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“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 “Horrorland,” 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…
What is Self-Image?
Self-image is the foundation upon which you build your entire personality, behaviors, and expectations.
Think of it this way…
If you were a corporation, your self-image would be the S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) that guides the day-to-day operations. If you were a house, your self-image would be the blueprint that dictates the look, style and size.
And here’s how Dr. Maltz described self-image in his groundbreaking book “Psycho-Cybernetics” (if you haven’t read his book, I suggest you run — don’t walk — to the nearest bookstore and get it): “Whether we realize it or not, each of us carries about with us a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves.” (Our self-image) “It is built up by our beliefs about ourselves and it is complete down to the last detail that tells us ‘this is the sort of person I am.’ We do not question its validity but proceed to act upon it just as if it were true.”
A person’s self-image is a composition of all the opinions, beliefs, superstitions, and approximations they’ve adopted about themselves. This tells us that self-image is a story you’ve created about who you are, what’s possible and what’s not possible for you, what you can and can’t do, and what’s acceptable and unacceptable to you.
Here’s the thing about self-image: although there are billions of people, all creating their own self-images, each person’s self-image falls into one of two categories: adequate or inadequate.
What is an adequate (or realistic) self-image?
An adequate self-image is one in which you see yourself as having sufficient resources, skills, and coping strategies to competently deal with life’s challenges and uncertainties. As a result of having that image of sufficiency, you have overall positive expectations of life. (Notice, sufficient is the keyword here.)
What is an inadequate (shabby) self-image?
An inadequate (shabby) self-image is one in which you see yourself as lacking sufficient resources, skills, and abilities needed to competently deal with life’s challenges and uncertainties. As a result of this image of inadequacy, you have negative expectations of life. (Notice, lack is the keyword here.)
Picture it like this:
If a shabby self-image were a stock on the stock exchange, it would be an underperformer. If it were a boxer, it would be outclassed in every bout. If it were a country, it would be a Third World country. And if it were a hotel, it would be a two-star hotel.
How does betrayal affect a person’s self-image?
Well, that depends on the type of self-image you had before you were dealt the blow of betrayal. It goes without saying that those who have an adequate self-image will fair better than those who have a shabby self-image… and yet, neither types are immune because betrayal is an equal opportunity offender. This is why if you want to repair self-esteem, you must begin by repairing your self-image.
Why is repairing your self-image so important to rebuilding your self-esteem? That’s a good question.
Let me share a parable that will help you understand why this needs to be done…
The Parable of the Wishing Tree
This is a parable about a poor man who was walking through the woods, reflecting upon his many troubles. He stopped to rest against a tree — a magical tree that would instantly grant the wishes of anyone who encountered it. He realized he was thirsty and wished for a drink. Instantly, a cup of cool water was in his hand. Shocked, he looked at the water, decided it was safe, and drank it. He then realized he was hungry and wished he had something to eat. A meal appeared before him.
“My wishes are being granted,” he thought in disbelief.
“Well, then I wish for a beautiful home of my own,” he said out loud. A home appeared in the meadow before him. A huge smile crossed his face as he wished for servants to take care of the house.
When they appeared, he realized he had somehow been blessed with an incredible power, and he wished for a beautiful, loving, intelligent woman to share his good fortune.
A stunning woman appeared.
“Wait a minute, this is ridiculous,” said the man to the woman. “I’m not this lucky. This can’t happen to me.” As he spoke… everything disappeared. He shook his head and said, “I knew it!” then he walked away thinking about his many troubles.
Did you notice it?
Because of the self-image the man had about himself, he couldn’t tolerate positive results for very long.
What else can this parable teach us?
I believe it gives one very key insight: as you believe, so it’s done unto you. Therefore, it’s the story you believe about what’s possible for you (not your life circumstances) that guides your expectations, and therefore, your results.
Am I saying that your self-image (and therefore your self-esteem) is determined by a story and not facts? YES! That’s exactly what I’m saying.
This is actually very good news.
It puts you in control of your own self-esteem. And this means that even when something as painful as infidelity strikes, you don’t have to remain at the mercy of that negative stress for very long. You have options. You have alternatives. Rather than letting negative stress drain you of self-esteem… you can use it to your advantage.
