“I feel empty”
“I can’t imagine my life without her in it.”
“I feel empty, like I don’t know who I am anymore.”
Every single day I talk to people who have had their confidence stripped away. They tell me that they can’t imagine a life without their ex, like they can’t exist with them. And the thing is, I completely understand, because I’ve been in the exact same position, feeling like I’ve lost a grasp on the person that I was when we were together.
They’ve lost something. They get so hung up on what their exgirlfriend is doing that they hang their own self confidence on how their ex sees them. It’s like hang a heavy coat on a coat rack… it’s not going to hold it up.
So, you are going through a breakup or you went through a breakup. That is no reason to let your self-confidence hit an all time low. It’s even less of a reason to let it stay there.
I mean, most of the men and women that come to our sites are here to find out how to get their ex back. I get that too. There is no reason that we can’t do that. But, if you are letting the situation make you think less of yourself… well, that is something we need to address first. Because, without self-confidence, you are unlikely to get her back, and even less likely to keep her if you do.
And I’m not talking about becoming cocky. Confidence is not cockiness, because cockiness is supposed to be temporary. Ongoing it is usually used as a defense mechanism that is a sign of low self-esteem. Confidence is something that evolves with you. It becomes something that grows and shrinks with the amount of effort you put into your life.
So… let’s talk about my go-to “secret weapons” for fighting to build confidence.
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Prepare yourself. This is a LOT of information I am about to put out there and I’m not going to censor myself. This is exactly what I would say to my closest friends if they came to me with this issue.
Who am I kidding?! Of course you’re ready. Your in a dessert and I didn’t just show up with water. I and gifting you a freaking Black Hawk Helicopter loaded with survival fear. You just have to choose to get in and pilot yourself to safety.
So, let’s go!
Dealing With Fear and Anxiety
The number one reason for lack of confidence and self-esteem after a breakup is the fear of being alone or left behind. And fear breeds laziness and self-doubt, making it harder to regain confidence the longer you spend being afraid.
Owning Your Fear
Gradually facing the things that you are afraid of, both real and imagined, is the only way to move past them. For example, in this situation you might find yourself afraid of being alone. A lot of the time, people afraid of being alone find themselves at a standstill, unable to make a move.
When I was little and in girl scouts, we always talked about what to do if you get lost. Basically, if you have no idea how to get to a place you know, you are supposed to stay in the place you were left so the person or group you got separated from can find their way back to you.
When my college boyfriend moved away I found every reason to stay in the same town. I mean, what if he decided to come back for me and I wasn’t there? It wasn’t the biggest or only reason I stayed, I have family there, but it was definitely a factor.
Staying in the same place makes you feel safe, but life keeps moving one without you. Your friends, your job… everything, they move forward and leave you standing in the same place.
So, you have to learn how to figure out what it is that you are afraid of and own it.
Take a minute.
Figure out what you are afraid of.
Is it being alone?
Is it your ex finding someone new?
Is it facing your family without being in a relationship? (Believe me, it’s more common than you would think.)
When I say “Own your fear,” I mean name it. Figure out what exactly you are afraid of.
Owning Your Anxiety
Being afraid is can make you stressed, but anxiety doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be afraid of something.
For some people simply being without someone to talk to on an intimate level makes them anxious in general. For others, interacting with an ex can be stressful or having people feel sorry for you…
When I say “Own your anxiety,” I mean figure out what triggers that anxiety. For example, after my ex moved, going out with my best friend and her boyfriend as a third wheel did a number on my confidence. I felt more alone. I started to feel like I was on a sinking ship.
That’s anxiety, feeling helpless.
But you aren’t alone no matter how alone you feel. If anything, you have me and the rest of the team here.
So, let’s talk about the tool to help you deal with the fear and anxiety.
Tool #1: Worst Case Scenario Thinking
It sounds terrible, like the opposite of what it is. It sounds like I’m telling you to dwell on the bad thoughts. But that’s exactly the opposite.
