Betrayal is Hard: 4 Ways to Gain Inner Peace
Forgiveness Coach Carol Williams
So, if you have ever been betrayed by someone you loved and trusted, you know that it is hard. You may feel heartsick, emotionally paralyzed, and inner peace may seem to be an elusive dream. Regardless of the circumstances, there is an element of loss, the loss of trust in someone who you felt would have your best interest at heart, who would be there for you no matter what. You feel disappointed, angry and frankly not sure what to say, what to do, or even know how you are going to move forward. Betrayal can impact an individual in multiple ways…physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and even financially. The body tends to process this experience as a traumatic event. Hence, there is lack of sleep, headaches and muscle tension, which are all signs that the body is under duress.
During a conversation, I asked Margaret (not her real name), “Do you think it’s time that you consider offering forgiveness?” Her response was, “What? No way. I could never do that.” Please note that this conversation was happening more than forty years since Margaret felt that she was betrayed in her relationship. I watched Margaret suffer the consequences of unforgiveness and lack of inner peace.
What is Inner Peace?
Inner peace, often called peace of mind, refers to an individual experiencing, or being at peace mentally and spiritually. It is when one can maintain calm despite any stressors they might be having. It is enjoying quietness and serenity, and not overthinking every situation. The question is: Is inner peace even possible after betrayal? The answer is, yes, it is! In John 14:17, Jesus promised a special kind of peace:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you…I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
If you have experienced betrayal and is struggling, here are four ways to gain inner peace.
1. Take the Inward Journey
The inward journey is one of self-assessment. It is looking inward, and asking and answering these questions:
· How has this experience affected me?
· How has this experience changed me?
· How am I really feeling…emotionally, physically, spiritually?
· Why am I feeling this way?
· What do I need to change?
· How can I change what needs to be changed?
People are programmed to say, “I’m fine” when asked how they are feeling or if they are okay. Take the time to acknowledge and admit how you are feeling. If possible, be open about your experience. Find someone you trust to talk with and share as much as you are comfortable. Consider the feelings you have held on to, and accept that you cannot change the past, but you can let go of the pain you have carried and move towards inner peace.
2. Practice Forgiveness
Do yourself a favor and gain inner peace by forgiving whoever wronged you. Be mindful that forgiving does not mean forgetting. You are just letting go of the past, so that you can be fully present in your present. The path of forgiveness, however, must be taken for the right reasons. The most important one is to give yourself peace and a sense of achievement. Remember, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiving is about you, not someone else.
Lack of forgiveness hurts you and keeps you from healing. Cherie Carter-Scott said, “Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” Forgiveness involves empathizing with the offender. This may be very difficult, especially if you were deeply hurt. It is not about excusing someone else’s behavior, rather, it is examining the context, the emotions and the reasons for the situation. It is looking at things from the offender’s perspective. And, as another reminder, it is not for their benefit, it is for you! As Marianne Williamson rightly said, “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”
3. Be Deliberate About Self-care
Self-care is essential for someone who is experiencing betrayal. But notice that I am encouraging you to be deliberate about it. So then, be strategic, plan your self-care activities, and be sure to do them. Ensure that you do things that will impact your physical and mental health positively. Here are some things that you can do:
· Do something that you enjoy daily
· Practice mindfulness…live in the moment
· Reflect on the things that you are grateful for
· Journal about your forgiveness/inner peace journey
· Smile (even when you do not feel like it)
· Listen to uplifting music
· Find ways to relax
· Practice a healthy lifestyle (diet, sleep, exercise)
· Watch your thoughts…be positive
· Pray and have faith that all will be well
4. Join a Support Group
It is helpful to join a support group, where you can share your thoughts and concerns, and talk honestly and openly about your feelings in a safe space, and with others who have had similar experiences. It is where you can listen to others talk about their stories, and their personal struggles and victories. I have heard it said that when you share your burden with others, it is at least halved.
Joining a group will help build your sense of belonging, and you can make new friends. Focus on helping others. Often when you do that, you recognize that your situation could be much worse. In so doing, it evokes a sense of gratitude.
Other benefits of a support group include feeling less lonely and isolated, and it reduces anxiety and the feelings of depression. A group can be beneficial to help you stay motivated to work on your goals, improve your coping skills and gain inner peace.
Yes, betrayal is hard, but inner peace is attainable, and help is available!
Are you ready to start the journey to inner peace?
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