After an abusive relationship ends, whether long term or short term, it can be difficult for people to rediscover who they are and what they like. Generally speaking most relationships where abuse is present can leave the survivor of abuse unsure of what their next steps are outside of their relationship, as it is likely that their previous sense of self was defined for them by their partner or wholly focused on surviving their day to day. It can be disconcerting for abuse survivors to be on their own while trying to figure out how to create meaning in their lives outside of their relationship.
How to develop a strong sense of self following an abusive relationship.
- Recognize ways that your experience of abuse has influenced how you see yourself and the world around you. Examine which of these influences you’d like to keep or discard moving forward based upon how you’d like to define your reality.
- Try out several different hobbies. Stick to each one for at least a few weeks before deciding to continue to pursue the hobby or let it go. Alternatively if you had a passion for something you let go of during your relationship, re engage in that activity.
- Reconnect with friends and family or make a conscious effort to develop a new support network.
- Keep a daily journal of each day defining your thoughts and emotions throughout the day as well as something you were particularly grateful for.
- Work out values that you have for your professional and personal life. After defining specific values that you have create goals for yourself based upon defined values.
Self discovery takes time and should be an ongoing process, so do not become discouraged if you are not where you’d like to be within a certain time frame. As always, if you become stuck on your journey, a therapist can go a long way in providing guidance to facilitate your self discovery process.