“The quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your life.”
If your life has been blown apart by betrayal, then you’ll know for a fact that this quote is true. You’ve been hit with a sledge hammer by the person you loved most. Now your world lies in tatters, and you’re living in a daze.
And, of course, this relationship is massively important. It would be foolish to downplay its significance. But even more important than your partner or spouse, is the relationship you have with yourself at this time. This is the relationship you need to focus on.
For example, betrayal rips to shreds our self-image and self-worth so it’s easy to lose touch with the person we once were.
But, inside you’re the same woman. You’re still smart and beautiful. You can integrate the fragments, and reconnect with her.
And, honestly, it’s crucial, that you do this for yourself.
How do You do That?
Working through the following questions can help you with this process.
- How has betrayal changed the way you see yourself?
- What do you say about yourself – because of this?
- How do you feel about yourself right now?
- How do you think other people see you?
- What did you think your future would be like?
- What do you believe about your future today?
- How would your best friend describe you as a person?
- What have you accomplished or achieved in your life? What do you like most about yourself?
- If you could wave a magic wand, and be completely healed, how would you be acting? What would your life look like?
- Close your eyes for a minute. Try to picture this life. Stay with the image. Let it come into sharp focus. How are you feeling as you picture this strong woman, a woman who is happy and confident again?
“Instead of saying: ‘I’m damaged, I’m broken, I have trust issues’ say: ‘I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over.’ Positive self-talk.”
This is why it came as such a shock:
He was hiding secrets from you.
Little secrets you never knew.
Little secrets that grew and grew.
Little secrets that became big lies.
A web of deception that took over his life.
If you’re feeling battle weary
If you feel you can’t go on
If you feel your heart is breaking
And your few reserves are gone
Close your eyes
Forget the future
Let the pressure dissipate
All that matters is this moment
And you are strong.
Feeling weak and tired is normal. Feeling that you can’t go on is normal. Feeling that you haven’t got what it takes to make it through the day, or make it through the night, is absolutely normal when you’ve been betrayed.
For this moment, choose to take the pressure off yourself. Give your mind a break. Stop struggling for now.
Just believe us when we say, “This is not the end. You’re going to making through. You’ll find yourself again.”
Hang on to our hope when you’ve lost sight of your own.
Christmas equals family time.
Christmas equals feeling you belong.
Christmas equals precious memories.
Christmas equals feeling safe and loved.
These are the messages that dominate the music that blares out in the mall or on your local radio. And I agree that it’s how Christmas should generally be. But maybe this December, it is not like that for you.
If you’re living with the shock and the trauma of betrayal turn down the Christmas music and take the pressure off.
If your heart is filled with sorrow, and you feel it’s going to break then give yourself permission to step back – just a bit.
I know it’s not what others are saying or expect. But, right now, your well-being is what matters the most. Sometimes we can’t keep giving; we don’t have the reserves. You need to take it easy, and give yourself a break.
So listen to your heart – and only do the minimum. Take care of yourself first. It’s the gift that you need the most.
Self-compassion is the extension of kindness, care, warmth, and understanding towards ourselves when we’re in despair, or we’re struggling with life.
Often, this is difficult and challenging for us. It feels counter-cultural – and, sometimes, even wrong – and especially for those who have learned to “be strong”, and to always put the needs of other people first.
However, there are various exercises that can help us practice this – so that showing self-compassion feels more natural and right. We’ve included a couple of these exercise here. (These are based on the work of Kristin Neff, the founder of self-compassion therapy).
Exercise 1: How Would You Respond to a Friend?
- Think of a time when a close and valued friend was struggling with something that was difficult for them. If you were able to be with them, and could offer them support, how would you have wanted to respond to your friend? Think of both your verbal and non-verbal messages. What sorts of things might you have said to that person? What would your tone of voice have been like? How would you have wanted them to feel about themselves after opening up and sharing their deepest self with you?
- Think of those occasions when you’re struggling in life. How do you talk to yourself at those times? Note your words, your tone of voice, your attitudes and body language. In general, are you cruel, harsh and demanding or encouraging and kind?
- Compare and contrast your responses to these questions. To what extent do you treat yourself in the same way, or differently from how you’d treat a treasured, precious friend? Brainstorm and list some possible reasons for this.
- Is there anyone in your life who, in the past, treated you the way you treat yourself now? Are there any fears coming into play? What are your core beliefs about yourself, and other people?
- How might you feel differently, and how might you change, if you treated yourself the way you treated a good friend?
Exercise 2: Making Time for Self-Compassion
- Choose an area of life that is a source of stress for you. As you review the problem and its impact on your life, try to get in touch with all your different feelings and emotions. Where and how do you experience stress in your body? What sorts of thoughts run through your mind?
- Now it is time to practise mindfulness. Begin by reminding yourself that this is something that is genuinely difficult for you. You feel weakened and you hurt; you feel helpless and weighed down.
- Next, it is important to remind yourself that you are not alone – despite how cut off and disconnected you might feel. That is, suffering is common, and it happens to us all.
- Next, take your right hand and gently place it over your heart. Now slowly and tenderly massage that area around your heart. Allow yourself to feel soothed and comforted by this.
- As you engage in this activity, try to speak the words you need to hear right now – words of comfort and compassion, of gentleness and love. Some example might include:
- May I be gentle and tender with myself.
- May I be kind and compassionate towards myself.
- May I accept myself completely.
- May I believe in myself.
- May I be patient with myself
- May I forgive myself.
- Relax and rest like this for as long as you need.