Haunted by your spouse’s affair, you, like many victims of cheating, may find you’re constantly comparing yourself to the other woman. Your internal dialogue may sound similar to this:

“She’s probably prettier than me.”

“I’ll bet her body’s firmer, more fit—I’ve really let myself slide.”

“She’s no doubt smart, accomplished, funny—no wonder he couldn’t resist her.”

“I’m not interesting enough to keep anyone’s attention.”

As if learning of the affair and the sordid details weren’t enough, you’re now tormented with an onslaught of negative thoughts and feelings—directed at you, from you.

In this article, I’m going to give you some methods for putting a stop to this nonsense and rally yourself to be your own best friend again.

Infidelity’s Damaging Effects on Your Self-Esteem

A barrage of negative internal chatter adds to the turmoil and uncertainty you are already feeling about yourself, your spouse and the state of your marriage.

It is normal for you to experience some self-doubt when you learn of your husband’s affair. But when a dialogue such as the one above becomes a repetitive, nightmarish song playing in your head, you put yourself in the dangerous position of being a daily judge, jury and executioner—to your own self-esteem.

After an affair, you are faced with handling the loss of trust in your relationship with your spouse. Discovering that your spouse has gone outside of the marriage—for whatever ill-conceived reason—is a genuine blow to your self-esteem. So in addition to your trust issues with your husband, you begin to lose trust in your own self-image, possibly asking: “Am I who I think I am?”

Working through the aftermath of an affair, you find you are questioning everything you took for granted in your world. This can include your own self-image as you reevaluate all that you once trusted in as “truth.”

This is a very challenging time in your life, without question. Your world feels like it’s in pieces. Yet, each day you continue to strive to put these pieces back together and move forward with your life.

Here are some steps to help you on your journey, focusing on where the journey must begin: within you.

Step 1: Track Your Inner Dialogue

After the revelation of an affair, no doubt your thoughts and emotions are streaming constantly. You know you feel awful, and you know your thoughts match how you feel.

It’s important to get a handle on exactly what that inner dialogue sounds like. Keep a record of what you are saying to yourself in these conversations.

Step 2: Knock the Other Woman Off the Pedestal

Challenge these thoughts you are having. It is you who gives definition to your thoughts and feelings—and no one can take that away from you.

If this other woman, who you have built up in your own mind as being some sort of earth-bound goddess, were truly so amazing, she wouldn’t be involved with a married man. Remind yourself of this often.

Step 3: Re-create Your Picture of the Other Woman

Now that you have knocked the other woman off of the pedestal in your mind, have some fun with the image. Remember, your thoughts are your own, and it is you who gives definition to them. It doesn’t have to be negative so much as an effort to deflate your present mental images.

Are you wondering if she is more beautiful? Put a witch’s hat on that image, make her nose grow and add a wart.

You question if she is funnier than you are? Give her a hideous, horsey laugh, so that every time you start to picture her with your husband telling a good joke, you can hear her snort or guffaw.

Step 4: Place Yourself Back On the Pedestal

It’s time to be your own best friend, now more than ever. Make a list of all of your wonderful qualities. You’re giving, you’re patient, you have great legs. Once you have amassed your list of good points, recite them to yourself, over and over. Every time an image of the other woman pops up and you begin to compare yourself, get your list and read it out loud.

Use self-affirmations such as these as a means to heal your self-esteem.

I’d be honored to hear about your experiences and how your self-esteem has been affected by your spouse’s affair …

What types of self-doubts did you experience after learning of your spouse’s affair?

Do you use self-affirmations? If yes, what is your success with this practice? And if not, what stops you?

How has the blow to your self-esteem affected your ability to effectively work on saving your marriage?

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson

Editor-in-Chief

Marriage Sherpa

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