Divorce has an uncanny ability to divorce us from our own sense of self. Even the most self-confident individual may find herself constantly second-guessing her choices after a marriage falls apart. Unfortunately, a by-product of this mode of thinking is disempowerment -- giving your power to others through resentment (“It’s his fault” or “She broke up my marriage”) or by twisting yourself into what you may perceive as a more pleasing shape (“If I was X, he/she/they would love me”).
The problem with giving your power to others is that they then control your life. In the process, you compromise too much and no longer feel like yourself. You fall into the trap of fearing what other people might do or say if you act as you need or want -- a very common reason for giving away power.
If this feels true to your situation, there are some things you can do to reclaim your power over your own life:
Stop seeing yourself as a victim.
While it may be more comforting emotionally to view yourself as a victim in your divorce, you are really telling yourself that you are powerless to dictate your own future. You need to stop and consider how your own behavior may have contributed to the end of your marriage -- in other words, you need to “own your stuff.”
Stop seeking approval.
Realize that there will be people in your life who will not always agree or approve of what you say or do. Accept that you have no control over what others think of you.
Stop giving too much.
Women tend to be guiltier of ignoring their own needs than men, so examine whether or not you have been too giving in your relationships. Constantly seeking approval by putting everyone else’s needs ahead of yours is self-sabotaging and can leave you feeling resentful and unfulfilled.
Start saying “no” to others and “yes” to yourself.
When you start caring less about the approval of others and set your own path, you will find that you have more time and energy to devote to the people and pursuits that are important to you.
Start changing your thoughts about yourself.
If you constantly feel the need to prove yourself to others, start challenging that self-defeating belief system. You may need to help of a therapist to reshape your own vision of who you really are or aspire to be.
Regaining power over your own life is not easy. Friends and family may react negatively at first, as you get better about expressing your own thoughts and desires in your relationships. And while it may take some time for them (and you) to adapt to this new version of you, remember that making yourself a priority is not being selfish. You deserve to be happy in your life and are worth the effort it takes to get there.