Sexual betrayal has a way of destroying—at least temporarily—a partner’s confidence.
Confidence is defined as:
The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.
It’s interesting that confidence is related to trust. And in the case of self-confidence, that means you have the feeling or belief that you can rely on yourself—that you have firm trust in yourself.
When you’re reeling from the impact of discovery or disclosure, trusting in yourself may sound like an impossible mountain to climb. But imagine the difference it would make in your life if you knew that no matter what happens you could rely on, and trust, yourself?
It would be huge—and it’s attainable.
Our confidence takes regular “hits” from mild wounding to near annihilation. Here are 4 ways you can protect and boost your confidence every day:
Practice Mindful Consumption
When you think of consumption, you probably think about what you put in your mouth—the food you eat or what you drink. Of course, those things can have an impact on your confidence if you regularly consume food or drink that causes you to feel like you’re not taking good care of your physical health.
Here, I’m talking more about what you consume with your eyes and ears.
Did you know that many people actually feel more depressed after spending time on Facebook, or reading a so-called “women’s magazine?” It’s easy to forget that the women are airbrushed and photoshopped, and that’s after they were worked on for several hours by makeup artists and hair stylists, and dressed by wardrobe consultants.
Not only is what you take in with your eyes important, but also what you listen to. Do you have people in your life that regularly make sideways or direct comments that—intentional or not—seem to convey the message that something is wrong with you? Or do you watch too much cable news, reality TV shows, or other media where the content of the conversations are either scary, snarky, or contemptuous? It can make you sick.
If you’re doubtful that any of these experiences are impacting your confidence, start paying attention to how your body feels—and your emotions—as you engage with social media, entertainment, and friends or family members (including your spouse).
It may be time to go on a diet. A media diet from anything—Facebook, Twitter, magazines, TV programs, cable news, movies, etc.— that brings you down, scares you, or causes you to feel less than. And the people who struggle to accept you as you are, or subtly put you down? Find ways to limit, or even better—eliminate—their access to you.
Feels good, doesn’t it?
Stretch, Even a Little
I regularly invite members of the groups I run, and my partner’s online community, to commit to what I call a stretch.
A stretch is something that you need or want to do, but it’s outside your comfort zone. It could be as simple as making a phone call you’ve been putting off, scheduling a medical appointment for your self-care, or sending in your application to graduate school.
When you commit to completing a stretch—and you do it—you automatically boost your confidence.
Replace the Internal Negative Story
Betrayed partners sometimes become consumed with internal stories about themselves, their unfaithful spouse, or affair partners. These stories are painful, and they can severely damage a partner’s confidence.
Negative internal stories become even more painful when they include images. Images may be consciously recalled, or unwanted and intrusive. Either way, negative internal stories—and the images that go with them—are an excruciating way to go through the day.
When you begin to notice how much time these negative stories are running in the background of your thoughts, the first step is to simply notice and observe. Notice how your body feels when you’re thinking about them, and begin asking yourself if these stories are real—either in the past, or in the present moment.
This is such a challenging mindset shift, but my invitation to you is to notice that none of the stories running in your head are real. Those from the past are in the past. And those that you’re imagining, are simply made up.
If you want to be free of these painful stories, shift your focus to what is real and true in the present moment. Most of the time, you’re okay and have everything you need for this moment. When you fully experience the painful consequences of continuing to devote mental energy to thoughts that hurt you, you’ll be more motivated to see them for what they are, and then replace them with thoughts that are more life-affirming and more true for you.
Do Something Wonderful (for You)
When is the last time you did something for the sole purpose of pleasure or enjoyment?
Whether it’s a hike, a pedicure, a massage, listening to a favorite song, creating art, dancing, riding a horse, going to a museum, cooking, sky-dividing, playing with a pet, binge-watching a favorite (healthy) show—there are no bad or wrong answers here.
When you gift yourself by engaging in activities you enjoy, it boosts your mood and your confidence.
What makes you feel more confident?
Protect your confidence as if it were your most prized possession.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2017)
All submitted comments are subject to editing to protect confidentiality and maintain anonymity. Submitted comments containing profanity, offensive language, or otherwise objectionable material will not be published.
I loved your ideas about negative internal story – I just did this last weekend and I did waste my energy on negative thoughts that hurt me. And it caused me to focus on the past. I could feel the energy being sucked out of me. What a waste! I ignored my present and I also ignored my husband’s present and the work that he is doing. Thanks so much for helping keep me on track.
Vicki Tidwell Palmer says
Hi Linda, I’m so glad you shared your experience here so that other partners can benefit! It is certainly a balancing act to honor your thoughts, needs, and emotions, while at the same time staying in the reality of the present moment and noticing what is actually going well.
Last evening my husband and I had “catch-up” – he told me how hard he is working on his sobriety and recovery, it was as if he was looking for praise. So I told him that I was proud of him and impressed, but at the same time I told him that I was also working on my own recovery and self-empowerment and with all due respect not to expect me to have much empathy or sympathy for that matter.
I am learning so much from these posts and articles, Vicki you have brought me to my senses and have helped me to learn to take care of myself first. Thank you!
Vicki Tidwell Palmer says
Cindy, you express what so many partners feel—that they don’t want to be expected to praise or “cheerlead” their spouse’s progress or recovery. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important for the unfaithful spouse to have a community of support with whom he/she can get encouragement and celebrate important milestones.
I’m so glad the information is helpful to you!