How can you appreciate the present moment if you've been betrayed and haven't dealt with it?Have you ever experienced betrayal in your life that hurts you so badly you can't get past it? Again and again in my work with clients I hear stories about significant betrayal that continue to terribly impact them, getting in the way of experiencing peace and well-being in their lives.
Betrayal hurts our heart and our soul, and we feel afraid to risk ourselves in relationships and endeavors in our lives. Even more importantly, it destroys central trust, which prevents us from being able to be truly present and free to love and create in our lives.
Four Truths about Betrayal
Betrayal can leave us with a sense of shame and blame, a deadly combination that profoundly affects self-esteem and leads us to feel we have to keep experiences of betrayal secret In effect, it stops spontaneity, burdens us, and keeps us in a state of ongoing dis-ease, or off-center.
Here are the four fundamental truths about betrayal I've come to understand and centrally work with to help clients heal:
1. We all experience betrayal in our lives.
2. Betrayal challenges us to not assume.
3. When we experience fully the grief from betrayal, we come to a place of acceptance and accompanying forgiveness.
4. Acceptance and forgiveness do not excuse or erase the betrayal - instead, they allow us to let go and freely be present in our lives.
Betrayal Becomes a Catalyst for Healing and Empowerment through These Four Truths
We all experience betrayal in our lives - When we can view betrayal as a normal, although greatly unwelcome, part of a fully-lived life, shame, feeling "lesser than", and a corresponding sense having to keep this secret are much less likely to occur, and if they are already present, tend to markedly decrease.
Betrayal challenges us to not assume - We are all mysteries to each other, unique individuals. There is no reason to assume someone will respond in a certain way, or behave like you. When we don't assume we become more attentive and able to observe and note what is happening in our lives. This allows us to more fully respond from a place of greater awareness and personal power, which builds real trust.
When we experience fully the grief from betrayal, we come to a place of acceptance and accompanying forgiveness - Have the courage to face and express the full depth of your feelings of betrayal. Take yourself through the five stages of grief, and journal about your related experiences of denial, bargaining, anger (which in betrayal involves rage), and helplessness/hopelessness (which in betrayal involves intense sadness and despair). Seek compassionate and understanding support in experiencing these four stages and acceptance - and be truly caring and honest with yourself.
Acceptance and forgiveness do not excuse or erase the betrayal - instead, they allow us to let go and freely be present in our lives - Acceptance comes to you through fully experiencing the stages of grief and personal loss involving experiences of betrayal. When we reach this stage, we recover a greater sense of self and higher wisdom. We feel more mature and free, able to let go and embrace our lives from a place of trust and embracing a sense of new beginning in our lives.
You Can Recover a Greater Sense of Self and Create a Better Life
I tell clients that betrayal is a horribly packaged gift from the universe that brings us medicine according to the Native American definition of the word, which means both healing and power - never in ways we expect - always in ways that develop and transform us to create new and better chapters in our unfolding lives. Many times after doing the intense and lengthy work to heal from betrayal, clients tell me they realize these episodes of betrayal brought a whole other chapter of better possibility to their lives and, in other unrelated ways, extended their personal integrity and set them free.