Skip to main content

Forgiving Those Who Betrayed You

Jonathan Riley

Forgiving someone who has betrayed you is possible, but it is a deeply personal decision and process that varies greatly from one person to another. Forgiveness, in the context of betrayal trauma, does not mean condoning the betrayal, forgetting what happened, or necessarily reconciling with the betrayer. Instead, it can be seen as a step toward releasing the hold that the pain and resentment have on you, allowing for personal healing and peace.

Understanding Forgiveness

  • Personal Healing: Forgiveness is often more about the person who has been betrayed than the betrayer. It’s a process of letting go of deep-seated resentment and anger that, if held onto, can continue to cause pain and prevent personal growth and happiness.
  • Empowerment: Choosing to forgive can be empowering, as it signifies taking control of your emotional well-being and refusing to be defined by the betrayal.
  • Separate from Reconciliation: Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean you must reconcile with them or continue the relationship in the same way as before. It is possible to forgive someone but still choose to end or alter the relationship.

The Process of Forgiveness

  • Acknowledge Your Pain: Recognise and accept the hurt and pain the betrayal has caused. It’s important to process these emotions rather than suppress them.
  • Reflect on Forgiveness: Consider what forgiveness means to you and why you might want to forgive. Is it for your peace of mind, to move on, or perhaps for the sake of other relationships affected by the betrayal, such as children or mutual friends?
  • Understand the Betrayer: While not excusing the betrayal, trying to understand the circumstances or motivations behind the betrayer’s actions can sometimes make the process of forgiveness easier. This doesn’t mean you justify their actions, but rather seek to see the situation from a broader perspective.
  • Decide to Forgive: Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a commitment you make to yourself to let go of grievances for your own well-being.
  • Letting Go: Work on releasing the anger and resentment. This can be one of the most challenging steps and may involve various strategies, such as therapy, meditation, journaling, or spiritual practices.
  • Seek Support: Engage with supportive friends, family, or a therapist who can provide guidance and encouragement throughout your forgiveness journey.

Challenges in Forgiveness

  • Non-Linear Process: Forgiveness isn’t a straightforward path; it often has ups and downs, and you might need to choose to forgive again and again over time.
  • Emotional Complexity: The emotions involved in betrayal trauma are complex and can fluctuate over time. Feelings of anger or resentment may resurface, requiring ongoing attention and commitment to forgiveness.
  • External Pressures: Sometimes, external pressures from society, family, or friends to forgive can complicate the process. Remember, the decision to forgive should be yours alone, based on what is best for your emotional and mental health.

Forgiveness is a deeply personal journey that cannot be rushed or forced. It is perfectly valid to feel unable to forgive, and some may find their path to healing lies in other forms of closure. Ultimately, the choice to forgive is yours, and it should be made in a way that honours your feelings, respects your boundaries, and contributes to your overall well-being and peace of mind.

If you know someone struggling with betrayal trauma, share this article with them and let them know they’re not alone. If you’re ready to take the next step, schedule a free consultation with Jonathan Riley at My Practice Counselling Melbourne.