Find what brings you joy- everyone has something that lights them up inside. Figure out what that is and it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be yoga, DIY projects, sipping tea while journaling. Find it and do more of it each day.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah E. Williams, a Professional Counselor, Entrepreneur and dedicated advocate for women and girls. She is the Founder of The Esteem Program and Sarah Elizabeth Diaries both platforms support girls and women to reach their highest potential by nurturing healthy self-esteem and prioritizing self-love. When she’s not busy empowering amazing females you can find her cooking and creating self-love affirmations with her 6-year-old daughter London Elle.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up on the South Side of Chicago raised by a single mother. As a kid, I was an overachiever, known for having wisdom beyond my years and found solace in writing and spending time with friends. I was always the friend who was approached for advice and I loved giving comfort and encouragement when my friends needed it most.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My entire career has been in the helping profession in some regard. Most of my life I served as a career coach but in working with my female clients I realized there were deeper issues I wanted to help them resolve such as issues with their self-esteem. These were issues I faced and overcame and found deep gratification helping women navigate this journey. Therefore, I went back to school for counseling and started to pursue my real purpose which is helping women and girls realize their worth and potential.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Since starting this career I’ve had young ladies and women tell me they can literally hear my voice in their head at the most opportune time encouraging them when faced with making a tough decision.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest thing that happened to me when I was working with teen girls was using the wrong slang. I let the girls in my program keep me hip and up to date now so I don’t say something old school lol
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
“Leap and the net will appear”- Julia Cameron. Most of us are looking for certainty in life but sometimes paths do not unveil until we take the first step of faith. This is how I encourage my female clients to live while building new lives for themselves as well as how I live my life. Every detail of my business was not planned out when I first began. I had to bet on myself and take that initial leap to allow the doors of opportunity to reveal itself.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes- I’m working on a book called Birthright that helps women overcome insecurity and self-doubt to embrace their birthright of self-love.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?
I’ve helped women navigate life after divorce from the standpoint of knowing their worth and re-establishing who they are. I’ve learned that if you didn’t know who you were as an individual before divorce it’s very likely you feel even more lost after the divorce. I encourage all of my clients to go through the process of getting to know who they are, what they want and what brings them joy after such a huge life transition.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
The most common mistake people make after divorce is jumping into a relationship to feel the void of being lonely and the pain they feel from the separation. You can avoid this by really truly being present to yourself and allowing yourself to cry, scream and process the pain. Moving on too soon makes you come into a new person’s life with heavy unnecessary baggage. Another mistake I’ve seen is people blaming themselves for the divorce. You should examine your choices and mistakes and take them as lessons learned. You are an ever-evolving human being and no one is perfect. Criticizing yourself and taking fault for the entire relationship damages your self-worth and makes it impossible to move forward.
People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?
I had a client who created a much better and healthier view of herself and life after divorce. She became more in tune with her needs and what it took to be fulfilled. In going through this exploratory process, she discovered that her mate’s view of life didn’t align with the positive person she evolved into.
Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?
Take baby steps and do what feels authentic for you. If that’s not a matchmaker or online dating then don’t do it. Maybe it is as simple as showing up to church or a social group. Take your time.
What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?
Change any limiting belief you have about yourself after divorce. “I am a failure, for example, I’m just not good at marriage.” These are overgeneralizations and not true. Dissect the outcomes of your divorce and feedback from your partner into more bit-size lessons. For example, a more helpful belief would be “I can get better at assessing my partner’s needs.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Rediscover who you are- take time to figure out what you like, love and want from life.
- Address your fears-ask yourself has this separation brought on any fears, write them down and see if they are legitimate and how can you face them head-on.
- Find what brings you joy- everyone has something that lights them up inside. Figure out what that is and it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be yoga, DIY projects, sipping tea while journaling. Find it and do more of it each day.
- Determine what’s yours from your partners-not every issue belonged to you. It can only help you to sort through what baggage you brought, what belonged to them and what was yours together. This will lighten the burden while allowing you to grow from taking some personal responsibility.
- Give yourself permission to grieve- divorce is a loss and should be treated as so. Give yourself time to process the pain, don’t feel rushed to move on until you’ve fully processed your emotions and identified the lessons it brought.
The stress of a divorce can take a toll on both one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish?
Self-love affirmations and meditations are huge, journal your feelings and the lessons the divorce brought as well as joining support groups and seeing a therapist. You have to get the emotions and thoughts out. The point is not to keep them in.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would reward all women a day of self-care to unplug from all responsibilities and do whatever makes them feel really good inside.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I love Tia Mowry. She has a bright beautiful personality and manages multiple businesses, being a wife and mom, all while prioritizing and promoting self-care for women. She’s my shero!
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!