March 31, 2021
Forgiveness After Betrayal is Possible: Here's How...

Letting go and forgiving ourselves is a powerful act of kindness and compassion that we can then share with others. It can boost our well being and our sense of Self, and will allow us to restore the trust that we need in order to make decisions, engage and empathize with others.

An important part of rebuilding trust in ourselves and in others after a betrayal is -- forgiveness. Whether we were hurt by someone we care about, or we were the ones to cause deep hurt to someone we love, the idea of forgiveness might feel difficult and sometimes nearly impossible.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that forgiveness is a process, one that requires reflection, kindness and space to heal.

Causing pain is a complicated situation. It creates many different emotions, sometimes all at once. Feelings such as guilt, shame, hopelessness, anger and sadness are usually present after a negative event, but painful guilt, self-blame and regret will only hold you back from living your best life.

Someone who has caused hurt will oftentimes say “I’m sorry” and then want to quickly move on. They may say things like: “I said I was sorry”, “how long will you be mad at me for?” or  “how long will you hold on to this?” --  These are statements that generally come from guilt and shame. The offender wants to move on quickly to alleviate their own feelings. However, this tends to minimize and discount the other’s emotions.

If you were hurt, an “I’m sorry” alone are just words, and if used too often, they become irrelevant. The struggle for many in this process of forgiveness is the idea that forgiveness means forgetting. That if we forgive, or forgive ‘too quickly’ or ‘too often’, that means that the hurt is forgotten, not relevant anymore, or that it’s an excuse to continue behaving hurtfully.

Self-forgiveness involves the ability to look at yourself, accept your flaws in all its glory and then learn from them. It is best done with warmth and compassion. Knowing how to forgive oneself is difficult for many of us.  We expect so much from ourselves and we live in a society filled with judgement where we are quick to forget that we are only human and that self-forgiveness is about real self-care. It is not about weakness, but rather strength. Knowing yourself, and acknowledging your mistakes is for the brave. Without this, you will struggle to move on in your life, you will struggle to love, and be loved, to belong and be inclusive of others.

Forgiveness is a cornerstone to trust, and trust is key in resetting ourselves, especially after betrayal.

Here are three steps to lovingly forgive yourself:

Acknowledge.

You must recognize where, how and who we may have hurt, which includes ourselves. Owning it and seeing its purpose: mistakes help us learn, and should be viewed as information for us to reflect and then reset ourselves.

Confess.

Say out loud how you hurt someone or what exactly happened. Use writing as a tool to clarify the events and begin the process of healing.

Amend.

Take responsibility for your share of the events and sincerely apologize. This will help with the complicated emotions of guilt and shame that we may be experiencing. Feeling guilty is a normal part of the healing process. It’s the getting “stuck” there that becomes detrimental and hinders our ability to repair and rebuild.

Letting go and forgiving ourselves is a powerful act of kindness and compassion that we can then share with others. It can boost our well being and our sense of Self, and will allow us to restore the trust that we need in order to make decisions, engage and empathize with others.

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