How Not Letting Go Destroys Self-Esteem

We’ve all been there…It didn’t work out and we really wanted it to. You know, that relationship with that person you thought might be the ever elusive “one.”

At some point the healthy disappointment and natural reaction to loss becomes something more sinister. It becomes a time suck, a never ending story of overthinking. Eventually this sunken place begins to wear on you and drag your concept of self into the abyss.

By holding on to a past situation you are hindering your ability to have confidence and respect yourself. Your self-esteem is being lowered each time you minimize the value of your opinions or ideas. Your ability to feel good about yourself wanes each time you neglect your primal needs for comfort and joy. Take a gander into how you may be depriving yourself and take note of these self-driven remedies.

Playing the ‘It’s Not You It’s Me” Game. Or vice Versa.

One of the most unproductive things we do following a breakup is try to assess fault. We analyze every minute, every detail. We dissect every conversation seeking answers and keeping score. One question…What does this prove. Assessing blame does not move your story forward. If anything it keeps your thoughts stuck on that which you wish to forget.

Antidote: Practice self-compassion

Pay attention to how you’ve been speaking to yourself lately. Are your words boosting your confidence? If not, you are tearing yourself. Remind yourself that whatever you did was enough. Make a gratitude list to remind yourself of your awesomeness. NAME those qualities and characteristics you possess that are to die for. YOU are Lucky to have YOU.

Subjecting Yourself to “Social” Rejection

Stalking social media accounts? Waiting for the inevitable call? I wonder, while you’re checking to ensure that your ex is not having fun without you. How likely is it that your ex will start posting cryptic, veiled quotes or post morose photos in their status updates? Seriously, social media has become the forum for presenting your best self. The fact is, Facebook won’t show you how they “really” feel. Instagram won’t be a window into their soul. That said how will seeing the latest night out or the random person standing next to your smiling ex benefit you. Not to mention the guilt and shame from being a cyber stalker.

Antidote: Get Real

Remember that social medial is the master of misinterpretation. You are the person creating a narrative developed around a snippet of information you have perceived to be positive or negative. Step out of the fantasy (and agony) of social media and invest in reality. Seeking external relief or validation tends to desensitize your awareness of your literal needs. Increase your attentiveness to your emotional state. If you’re tired, sit or take a nap. If you’re feeling tense, take a warm bath. And most importantly: if you’re feeling happy, enjoy it!

Leave social media behind. Try talking with someone who makes you happy in real life.

Second Guessing

These are the What IF questions that you ask yourself over and over and over. What if this and what if that. Here’s a new one, What If everything were optimal and you still obtained the same outcome. Second guessing negatively impacts you by assuming that the initial outcome was not the most positive outcome. Thus, each of your alternate scenarios is romanticized as being a better result if only x or y had been in place. In reality, a different option does not equate to a better option. This difference is more favorable because it is an option that you prefer or are more comfortable with.

Antidote: Stick to the facts

Trying to manipulate the facts will drive you crazy. What if’s keep you stuck. There are a million ways things could have played out, but we only experience one version of what could have been. This is a fact. The outcome you have experienced is a fact. No other scenario is fact, just a time sucker. Remember in Avengers: Infinity War when Dr. Strange he was able to view 14,000,605 possible futures and only one ended with the outcome in his favor. How’s that for perspective?

When you notice yourself drifting into what ifs and alternate scenarios ask yourself one question: “Is this a fact?” If the answer is no then you need to immediately drop the irrelevant, unproductive, self-esteem leeching thought in the cognitive garbage bin.

Closing Your Eyes to New Possibilities

Focusing on your past means that you are not focused on your present. Not focusing on your present means that you will miss whatever is placed before you. Focusing on what once was and why it is no longer tends to put your blinders up and cause you to miss out on fresh opportunities. Your blinder may manifest as an increased tendency to say no or it could be your failure to acknowledge successes and accomplishments.

Antidote: STOP Placing Conditions on Yourself

Pay attention to how you allow time for yourself. Do you punish yourself? Do you make statements like “I didn’t get the cleaning done so I can’t go out with my friends.” Or maybe you’ve said “How can I watch a movie? I have too much work to do.’ Remind yourself: Self–care is not self-indulgence. Self-care is a way of life. Taking care of yourself is you best means for keeping you battery charged. Staying charged leads to an alert and fresh mind. Intentionally caring for yourself promotes a relaxed and open presence. You are preparing yourself to accept the positivity that the world has to offer.

If you find yourself uncertain about what self-care actually means, explore this article for ways to keep yourself uplifted.

The Moral: Your Focus Controls Your Direction

Continued focus on your ex keeps you stuck in the same position you’ve been seeking to escape.

Remember. You cannot control which thoughts pop into your head nor what times they choose to appear. However you CAN influence the course of these thoughts. Remind yourself not to go down the rabbit hole. Just think of that time you jumped on the elevator only to realize that it was going down and you intended to take the elevator up. (We’ve all done it) Did you ride all the way to the ground floor before you decided to get off? No. You exited on the next floor and proceeded onto the next elevator raising to the correct floor.

You will never be enough for the wrong heart. The fact is: the heart most deserving of your worth is your own.

Rayvene Whatley, LPC Therapist in Smyrna GA 30080

Rayvéne is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Master Addiction Counselor in Smyrna, GA (just outside Atlanta.)

Empowering women to remove the mask of other people’s expectations and have the Audacity to be themselves. Encouraging you to connect with your identity and ignore the noise of other’s opinions and expectations. I also help overwhelmed couples find a healthy balance between caring for themselves and one another.

LGBTQQI affirming therapist and ally. Many clients are professionals who are seeking balance and relief from stressors of success. Learn more at