Reeling from the upheaval that results from the revelations during and after the affair, your world may seem shattered into so many fragments that you don’t know which piece to pick up first.

Perhaps you have a family to consider, children who could potentially be negatively impacted by your cheating spouse’s decisions—not to mention your home life and your ability to function as a part of the family. You obviously have your marriage to consider—it’s currently in shreds. You may also have a job to juggle—your inner turmoil could be throwing off your ability to focus.

In the last post, you learned 3 critical steps you must take before you can even begin your journey of rediscovery—as you work to survive the emotional destruction unleashed by your spouse’s affair. In this post, I’ll explain why it’s essential that you focus on yourself, and provide some steps you can take on the path to healthy rediscovery.

Evolve Out of the Pain after the Affair

In the whirlwind after the affair has been revealed, you watch as life does, indeed, go on. The bills continue to come in, the kids need supplies for school, the refrigerator contains no milk.

You feel like you’re trying to hold it together at the seams, and yet, you’re still expected to take care of other people, a job, the car payment. You’re struggling with whether or not you want to live under the same roof with this cheater, while still trying to answer the call of duty elsewhere in your life.

What do you focus on first?

It’s imperative that you focus on yourself, first and foremost. This does not mean to the exclusion of everything else, but that you give yourself top priority.

The reason for this is simple: the success of anything else you are involved in depends upon a very crucial component: a strong, whole you. Last week, you learned critical steps necessary to lay the groundwork for this process. Now, it’s time for the next steps in your evolution.

Self-Healing Is a Gift: To Yourself and Others

You may at first feel guilty about focusing on yourself in an effort to truly rediscover who you are—or reinvent yourself completely. You are used to taking care of everyone else, putting others’ needs ahead of your own, and frankly, this may feel a bit selfish.

It’s normal to feel this way. You are evolving, and it’s unknown at this time how it will all play out, other than maintaining a commitment to your own needs, wants, and values. Keep in mind: this gift to yourself will also be a gift to others. If you have children, they will get to watch how you handle a crisis—and come out stronger. If you have a job, you may bring a fresh, strong attitude that can only be a boon to your work.

Think of it like this: when you get sick with the flu, you have to rest, take medicine, drink plenty of fluids. This is not selfish—it’s called “healing.” And that is what this time of rediscovery is for you: the time and space to heal and grow as the unique individual you are.

Here are your next steps in this rediscovery process:

Step 1: Manage Your Thoughts to Boost Self-Esteem

A spouse’s infidelity impacts you on many levels. But one of the most personal is what happens to your thoughts. Waves of ugliness crash through your mind, with self-doubt and self-recriminations taking front and center. You need to constructively manage these thoughts by countering them with self-talk that moves you forward.

If you track your thoughts for a few days and write down what you “hear,” you’ll see some patterns emerge. Most victims of infidelity say it’s like having a broken record, repeating its nasty song over and over. So, make a new recording: write down words that you can use to counter those negative thoughts and boost your self-esteem by focusing on your good qualities.

Step 2: Use a Journal to Improve Rediscovery Momentum

You may struggle with the whirl of thoughts going on in your mind: creating positive thoughts, countering negative ones, and working to move forward. One way to capture and hold the good is to keep a written journal (or one on your computer).

In your journal, you can write down happy memories of yourself in the past, how you’ve grown stronger over the years in dealing with various life changes, what you’re dealing with now and how you’re working through it, and ideas for what you envision your future to be. This will help you keep the momentum in your journey of rediscovery.

Step 3: Take Action to Ensure your Rediscovery Happens

As you journal and jot down ideas of what your ideal future looks like, commit to taking one action—either daily or weekly—that moves you closer to this vision. You want to be happy, sure. But define what it looks like.

What specific actions can you take right now to move you closer to that vision? Is it trying something you’ve never done before, such as finally learning to sail, or learning how to bake artisan breads, or going on a tour of historical sites that have been on your list of things to do “one day?”

Taking action is living. As you take action, you will rediscover yourself, your passions, what makes you swoon, what makes you feel inspired.

Please share your thoughts …

What have you done so far to create an ideal life for yourself, outside of your marriage?

Are you taking action to move forward, even when you don’t feel you can?

Please leave a comment below.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson

Editor-in-Chief

Marriage Sherpa

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