And how to make strong decisions about how to move forward
Feelings of betrayal come in lots of degrees of heat.
We have the heavy hitters like betrayal in marriage where it feels like the kind of burn where they put you into a coma while you heal.
We have the piping hot varieties of being let go after years of faithful service that just make you want to throw it back at them.
And we have the luke-warm types that just make you want to dump your cup and get an icy refill.
Whatever the case is that speaks to you, betrayal is known for being the holy ground that boundaries are drawn.
It's where we put a line in the sand and make decisions about whether some things are worth the pain and worth the work.
For the record, I don't believe these moments are bad.
I believe they are valuable and I believe that if this topic has brought you here because of some hurt in your life, I hope you believe that you can make decisions that you can feel good about.
Because that is what this will come down to.
Decisions and liking the reason for yours.
Chances are that whatever the decision is, there will be fallout and consequences for any choice and you need to be okay with you and your decision.
When we first learn of the betrayal there is often a storm of emotions and thoughts.
I say that this happens when we first learn of the betrayal because we are going to want to say it is because of their act that we feel the way we feel.
It doesn't become an issue for us until we assign meaning to it.
Sometimes years after the fact.
And although we can't control how someone else acts, we can control what we make that mean in our lives.
But first let's see the anatomy:
It can feel like a megaton blast.
And it's important to feel those feels.
My goodness, cry, hit a pillow, run, shout but for now this needs to be for you, not for them.
Own the hurt, the anger, the frustration, recognize it, and FEEL it.
Experiencing an emotion is different than reacting to it, resisting it, or distracting from it. Those things bring suffering.
"This shouldn't be happening" is resistance.
"I just want to pretend like this isn't happening" is distraction.
"You jerk!" is reacting.
I hope you have a friend, a tree, boxing gloves, some disposable paper on hand to let out the real feels and truly experience the risk involved in love, trust, and hope.
Rejection, betrayal, and pain.
And you can handle it.
The counter Strike
Our reactions may include attempts to punish, control, shut them out, or laying our suffering at the feet of the other person.
Or all of them and more.
We may gather allies to prove our expectations valid and their behavior unacceptable.
But when it comes down to it, it is going to be you that needs to determine whether that behavior is acceptable in your life.
Poll results or not.
We may tell them that they change or we do A, B, or C.
We may blame them for the pain they caused in our lives.
But here is what it comes down to:
These methods take our power away...
Leaches it out to those who literally have no power over us which will ultimately add to increased feelings of powerlessness.
In a time where it is critical to make powerful decisions you need every bit of power you possess working under your management.
The Powerful Decision
What do you control in a situation of betrayal?
Your thoughts. Your feelings. Your actions.
What do you NOT control in a situation of betrayal?
Their thoughts. Their feelings. Their actions.
As you move forward, put your energy where your power actually lies:
1. What you think.
You get to choose what you make this mean about you, about them, about the world.
This is not a question of what is true, it is a question of what will get you to where you want to be.
Thoughts like, "I am unloved" create the feeling of inadequacy. What kinds of decisions do we make out of the feeling of inadequacy? Not strong ones.
Thoughts like, "They don't deserve my affection" create feelings of bitterness. What kinds of decisions do we make out of bitterness?
Thoughts like, "The world breaks people who put themselves out there" creates a feeling of weakness. What kinds of decisions do we make when we believe we are weak?
If you want to make powerful decisions you need to think thoughts that generate strength, capability, and belief in self.
Thoughts like, "My loveability is not determined by their actions" creates feelings of strength and belief in self.
Thoughts like, "Others get to choose how they think, act, and feel. I get to choose if I want their actions in my life." creates capability.
Thoughts like, "The world provides opportunities for love and pain. They come together. Would I exclude one to avoid the other?" creates an opportunity for ownership.
Because blame is the ultimate disempowering act.
When we blame them for hurting us we are giving them responsibility for our feelings. We believe they control our feelings and there is no other way to feel in response.
When we believe they control our feelings, how do we feel? Out of control. How do we act when we feel out of control? We try to control them, get them to change in order to feel better. If the goal is a genuine, authentic, loving relationship...control is not the answer as good as it may feel for a minute.
We have the opportunity to own a choice that we made to love, to trust, to give, in the face of the possibility of the fathoms of hurt that matches our fathoms of love. We did that.
We have the responsibility to make a decision to accept those actions in our lives or not rather than spending our time in anger at the scenario of needing to make a choice and follow through.
We have the opportunity to think that something has gone horribly wrong or that something fundamental gets to change that may lead to higher good.
We have the opportunity to choose what we tolerate and what we don't.
We have the opportunity to create boundaries based in love or barriers based in fear.
We have the opportunity to deliberately and intentionally show up how we choose to and get to know ourselves well enough to decide who we truly want to be.
We have the opportunity to step up in respect for ourselves and for others as we manage ourselves without feeling the need to control someone else to feel okay.
We have the opportunity to show up in integrity without manipulation by directing the course according to what will so-and-so think or what will they do.
We can simply make choices that we can live with and look at ourselves in the mirror afterwards.
2. Refer to #1. It's that important.
My deepest hope is that when you look in the mirror you love what you see.
I hope you see someone who is here showing up regardless of how messy it is.
I hope you see someone who has done some really brave and amazing things in the past and will do brave and amazing things in the future. Today's brave and amazing thing may just be getting up.
And that's okay.
I hope you see that you don't need the world to change, or even the other person to change, to feel loveable, strong, and safe.
Whatever you choose to do...the most important thing is to recognize that it is your choice.
No one can make you.
You get to choose.
And you can do this.