Coming up next are four secrets to help you do this…
Only positive expectations
It’s just as easy to find arguments to support positive expectations as it is to find arguments that support negative ones. Expectations are future predictions, which means they’re not facts — they’re opinions. The question is this: which is more helpful? If you’re having a hard time answering that question right now, remember this… self-esteem is created by your confident expectation of good. Low self-esteem, on the other hand, is created by your confident expectation of bad (think of the man from the Wishing Tree parable). And since both of these are based on your opinion, why not hold an opinion that’s helpful, rather than one that is harmful? So, from this moment on, I want you to make the decision to only look for evidence that supports positive opinions and positive expectations of life.
Only helpful stories
Remember, it’s not the event that causes the pain as much as the “story” or the interpretation we make about the event. And there are always two ways to look at any event: from a positive perspective, or from a negative perspective. I suggest, despite all the temptations not to, you choose to only look at this situation from a positive perspective and only believe those stories and interpretations that you find helpful. Make a list of these stories, clichés, catchphrases… that come from this more positive place. For example (these are just a few examples… I want you to stop and take the time… to make up your own list now):
Only winning images
As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The reason? Because it’s our imagination that produces the images that either empower us or disempower us. And since those images are in YOUR mind and YOUR imagination, I suggest you allow yourself to only create winning images from this point forward. For example, only see yourself winning, only see yourself improving, only see yourself overcoming, and only see yourself coming out of this better than before.
Grow up your self-image
If you haven’t paid much attention to any of the previous secrets, pay attention to this one. This is because the opinions, stories, and ideas you formed about yourself as a child aren’t necessarily factual about you as an adult. You’re not the child you were; today you are way more. You don’t have the same skills, awareness, intelligence, and resources you used to have — you have far more. The child of the past didn’t have access to the coping strategies the adult of today has. It would be ludicrous to hang on to any inadequate (or powerless) image you once had of yourself. Remember, stories of inadequacy, insufficiency or not being enough only have power if you believe them (not because they are true). Do you realize what that means? (Cue the choir.) If it’s your belief that gives them power, then your disbelief renders them powerless! My suggestion? Grow up your self-image and discard any stories of inadequacy. Withdraw your loyalty and allegiance from any image of yourself as powerless or helpless. Do you believe you can do that? I know you can.
Here’s an exercise to help get you started:
Your assignment: Grab a mirror (or go stand in front of one), look into it, and ask yourself… “Mirror, Mirror, reveal to me any negative stories I believe about myself.” Now, get quiet and listen to the beliefs, phrases and words… that your mind whispers back to you. Write them down as you hear them. Don’t judge. Simply record them. If you do this exercise (and I have faith you will), you may notice there’s a layer of mean and hurtful statements and clichés that bubble up to the surface. It’s those stories that need to be discarded like cheap jewelry, so you can “grow up” the image you have of yourself.
Now that we’ve covered the secrets of repairing self-esteem, let’s move on to round two… rebuilding confidence.
How to Rebuild Your Self-Confidence
What is self-confidence?
Here’s a definition of self-confidence that I really like: self-confidence is the belief that you can (and will) get all your needs met. When you have self-confidence, it’s because you believe that you have the necessary resources to handle whatever emerges. Self-confidence is what gives us the faith that we can solve problems, tolerate risks, bounce back from adversity, recover from loss, and surrender to change.
How does self-confidence look like? It shows up in your life as faith in yourself, self-assurance, self-reliance, personal power, fearlessness, resiliency, and (believe it or not) confidence in your own ability to learn.
What is the opposite of self-confidence? Self-doubt, which is a lack of faith in yourself and your ability to get your needs met.
How does infidelity affect self-confidence? Although many things can trigger self-doubt, the discovery of betrayal — or feeling played for a fool — has got to be at the top of the list. So, how does self-doubt after betrayal manifest itself? It shows up in two primary ways: (1) lack of faith in your ability to prevent a future betrayal; and (2) lack of faith in your own ability to handle possible future pain. (Notice how self-doubt after betrayal really comes down to lack of faith in the future.)
