peace inside us when everything is balanced. However, life is about experiencing and exploring the great unknown. Depending on what happens, your body will either react or respond, sending signals in the form of hormones and enzymes throughout your body. Every new situation causes the body, mind, and soul to change and adapt. It's how we grow.
The human body is designed to withstand unimaginable things, many of which I wish no human, especially small children, would have to endure. However, the truth is that it's adversity that makes us grow. We grow through pain. Think of it for a moment, if we didn't need food, the restroom, or shelter over our heads, what would be our incentive to get up in the morning?
Coping with Growing Pains
We are designed to move about, explore, and learn through our feelings and experiences. As we grow, our pain tolerance grows too, but it has limits. These limits cause a reaction of some kind, like getting mad, sad, glad, or startled.
Imagine you are in the kitchen, soaking one of your hands in freezing cold water and the other in boiling water. Both hands will scream PAIN, but not for the same reason. Our life purpose is to discover what is comfortable or what makes us happy. Everyone has their preferences, and it's these preferences that make two people connect.
The trouble is that our ancestors have been taught, through fear, not to express their emotions, to lay low, and not to stir any problem. And these obligations to fit the norm have been passed down from generation to generation. When we are born, we learn to model our family's dynamic. We accept that their behavior is normal because we don't know any different. The idea here is to observe without judgment, as we are all part of the same ecosystem. We are all trying to figure ourselves out.
Numbing the Pain Doesn't Solve the Problem
Many people have learned to stifle their emotions after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. We make a decision like: "I will never let anyone touch me again."
It's a coping mechanism to make sure no one will ever cause you any pain; however, it also stops your heart from feeling joy and happiness. Remember, your decisions create your destiny because as you decide, you make a stance. So many of us live with decisions we made when we were 3-years-old, causing us to live with our hands in boiling or freezing water, believing it's how it ought to be. As time goes by, we don't necessarily feel good inside, but we believe living in pain is normal and suck it up.
To feel better, we learn to suppress how we feel inside by looking for something to numb the pain. "I'm in pain, but I will go shopping; it will change my mind and make me feel better." It can be shopping, playing video games, drinking, gambling, eating too much, or burying yourself in activities that will distract you from looking at what is causing you the real pain. Sometimes it's not our pain we internalize; it's our parent's pain.
Listening to your inner wisdom
I believe the universe sends people into our lives to help us see who we are and help us grow. People are neither good nor bad; they are simply our teachers. In your case, God has sent you a handsome young man, and you grew emotionally attached. And when you met each other, a lot of hidden emotions resurfaced.
In a way, and I know it won't be easy for you to see the blessing within your dating fiasco; however, from my perspective, it's actually great news. Think of it. You are now aware that something in your life is not balanced, and you are taking action to rectify the situation. Give yourself credit for listening to your inner wisdom!
Live in the Moment Rather than from a Script
I also believe that the insecurity you've experienced with this young man has nothing to do with him. He's mirroring your reality. He may have also felt awkward. Often, we girls assume that men must know what to do, and some men perhaps do know; however, I believe many men are just as clueless as we are. The idea is to go with the flow while being honest. A sentence like: "Hey, this is my first time, and I'm super nervous" can open the conversation: "Yeah, I'm nervous too, let's take it easy."
Often what goes "wrong" or appears to have gone wrong is when we create a script of the future event, and when nothing goes to plan, we feel out of control. That's when our mind starts focusing on "what else will go wrong instead of enjoying the moment.
Before I address my thoughts about your relationship with your sister, I want to commend you for asking your sister to accompany you. Regardless of what happened, it was a wise move for your safety. I'm also glad you met this young man during the day. I know life is all about exploring; however, I admire that you had enough common sense to protect yourself. I call this "taking calculated risk."
How to Engage With New Friend
Now, let's talk about the feeling of jealousy you experienced when your sister got all the attention. The jealousy you experienced derived from anger. She took the spot your must have been dreaming about for months, and I'm sure it must have been infuriating. However, assuming your sister's behavior was worth modeling, she showed you how to engage with new friends. Looking at it from another angle, it could be that the guys may have been shy, too, and chose to focus their attention on your sister to hide their embarrassment.
If you felt awkward, Derek may have felt your vibe, making him feel uncomfortable too. Or, sensing how you felt, he may have wanted to give you space. Perhaps your sister could have discretely brought you back into the conversation by simply asking you: "Hey, Roxie, what's your opinion on this." Or perhaps she knows you and tried to avoid putting you on the spot. Only you can tell.
Nobody is Great the First Time
There could be many ways to explain what happened, but the most important is what the whole experience taught you. Note what your sister talked about, her body posture, and her hand gestures. Body language speaks louder than words. Was she smiling a lot, looking into their eyes rather than looking down? Body languages are important because they guide people to know what to do next. And, BTW, a genuine, radiant smile opens a man's heart a hundredfold.
I know that some people are more forthcoming than others. Remember, though, that nobody is great the first time around. So don't assume this is the end of your dating life. Start where there's less emotional entanglement to practice conversing with strangers, like in a store where you could ask a male stranger for help when something is too high to reach or too heavy to carry. The worse they can say is "no." Usually, men love helping a lady as it's their real purpose in life. In doing so, you spread joy while practicing so that you can be ready when it matters.
