Friday, November 19, 2010

Post-divorce Self-compassion

Considering the value of self-esteem is relevant to the post-divorce period. I’ve already talked about how self-esteem can be impacted negatively in marriage, but now we’re all about questioning the very notion of self-esteem. Some people call it self-indulgence.

I like the idea that we would do better to consider self-compassion as an alternative to self-esteem. Adapted for post-divorce, self-compassion involves:

* Being tolerant of the self. Tolerance is about being non-judgmental, particularly in the face of failures. Since divorce is the ultimate failure for many because of their values, hopes and dreams, it’s useful to consider a different view. Perhaps it isn’t a failure at all. Perhaps we do not need to judge ourselves through the right-wrong lens. Acceptance without judgment is a different view. Sometimes, if not always, we’re where we need to be.

* Recognizing that pain is part of the human experience. We need not be isolated in our pain. I’ve talked about the role of friendship and support post-divorce which I think is really important. We are not islands but part of the common humanity. Everyone has their pain and it’s good to talk about ours. We can help others by being there, listening and supporting.

* Trying to maintain emotional balance. We need not exaggerate our failings, including indulging in self-pity when in pain. This is a toughie, but ruminating, obsessing and getting hysterical about our problems is rarely useful. Trying to get a calm, clear perspective and to maintain that perspective without drama is very useful. It involves noticing your thoughts and accepting or redirecting them instead of allowing the negative focus to engulf us. Sometimes input from others helps us gain perspective and feel supported.

So instead of bemoaning that your self-esteem is low because of the divorce, try taking special care to be kind and compassionate towards yourself, and maybe even to others, post-divorce. It’s a goal likely to boost happiness.

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