How to Cope With Feeling Worthless After Infidelity
When I coach women that have experienced infidelity, there are many variables to each individual circumstance; however, there is a glaring commonality among every woman.
After they have gone through the process of grieving their mate’s indiscretion, some begin their personal journey towards forgiving their mate. They vow to put the past in the past and they try to move on with every fiber of their being. Many women even cope by excusing their mates’ bad behavior by pinpointing themselves as the ones to blame, citing things such as weight gain from childbirth, always busy with the kids, too tired for sex, spending too much time at work, and other issues.
In case you may need a reminder-you did not deserve to be cheated on, lied to, nor disrespected.
The process involved with forgiving a mate that has violated your trust is a LONG and grueling one. The KEY MISTAKE that I see women make is putting far less energy and work into forgiving themselves.
These women are so angry with themselves for allowing the betrayal. No one welcomes nor allows cheating, lying, or disrespect. No one enters a relationship with the expectation of being cuckolded, emotionally drained, and lied to. Most are hopeful and have fallen in love without consequence or consideration that their mate has the potential to hurt them.
“A lot of people struggle with self-condemnation or self-blame because they’ve either done something they feel was wrong and they feel guilty, or because they feel that they’re wrong or defective in some way and they feel a sense of shame,” says Everett L. Worthington Jr., Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.
You may think to yourself, has my partner wronged me?
Have you wondered, “Is my self-worth so low that I would allow a man to cheat on me? Am just a weak woman? Why am I stupid enough to take him back? How was I gullible enough to believe his lies? Why was I not a good enough woman to keep him from doing what he did?”
Feeling worthless is a common occurrence after a betrayal happens and you are victimized. Yes, you are a victim. You are not weak. You did not deserve this. You are the victim of a person that saw an opportunity to take advantage of your love and use it to meet their own self-centered needs.
This ongoing self-directed negativity makes you feel bad in the moment; long-term, it’s linked to a host of mental and physical ailments including depression, cardiovascular problems, and immune dysfunction. Here are a few ways to start your healing process:
Begin a daily ritual of self-compassion
Self-compassion (not to be confused with self-esteem) is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
- Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm towards oneself when encountering pain and personal shortcomings, rather than ignoring them or hurting oneself with self-criticism.
- Common humanity: Self-compassion also involves recognizing that suffering and personal failure is part of the shared human experience.
- Mindfulness: Self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to one’s negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Negative thoughts and emotions are observed with openness so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which individuals observe their thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. Conversely, mindfulness requires that one not be “over-identified” with mental or emotional phenomena, so that one suffers adverse reactions. This latter type of response involves narrowly focusing and ruminating on one’s negative emotions. -via Kristin Neff
Self-compassion exercises can consist of a writing exercise, role-playing, or introspective contemplation. I would suggest starting a self-compassion journal. In this exercise, you are to focus on a facet of yourself that you believe to be an imperfection. Key in on the thing that makes you feel inadequate. Once you have brought this issue to mind, write a letter to yourself from the perspective of an unconditionally loving imaginary friend. Finally, you should focus on the soothing and comforting feelings of compassion that you have generated for yourself.
Repent and Repair
While many people that experience betrayal from a partner were unsuspecting victims of a mate that gave in to their own desires, some may have had more responsibility in the breakdown of their relationship. If this is you, focus on your responsibility in the matter. Perhaps you were disinterested and did not meet your mate’s needs for a long period of time. Perhaps you travel frequently and your mate made it known that they needed your attention. Maybe you betrayed your partner and they were avenging their own pain. While none of these are acceptable excuses to forfeit a romantic commitment, they can allow for major cracks in an already weak situation. If you can admit that you helped cause your present circumstance, then you’re already a few steps ahead. Many are in denial about their ownership in their marital woes, so their healing process cannot truly begin. Admitting your faults to yourself and your partner does not excuse the betrayal, but it does allow acknowledgment and acceptance to take root in your relationship. Transparency can begin and your bond can be refortified. Start by apologizing to one another. Ask one another for forgiveness. Do not excuse your behaviors; rather, lay them all out on the table. Express your pain, anger and deepest fears. Expose your insecurities to one another. Vow to never put one another in harm’s way again. Us this season of your relationship to rebuild.
Guard your thoughts
You are reliving the past incident because it is constantly on your mind. Your brain is a muscle and it is one that you can learn to CONTROL. When conditioning any muscle, it takes time and discipline to strengthen it. Remember how sore you are the next morning after a tough workout? Let’s exercise the same tenacity with building mental fortitude as we do our glutes! When you make the decision to fight away any thoughts of this past incident, the real work begins. Replace your negative thought with a positive one as soon as it enters your mind. For example, you may replay the moment you initially found out your partner betrayed you. You can vividly recall what you were wearing, what he said to you and that pang that shot through your chest. As soon as you feel that creeping its way into your psyche, replace it with the day you graduated from college or that exact moment you crossed the finish line after running your very 1st marathon! When your mind tries to snatch you to a sunken place, snap out of it and get in the habit of escaping to a moment when you felt celebrated and accomplished.
Have you truly forgiven your mate?
Often when you’ve found yourself in the throes of bitterness, pain, and anger, trying to find ways to forgive your mate is the first instinct. WRONG! I encourage you to put him on the back burner. Take a LONG look at yourself in this present moment. Do you feel beautiful and wanted and worthy? If this person has caused a crack in your self-value then they are no longer your priority. YOU MUST BECOME YOUR PRIORITY. I need you to switch gears and go into self-preservation mode, Sis. If you are still broken, you have no business trying to fix another person or a relationship. Once you are sure that your partner has made a commitment to his relationship with you, encourage him to go seek individual counseling. The key mistake I see couples make after a betrayal incident is rushing to a relationship counselor. It’s nearly impossible to fix a broken relationship between two very broken people! While coaching clients in similar situations, I have found considerably more positive results when I isolated the members of a relationship for their sessions. Ultimately after both have met their personal issues head-on, they are ready to dive into addressing the cracks in their relationship.
Seek Help from a Professional
If you do not hire me to Coach you through your healing process, please find a professional that has experience with personal healing and relationship therapy. Many of us have an awesome group of girlfriends that will listen to our grievances, and while they certainly have your best interest at heart, they simply may not have the tools or training to get to your breakthrough. Best practice has shown me that one intense session is required to understand the circumstance around why a Client has contacted me. We talk about EVERYTHING. I have found it most effective to learn about a person’s personal and romantic history. This often gives me a good picture of how they have come to be the person they are at the present. Then I draw up a plan of action. These are never easy, but they work when a Client is committed to fulfilling them. Once a Client agrees to complete the plan of action, we become Partners. I am their accountability partner in healing and moving forward. If you’re in a crisis or you are fighting to overcome one, do not hesitate to reach out to me. My job is to get you back to being your best you!
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