Recovering your self-esteem after an affair is solely within your power and you have control over whether you reclaim your sense of self – or not.
By Sarah P.
Sometimes self-esteem can be a bit of a slippery thing that never seems to be stable. Other times, we feel very good about ourselves and we have a sense of self that seems unshakeable. Then, we get blind-sided by infidelity and whatever sense of self we had before is temporarily destroyed.
In fact, one woman described the time directly after the affair and many months after the affair as “Horrorland.”
Indeed, for many of us it feels as if we fell down a proverbial rabbit hole and ended up in another place entirely—only this one is not populated with perpetually late rabbits and smiling cats.
No, the place that we ended up in feels like a living hell and everything that we used to take for granted has suddenly been changed.
We no longer trust our instincts. In fact, we feel like we cannot trust anything or anyone that is around us—was everything just a lie? But, the worst part is happens when we question ourselves, and our own worth as a wife, lover, and human being.
Battling Thoughts About the Other Person
Nevertheless, the very worst hit we take to our self-esteem is when we think about the other person. We are all too familiar with the hours spent fearing whether or not she was prettier, he was more handsome, had a better body, a better nose, face, eyes, toes, or anything else that he or she had that was better than what we have.
Then we believe that he or she probably did have a better everything (whereas we did not have a better anything) and as a result, our husband or wife had an affair. And then we feel as if we should crawl under the bed, wave the white flag of surrender, and just give up.
But, the good news is, all of those thoughts are just thoughts. In fact, all of those thoughts are UNTRUE and we can make the choice to think different thoughts.
In short, we can chose how we feel, how we perceive, how we react, and in doing this, we can reclaim our sense of self. In doing this, we also find our own voice, we determine our own needs, and as a result, the man or woman who emerges after this process now has an unshakeable sense of self. Period. No matter what happens.
Most affair partners are not more attractive than the husband or wife, which simply does not matter because an affair is about how the other person makes your spouse feel.
Further, your spouse was looking for something externally to fill the void within himself/herself and he or she happened to look to an affair to fill the void. But sooner or later, your spouse will realize the only person that can get rid of the void within is your spouse himself/herself. Only he or she can do it.
None of us can look to external things to fill the void within since it is impossible to fill externally. Seen in this light, you should be able to let comparisons to the other person go because your spouse’s affair was never about the other person.
Reclaiming a Sense of Self
Only you can reclaim a sense of self after your spouse has had an affair. Reclaiming your sense of self is solely within your power and you have control over whether you reclaim it or not.
If you want to reclaim it, you must give up all unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking, over-eating, and indulging in recreational drugs. Becoming chemically dependent on something outside of yourself alters your brain chemistry and makes you depressed and hopeless. Or, in the case of overindulgence in food, it makes you overweight and hopeless. So, all of those things are no-nos.
Then, you must take care of your body by exercising daily, eating fresh food that is full of vitamins and minerals, and getting adequate sleep. You must take care of your body if you want to feel good and all three of those things are necessary.
Next, you must reach out to friends and family members who make you feel good and to find a hobby, skill, or sport in which you can excel. When you feel a sense of ‘mastery’ over a hobby/skill/sport, your self-esteem is boosted tremendously.
Finally, you must choose to stop thinking about thoughts that make you sad or anxious. When you feel yourself going down that road, you must simply STOP and start thinking about something else. Changing the content of your thinking is within your power and in your power alone. You cannot feel good about yourself while perseverating about things that make your feel bad or anxious.
Recovering Your Self-Esteem After an Affair – The Road Ahead
While it may seem like a daunting task now, I can assure you that if you do everything I have talked about above; you are going to get better. In fact, the sense of self that you rebuild post-affair is going to be ironclad because it will be based on a foundation that is not shakable.
Above all else, never allow yourself, in a time of weakness, to give up on trying to feel better. All will be well soon and you must believe it to be so since it is the absolute truth.
Recovering your self-esteem after an affair is one of the hardest things for a betrayed spouse to accomplish. Please share your experiences with this in the comment section below.