This is actually my FAVORITE tool in the arsenal, if we are being level with each other here. It requires you to be honest with yourself.
Okay so let’s lay out a scenario here. We can use the usual culprits that people come to me with after a breakup.
FEAR: Ending up alone.
Anxiety Triggers: Seeing other couples happy. Seeing your ex with someone else. Things that make you think of your ex. People being sympathetic.
Okay. In this instance, I want you to imagine the absolute WORST outcome. I actually just got through talking a friend through this issue, so I can go ahead and lay out what he came up with when I asked him what the worst thing that could come of his situation. Here’s what he said:
“My ex finds someone new and is super happy and I have to go through the dating process all over again. I have to relearn someone new. I can’t imagine finding someone right for me like she was so I suppose it’s possible I would be alone forever. My mom will literally be hounding me about it and more grandkids forever. I could end up being that grumpy old man that hates everyone who’s happy because I’m sat. I’ll probably lose my job because I’ll become that mean old man before I am actually old.”
So, let’s make that a list.
- His ex moves on and is happy without him.
- He has to get back in the dating game.
- He becomes someone he hates, the grumpy old man.
- He disappoints his mom.
- He loses his job, because he’s sad.
For him that is the WORST CASE SCENARIO.
So I asked him some follow up questions respectively.
- If your ex moves on and finds someone else that she is happy with… it’ll hurt right? But you do care about her right? So, you want her to be happy even if it isn’t with you right?
- Okay, so, dating sucks these days. I mean, it’s impersonal and it feels like it takes forever to find someone you find attractive that has the same outlook and goals as you. But my guess is that you didn’t expect to find your ex when you did or the way you did. I know it feels impossible that you will find someone who makes you feel the way she did at the moment. But is is ACTUALLY impossible? Or is that just what you’ve decided because you aren’t ready to consider it yet?
- Who decides who you are? Think back to the last time you were hurt or disappointed about something on this level, where he didn’t think he would ever get over it. For him, it was when a friend of his passed away and he thought the pain would never go away. However, now, several years later, that pain is just a dull ache. When I ask him to describe that pain now, he basically said it was just something unfortunate that happened and, while he does miss his friend, it doesn’t weigh on him like it did. Feelings are temporary and situational. Right now might suck, but that won’t last. Life doesn’t just stop because you two broke up. Life is great and then it sucks. Life sucks and then it gets better. Its a constant up and down. It is all temporary. If you can learn to make the best out of your situation, even the crappy ones, then the low moments get a little less… low. and the highs last a little longer.
- What is the last thing you did that made your mom disappointed in you? For him it was having a kid with a woman he wasn’t married to. I asked him how his mom felt about it now. It turns out she thinks it might have been the greatest thing he ever did. Having a kid made him grow up and be more responsible. And that little girl has brought him and his mom closer. So, I asked him if his mom still loved him. Of course she does. Being disappointed in him momentarily may feel sucky, but it doesn’t make her love him any less.
- Okay, so you lose your job… are there other jobs you can do? Other companies you can work for? Could that be turned into an opportunity to follow a more fulfilling career path?
Make a plan. Figure out how to make your worst case scenario into something you can handle. Then, even if it happens you are prepared. You are less afraid and you don’t have to be anxious, because you know how to handle it.
Grasp Your Potential
Tool #2: A Clear Picture
Once you realize that you can handle whatever life throws at you, you have more control over HOW you handle it and the direction it goes.
One of my best friends is a personal trainer, I can attest to the fact that when you know what your goals are you are significantly more likely to achieve them.
For example, when I told him I wanted to get in better shape, he started asking me to define what it was that “better shape” meant to me. The truth is, I’ve always been pretty active, but up until that point it just meant better than I was. I didn’t have an actual picture in my head of what I wanted. After talking to him about it, I realized that the way you go about doing that effectively is with an actual plan for working out AND nutrition. Depending on the plan you set up, you can either bulk up, slim down, or cut muscles to increase certain functional abilities (like increasing endurance or being able to lift more.)
