You’re shocked. Livid. Devastated.
When a friend betrays you–takes something or someone precious to you, lies to you or about you, or rejects you without cause–you can become completely disoriented. Someone you loved and trusted has become your worst enemy. What should you do?
Stop asking why. Why would she do this? That’s what you want to know. It makes no sense. So you try to think about her past, her insecurities, and stress she may be under. But the answers you try to cobble together do not comfort you. She was jealous. She was duped. She didn’t realize how much it would hurt you. But it still hurts. The why question will just prolong your pain.
Stop blaming yourself. If you know you did something to provoke the betrayal, you’re not likely to be devastated. If you don’t know what you did to provoke it, you may wonder if you didn’t pay her enough attention, didn’t encourage her enough, or if you talked too much. Believing you are responsible can give you a false feeling of control. You think you can prevent this from happening again. The truth is, if you had done something unknowingly to offend your friend, it was her responsibility to tell you and not to take revenge. Blaming yourself just adds insult to injury.
Stop imagining your revenge. If only you had said just the right words when you discovered the betrayal. You could tell everyone she knows about it. Then she’d be sorry. You could do something–anything!– to make her regret what she has done. But like asking why and blaming yourself, imagining your revenge just makes you feel worse. You’re not a mean-spirited person. Don’t let your friend’s sin cause you to stumble.
Start praying. You have other friends who will react to the news of your friend’s betrayal the same way you did — with disbelief. But Proverbs 18:24 reassures us:
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Jesus will understand and will comfort you when nothing and no one else will. Cry out to the Lord with your heartache and ask Him to heal you.
Start meditating on Scripture. The Bible is not a dictionary–just a book of information. It is medicine for the soul. In the pages of Scripture we learn that Jesus knows the heartbreak of betrayal, too:
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” John 13:21
Reading Scriptures that concern betrayal will help you know that you’re not alone. Meditating on verses that affirm God’s faithful love can bring healing.
Start loving. It’s natural to want to protect yourself from being hurt again. But refusing to give and receive love is the most hurtful. You can become bitter and depressed, leading people who would normally love you to keep their distance. The love that is lavished on us by our Savior can and should provoke us to love others:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
Don’t deprive yourself and others of the joy of friendship because of one person.
These steps will lead you to peace, healing, and even forgiveness in time.
Do you have other suggestions for those coping with betrayal?
If you’re thinking about how to plan your homeschool schedule for next year, don’t forget to include time for yourself. As a psychologist, I think it’s critically important that busy homeschool moms take time to be refreshed and even be a little selfish!
Please join me at HomeschoolinMama for motivation for taking personal time and practical ways to do it. While you’re there, enjoy some of Meg’s great resources!
You’ve always been a good girl. Mostly. In fact, you often go out of your way to be nice, helpful, and accommodating to others. Isn’t that what Christian women are supposed to do? You’ve gotten your ‘atta girl’s, but lately you’re resentful. You’re starting to feel like a giver in a world full of takers.
The Problem With Being a Good Girl
I’ve been a good girl my whole life–not that I’ve never done anything wrong. If you’ve read So You’re Not Wonder Woman, you know that’s not the case! But my identity has been tied up with being nice, even when others are nasty. Maybe even, especially when others are nasty.
After all, the first rule many of us learned whether we attended church or not is:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The Golden Rule is a wonderful life philosophy as long as you don’t add to it. Only recently did I realize that I have extended the rule to be:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and they will do likewise.
When people in my life have failed to do likewise, I have treated them like they’re hard of hearing. I turned up the volume of my niceness. I have gone to great lengths to be generous, encouraging, and thoughtful. When I still didn’t get reciprocation, I would either amp up my kindness to ludicrous levels or I would try to get their attention with my irritation.
You guessed it. They still didn’t live by the Golden Rule.
The result at various times has been anger, depression, and a sense of hopelessness about relationships.
