ut before I get into the details, picture this…
Here’s the question.
If this woman wants to win this tug-of-war, what does she need to do right now?
She has two choices at this point: she can keep holding on, allowing the monster to eventually drag her over the edge and into the pit, or she can spare herself by letting go. Now ask yourself… if you were in this woman’s shoes (and found yourself in the same set of circumstances) what would you do?
In this case, the right choice is obvious… you would let go. I get that. But here’s the point. When that tug-of-war is coming from within your own being… and when that monster you’re wrestling with is how you’re dealing with your partner’s betrayal… then the right choice isn’t usually so obvious.
The discovery of infidelity can be one of the most life-shattering events ever to happen to a person. In a way, it’s like being hit by an earthquake — except it’s not buildings and bridges around you that crumble… it’s things inside of you. It’s things like your hopes, your dreams, your self-confidence, your ability to trust, and your self-esteem (not to mention your expectations and your optimism).
The shock of discovery is only the first stage.
Next comes a series of painful aftershocks: the disbelief, the confusion, the humiliation, the outrage, and the urge to retaliate (and that’s only the second stage). Then you have to deal with the painful process of sorting through the wreckage of lies… attempting to separate fact from fiction, and trying to somehow make sense out of nonsense. And for many people, this stage drags on for a very long time — sometimes months, some-times even decades. That’s because it’s all being fueled by the urge to find answers to the gut-burning “why” questions.
Here’s the thing. “Why” questions, while incredibly self-absorbing, can never be answered to your satisfaction. So if you’re not careful, you could wind up wasting months of your life trying to find the elusive “smoking gun” that will finally and conclusively explain why this happened in the first place.
But the search for answers that don’t exist is not only an exercise in frustration and futility, but it’s also a way to add even more pain to an already painful experience. It’s a lot like a dog chasing its own tail. You run the risk of getting so caught up in the “search for answers” that you forget to stop and consider if you are in fact asking the right questions in the first place.
Has all of your studying, exploring, researching, looking, investigating, questioning, interrogating, cross-examining the evidence, rehashing the stories, replaying the images, and obsessing over the details… gotten you what you truly want?
If you’re like most of my readers, the answer to that question is “no”. In fact, for most, this persistent search to answer “why” brings the exact opposite of what they want.
Instead of restoring peace of mind…
The “why” questions act like obstacles that block, interfere, and sometimes even destroy peace of mind.
Actually there is.
You see, while people can be stubborn and persistent in continuing their quest to find answers to the why questions, eventually the day comes when it dawns on them and they say to themselves…
“Hey, this is not getting me what I want!”
Then the instant they finally wake up and are able to make that connection… a second question arises in their mind…
“Wait a minute! If this isn’t getting me what I want, then what will?”
And that, my friend, is what I call the magic question.
That’s because it has the potential to swing the door wide open to a whole new world of hope and possibilities.
I believe that when it comes to finding your way back to peace after infidelity, the search for “the answers” is not nearly as important as the search for the right questions. And just in case you’re wondering what types of questions I’m talking about, here are four examples:
It’s only in fairy tales (and fantasy football) where nobody ever gets hurt. As we all know, in real life (and in real relationships), everybody gets hurt.
So, the real question is not “IF” you’ll have to deal with painful experiences (of course you will). The real question is how you’re going to deal with them when they show up.
It’s only in fairy tales (and fantasy football) where nobody ever gets hurt. As we all know, in real life (and in real relationships), everybody gets hurt. So, the real question is not “IF” you’ll have to deal with painful experiences (of course you will). The real question is how you’re going to deal with them when they show up.
Because when it comes to relationships…
It’s not IF you’ll have to deal with painful emotions… it’s HOW you’re going to deal with them.
So I invite you to answer that question now.
How do you deal with painful experiences?
I already know your answer falls into one of two categories: you either have healthy ways of dealing with emotional pain, or you use unhealthy methods. That’s it… only two ways.
So, what’s the difference?
The difference can be seen in four key areas: duration, results, price and suffering. Let me explain what I mean.
Here’s the connection.
When it comes to dealing with the painful emotional triggers caused by your partner’s infidelity, it’s not a matter of whether you’ll ever get over them (one day you will, that’s guaranteed). The question is… how long will it take you to get past it? This, my friend, totally depends on which type of approach you choose to use when dealing with the pain.
This brings us to what I consider to be the problem hidden within the problem. Chances are just like the woman in the opening story… you’re experiencing a similar type of “tug-of-war” when it comes to you trying to forgive infidelity.
Look and you will see… it’s this constant ‘tug-of-war” between that part of you that “knows what you should do” and that part of you that just doesn’t want to do what you should do, that gets in your way and winds up creating so much resistance as you’re trying to forgive.
In an attempt to resolve the painful conflict, produced by this tug of war, many people will try and do a third (and sometimes even more painful) thing. They will try to do both. In other words, they will attempt to…
Most people’s secret wish is to get past their past…. without having to actually let it go. Sounds silly, right? It’s true, I can’t tell you how many betrayed partners I’ve worked with that are truly hoping to find a way to move past their pain without having to do the REAL WORK of actually letting it go. When they come to me looking for help, many are caught in an unhealthy pattern of trying to bury the hatchet, only to dig it back up again. They have been partially giving forgiveness and then withdrawing it. Sadly, this type of back and forth, hot and cold behavior can go on endlessly if you’re not careful. You can spend months, years and even decades faking forgiveness… no one will stop you. You can spend the rest of your life holding on to the hurt and unfairness… no one will blame you. You can keep recycling the same unhealthy approaches to dealing with pain all the way up to forever… nothing prevents you.
Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” A common saying these days, I know, but think about it as it relates to you and what you’re going through right now. The strategies you’ve been trying to use to help overcome your hurt and pain isn’t getting you the results you want. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to turn to using a different approach?
At first, most betrayed partners resist what I am about to say, and I can understand why. I believe, at the core, acts of infidelity are mistakes. Let me explain. My definition of a mistake is any action, decision or choice that produces a wrong result. Since acts of deception or dishonor never lead to right results, infidelity always falls into the category of a mistake.
There are two ways to view your own mistakes (as well as others’). You can choose to look at mistakes as a call for help or a call for hate. People who view mistakes as a call for hate tend to react to them in unhealthy ways, and those of us who see mistakes as a call for help tend to respond in healthier ways.
Am I saying your painful feelings of hurt, anger, and humiliation in the aftermath of betrayal are not understandable or justified? No, that’s not what I’m saying. (Alter all, you’re human.)
Even if those feelings are justified, responding from a place of hate will not restore justice. And while you do have the right to be hurt, staying hurt will not make things right again or return you to happiness. And when you think about it, it makes sense because the truth is… no thought leaves the mind of the thinker.
Holding hateful thoughts (unforgiving thoughts and images) in your mind (justified or not) harms you and no one else. This is why unforgiveness is often described as “the crime you commit against yourself in reaction to an offense that was committed against you”.
So on that basis alone, unforgiveness should be disqualified as a healthy coping strategy, and so I believe it’s now time to shift your focus. I think it’s a good idea for you to begin to use your time more wisely by learning healthy ways of dealing with the painful feelings this has brought into your life and restoring peace, love and power to your Iife, heart and mind as quickly as possible.
I believe the best way to do that is via true forgiveness.
I said true forgiveness. This is not to be confused with the false substitutes for forgiveness so many have been attempting to use.
True forgiveness is not a religious concept, and yet it’s taught in every religion. And it’s not a magic bullet, and yet it leads to miraculous results.
True forgiveness is not a mystical experience… it’s a human ability. Therefore, it has a process and a practice that anyone can learn and embrace.
Webster defines it this way: “to cease to feel resentment towards an offender”. The Hebrew definition is “to restore love by canceling the cause of its loss”. The Aramaic word (“shbakn”) translated as “to forgive” means “to free, to release, or to untie”.
True forgiveness is “the skill and the will to allow the past to be truly over”. Let’s take some time to really think about this.
What would it be like if the past were truly over in your mind? What if your past were like last night’s dream, and somehow you were able to wake up and realize it’s all truly over?
So with your permission…
Let me give you a brief overview of my Betrayed Partner Recovery home study online course.
I’d like to talk briefly about how it works, what you can expect, and why this program has been able to help so many betrayed partners to forgive the unforgivable. Then you can decide for yourself whether or not this course might be helpful to you.
So lets start by exploring what Betrayed Partner Recovery is all about.
You will be following the same path and using the same strategies, tools and tips I have used to guide, coach, coax (and sometimes even nudge) my private clients through healing, forgiving and recovery process. Chances are pretty good you will find them helpful.
This course is not generic forgiveness advice, instead it deals with the type of forgiveness specific to your situation. In other words, all of the tips, tools and strategies that you get didn’t come from book theory, but from almost two decades of helping people like you go through the process of forgiving the one thing that feels unforgivable.
No more in person appointments. No more driving across town or feeling embarrassed. Now you are taking your recovery into your hands… on your timeline. Whenever you feel ready or you feel like you need some advice… Suzie is always there. Play your course over and over… as often as necessary.
Benjamin Zander (a famous orchestra conductor) tells the story of a woman he met at one of his concerts. She was a holocaust survivor. The woman told him a story of how she’d lost both her parents to the gas chambers in Nazi Germany when she was fifteen and her brother was only eight.
According to her story, both children were put on a train to Auschwitz, and while they were on that train, she looked down and noticed that her brother had lost one of his shoes.
She became irritated with him as an older sister would, and she said to him, “Look how careless you are… you’ve lost one of your shoes. Can’t you do anything right?”
Sadly, as it turned out, those where the last words she ever said to her brother.
He was taken from her right after that and didn’t survive the camp. Later, when she was freed from the prison, she made a promise to herself. She said, “I will never say anything that couldn’t stand up as my last words.”
From this day forward… will your mind be dominated by love or loathing? Will you find freedom or be a hostage of the past? Will your heart be made open with graciousness or shrivel up with bitterness? Will you leave a trail of healthy coping strategies for your children or a trail of dysfunctional ones?
Because the past is like a bucket of ashes, and holding on to it is like trying to resurrect the dead. And if that’s not something you want to waste your time or energy attempting to do, then you need to be willing to let it go.
Clinging to the past is just another name for unhappiness because emotional well being is not measured by how long or how tightly you can hold on to pain, hurt and unfairness encountered in life, but by how quickly you can let it go.
So, am I suggesting…
The ability to let go (AKA true forgiveness) is a sign of mental health? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. And guess what? The opposite is also true. The “unwillingness” to let go of the past (AKA unforgiveness) is a sign of dysfunction.
I’m sure because none of us can ever change the past. Therefore, any attempt do so simply leads you back to more frustration and suffering. This means learning to let go of the past is not just a survival skill… it’s actually your best road back to happiness. Makes sense? I hope you truly get the importance of that last statement. I can’t tell you how much getting that can and will change your life for the better.
It only takes one simple shift in your thinking to end all the pain and suffering you’ve been having to endure.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!
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