Think about how hopeless you felt before you started reading this article… Literally any plan is better than no plan.
Life is the same way. You need to figure out what you want outside of your romantic life. Yeah I get it. I ask, “What do you want?” You answer, “My ex back.” But… what else?
I mean there has to be other things you want.
Paint a picture.
For me it was finish school and get in better shape. But it meant laying it out in a more specific way.
Finishing school meant giving myself a timeline and lining up the classes I needed to take and the grades I needed to make in order to have a GPA so I could add it to my resume. Yeah.. I know. In laying out a plan for school I realized that I wasn’t happy in the field I was in. I needed to prepare my resume for that change. And I needed to sit down with someone with more fitness knowledge than me and lay out a plan that lined up with my goal of improving endurance and strengthening the muscles around my knees. (I had a horse step on one when I was a kid, damaging the cartilage.)
So, figure out what you want and make a DETAILED plan. Get help planning out the things you are unsure of, like I did with the trainer.
Tool #3: Get Out of Your Own Way
There’s this story I read. A girl went on a date and at the end of the date she told the guy she would like to go out again and the guy basically told her he’d rather not.After, she was talking to a friend and was feeling pretty low.
Girl: “I suck.”
Friend: ” You’re right. Your hips are too big. You need to go to the gym. You should dress better. And you should definitely wear more makeup.”
She looked at her friend in shock, clearly hurt.
G: “Why would you say that?! That is so mean!”
F: “You wouldn’t let me talk to you that way, why would you talk to yourself that way?”
It’s considered bad form to talk to other people the way that we talk to ourselves.
I was working at a company that made us take those sexual harassment classes that everyone hates, and the speaker said something that I use in a lot of other situations.
“These days it is considered “normal” for people to say things that make other people uncomfortable. Bosses to employees. Men to women. Women to men. Whoever… when someone says something that makes me feel uncomfortable, I imagine that it’s Donald Trump saying it. (This was back before he was president, when he was still saying “you’re fired!” on TV for ratings.) The reason I do this is because he’s someone I could tell of easily. I would NEVER let him speak to me that way, because I don’t respect or like him.”
So, when I start to tell myself that I am worthless or that I don’t deserve to be happy, I imagine someone I can’t stand telling me the same thing. Then, I proceed to tell that person why that is unacceptable. After a while, you train yourself to treat… yourself… with respect and you stop holding yourself back.
Tool #4: Feedback and Support
The people you trust are a possible tool for you on their own. At least, they are a support system. At most, they can be a pretty good judge of when you are being unreasonable and overly hard on yourself.
The only trick here is choosing the people you actually listen to.
Look at this way.
Let’s say you don’t choose specific people to be in your “Circle of Trust.” You decide to talk to anyone who will listen. Well, when you confide in people, they generally offer their thoughts on the matter. So, not only is your situation out there for everyone to see (and let’s be honest, gossip about), you also end up with a ton of differing opinions. Now you aren’t just in a cap situation, you are also feeling like you might offend someone by not taking their advice. It makes it harder to decide what you think when you are carrying around everyone else’s thoughts on the matter.
So, when you choose, make sure that you only confide in and listen to people who have your best interest at heart.
For example, my mother, while I do love her very much, I don’t always tell her everything because we have different beliefs and different ideals. Not to mention she has an entire set of dreams and goals for me that have absolutely nothing to do with what I want at all. So, the advice she gives me isn’t always in my best interest no matter how much love goes into it.
So, when you choose your circle, make sure they are people who know and respect your intentions and that love you enough to be brutally honest when you aren’t seeing the big picture.
Tool #5: Be Willing to Take Risks
No, I don’t mean for you to go out and do something drastic. I mean for you not to be afraid to move forward. So many people get so focused on their ex and getting them back that they forget to live their life.
Put one foot in front of the other and challenge yourself with the things you were afraid to do before and the things that you had been putting off.