You’d Think a Psychologist Could Figure This Out
In my professional relationship with clients, I had no problems. I was being paid to be the giver. I didn’t expect the people I saw in my clinical practice to encourage me or do nice things for me. But in my personal relationships, I was very disappointed. And I mean very disappointed.
A dear friend knew I was confused and sent me an excerpt of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self by Buddhist, Alex Lickerman:
As with many breakups, the end of my relationship with my first girlfriend came in fits and starts rather than as an abrupt but mercifully irreversible amputation. Yet even after we both recognized the relationship was finally over, she continued to ask me for favors – to pick her up from the airport, to take notes for her in class, to help her change the oil in her car – and I, inexplicably, continued to grant them.
Then while chanting one morning I found myself ruminating about how she continued to expect me to perform these favors, my indignation only rising after I’d finished chanting and began showering. And as I rinsed the shampoo from my hair and the last of the soapy water went swirling down the drain, I made a sudden and angry determination to refuse her the next time she asked for one.
At that moment, the phone rang. After I’d finished drying off, one of my roommates told me that it had been her calling and that she’d asked if I would call her back before I left for school. As I walked toward the phone I told myself that when she asked me for the favor for which I knew she’d called, I’d say no. I called her up, and sure enough, she asked me if I would record a television show for her on my VCR. Yet even as I went to speak the word, “No,” I heard my mouth say, “Yes.”
I hung up – and laughed out loud. I was as powerless to refuse her as I was to lift my car with my bare hands. And yet learning this failed to discourage me. On the contrary, it excited me – because if I could recognize this fact, I thought, I could find a way to change it.
Immediately, I decided I would begin chanting with the determination to free myself from my inability to say no. And months later, while chanting, I had an insight: the reason I remained unable to refuse her favors was that, in my mind, I’d signed a Good Guy Contract with her (a term, ironically, I learned later from her). Until that moment of insight, I had no idea what a Good Guy Contract was, much less that it was the standard contract I consistently established with almost everyone I knew. But in that startling moment of clarity I understood not only what it was but why I kept signing it. My self-esteem, which I’d previously believed had been built on things solely internal, was in fact entirely dependent on something external: the goodwill of others. The Good Guy Contract was simple: I would agree to be nice to you, to advise you, to sacrifice for you, to care about you, and in return you would agree to believe that I was wise, compassionate, excellent in every way, and finally and most importantly, you would like me.
With my girlfriend, however, I hadn’t only expected to be liked; I’d expected to be loved. And once I’d had a taste of that love, I became addicted to it, which was why, when she took it away from me, I became profoundly depressed. Not because, as I’d originally thought, I’d been left by someone I thought was the love of my life, but because I genuinely believed that without that love I couldn’t be happy. Why, then, did I keep doing favors for her after we’d ended our relationship? Because I couldn’t shake the Good Guy habit. Some part of me believed if I continued to fulfill my contractual obligations to her, she’d start fulfilling hers again to me.
I didn’t know at the time, but at the moment I awoke to my propensity to sign Good Guy Contracts, I stopped doing it. I recognized this only in retrospect three months later, however, when my best friend came to me asking why I seemed to have stopped paying attention to many of our mutual friends. My first reaction was to become defensive and deny it. But then I stopped myself, realizing that he was absolutely right. I wondered why I had in fact become so dismissive of many of my friends until I realized that I’d somehow stopped needing their approval to sustain my self-esteem. Freed from the need for them to like me, I was able to recognize that these were people with whom I had little in common, so I’d subsequently – and unconsciously – lost interest in them. My insight, in other words, had done more than show me what I’d been: it had changed me into someone I wanted to be, someone who could love and value himself without needing to be loved by anyone else.
Why I Needed to Cancel My Contract and You Do, Too
Certainly, expecting people people to abide by the terms of a contract is understandable. But what I realized is that I was the only one who had signed the Good Girl Contract. The people I was bending over backwards to please had no idea what my expectations were, or if they did, they didn’t care. Some of them quickly figured out that if they said no thanks to my goodness behind Door #1, there was more niceness to come.
