Cultivating Self-Compassion after Being Cheated On

By Sophia Shalabi

Discovering that your partner cheated on you is a surreal experience. In that post-discovery moment, you feel immediate shock and plenty of confusion. Then disoriented thoughts as you try to make sense of this experience.

It is important to understand during this time that grieving is not a linear process—we all cycle through emotions differently.

You may feel the urge to reach out to your ex for more clarity, or even contact their siblings or close friends to inform them of the truth. You may also cycle through memories trying to recall what was true throughout the relationship. They cheated on you, so the reality of what you two built feels fictitious.

Questions arise like: “What did I do wrong?” “Why was I not enough?” “Why was I not worth the fight?” When you spiral through those questions—you tend to belittle your appearance, personality, intelligence, and self-worth.

When you start to dig into yourself, pause. Your relationship was real and your current emotional trauma is valid. Remind yourself of this as you continue to spin. Recognize the self-sabotage and refrain from it— all that self-doubt does is debilitate the love you hold for yourself.

Instead of leaning into those dark questions and thoughts, look for self-compassion.

Let go of unanswered questions and remember it is not your fault

Cheating rips the pages of a relationship in half, then into smaller bits, then dumps them into pickle juice, and sets them on fire. So it’s natural that it’s never going to make sense. Attempting to make sense of why someone cheated may lead you to self-deprecating thoughts and behaviors.

Understand that your partner’s actions are simply just that—their actions. It is unrealistic and destructive to think you are culpable for the inability to predict or control their insecure actions.

This was not your fault.

Relationships end for a multitude of reasons. Conflicting communicative needs, differing lifestyle outlooks, unmet love languages, contrasting types and levels of intelligence, or lack of sincere effort and affection are just some of them.

Regardless, their selfish decisions are never a reflection of your worth. It is not your job to understand them, it is your job to heal yourself.

Tips to rebuild your self-compassion

The journey post-cheating leads you through shock, a failing quest for clear answers, and ultimately, degrades your self-worth. But the story doesn’t end there. And it never should. The spiral downwards is totally natural, but so is the process of healing.

The very first step is to remind yourself of your inherent worth. You are a beautiful person. You are not needy. Forget anyone that makes you feel less than.

Believing these statements and finding self-compassion takes plenty of work. Routines you once had with your partner are discontinued, so filling your time with nurturing practices is essential.

Rebuild your self-compassion with these 5 commitments:

1) Start daily mindfulness journaling. Maybe even have a couple of journals going too—I currently keep up with three journals: one to spew unfiltered feelings, one for my gratitude and affirmations, and one to log my wins.

2) Surround yourself with positive support. Connect with friends. Your genuine relationships will fuel you and can aid in repairing the destruction by reminding you who you are.

3) Write a letter to yourself.  Time your spinouts and implement an escape method. Writing a powerful affirmation letter to read when things get cloudy will bring you clarity. Learn how to consciously recognize when negative thoughts begin to race so you can quickly redirect to your escape. This will preserve your energy and halt spinouts from consuming your day.

4) Gratify your worth by learning something new. Develop a new hobby! Learn how to belly dance on YouTube, attempt snowboarding, or pick up knitting. There are so many new things to try that can bring you joy.

5) Recognize your values. Make lists to help you recognize what is true about who you are and what you stand for. List out character qualities you value—in current or future friends and partners. Create a pros and cons list of your previous toxic relationship to gain a new perspective.

You are stronger than the burdens weighing you down. You can revive your independence and self-compassion. Tap into your strength and believe that your inward spiral will make its way back out.

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