If you look it up in the dictionary, you may find that to betray is to be disloyal, to reveal secrets, or to reveal your location to an enemy. In real life, some examples of betrayal include cheating on a spouse, revealing secrets that were told in confidence, and a supposedly loyal friend talking badly about their friend and then smiling like best friends when they are together.
There’s just no way around it – if someone betrays you, it is bound to hurt. It doesn’t matter who it is, when you’ve been betrayed by someone you trusted, it’s difficult to recover.
Recovery is very important, however, and you need the tools to help you make it through, regroup, and look forward to a brighter future. You may be asking, so how can you heal your heart, body, and spirit after a betrayal?
Here are a few tools to add to your toolbox for a more peaceful life.
First of all, recognize and acknowledge your feelings of betrayal. You may feel like it’s easier to try to block out the betrayal so you don’t have to think about it. However, it’s healthier to acknowledge the betrayal and deal with it. Trying to ignore a betrayal traps everything inside you and can stop you from healing. You can’t heal what you don’t address.
It’s important to address the issues involved and acknowledge each of them. Acknowledging doesn’t mean accepting or ruminating – it’s just knowing that it happened, how it felt, and then letting it go.
It may seem like you’re stuck in a dark place, but be sure that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As you recognize and acknowledge what happened, you can identify what you need to move past the betrayal, and then take action to help heal yourself.
Forgive yourself and others. Forgiveness is crucial to healing. Forgiving someone is really all about you – not the person who betrayed you. You’re the one who benefits the most. Forgive yourself, your past mistakes, and the person who betrayed you.
Revenge is never the answer! Sometimes it just seems like you are justified in betraying the person who hurt you. After all, an eye for an eye, right?
Seeking revenge is never healthy, in fact you risk hurting yourself even more. This type of thought process is dangerous and will prevent you from healing. Revenge isn’t the answer. It simply adds more negativity to your life.
Revenge can trap you in an unhealthy cycle with the person who hurt you in the first place. First they hurt you, then you hurt them, then they hurt you back, then you hurt them again. Where does it end? It’s a downward spiral to nowhere.
Get some support if you need it. Connect with others. You may benefit from connecting with others who have been hurt and listening to their stories. Consider support groups or group therapy. By talking about the past, you can learn to heal the wounds of betrayal. You can see how others have overcome their pain and use their advice. Just be wise enough to not allow it to become a pity party – use your time together to share ways to heal and to let go.
Get rid of the negativity. You may be better off by cutting off all contact with the betrayer and other negative people in your life and loving them from a distance. Sometimes, it helps to remove toxic people in order to regain your strength and heal.
Negative people can affect your healing process. They can serve as constant reminders of the pain and betrayal. Like attracts like. You’ll feel lighter and healthier without them. If it’s not feasible to remove them from your life, limit your contact with them as much as possible.
Learn to experience feelings and release them. It’s normal to cry and feel anger after a betrayal. However, if you dwell on these feelings, they can dominate your life. It’s important to express your pain, disappointment, and disillusionment and move on.
One way that has helped me in the past is to do this little exercise. Write a letter to the person who hurt you. Let it all out, say everything and anything you want. This is for your eyes only, so don’t hold back. Once you feel you have it all down on paper, then either rip the paper up into the tiniest little shreds you can, or find a safe place and burn the letter. As the paper is destroyed, allow all the negativity, hurt, and disappointment to be destroyed at the same time.
Don’t be afraid to trust again. After a betrayal, you may have a difficult time trusting another person again. It may be scary at first, but it’s really important. Over time, with work you will be able to trust again and reach out to others.
Remember – you don’t have to go back to the person who betrayed you. You can love them from a distance – especially if it is healthier for you to do so. However, trusting new people can help you heal. Trust can also help you build new and exciting relationships.
Past betrayals don’t have to steal your peace, control your mind, and take over your emotions. You are responsible for how you react to situations. When you take the steps needed to forgive and let go, your recovery begins and helps you move on. Soon enough, instead of looking backward, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the good things to come.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.