Progressing gives the image of forward movement, of climbing up a mountain where when you put one step in front of the other, you can see visually how far you've come and how far you have to go.
There are many times in life and in our relationships where we feel like we are taking one step forward and two steps back, those times where we don't experience a forward progression.
However, we must remember that the path to success, the path to greater love and more fulfilling relationships is not linear. It is not so picture perfect. Life can be messy and unpredictable. It is not so easy to calculate the when and where of our eventually “arrival” at the top.
Progressing is a process first and foremost. It is a process of advancing or developing toward a better state. So even though, some days, some weeks we may not be able to “see” our progress, the commitment to get up each day and continue towards our relationship and personal goals is the most important step, no matter what those actions look like in that particular day.
It is our intention to progress forward that lead us out of the darkness, illuminating the path, one small step…one small thought or affirmation or intention or action at a time.
With that, one particularly dark period many of us face is when trust is temporarily questioned or even broken between us and a loved one.
An event that sparks mistrust shocks us. It is not only the words or action in question but the stark contrast between what we thought was going on and the actual reality of what is going on. This can be painful, overwhelming, and disorienting.
1. Assess what is really going on.
Separate realities is a term to remind us that no matter how well we think we know someone, no matter how much we have convinced ourselves that we can predict what she or he will do, we can't.
This is because, on the most fundamental level, we all experience the world differently. We each live in our own inner “worlds”…built of assumptions and beliefs, ie. the (often unrecognized) rules we each individually create for navigating the external world.
Yes, it is true that at certain points our realities appear to overlap. We do have shared values with others that bond us and make us feel understood by the those with similar views. Yet, the way we each internalize and make meaning of those values is slightly different. It will always be different.
Each of us is on our own journey. We each progress in different ways. The timing from which we come to have inspiring ideas and insights is discordant, as are the individual lessons we learn on our specific paths.
An innumerable amount of miscommunications, disagreements, and breaches of trust occur because we believe we are on the same path and experience the same reality. We project our expectations and rules for living onto others. We expect people to read our minds, to “know what we want”…which of course is a fool's errand. No one can know what is inside your head, especially if you don't tell him or her.
Now, knowing this won't necessarily take the full sting out a betrayal, but it does support progression, perspective, and can support you in healing more quickly.
So what can you do after a breach of trust? How can you rebuild confidence in another person, when they seemed to have fallen off the golden pedestal you had previously put them on?
2. Begin the Healing Process.
Shock is a very common initial reaction and when emotions are running wild it is dang-near impossible to think straight.
So be patient with yourself.
Even though separate realities are an implication we are up against in the world, it doesn't mean that a betrayal won't hurt like hell. Allow yourself to feel your emotions without believing it will never get better. You do have the power to feel the emotions spaciously, even the sensitive folks (1). That is to say, you don't need to believe every thought you have when you are in a highly emotional state.
Anger, sadness, anxiety, sleeplessness, shame, apathy, lack of appetite, or even eventually coming to a place of deeper love, communication, and connection are all possible emotional reactions. In fact you may experience almost everything on that list! Know you are human. You are having a normal response.
3. Process What Happened.
When a calmness of mind and spirit return, begin to reflect on what actually happened. Was this a malicious betrayal, done on purpose just to hurt you? Now, I know at first it may seem that way, but when emotions don't have such a strong grip over logic, it is easier to deduce or ask the person, what were his or her true intentions?
- What this a pre-planned and malicious breach of trust?
- Was it accidental and intentional?
- Was this a one-time thing or does it represent a larger pattern?
Perhaps it was indeed innocent. Perhaps the person was going through a very difficult time themselves, was feeling fearful and low, and thus wanted to protect themselves by acting out or pushing you away. Maybe it had nothing to do with you at all?
If you come to discover it was not, in fact, a malicious or intentional breach of trust, it can be very therapeutic to put yourself in the shoes of that person. To connect at a human level. To be humble and start to realize that we all have flaws. That we all tend to judge others harshly. Acknowledge the human tendency “to judge ourselves by our intentions, but others by their actions” (2). At least allow space for a reconciliation or apology.
5. Put Down What Doesn't Help.
In my line of work, one of the biggest impediments to progress and healing I witness is self-blame. For instance, if someone was cheated on, he or she may initially feel it was his or her fault. But this can never be 100% fact. Remember how separate realities work? If someone else gets an idea in their head, it has little to do with the actions or inactions of another human being. We act like we can, but we can't really force anybody to do anything, especially a spouse or other adult (no matter how much he or she tries to convince us it is our fault). We are just not the root cause, period. Their own thoughts are.
So derail this painful thought train of self-blame when you can, and when you can't…know that that is ok too.
This can be incredibly difficult, we know. That one reason we created the 30 Days of Love Challenge. It's an inward journey designed to help you derail that pain and steer yourself back towards love. Love for yourself, and love for others. So take a little love from us and…
❤ TRY IT FOR FREE! ❤
6. Decide What To Do.
With that being said, even though every person's actions are a reflection of their own thinking, there is no universal “right” answer of what to do after a breach of trust.
Whatever you decide, give yourself enough time to process what happened, begin healing, and reflect inward towards your own wisdom. Although the advice of friends is well-intentioned, taking the time to check in with your own inner wisdom and common sense and allowing your loved one the space to do the same, is essential.
7. Be prepared.
In couples that choose to stay together or friends/family members that choose to reunite, the biggest challenge is the “thought-storms” that follow days, months, or even years after the incident.
For instance, be prepared that persistent thoughts in the form of worry, jealousy, and anxiety will likely show up again for a person who was cheated on and that thoughts of insecurity and boredom will likely show up again for the transgressor.
Thought (in the form of memories and emotions) is the primary factor that prevents couples from re-establishing trust. It is also what is at the heart of preventing family members or friends from re-establishing their bonds. However, it is possible to trust again.
A useful tool in re-establishing trust is cultivating greater understanding. When individuals begin to understand that they do not have to act on or even believe every thought that enters their head….When a person gains more awareness into the nature of the human experience and workings of the mind…the likelihood of re-establishing trust and deepening the connection between two people skyrockets. It's one of our key focuses in the 30 Days of Love Challenge if you're looking for some help in this area.
In closing, even though it may feel at times that you are stuck on an eternal hamster wheel, destined to disappoint and be disappointed, recognizing that this is the flow of life. Humans will always experience ebbs and flows of emotion and it is crucial in allowing the process to just be. Expect some expectations to be unmet. When this happens, it isn't always somebody's fault (including your own), it is just a byproduct of living. Know that this is normal.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your loved ones. With greater kindness, your ability to forgive others and see their own innocence and ignorance will flourish (3). You will be better able to recognize breakdowns in communication and separate realities. You will be able to catch moments when you thought you could read another person's mind or wake up to the fact you were expecting him or her to read yours.
It really is all about trial-and-error. We are always progressing whether we are aware of this or not. Every situation is an opportunity to learn. Upwards and onwards!