As a side note, being at ease with others is a skill that will come in handy for the rest of your life in love and business. You will soon realize that dating is similar to promoting your skills in a job interview or discussing things with your superiors. I know so many of us, me included, tend to hide behind text messaging; however, learning and mastering the skill of interacting face-to-face will help you forever.
How to Take Care of Your Skin
And talking about being ready when it matters, you mentioned your oily skin prone to breakouts. Have you ever considered trying Dermesence Perfection from Avesence? It's a matte-finish primer designed to control excess shine as well as to keep your skin looking clean and clear. If you wish to try it out, click here.
Coping with Low Self-Worth
Now, let's talk about low self-worth. We lose our self-worth when we experience, at a young age, a traumatic event that triggers a highly emotional state. At that moment, we make a decision, sometimes unconscious. The trouble is that these events often occur when we are young, and the mind cannot comprehend or see the big picture.
So many people struggle throughout their life with a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence because they were humiliated while being punished. We are told not to say anything; otherwise, something worse will happen. Or we are told that it's our fault and that we deserve to be punished.
The lie that we are flawed
As these events occur, we take in our hearts the idea that we are flawed, not good enough, or ought to be ashamed of ourselves, and therefore we do not deserve good things in life. That's when we make a decision: to stay alive and not experience more pain; we must not speak; we must obey. Our child's mind becomes afraid of authority.
These decisions get buried in the unconscious and alter our ability to achieve life fulfillment.
Low Self-Worth in Action
Imagine this scenario where Mary has experienced some trauma where she fears authority. In her unconscious mind, a part of her programming says: To stay alive, I must not speak; I must obey. She meets Bob, who is nice but sometimes loud. Bob has also experienced some trauma. In his case, whenever he did something wrong, his mom gave him the silent treatment. In his case, to survive, he felt he must be loud to make sure he was heard.
Both are unaware of their childhood wound and how it affects their life. The two meets, get along, and then the relationship gets serious. At one point, Bob gets frustrated because Mary didn't put enough sugar in his coffee. It wasn't such a big deal for him, but he said loudly: "hey Mary, there's not enough sugar in my coffee."
The loudness of his voice triggers Mary. The little child inside her says Oh! Oh! My life is in danger; I must not speak; I must obey. The adult Mary brings the sugar and somewhat murmurs: "I'm sorry," and shuts down for a while.
A few hours later, Bob realizes Mary's silence, and now his little boy says, Oh! Oh! My life is in danger; I must be loud. And he goes to find Mary and yells: "why aren't you talking? Are you mad at me?"
To cope with the situation, Mary pretends all is well. Notice how, rather than talking about our feelings, we get busy while numbing the pain.
To Heal Your Self-Worth Requires Vulnerability and Courage
Solving low self-worth problems requires unraveling the experience, working backward until you discover your exact decision, and then change it. It's called "Re-Decision work." To be effective, it requires a highly emotional state, similar to falling in love, to shift the old decisions permanently. It often requires professional help because the "dysfunction" appears normal to us. We know we're not happy, but we don't know why.
To truly live in a state of joy and bliss, and regain our self-worth, requires vulnerability, courage, and patience to melt away the shell we created that protects us from pain. That same shell also prevents us from feeling joyful, happy, and confident. Going at the source, in the heart, also means facing that traumatic experience again. In short, we must be willing to clean the wound to heal.
Since I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, this is as far as I can guide you. Remember that finding yourself is part of your life purpose, so be patient.
The Struggle of Living in Duality
I want to bring up the concept of chemistry again. As you may have learned at school, an atom is composed of an electron, a proton, and a neutron.
The electron is negative, the proton is positive, and the neutron is neutral. To create energy, the negative portion of the atom interacts with the positive.
Everything in the universe is either negative or positive, including our thoughts, hence why we learn from our mental triggers. For instance, an a-ha moment is a positive realization of something new.
There's also a neutron. As it implies, the neutron is neutral. From this perspective, you see any situation from above with discernment rather than judgment. It allows you to know the truth rather than focusing on a story.
However, many of us are entangled with the Ego, created by false beliefs mixed with childhood traumas and fears. The Ego creates duality, a state of mind where we believe were are separated from our spiritual being. In duality, we often feel bad about ourselves and the world. That's when we go around with our hands in boiling water. In this state, it's impossible to make anyone else around you feel happy because you are not happy.
Pain is nature's way of telling us something is out of balance. It wakes us up to reality.
The Reward of Looking Inward is to Experience Bliss and Joy
The Higher Self lives in love, joy, bliss, and abundance. In this state of mind, you feel whole and happy and love your "self," so when people have negative remarks about you, you don't care because you learn to love and accept yourself the way you are. You learn to laugh it off and say, you know what: "Everything is perfect; everything keeps improving."
When you go through some turbulence, see the situation as a chemistry experiment and look for the seed of an equivalent benefit. Usually, that's where the learning is.
Also, to help you figure out the root cause of your negative self-talk, use the love energy you have towards Derek and channel it into journaling your childhood memories. It may take some time before a breakthrough occurs; however, it's worth persevering because what's on the other side is bliss and pure unconditional self-love.
Lastly, trust that God and the universe are on your side, and when the time is right, you will meet the man who's meant to be with you by divine right.