So, how do you rebuild self-confidence after you’ve been cheated on? Here’s the secret: You don’t focus on rebuilding confidence… you focus on removing doubt. That’s right. Rebuilding confidence is actually a process of undoing than it is a process of doing. Unfortunately, many people miss this key point because if you were to try and rebuild your confidence without first dismantling self-doubt, it would be like rebuilding a house using straw. All it would take is for one Big Bad Wolf to huff and puff and blow all your self-confidence to smithereens. So, let’s take the bull by the horns and learn how to pull out those weeds of self-doubt so that confidence grows back naturally.
Here are my five suggestions for doing this…
Don't believe everything you think.
Just because a thought, idea, or belief is in your mind, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Be willing to look at all thoughts… question every premise… and discard all the shabby ones. From today forward, give yourself permission to rethink any negative expectations… any belief that suggests lack or limitations… and any idea that tries and undermines your faith in the future.
Opinions should never be treated as facts.
Remember that story I told you about my daughter? You might have wondered why I didn’t just hug her and reassure her that she does have a pretty face. That might have done the trick, but for how long? Here’s what I was thinking: what I recognized was that she was in the process of forming her self-image (which includes body image). So, I asked myself, “what is the most important thing I can do to guide that process?” The answer I came up with was to help her learn how to separate facts from opinions. I wanted her to be able to challenge any opinion, even her own. And I want you to be able to do the same thing. It would give me great joy for you to recognize that opinions (even your own) are not facts. It’s important to understand that a fact is immutable, while an opinion is not. Therefore, all opinions (including your own) should never be given too much of a superior position in your mind. In other words, it’s OK to doubt your own self-doubts. They are just opinions.
Unpleasant memories need never be relived.
The best thing about the past is that it’s over. It’s gone. This is a fact, not an opinion. The only way the past comes back is if you relive it in your mind. Why do so many of us relive the past over and over again? Well, here’s my theory: people believe that by reliving a past unpleasantness, they will gain the power to prevent it from happening again. But when you look at this belief rationally, you find it doesn’t make much sense. It would be like sticking your hand in an electric socket over and over again to remind yourself not to stick your hand in an electric socket! Forget about that. Remember this: the past is over. There’s no need to relive it. (Because the lessons aren’t learned from pain, but from insight.)
Changing your mind is your privilege as an adult.
This is my favorite part of being an adult. When you’re an adult… no one tells you who you are. (You’re the one telling yourself who you are.) And the best part of being an adult is the freedom to change your mind about who you are and what’s possible for you. If you find you’re lacking faith in yourself, then it’s your privilege to change your mind about yourself and about what you’re capable of. Keep in mind, the stories you tell yourself about yourself are the wood for the fire of self-doubt or the fire of self-confidence. So make sure you only add fuel to the one you want to grow.
Shift your focus from loss to learning.
I believe there’s always a way to turn any adversity into an advantage. Every single negative can lead to a positive. And one way to jump-start this process is to shift your focus from what you’ve lost, to what you’ve learned.
Here’s what this means:
Rather than looking, focusing or obsessing on the things you lose in any situation, adversity or crisis… I want you to shift your attention to the lessons you’ve learned.
Now, the experience becomes a teaching device, not a torture device. And in that moment, you awaken a power within yourself that transforms that which was sent to curse you into that which has come to bless you. Once you’ve experienced this power for yourself, a new level of confidence is awakened… as you realize that you now have the capacity to handle whatever curve balls life throws at you.
This power is called resiliency, and it’s an antidote to self-doubt and the precondition to self-confidence. Shift your focus from loss to learning and awaken that power now.
Hopefully, there’s a different level of experience available, and all it requires is for you to change your opinion about what’s possible for you. Could it really be so simple? Yes, it could because it is.
Think about it like this:
Haven’t you been misguided about something before?
If so, isn’t it possible you could have been misguided about yourself?
Obviously, I can’t convince you of anything. Only you will know for sure.
I believe you have as much right as anyone else to become curious about yourself. I wouldn’t presume to know all there is to know about you (and neither should you). Because maybe, just maybe, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of uncertainty, there are still some things new and fresh left to be discovered about you.
I wish you joy in that discovery.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!