Helen Keller once said that life either is nothing at all or an adventure. Helen flipping Keller! She was deaf, dumb, and blind. If anyone had a rough life it was her and she still said that life is either nothing or adventure. If she can get past the things that were holding her back, then you can get past the breakup that is holding you back.
Make it Real
Know Your Value
For people that have a natural confidence, knowing their value comes naturally too. However, after a breakup, you start to question your values. So, make it REAL by making three actual, on paper, lists: a list of your strengths, a list of things that you can improve upon, and anything you consider an accomplishment.
After a breakup, we tend to be harder on ourselves than we have to be and tell ourselves that we have somehow caused this breakup to happen.
Go easy on yourself. Seriously!
You are better than you think you are.
LOOK AT THE LIST!!
Learn to Combat “Revertigo”
Have you ever run into someone from school and suddenly you’re cracking jokes like frat boys and feeling the urge to play beer pong?
That is what Revertigo is.
It’s when you’ve gone through all of ExGirlfriend Recovery, read a TON of the articles on becoming the best version of yourself, and gaining confidence in who you are. Then, you find yourself having a conversation with your ex and suddenly you feel like all of that progress just slipped away. You feel like you just went through the breakup all over again and you feel nervous… judged… raw hurt all over again… and vulnerable.
In order to avoid this you have to learn how to steadily reassure yourself of the progress you’ve made, before you EVER get in that situation. Be proud of yourself the whole way.
The other trick to beating Revertigo is to learn to see your Ex as a different person than the person you were with.
You can’t look at her as the woman who used to fawn over you and look at you with doe eyes…. even if she fawns over you now and looks at you with doe eyes.
When I was in college, I was head over heels for a guy and we split up. He was horrible to me… like he broke my heart… several times. But the double edged sword here was that he was kind of also my best friend . So, after a year apart we ran into each other and decided to get together later and catch up. I nearly had a panic attack while I was getting ready.
I had to step back and tell myself that the guy I loved was gone for the time being and the guy across from me was my friend that I made it through college with eating whole sandwiches while running from one side of campus to the other in under 5 minutes without dying.
I had to prioritize our friendship which was what we had at that moment, as opposed to the relationship that I wished we had.
You have to teach yourself to do this, too, before you interact with your ex.
This might as well be the last tool on the list. You have to do the “taking care of yourself” part. You kind of have to adjust your focus if you want ExRecovery to be succesful.
Even after you make progress and you regain your confidence, it’s easy to get thrown off your game. So, if you have an off day don’t dwell on it. Take a shower. Get dressed. Simply put, look like crap… feel like crap. Easy as that.
This kind of goes right along with the hygiene thing. Take care of your body and not only will you FEEL awesome, you’ll LOOK awesome too. And that can’t hurt the self-esteem boost. Be healthy, exercise, actually eat food (because you know a lot of people forget to after a breakup), and sleep. These things are important and they tend to get overlooked in the wake of things.
There are three personal spaces you need to account for…
- Your Living Space – Did you know that the minute you think of something you need to do, your mind thinks that you should already be doing it? So, when you leave things undone, like your bed, or leave things in a mess, the back of your mind holds on to it. And all of that stuff ways you down. You can’t be confident and drag all that around with you. It doesn’t happen.
- The People You Surround Yourself With – Have you ever been in a really great mood and then have to talk to someone who just radiates negativity? It’s impossible not to get infected by it. Distance yourself from the people that take away that “I’m awesome” feeling.
- The Situations You Allow Yourself to Get In – You’ve lived an entire life. You know how situations effect you. If you know that missing your morning cup of coffee throws off your entire day, then by all means, make sure you get your coffee! You want to stick to situations that make you feel empowered and stay away from or WALK away from situations that make you feel like crap.
It’s important that you allow successes to be a big deal. When you make progress BE PROUD OF YOURSELF! They add up. They are the support that keeps you confident.
It’s easy to let the crappy parts make you feel like crap.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to let the great things make you remember that you are GREAT!
And as I always say… GO! Do great things!