Out of the clear blue, in the middle of dinner, my nine-year-old daughter turned to me and said, “Sometimes when I look at my face in the mirror, I think I'm ugly.” The dinner fork fell out of my hand and a cold chill of alarm ran up my spine. “Oh, my god!” I thought to myself, “It's too early for this. She's only nine-years-old. How could she already be insecure about her looks?”
Desperately trying not to let my panic show…
…I asked her, “Is it one specific part of your face you think is ugly, or the entire thing?” “Well,” she amended. “Maybe it's not that my face is actually ugly. It might be because I'm so used to seeing it — it's boring to me. Sometimes I look at another girl and I think, ‘She's prettier than me.'”
To which I asked, “Do you wish you had a prettier face?” She answered, “Well, I don't know. Maybe I do.”
We sat silently for a few minutes, with me not sure of which way to go next. Then an idea popped into my head. I asked her, “Have you ever considered that your opinion of your face could be wrong? I have been looking at your face for a lot longer than you have. And even though I have gotten used to your face, in my mind, it's still a pretty face. So obviously, we both have different opinions about your face. And what about the girls you know whose faces you think are prettier; what if they're also bored with their own faces, and when they look at your face, they tell themselves yours is prettier because it's new to them. Have you ever thought of that?”
“No,” she said. “I assumed my opinion is the same as everyone else's.” Now, on the outside, I kept my tone casual and engaged in our conversation, but on the inside? A cold lump of dread had formed in the pit of my stomach. I remember once a mentor of mine told me that as a parent, the things you fail to deal with in yourself, your children will act out. It seemed to me, in that moment, some of my own insecure chickens came home to roost.
Here's why I say that:
As a child and a teenager, all the way up until my late 20's, I had secretly longed for two things: longer legs and a prettier face. And now, it seemed my daughter was facing those same insecurities. Not knowing what else to do, I reached over and hugged her. Being in my arms caused her to start crying, and I simply held her. “I'm sorry,” I whispered to her. “I know that having that opinion can't possibly make you feel good.”
“No,” she whispered back. “I understand,” I told her. “When I was your age and even older, I used to feel very insecure about how short I was. Kids used to tease me. They called me Half Pint, and they used to sing this horrible song. ‘Short people have no reason to live.'” On hearing that, she pulled out of my arms and looked up at me, “That's mean!” she exclaimed. “Short people or tall people, there's no difference between them!” “Well,” I said, “I agree. But it did take me a while to realize those were just opinions and not facts. So what about your opinion of your face, could you be wrong?”
“Maybe,” she said, “I guess so.” And just like that, the storm passed; she happily went back to eating her chocolate ice cream with the glow-in-the-dark Oreo dirt worms. I, on the other hand, felt like I had just dodged a bullet because I know how important having a good body image is for little girls (and big girls for that matter). I just pray that my challenging her on her negative opinion of her face is enough to make her doubt her… self-doubt.
But now, let's talk about why you're here.
If you're like most of my readers, chances are that somewhere in the recent past, you made the unpleasant discovery of a partner's infidelity, and in the blink of an eye, everything changed. It's almost as if you tumbled down a rabbit hole, but rather than ending up in Wonderland, you seem to have ended up in “Horror land,” where everything is the exact opposite of the way it was before.
What's happening here?
The discovery of infidelity is such an unexpected twist in the road, it blows a hole in our sense of certainty and creates a huge gap between expectations and reality. In other words, it radically upsets the balance of things and leaves you feeling out of control. Because of that loss of control, your self-confidence, your sense of security, and your self-esteem take a beating.
Why was this article written?
If any of the things I've just described rings a bell for you, then keep reading — because this may be exactly what you need to know right now.
This article is written for…
…those who may recently have had their hearts broken, their trust violated, and their dreams disappointed, but refuse to let the hurt drag them down any longer. It's for anyone who's ever experienced the pain of being betrayed, lied to, or played falsely by someone they trusted, and yet they reject the idea of growing old and bitter chained to fear, doubt, and mistrust. Consider this article like a personal lifeline back to heaven for anyone who's been through hell but refused to take permanent residence there. If this sounds like something you want, then let's get to it.
What's here for you?
Over the next few minutes, I'll share with you some ideas, tips, hints, suggestions, and strategies to help you rebuild your self-confidence and repair your self-esteem.
My promise to you: I promise that by the time we're done, I will have done my best to provide you with as many tools, tips, hints, suggestions, and ideas as you can use to shift your life experience from unhappiness to happiness in as short a time as possible.
That's my goal. Now, here's yours: Your charge as you read along is to allow yourself to consider these strategies and suggestions with an open mind. Remember, consideration isn't the same as acceptance. You can consider some things and discard them, and you can consider other things and accept them. The key is to accept only those things you believe will move you closer to your goals. Can you do that? I know you can.
Great, then let's begin.
How to Repair Self-Esteem After Betrayal
What is self-esteem? Here's a definition I like: Self-esteem is the emotional energy generated from the way you feel about yourself. It's the fuel that powers your motivation, risk tolerance, confidence, and ability to cope with uncertainty.
I invite you to notice… that I'm describing self-esteem as both “energy” and “feeling.” This is because self-esteem is generated from your feelings about yourself. Think of self-esteem like the gas-tank in your car; if your overall feelings about yourself are positive, then you are full of self-esteem; if the overall feelings are negative, then your self-esteem is low.
Where does self-esteem energy come from?
Your self-esteem energy is generated by your expectations. Positive emotions are created by positive expectations, which generate healthy (or high) self-esteem. Negative emotions, created by negative expectations, drain or lower one's self-esteem. So where do our expectations originate? They mostly come from our self-image. (We'll come back to this later.)
Why betrayal negativity impacts self-esteem.
When something as painful as betrayal rocks your world, it generally does two things: (1) It unleashes a tremendous amount of negative stress into your life; and (2) It triggers the fear of future pain. And it's this fear of future pain that robs you of self-esteem energy. Why? Because as I already pointed out, self-esteem energy is generated from positive expectations. And what happens when you're afraid of future pain? That's right. That generates negative expectations, which in turn, lowers your self-esteem. Remember I told you that expectations (negative or positive) are largely created by our self-image?
Now it's time to talk about how important a role your self-image plays…