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How to Maintain Self-Worth after a Breakup

Updated on May 22, 2017
MsDora profile image

MsDora, Certified Christian Counselor, has spent over 20 years empowering young and adult women to pursue positive, productive womanhood.

The more painful the breakup, the more we tend to focus on what we lost instead of what we still have. However, throughout the stages of disappointment, grief and anger at losing the love relationship, self-worth should be among the values we focus on maintaining.


Self-worth (synonym of self-esteem) is “a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect1.” It requires that instead of blaming ourselves, we accept responsibility for our contribution to the break-up and forgive ourselves.

Maintaining our self-worth is also worth losing the desire for revenge. It will help us keep a level head. It will empower us to put our efforts into moving forward, instead of trying to keep back the other person.

While we process the accepting and forgiving up to the point where we manage our emotions effectively, the following ideas will help keep our self-worth intact.

(1) Manage the Situation

Don’t allow the situation to manage you. As with any other significant loss, the loss of a relationship is stressful. Dr. Sheri Meyers, Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA, suggests a holistic approach2 involving four core areas to help us take care of ourselves and manage our recovery.

  • Physical: Avoid the abuse of food and drugs (meditate, not medicate), choose nutritious foods, get adequate sleep and exercise.
  • Emotional: Cry, write, self-talk or whatever it takes to deal with feelings rather than ignore them. Keep company with people who uplift the spirit.
  • Mental: Focus on pleasant thoughts and speak calming affirmations.
  • Spiritual: Practice gratitude to change the mood from gloomy to happy. Practice generosity, which gives a feeling of empowerment.

The alternative is an out-of-control situation in which we may try to avoid pain by making rash decisions: rushing into another relationship to prove self-worth; or crazy spending on clothes, entertainment or travel as an antidote to loneliness.

Self-worth sparkles if we pass the test in patience, self-control and wisdom. Get help, if necessary from a trustworthy source; don’t neglect divine help.

(2) Lose the Regret

It is normal to experience some regret, but it could be disastrous to get stuck in it. Regret recognizes that different choices would have produced a different outcome.

In a situation where we can alter the choices, regret may have a positive payoff; but when two people have decided to end a relationship, they have most likely tried and failed to rework the situation.

Because regret looks backward, it has to be managed in the interest of personal progress.

  • Does looking back at the relationship make the individual feel foolish, miserable, humiliated, hopeless? Those feelings can sabotage self-worth. They need to be replaced with resolutions for restoration.
  • Does looking back present an opportunity to learn from the experience? Then extract whatever lessons can be learned and move forward.


(3) Celebrate Your Values

Suppose an old love letter from an ex-sweetheart or ex-husband surfaces. It contains expressions of love and reasons that he loved you — your charm, friendly personality, humor, kindness and the other attractive virtues. Would you read it?

Those words boosted your sense of worth the first time you read them. Your concern should be whether they are still true; most likely they are because character assets are among thethings you do not lose.

Whenever the ex comes to mind—through a letter, a Facebook photo, or an actual glimpse, focus on the values you still have despite losing the relationship. Train your mind to celebrate the essence of who you still are. Think of your value as higher, not lower, for having survived adversity.


(4) Maintain Good Judgment

The mistakes you made in entering or ending the relationship are unfortunate; but what about the mistakes you did not make? Didn’t you reject some ideas which could have produced more damaging results? Because of your good judgment, the worst did not happen.

Continue to do things which feed your sense of worth:

  • Stop caring about what the other person is doing and with whom; dismiss excuses to check his or her Facebook page and drool over photographs; spend the time adjusting your schedule to accommodate new activities and events.
  • Resist the temptation to talk about the other person's flaws; tell your friends who ask for an explanation of the breakup that like so many other relationships, things did not work out for yours.
  • You do not have to show up at all the functions you used to attend together, with all the friends you both share; but when you do, be pleasant.
  • Be civil to your ex if your paths ever cross; give the kind of respect you deserve, whereby establishing your respectability.

Loving, Letting Go, Moving On (two and a half minutes)

(5) Get Back on Track

The American Psychological Association (APA) offers counsel on rebounding3 after a life-changing experience. They believe that after struggling with any kind of loss, people grow stronger. They learn something about themselves, develop spirituality, find better relationships and experience an increased sense of self-worth.

