Do you remember the last time someone broke your heart?
Was it today? Last week?
If it was deep heartache, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was; you likely haven’t forgotten.
I recently received an email from someone walking through a crushing season of betrayal. Her heart is raw and aching. I use the term “walking,” but there are plenty of times when she feels paralyzed. At other times, she’s slamming her fists against the steering wheel, sobbing her eyes out.
Betrayal can make you feel numb, or make you scream your rage into the sky. You might feel like you are rolling naked over broken glass, or be frozen into inactivity, unable to breathe from the pain. Our anguish manifests in many ways, but one thing tends to be consistent: betrayal makes you wonder if you can ever trust, or even love, again.
What do you do when betrayal rips your heart from your chest? Without knowing your story, I can’t answer that. Each situation is different, and grief doesn’t work on a schematic.
Instead of trying to heal a wound which is unique to you in the next 600 words, let’s talk about your self-worth. If you don’t want to be taken for granted in the future, you need to begin there.
Which behaviors are unacceptable from my partner?
How do I know when someone is starting to take me for granted?
How do I reassure myself that I am worthy of being treated with kindness and respect?
You can be a kind soul without being taken for granted. Being compassionate and empathetic doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. It’s vital to be proactive by showing others how to treat you.
Refuse to keep anyone in your inner circle if they abuse your kindness and openness. Those who don’t treat you well need to go.
Speak up for yourself when someone crosses your boundaries. Are you soft-spoken? That’s great! The world needs less shouting. But having a gentle spirit is no excuse to allow someone to bully you or take you for granted. Bullying behaviors don’t stop unless they are pushed back against.
Don’t allow anyone to belittle you because of their superiority complex. Be proud of who you are, where you’ve come from, and of the life you’re building for yourself. If they can’t appreciate the things that make you unique, they should have no place in your life. This includes your gender, sexuality, religion, cultural background, and chronic illnesses. Accepting you means taking everything that comes in that package.
Create a circle of friends who surround you with positive energy, mutual respect, and reciprocal kindness. When is the last time someone surprised or spoiled you on a special occasion or for no good reason at all? You deserve to feel special on your birthday or just as a “thank you” for something you’ve done recently. Having friends or loved ones who are willing to appreciate you makes it that much easier for you to reciprocate.
Once you’ve identified this safe group, invite them to alert you when you permit abuse from others. Their positivity will motivate you and give you hope, and their concern will help ensure you recognize which behaviors are acceptable, and which ones you should not tolerate.
Dare to trust wisely. Trust is a big deal in relationships, tied for first place with communication. But if someone has shattered your trust, it can be scary as hell to give a piece of yourself away again. Do it anyway.
Start by sharing just a little bit of yourself every single day with others. It will fill your heart with joy to see another person made happy by your words or actions. The same safety, love, and belonging you want for yourself is due to those around you, too. Start there.
Having said that, avoid sacrificing your emotional well-being for the benefit of another person. Only keep people in your inner circle because they value you. Trusting another person with your heart means you take the time to evaluate their motives for being in your life.
As you read this now, I want you to know that you are worthy of love and respect. Remind yourself of that truth again and again until it seeps deep into your bones. Make it a mantra: I am worthy of love and respect.
The woman who contacted me after being so deeply wounded is on the road to healing. It’s not a fast process, but it’s worth it. And so are you.
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What do you do when betrayal rips your heart from your chest? Read this. via @iamsteveaustin
Having a gentle spirit is no excuse to allow someone to bully you or take you for granted. via @iamsteveaustin
Only keep people in your inner circle because they value you. via @iamsteveaustin
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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