Before we get into it, I want to clarify what I mean by “betray” and “forgive”
There’s all kinds of poetic interpretations around forgiveness, many which don’t make any sense to my practical mind. Remember Oprah’s definition of forgiveness? “Forgiveness means giving up hope that things could be any different” Well that just sounds like acceptance to me. For sure, we should at some point come to a place of acceptance with all our grievances. But that doesn’t mean we should also forgive.
Dictionary definitions, yay:
“Betray: An act of deliberate disloyalty”
“Forgive: To stop feeling anger towards or about an offence
To cancel responsibility, to stop requiring repayment
The act of absolving (to set free) someone for having done something wrong
So basically, forgiveness is letting someone off the hook. and not everyone deserves that. For sure, find acceptance for what was, but this does not absolve a person of their actions or betrayals. The victim may still have to deal with the consequences, which can be minimal to life-changing. The offender may be likely to re-offend.
Forgiveness serves to keep people connected after betrayal, in whatever form. In essence, your letting them off the hook (where they were unable to betray again) and trusting them to act appropriately in future.
In our ancestors time, someone who quickly forgave others was seen a threat to the community or family, as undeserved forgiveness would cause eventual harm or damage, and put the family in a position to be exploited or harmed again. They were regarded as fools, or worse.
Now a-days, we hear people carry on like forgiving is an act of Saintly proportions, and a testament to how holy and mature one is. Deluding the self into believing forgiveness will make them an above-average good person, while simultaneously healing the pain of betrayal inside. Unfortunately, I’m afraid this is nothing more than generational gas-lighting and mind-fucking. You must forgive your father. Keep sweet. Always forgive and forget. Have faith, or whatever.
There are times when forgiveness is called for, and it is something we should aspire to in our relationships, but there are certain steps to getting there, requiring both parties effort. You can accept it/them. But should you forgive them? There’s a path to forgiveness after betrayal. It looks like this:
The Betrayal ~ often an indication of a larger problem. Regardless, a betrayal takes place. Could be cheating, lying, a set-up, an act of negligence or disregard or general disrespect for ones things or self. Whatever it is, your feeling betrayed and have lost trust in the relationship
Outrage ~ From the victim This outrage serves the victim in calling out the betrayer and can help them gain support during this time of hurt and anger. It’s a pretty human reaction that helps us gain perspective and understanding. It also helps the victim during a time when they’ve been knocked down, to get up and brush off the pain of being hurt by a loved one. This is often the time when the victim finally fully recognizes that the actual betrayal as a sign of something bigger, a toxic or abusive relationship dynamic, for example.
Guilt ~ The offender feels Guilt. And they demonstrate this guilt through apologies, behaviours and genuine emotions and empathy. They do what they can to help fix the damage, or offer to help or do something. The offender shows they are truly remorseful so that they can be trusted in the future and welcomed back into the social group
Forgiveness ~ By the victim. When this happens the relationship can repair and the social connection is re-bonded
Notice step 3? Yea, that’s the part that’s lacking in undeserved forgiveness. That is the determining factor in whether or not one should forgive. When someone says “I’m sorry!” they are simply telling you they’re sorry, and its probably true. They probably are sorry because now the can’t have access to you or benefit from you. This doesn’t mean they feel guilt over their act of betrayal, it does not mean they should be trusted. Many times the offender doesn’t feel guilt. Worse, they may even feel resentment towards you. They may feel shame. Guilt is about feeling bad for something you’ve done. Shame is feeling bad for being seen in a negative light. The offender may feel ashamed, but that doesn’t mean they care about how their actions affect others.
Forgiveness is important for healthy social connections and something we absolutely should strive for, but first we need to understand what it means. Many families and friends are simply too toxic or emotionally immature to do their part on the forgiveness path. This is when to hang them on a hook, safe away from our lives, and find acceptance for what is.
If you have trapped emotions of betrayal, resentment, or need help coming to a place of acceptance, Emotion Code and a session with a seasoned healer can help you. Trapped emotions lead to more of the same, and eventual physical manifestations as well, until we release the Karmic energy. Many people believe they just had to forgive a person and they would heal, only to find that it has caused more harm than help. Forgiveness is not necessary to heal, but acceptance & release is.