My first reaction to Alex’s account was that I needed to do what it took to stop being taken advantage of. The best way to do that, I was sure, was to only spend time with people who would abide by the terms of the contract. But I could distinctly recall making that decision before. It didn’t work. Invariably, someone who fulfilled their contractual obligations to my goodness for a while, would fail.
And while I was encouraged by Alex’s words, I felt uncomfortable, too. First, I’ve long disliked the term self-esteem. I can’t esteem myself highly because I know every rotten thing I’ve ever thought, said, or done. And second, I really do need to be loved by someone else. It’s true that I don’t need everyone to love me, but I certainly need to be loved. And there’s a direct correlation between being loved and feeling good about self.
I was able to put the final two pieces of the Good Girl Contract puzzle into place when this Scripture leaped off the page at a retreat I recently attended:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
Like Jesus, you and I are called–not to sign a contract with others where they promise to be nice in return–but to simply serve them. No expectations. Just giving because you want to give.
If you’re like me, that makes sense to you, but you’re still wondering:
“What about me?” I can’t just give, give, give all the time.
That’s when something else my friend shared with me rang true:
You have to come from a place of abundance to be able to give freely.
In order to cancel our Good Girl Contracts, we need another way to get love–and a lot of it. We need to be bathed in encouragement, affirmation, kindness, forgiveness, peace, and hope. There’s only one source for that kind of abundance: Jesus. Only in spending a lavish amount of time with the Savior will we overflow with goodness we can share with others.
The extraordinary thing is that He has signed a Good God Contract with us. No matter how we fail to follow the Golden Rule, He will still be a Good God.
Life Without a Contract
Adjusting to life after canceling my contract has been challenging for me. While I seem to be willing to cancel my contract with certain people, I still keep hoping that they’ll notice and decide to play nice. That means the contract is still in effect. The goal is to give with a cheerful heart and not a needy one or to release myself from giving completely because it isn’t in either of our best interests.
I’m learning to recognize the blessing in people not abiding by the terms of my contract.
My husband sells library books to schools. Some school districts have contracts with one vendor. The librarians in those districts cannot meet with him and take advantage of what he has to offer, which in many cases is much better than what they have. Only if the district becomes unhappy with their contractual vendor will they begin to explore their options. Being released from our contract, whether that’s our doing or because someone else won’t play by the rules, means we are free to experience new relationships. My husband’s sales won’t grow if he doesn’t look for new customers and God’s kingdom won’t grow if we’re satisfied with the relationships we have under contract.
I’m committed to seeing failed contracts as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with someone new. And my prayer is that with the Lord’s help, I won’t be a Good Girl, but the beloved servant of a Great God.
Have you signed a Good Girl Contract? Are you willing to cancel it?
You keep telling yourself to try harder and you’ll succeed. You feel like you’re going out of your way for people, but you’re unappreciated. You write a blog post and get no comments. You’re not getting what you want and it’s frustrating.
Fortunately, Zig Ziglar was right. You CAN get more of what you want by helping others get what they want. Here’s how.
Know What You Want
I recently went through Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course and discovered what I really wanted from my own writing:
Often I spent a considerable amount of time writing for this blog, but got very few comments. Meanwhile, I was taking a minute every morning to share a quote or Scripture on Facebook and I was getting what I wanted. Several people consistently told me that they really enjoyed my updates.
Know What Others Want
I realized that I was getting the feedback I wanted because I was giving my readers what they wanted: quick-to-read encouragement. After reading Zig Ziglar’s superb book, Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can’t Wait to Live, I asked myself how I could get even more of what I wanted by helping people get what they wanted. I was in the shower when I got my answer.
Start a blog called The Inspired Day.
I toweled off and discovered the domain name was available. I’ve got more than enough experience starting blogs, so I had it up and running in no time!
Get What You Want
I thought I had the perfect formula for getting what I wanted. I would write brief, inspiring blog posts and I would get more feedback, especially on Facebook. So far, it’s working as I hoped it would. But the biggest surprise has been getting what I want offline, too.