The APA suggests a daily answer to the following question:

"What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"


Although you are the primary beneficiary of your survival, there are other people in your sphere of influence who will be inspired by your resiliency. Share with them who you are and what you can do; not what happened to you (except for the purpose of empowering them).

Your aim is not only to survive the breakup, but to allow the lessons you learned from it to make you better and wiser, and help you advance. What begins feeling like a loss could become an enhancement to your self-worth. Eventually, you gain more than you lose.


1. © 2014 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Dictionary, self-worth

2. Meyers,Sherri: Huffington Post, Women, 'It's Over!' 10 Breakup Survival Tips to Get You Through It (08/15/2012)

3. American Psychological Association, Psychology Help Center, The Road to Resilience (visited 5/7/2014)

© 2014 Dora Weithers


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 months ago from The Caribbean

      June, welcome to HubPages! You are blessed to belong to such a caring family. Thanks for sharing.

    • June Liandra profile image

      June Liandra 5 months ago from State of Wyoming

      great article! i'm glad i'm part of a family that helps each other and i had help maintaning my sanity after all those years

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Suzette, thank you for your encouragement. I studied Christian Counseling and intend to more write counseling articles. I'm glad you asked.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Another excellent article. I certainly can agree with everything you say here. Are you a psychologist? If not you could be one, that is for sure. I enjoyed reading this and gained much from it. Voted up+

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Ignugent, your comment encourages me. Thank you.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 3 years ago

      Very helpful MsDora! A person who experienced sadness can make bad choices but this hub can guide them to the right path.

      Have a nice day! :-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you, Nell. The best thing about a breakup is that it creates an opportunity for something better. If we could only realize that!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      You are so right with this MsDora, I know some people who go into a sort of gloom for months or even years, and yet there are others who seem to be able to pick themselves up straight away! We do need to find the good things after a break up so that we can all carry on with life, nell

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      True, epbooks. Better to encourage yourself than wait for someone else to do it. Thanks for your input.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Great tips. It's easy to fall into a depression after a breakup, but if one can manage to get out there and find the positives, they will be better off.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Devika. Falling apart will make it seem that the relationship was keeping you alive. Good observation.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great advice here after a break up one can fall apart without even knowing it. With such helpful points mentioned it is all worth considering. Voted up.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Faith, may God's favor continue to follow you. You are blessed to have avoided this dilemma. Keep trusting and sharing. Thank you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Frank, thank you for your kind comment. Hope the person who needs this, finds it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Janelle, good judgment is something we do not give ourselves enough credit for; and regret becomes useless after a while. Thank you for weighing in.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      You are always so wise in giving your advice, MsDora, especially in these type of scenarios. I hope I never find myself in this type of situation, but I will share it with those who are, unfortunately.

      This hub will be most helpful to many.

      Up and more and away


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      strong powerful, hub, a resource that is not only helpful, but easy to follow and useful, way to go MsDora

    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 3 years ago from United States

      Excellent advice for anyone who cannot move on after a bad breakup and just do not know where to go from there. I love the tips on maintain good judgment and lose regret. Thanks for another wonderful Hub.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Dr. Billy Kidd, I apologize; I did not intend to overlook you. I thought I had already responded to you comment.

      You make a very interesting observation about not being ready for things to work out until we have learned. That's really something to think about. Thank you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Jackie, glad you got through it anyway. We continue to learn as we move forward. Thanks for your kind comment.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Flourish, I'm happy for all those who get help from my article. Thank you for your continual support.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Parrster, you're very kind. I thank you. Happy for you that you have not had to experience this dilemma.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Doc, thanks for sharing your insight. I totally agree with you, that it takes time and that the strength comes from God. Thank you for making that plain.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Oh how it does hurt and I sure wish I had your advice way back when! Great write as always!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This is a great hub that will help many people, MsDora. Voting up +++ and pinning.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 3 years ago from Oz

      Thankfully something I've never had to experience, but if I did, this would be the resource I'd read as a reminder of how to keep on track. Voted up useful and interesting.

