“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.”
When we have experienced rejection or betrayal it changes the way we see, and feel about, ourselves. We can pick up the message that there’s something wrong with us. That we’re less than other people. That we’re seriously flawed.
But all of these are lies, and we need to love ourselves.
So how do we learn to love ourselves?
1. Our mindset affects the way we see ourselves, how we interact with others, and how we live our lives. It affects our expectations around how others will treat us, and whether that’s appropriate, and what we should accept. This is an area we often need to challenge, and especially if we suffer from low self-esteem.
Some questions to ask yourself here include: Do I expect others to treat the same as/ better than/ or worse than they treat others? Why is that the case? What do I deserve when it comes to being loved? What will I put up with, and why?
2. Pay attention to how you treat yourself.
For example, do you tend to be self-critical and harsh towards yourself? Are you good at noticing and taking care of your physical, mental and emotional needs? How do you do that? How well do you do that? Do you make time to do the things you want and like to do? If not, why not?
3. We need to show self-understanding and develop self-compassion.
It can be helpful to take the time to write down our life story, and trace how our experiences have shaped who we’ve become.
4. We need to give ourselves permission to design our own life, and to say what we want, and then to go after that.
Of course, our plans can be destroyed by the people in our lives, and it’s hard to recover when we’ve been traumatized. But our life still our own. We still have some agency. And we still get a say in what’s going to happen next.
5. Perhaps you’ve heard it said thar each of us is the average of the five people we spend the most time with. With this in mind, think about who you spend your time with. Are these people who like, love and value you? Are they people who can see your potential, and who encourage you to live your best life? If not, it might be time to make some changes here and surround yourself with people who will love and treat you well.
“Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of darkness and into the sunshine.”
It’s difficult to know what’s the right thing to do after you’ve learned that your partner has betrayed you. Should you try again, or should leave and walk away? Not all relationships can (or should) be saved. And deciding the right course is extremely difficult.
Really, this is a decision that only you can make. And it’s wise to take your time, and decide what’s right for you. Don’t let your friends and family influence you too much.
So, what sorts of things should you take into account? Below are some questions that might help with this decision:
1. Is your partner willing to do the work you view as being crucial for recovery (both his recovery and your recovery)?
2. Do you feel he really ‘gets’ how hurt and traumatized you are? Does it upset him to see the pain suffering he’s caused? Or does he seem detached, and unaffected by your feelings?
3. Actions count much more than words. This is absolutely crucial. What exactly is he doing to show he’s different now? What steps has he been taking to deal with the temptations?
4. Do you feel this Is this enough? What else would help to rebuild trust?
5. Do you still want him in your life? This is a really crucial question. Even if he works on changing you might feel that it’s too late. Perhaps you can’t respect him after everything he’s done.
6. Do you enjoy his company? Would you miss him if you parted?
7. Can you imagine being close and intimate again? Perhaps you cannot picture having sex with him again.
8. What are the benefits of staying in the marriage? (You have a history together; your lives are deeply intertwined; you want to stay together for the sake of the children; you want to stay together because you actually still love him, and so on.)
9. What are the benefits of leaving the marriage? (You don’t have to deal with trust related to him possibly betraying you again; it would be easier to deal with all the fall-out on your own; you don’t want to be with someone who hurt you so badly; you would rather start again with someone else, and so on.)
10. If you look back at your life 10 years from now, what different scenarios can you envisage? Which of those is the most likely to be the real scenario? Which would you choose, and why? Do you want to take a risk, and why? Do you think it’s wise to take a risk, and why?
Other readers may be able to add some other questions that could help you decide the right pathway for you.
But whatever you decide, please be kind to yourself, and make sure that any boundaries are respected and adhered to.