Encourage one another daily… Hebrews 3:13
Before I started the new blog, I didn’t realize that the Bible tells us to encourage one another every day. I felt the Lord was calling me to commit to encouraging someone every day and to record what happened. I call this the Random Act of Encouragement Challenge. It’s changed my life dramatically in just a few weeks. Not only am I getting more positive feedback then ever, but I’m able to deal with crazy-making people so much better. It seems when you really commit to encouraging these people, they’re too shocked to say anything rude.
I can’t wait to share more of my experiences with the challenge in a talk called Secrets of the Spirit Lifters at the Women’s Day of Renewal on March 9, 2013 in Collinsville, Illinois. I would love to see you there!
If you would enjoy having daily inspiration in your inbox, I hope you’ll subscribe to The Inspired Day. As part of your subscription, you’ll receive access to the 13 in ’13 Challenge–a brief Bible study based on Nehemiah that can change your life in less than two weeks. If you’re on Facebook and would like to get encouragement in your news feed, please like The Inspired Day and you will. Twitter users can follow me here, Pinterest users here, and if you’re a Christian writer who would like encouragement, please join the Christian Bloggers Conversation group on Facebook.
So many of you have been an encouragement to me over the years by commenting, liking my posts on Facebook, sending me email, or just being a great friend. You’ll never know how much that means to me. I am recommitted to encouraging homeschoolers and Christians who want saner living through Psychowith6. God bless you in the coming year!
What type of person is the most difficult for you to encourage?
What’s for dinner?
I used to hate that question. Either I hadn’t planned anything or I had planned to make something new, but then thought better of it. I knew that new recipe would take extra time and I didn’t have the energy. I ended up serving junk food far too often.
This pattern became a drain on my time, my pocket book, and my family’s health. I tried many cookbooks and meal plans, but ended up dreading the “What’s for dinner?” question anyway. That’s when I quit trying to be a nutritionist and chef, and put my degree in psychology to work.
What kind of meal plan would work long-term?
By studying my own behavior (and my family’s, too), I knew I needed to ask myself a different question. Rather than what was for dinner on any given day, I wanted to know what kind of meal plan would allow me to:
- save time
- save money
- improve my family’s health
- be flexible
- enjoy making new recipes
- share cooking responsibilities
- be fearless when faced with “What’s for dinner?”
I discovered a plan that can work for anyone.
I was only trying to solve my own problem, but realized that the solution I had could work for anyone. Like so many solutions, it’s simple and common sense. I wrote the Once-and-for-All Meal Plan to encourage homemakers to try it and experience the benefits of knowing what’s for dinner (and breakfast, lunch, and snacks, too!). It’s free for subscribers to the Psychowith6 mailing list. Want to know more? My friend, Deb, did a great write-up of what you can expect from the book and this blog on Counting My Blessings. If you’re ready to subscribe, you’ll receive your meal plan ebook that you can read on any computer or mobile device after you confirm your email. I’d love to hear what you think!
Trouble with TV
A decade ago, I was addicted to television. I didn’t watch it; my kids did. I used children’s programming and videos as a babysitter. Then I read The Plug-In Drug and was convicted that I needed to make a change. With minimal protest, I was able to limit my kids’ screen time.
Grief Over Games
When my boys were little, and given my experience with TV, I had no intention of ever getting a game system. I caved under the pressure of other parents, however, who told me I really should have one. It wasn’t long before video and computer games had become every bit the nanny that television had been. My husband and I put the games away and told the kids they could only play on their birthdays. Birthdays then became the obsession. I was asked every day how long it would be until the next birthday. It was as though the games had become even more desirable!
More boys joined our family and they developed more friendships with game-playing boys. When the Nintendo Wii became popular, my fitness-loving husband and I decided that an active game system was okay. Before long, however, non-fitness games were added to our collection as was another game system. The kids found free games on the Internet and began playing with their homeschool friends online.