    • Purpose Embraced profile image

      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      It's so difficult move on after a life-changing experience. But we have to dig deep and find the strength to let go and move on. For me, this strength comes through my faith in God.

      I am able to forgive myself, forgive those who hurt me, and let go of the pain and move forward. The fact is, this doesn't happen in one day, it takes ... but little by little, I move forward with fresh perspectives.

      Thanks MsDora, for an awesome hub.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This is a great post! I like the part on maintaining your values and identity, while not focusing on regret. Also, let's remember that in many situations in life, we're simply not ready for it to work out positively--unless we learn from our loss.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Lori, thank you very much. Getting stuck can rob us of valuable time. Getting through is the real challenge, and with effort it can be done.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Excellent commentary, Scorpio. My idea of a breakup is breakup--no waiting, no socializing. I agree with your ideas. Thank you stating them so clearly.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      What a timely and helpful message. I was listening the other day to a Christian call-in counseling show. A man called in whose new wife left him. He wanted to know how he could get over the pain. The counselor's advice was that he should just allow himself to grieve; that's its perfectly natural and appropriated to feel the feelings he was feeling in this new crisis. He went on to give the man much of the same advice you did in this hub. I think when it comes to grieving a loss of any kind, we want to fight the pain, thinking there is something wrong with us for feeling it, especially so intensely. The first step in getting over it is to go through it. But if we don't do many of the other things you mentioned our journey to recovery will get hung up and we can get stuck.

      Great topic. Great writing.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 3 years ago

      Excellent! Voted up and Awesome!

      Two of the biggest challenges people have are:

      1. Accepting that it's over. You see tons of articles, hubs, and books on: "How To Get Your Ex Back". People are fond of "romanticizing" the past. They tell themselves; "He/She was "the one".

      In order for him or her to be "the one" they'd have to see (you) as being "the one". It makes no sense to want someone who does not want to be with you!

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde

      2. Wanting to be "Instant Friends". It's unrealistic to expect to go from "red hot lovers" to being "platonic friends" being similar to siblings. The best friendships between exes usually occurs after there has been a major gap of time (six months, a year, or longer) where they've haven't seen or been in contact with one another. Generally they've both moved on found love in new relationships and just happen to bump into one other someplace. If you broke up with someone (you) are the last person who can help them get over you. Anyone who offers "instant friendship" as a (consolation prize) does so with the hope that they won't seen as being "the bad guy". In reality they're raising false hope.

      On the other hand if you were the person who got dumped you have to avoid creating a prison while waiting for the magical "closure" moment. There is nothing your ex can say that would make you feel better about having your heart broken! It's pointless to try to "fix" yourself for your ex. Be yourself. (know yourself, love yourself, and trust yourself) The reason why someone broke up with you could be the very same reason why the next person falls madly in love with you! Your future lies ahead of you and not behind you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you, Bill. Been there and done that too. Hope I can help some of those millions.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Word, thank you for the glowing commentary on the article, and for including your own experience in support. Glad you also like the magazine article that I linked. All the best going forward.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you Jan. This article was inspired by an old love letter I found recently. I started writing and this is what it became--proof that we can learn (even years after) from breakup.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Been there and done that and no, it is not easy. Your suggestions are right on as always, Dora! Considering how many divorces happen in this country, this should be a must-read for millions. Well done!

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Superb is this article. Your reference to the magazine was well on point. You are gratefully appreciated for your work. If everyone (that has felt like a heartache victim after breaking up) would read this article and heed your advice they'd recover immensely and benefit more in life because of going through such an experience. I listen to my oldies music occasionally. The songs remind me (precious memories) of the times when I felt like I was in love (a few times). Every experience of those times are cherished and looked at as a positive relationship that happened in my life as opposed to not happening. I feel that the person that I was in the relationship with should have benefitted from it as well as myself. Life is an experience of lessons to be learned daily and appreciated as we live it. Another voted up for you my sister!

      Thank you for such a unique article that anyone can benefit from.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Good one, MsDora. Nice layout, too. Very important advice to those who stay stuck after a really bad break up. I hope it will help many with their recovery which can sometimes take months or even years. It can be quite challenging to tackle each point successfully. Voted up and useful.