In an ideal world, you would treat yourself with respect by putting yourself in the best situations possible. You would look to better yourself by surrounding yourself with individuals who make you better and treat you with the same respect that they expect to be treated with. You would fall in love with someone who treated you with respect, just as you treat them.
These ideas are based on a greater level of hope that we, as human beings, have for ourselves. The hope is that love would last well past the act of marriage, and there would never be anything to interfere with the perfect union forged between you and your spouse.
However, this idea is far from realistic, and for many who go through a difficult marriage that ultimately ends in a divorce, this idea is a fairy tale, based on the hopes they once felt toward a relationship that simply did not work.
Believing in that fairy tale is an act that does not treat yourself with the level of self-respect that you deserve. You persevered through the challenges of the divorce experience and came out the other side, recognizing how you should and should not be treated in a relationship.
Treated with respect
You also recognize the role that you played in the divorce process. Your interactions with your family law attorney may have been the first time in a long time that you were treated with the respect and dignity that you deserve.
The kindness and compassion that they showed you during your moment of need may have been a moment of clarity, allowing you to recognize what socially acceptable behavior toward you is supposed to look like.
It also may have been the first time in a long time that someone showed you enough respect, to the point where your thoughts and feelings were well represented during the divorce process. Your rights as a parent were fought for with respect to your role as a father, and your financial limits were kept in mind when ironing out issues like alimony and child support.
Reality and respect
After a divorce, you may feel disrespected by a system that divided half of your assets and may have given your ex-spouse primary child custody rights. You may feel that you can never get back the self-respect that you lost during this challenging time.
The first step in attempting to regain some semblance of self-respect after the divorce decree is finalized is coming to grips with reality. When you go through a divorce, you inevitably will lose assets and parts of custody. The gains of exiting a dysfunctional and unhappy marriage come with the losses, and that is not something that should affect how much you respect yourself.
If your behavior did not include criminal, abusive, or remotely negative actions, you are not responsible for the losses that typically come with the divorce process, and you should not respect yourself less because of it.
You also should refocus your attention on all that you have going for you moving forward. You should think about your career and the advancements that you can make. If those are unavailable, you may consider going back to school, in order to obtain the necessary education for career advancements or an entirely new career opportunity.
Role as a father
You also have to consider your role as a father and how you can help your children adjust to their new life. They may have issues adjusting after the divorce, so it is important to monitor their behavior and seek help when needed. Depending on their age and maturity level, they may require professional assistance.
Asking for professional help for yourself or your child is not an action that should affect your self-respect. You are not weaker, because you need help. You are acting in the best interests of yourself or your child and displaying the responsibility that a good parent would.
Building yourself back up
After a divorce, there may be some in your life who treat you with less respect than you deserve, entirely based on the fact that you went through a divorce. These individuals are not behaving in a supportive manner and should not factor into how you view yourself.
After a divorce, your self-identity is in a state of transition. The crossroads of how you wish to proceed with the rest of your life will determine your ability to physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially recover from the end of your marriage.
You have to take steps to build yourself back up and create a better life for yourself. In doing so, you will exceed the amount of self-respect that you previously had for yourself and relish in your sense of accomplishment.