My husband and I tried numerous approaches to containing the time. Kids were only allowed to play after school and before dinner. Often my husband proclaimed game-free weeks or simply insisted they stop playing to go outside. But the problem seemed more complex than our rules.
For instance, we noticed that the kids had very little interest in doing much of anything else but games. Board games and other toys stayed on the shelves. When shooed outside, they counted the minutes until they could come back inside. Creative play had diminished.
The other problem was enforcing limits. As soon as we would declare a gaming hiatus, a neighbor boy would come over with his new game and his puppy dog eyes. When time was up, there was just one more level to complete. Or worse, one or more of the kids would claim they hadn’t gotten to play “at all.” There would be tears and frustration all around.
Having read PlayStation Nation, I recognized these signs of gaming addiction and they worried me. I sat with one of my Homeschool Homies this summer to discuss the problem. As a mother of four boys, she shared my concern.
I began researching devices to control game time for both our families’ benefit. Before I determined that these devices would not work for our situation (we have too many devices, for one thing!), I was shocked by the behavior of children of reviewers of these products. Parents recounted that their kids had learned to drop the timer device to reset it. Others had disconnected or even cut the cables! You can read the reviews of two of these game timers here and here.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to realize that the kids tampering with video game timers have more troubles than just a gaming addiction. My friend and I agreed that our kids would obey whatever approach we used, but we had to determine what that would be. My friend had successfully limited gaming time to weekends in the past, but had found (as I did) that gaming became an obsession when it was allowed.
A New Approach
On the way home from my talk with my friend, I had yet another discussion about gaming with the kids. They already knew why my husband and I were concerned. We shared with them that gaming could become so addictive that young men would forego employment and even marriage because they would rather play. They knew how gaming could keep them from learning and building relationships with one another. I discussed the timing devices I had looked at with them and they agreed with me that they wouldn’t work.
After much discussion, the kids proposed the plan that we have been using and LOVING. Before I tell you what they came up with, let me tell you the results of limiting screen time in our home (I say screen time, because my daughter prefers to watch television):
- Listening to audio books again (in the middle of the day!)
- More creative play (the dress up closet is getting a workout)
- More physical activity (the kids are swimming and jumping and working out more)
- More time playing board games
- My daughter isn’t watching television at all
- More time spent with guests doing just about anything BUT games
- More arguing (yep, you read that right. This is the next problem to address!)
Here is the kids’ taming screen time plan and why I think it works:
- Free screen time on Thursday evenings
(when Mom and Dad have activities outside the home; everyone can play for an extended period and they look forward to a “free night.”
- Two hours of screen time per week
The kids put two circles representing two hours on our dry erase board in the kitchen. The circles are divided in halves, representing 30 minutes each. This is the part of the system I am most excited about. The kids have time to play during the week, but they are in control of it. When our children leave home, they will have to discipline themselves this way. This approach is the best training for adult life. The kids time themselves, mark the time themselves, and even police themselves. I’m still amazed.
- Before using time, the majority must agree to use the time and how they will use it
Our oldest isn’t into gaming, so if three of the five of the kids want to use some of their time, they can play. They must also agree before starting who is going to play what and for how long. Otherwise, you end up with the, “I didn’t get to play” situation. The kids choose how to spend time, knowing they must be prepared for any guests during the week as well. Their typical approach lately is to play an hour on Tuesday and an hour on Saturday. Had I dictated to them when they could play, I doubt the plan would have worked as well.
- The plan is communicated to friends
Most of their game-playing friends have been told about the new system and some of them have adopted a similar approach, which is great! Because I can’t control what happens in others’ houses, however, I don’t try to control game time elsewhere. It’s not a significant problem currently.
I know families who allow gaming only in the winter, only ten minutes a day (which makes it not fun), and families who don’t allow games at all. As a family who has them, we are thrilled with this approach that allows our kids to develop self-control.
What, if any, approach do you use to control screen time in your home?