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a different perspective on betrayal and hurt

August 28, 2012

The words of truth are always paradoxical.”

Lao Tzu

I want you to do something for me.

Try and remember a time when someone has betrayed you. Hurt you bad. Got something?

Now I want you to tell me the story of that event – from the other person’s perspective. And I want you to justify why you (they) did what you (they) did. Convince me why it was OK for you (them) to do what they did to you that hurt you so much.

Can you do it? Can you tell that story?

Can you tell the story from their perspective without judging them and without making it clear they were even just a little bit wrong?

Not easy is it?

I wonder if I asked you if you could recall a time where you have betrayed somebody, hurt them bad, if you could find something?


I wonder if it might be easier if you were trying to remember a time where someone else felt they had been hurt and betrayed by you? Is that an easier story to tell – why your actions in those circumstances were completely justified?

I don’t know about you but my actions are always completely justified. I never deliberately set out to hurt anyone let alone betray them.

And yet I know there are people in this world who feel that I have. They are correct.

And so am I.

Telling the story from their perspective is not easy.

Unless you have forgiven them.

Doing so does not mean they are right and you are wrong; any more than it makes you right and them wrong. It just means that you are able to forgive them because you have taken yourself to a place where you can understand exactly why they acted the way they did.

If you can get to that place something interesting might happen…

There may no longer be a need to forgive anybody.

When you have come to truly understand why somebody has acted in that way – the truth is there is nothing left to forgive. And that is the paradox.


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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2012 2:46 pm

    I found it a lot easier to remember a time I was hurt than a time I hurt someone else! Recently I discovered what my values are and how they can be so different to others. This helped me understand that it’s really just a difference in priorities. I think it’s the expectation of others choices made through their values (which you don’t know) that causes hurt. Accepting it’s not all about you but a value system within them brings about “something interesting”.

    • August 28, 2012 8:04 pm

      Gaining some insight into the values of the other person takes it another level deeper. I am always trying to see how my values manifest in the actions that I take, but I hadn’t considered how the values of others contribute to theirs. Thanks for creating another opportunity for reflection!

  2. Beth Stubberfield permalink
    October 3, 2012 10:47 am

    Powerful and provocative blog as always. It is powerful to realise that you cant let you mind be consumed with the actions of others, they have different values – you can only control or choose how you react yourself. Wonderful insight in the mind, a continual focus when your ‘in the middle of the hurt’.

    • October 3, 2012 3:07 pm

      Thanks Beth. You are right. It is easier to hear (and to write) about it when you are not in the middle of it with your attention consumed by what is going on around you. All you can do is try to be a little more aware each time it happens.

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