Quite often I correspond with betrayed spouses who claim that their spouse is not helping in the healing process because of the guilt that they feel as a result of their affair. This simple 4-step process may help with this issue.
While searching for appropriate content for the Higher Healing area the other day, I came across an audio interview with David Richo, Ph.D., M.F.T. He’s a psychotherapist, teacher, workshop leader, and writer who works in Santa Barbara and San Francisco.
The interview was on the subject of grace in relationships and was quite interesting and it motivated me to Google him and ultimately check out his work a little further. Below is an article that was included in a compilation manual that contains numerous excerpts from some of the books he has authored. We thought it might be helpful for some of you.
Releasing Guilt and Forgiveness
Release from guilt can happen with these steps:
- Acknowledge to yourself how you may have failed in loving your partner by any willful deficit in attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, or allowing freedom of individuality. Have you refused to address, process, or resolve issues? Have you placed selfish concerns over those of the relationship, shown disrespect, lied, betrayed, disregarded feelings, let your anger erupt into abuse, disappointed your partner, broken an agreement, denied responsibility for your actions or choices, gossiped, not respected privacy, taken advantage, used your partner, manipulated or been controlling, been greedy, acted in a retaliatory way, etc.? Devising your list requires a careful examination of conscience. It calls for a willingness to see your own inadequacies and a desire to work on them.
- Admit your deficiencies in words to the person you have offended showing your sincere feelings of sadness and regret (the essence of repentance).
- Take action by making amends wherever and however possible.
- Resolve not to repeat the behavior. This may include making a plan that in the future you will police yourself or ask for feedback about how you are slipping back into the old behavior.
This program makes for a move from alienation to reunion, even a closer union between you. It also leads to the creation of an atmosphere of mended failures. It fosters healthy vulnerability and diminishment of ego which leads to less hurtful behavior.
True recognition of our guilt and dealing with it using the four steps releases us from guilt. At the same time, something also happens in the person to whom we make the amends. The human psyche is calibrated to produce forgiveness at the sight of these very four steps! We evoke the forgiveness of others when we show we are sorry we hurt them and are willing to make amends and change our behavior for the better.
Alternatively, a retaliatory response is more likely to come our way when we refuse to show repentance. The stubborn ego that refuses to admit wrongdoing induces not reconciliation but vindictiveness. This reaction, like all retaliation, comes from the lowest level of the psyche where unattended hurt remains unhealed and lashes out in frustration and rage. Mindfully loving justice is not retributive but restorative.
In our human story, hate happens where arrogance digs in and love happens where humility arises. This program makes for a move from alienation to reunion. It leads to the creation of an atmosphere of mended failures. It fosters healthy vulnerability and a diminishment of ego which leads to more compassionate behavior.
The stirring purpose of this and of all our work is to let a loving response come out first rather than an ego reaction.
From: How Be To An Adult in Relationships
I think that most often the hardest step to accomplish is the first one.
In our program, “Healing from an Affair: A cheater’s guide for helping your spouse heal from your affair“ we include a handout that will help lead the CS to figure out for themselves why they did what they did.
Many of the CS that I speak with don’t take the time (or do not have the desire) to look within to discover their own inadequacies. Thus they tend to place blame on everyone else but themselves and do not acknowledge that they are indeed the one who has failed.
I sincerely believe that the CS is the linchpin to true recovery and healing from an affair and some serious introspection is a prerequisite.
Thoughts? Leave them below in the comment section.