When someone you trust betrays you, the complicated emotion-storm can feel overwhelming. It’s understandable if you can’t forgive someone right away, yet letting go is the best way to heal. Once you’ve worked through all the anger and hurt, you might decide forgiveness is the only way to let go. With all that said… how do you forgive betrayal?
Step One: Stop Blaming Yourself
When a spouse cheats on you, it’s easy to wonder if you weren’t good enough. When a business partner suddenly quits and starts their own company, you might wonder if your ideas weren’t good enough. When a friend stabs you in the back, you might wonder if there was anything you could’ve done to prevent it.
Regardless of whether or not you did anything wrong, stop telling yourself it was your fault. If you did something wrong, own up to it. Whatever your betrayer did wrong, hold them accountable. Everyday, people are rude to each other, cut each other off in traffic, and other harmful actions. Yet not every instance of getting cut off results in road rage. Reasonable people don’t hurt each other just because they were inconvenienced.
We aren’t responsible for anyone’s behavior except our own. Accept pain, accept responsibility, but don’t accept guilt.
Step Two: Give Yourself Space
Whether you want your betrayer in your life or not, you need space to heal. You need space from them, from the situation, and from when it happened. Forgiveness takes time, and you may need to spend some of that time apart.
If you aren’t pushing your betrayer out of your life, then don’t try to just go back to the way things were before the betrayal. Spend time with other friends and family, give it time.
Step Three: Hold Yourself to Your Moral Code
Hurting them right back isn’t the answer. Anger and a desire for revenge will just drag out your own unhappiness. Will it really make you better to do what they did? Wouldn’t that just make you a hypocrite?
Hold yourself to your own morals. Take comfort in knowing you’re strong enough to avoid stooping so low.
Step Four: Let It Go
Talking about the situation over and over again, rehashing it again and again, is just going to drag things out. Once you’ve told everyone you want, stop talking about it.
Accept you can’t control what happened, but you can control what happens next. Move on, and know it will get better.