Khalil Gibran said, “Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”
Reminiscent of Gibran’s words is the truth that we can sway between unshakable faith and extreme doubt in mere seconds. Under certain circumstances we can’t even tell doubt and faith apart, or we may feel consumed by both at the same time.
Betrayal is one of these circumstances. We suffer quietly through disloyalty from a partner, friend, or family member, but this embeds harmful emotions deeply into our being. Our trust in others erodes if we don’t process the reality of betrayal and work through its painful impressions. And who hasn’t been betrayed? After one partner is unfaithful, we just can’t imagine our next love interest remaining loyal. If our best friend deceives us, we begin to think all friends are capable of this sinister act. In this way, we set ourselves up for a vicious cycle and program our minds to believe that betrayal is something we’ll just have to learn to live with. But infidelity of any kind can bring about wisdom and invaluable lessons to be learned. And we can take action to cleanse our spirit of the grim past and, in a sense, betray our own betrayal.
Betrayal leaves us at a fork in the road. We can choose to act in ways that either favor or impede personal growth: we can become stuck in a bad moment forever or we can put it behind us for good. We decide our path. Act on my 13 steps to recover faith after betrayal:
1. Erase the imprints of betrayal. The wounds of betrayal can be so submerged in our subconscious mind that they might be difficult to extract. Meditation can help to reach the root of former deception and jumpstart the healing process. I recommend quietly meditating for a few minutes each day, digging into the contents of your brain and wiping out old memories or thought patterns that keep you stagnant.
2. Forgive. Forgiving does not mean accepting the wrong behavior of others; it means detaching from the pain, frustration, and bitterness buried within. Forgiveness breaks us free like a ship dislodging from a dock; life is our open sea when we pardon the past. But as long as we harbor hatred or anger against others, personal progress is stifled. Strive to forgive one person a day.
3. Throw betrayal away. I mean, literally throw it away! Try this exercise: write down on a piece of paper your worst case of betrayal. Capture the emotions, describe the terrible moment, and highlight the magnitude of the event. Get it out of your system, no matter how long ago it occurred. Then, fold this paper and get rid of it in a dramatic way. You can toss it in a dumpster, throw it into the ocean, even flush it down the toilet. I’m not encouraging you to litter the streets with letters of betrayal (or clog your bathroom), but I do want you to eliminate any traumatic traces by disposing of an object that holds your darkest emotions.
4. Start faith slow. Your faith wasn’t damaged in one day, so it can’t be rebuilt in such a short time. Like a puzzle, you have to start piecing your faith back slowly. At first, you might find it hard to trust anyone, but slowly and surely you’ll redevelop a sense of confidence in the good will of others. All you have to do is be willing to rediscover faith.
5. Find others who have faith. You’re not the only one who’s been betrayed, and you’re certainly not the only one who wants to regain faith in others. There are many wonderful, honest people who want to earn your trust. Surround yourself with a positive group of people on the same faithful path as you.
6. Regain faith in yourself. The first person you have to trust is yourself. Develop a deep, unbreakable bond with your outstanding abilities and your own self-vows. Make a new promise to yourself each month. Keep that promise and take small, daily steps until it becomes habit. Because if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
7. Detach from people you don’t trust. There’s no reason to put up with people who act in bad faith. If you feel someone is not trustworthy, you don’t need them in your life. Be selective about the people you bring in for your own well-being. Choosing to cling to people who don’t inspire faith will only lead you to distrust everyone as a whole. Walk away from those you know are not right for you.
8. Envision a future free of betrayal. It’s okay to daydream. Being able to visualize an ideal future despite current drawbacks is one of the most beautiful elements of life. Imagine each day that no one will ever hurt you again. The images you create in your mind become projections of reality in the future, so be careful of the thoughts you send out into the universe. What you fear most, you most attract, and if you quiet your fears, you can control what you draw in. Instead, the peaceful, harmonious thoughts you choose to portray in your mind will manifest into your reality.
9. Control your emotions. Your emotions can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Emotions are the essence of our existence, but when they’re taken to the extreme, they can downright block our lives. We can easily become stuck in our feelings, mentally and even physically. When we’re depressed, we have trouble going about our daily routines or we overeat to try and steady our feelings. In order to heal from betrayal and keep it from reoccurring in the future, you have to keep your emotions in check. If you obsess over something that happened in the past, you become stuck in that moment in time. But if you can think logically and understand the need to move forward, you can indeed master your emotions.
10. Take a leap of faith. Make a decision based on pure faith. Don’t over-analyze or think too much. Follow the voice of your intuition; this can be leaving a job you feel isn’t right for you, moving to a new home if your gut keeps telling you to relocate, or even separating from your partner if you just know the relationship is wrong. You will see that acting on faith rather than fear fosters better decisions.
11. Trust two people unconditionally. While you should always be rational in your level of trust towards others, pick two people to trust without limits. They can be family members, your spouse, friends — any two people you know would never harm you in any way. Putting your hopes in your loved ones teaches you that yes, there still exist goodhearted folks you can confide in.
12. Reaffirm your faith each day. Every morning when you wake up, speak an affirmation to yourself in a loud voice. Affirm your strong faith in others, in yourself, and in your future. Waking up with a faithful phrase each day will wipe away lingering doubts in your mind.