3 Steps to Healing from BetrayalBy Dr. Margaret Paul
August 20, 2012
Betrayal is one of the hardest things to go through, and it is vitally important that you deal with it in a way that doesn’t cause you even more pain.
It is devastating when someone whom we believe cares about us betrays us – lies, cheats, breaks a sacred promise, hurts us behind our back, steals from us, turns others against us and so on.
The Steps to Healing From Betrayal
- Releasing the feelings rather than staying stuck with them
It is vitally important to find healthy ways of releasing the outrage, heartbreak and helplessness over the other person that occurs in betrayal. The first step in releasing these very painful feelings is to move into compassion for yourself. Too often, we may blame ourselves for not seeing the signs of betrayal and getting caught unawares, but we must remember that we are human and can't always know what's happening.
It is unhealthy for us to get stuck with the deep pain of heartbreak and helplessness, or stuck feeling like a victim. Stuck feelings can cause illness, and this is the last thing we need while dealing with betrayal.
The way to release stuck feelings is to be very kind and gentle with ourselves, acknowledging how very hard it is to go through a betrayal. You might want to roll up a towel and beat the outrage out on a bed, saying all you wish you could say to the person who betrayed you. This might release tears and when the tears come, allow them to flow, being very tender with yourself. It's healthy to cry it out and unhealthy to be stoic.
- Open to learning about what the betrayal can teach you
Every challenge in life has lessons for us, and once we move some of the very painful feelings through, we can then learn. The two primary things we want to learn about are:
Is there some way I betrayed myself by giving myself up – abandoning my self in some way?
- Is there some way I betrayed myself by not listening to my inner voice, my gut feelings? What did I ignore that I needed to attend to?
Try to answer these questions honestly, but without any judgment toward yourself. Often, but not always, if we had been alert to our gut feelings, we could have known ahead of time that bad things were happening.
Recognize that we all ignore things that are painful for us to see, even though it may eventually result in even more pain. Again, be very compassionate toward yourself for being human and avoiding knowing the truth about some situations.
On the other hand, there may not have been early signs. Sometimes others are very good at seeming to be caring and honest, and we can all get pulled into the illusion of caring and charm. Again, be very compassionate with yourself for not knowing.
- Keep letting go and moving into acceptance
Each time the pain of the heartbreak and helplessness comes up, feel it fully with compassion and then be willing to release it. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in self-blame, rumination, what-ifs or anger toward the betrayer. None of these will help you to heal. We tend to blame ourselves, stay in anger at the other person or ruminate as ways of not feeling so powerless over the person who betrayed us, but allowing ourselves to get stuck in these feelings only serves to continue to hurt us. The deed is done and cannot be undone. No matter how much you blame the betrayer or yourself, it doesn’t change the fact that it happened. Acceptance of the truth, and of your helplessness over what happened, will help you heal much faster than holding onto anger, blame or rumination.
Keep doing these steps over and over and the times of deep pain will get fewer and fewer. It does take time, but eventually you will have long periods when you don't think about it. There may always be situations that trigger the pain, and when this happens, be very gentle, tender, caring and compassionate toward yourself, again allowing the feelings to move through you.
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Friendship is a great gift. Do you reach out to your friends, or do you wait for them to reach out to you? Does your fear of rejection keep you from connecting with those who are important to you? Today, reach out to a friend.
By Dr. Margaret Paul