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How to Move on After a Good Friend Betrays You

Practical tips for realistic mindful healing

Betrayal by a good friend happens to the best of us. The immediate aftermath can leave you feeling angry, marginalized and helpless.

As a certified meditation teacher who instructs individuals on how to amplify their ability to focus as well as guide them in techniques on how to deal with stress and anxiety, something that I do in my part-time with one-on-one clients and instructional videos, I’m tempted to regurgitate mindful tidbits to help with the healing process like:

Observe your feelings…
You must understand forgiveness…
Release yourself from the pain…
Be nonreactive…
Go and meditate for an hour.

I can also provide stories from individuals who have practiced mindfulness and meditation for years and have documented hundreds or thousands of hours of meditation and will testify that their practice has led them to a much more meaningful, profound and happier state of existence.

Does this sound familiar? And, do they make practical sense for “real world” situations regarding deception?

The irony is that these testimonies can be a source of inspiration and frustration.

You see, if you’ve only entertained the thought of learning meditation or have tried a guided meditation here or a seminar there without forming and sustaining your own daily practice, the advice from a super guru, modern mystic doesn’t offer immediate, constructive ways to deal and begin healing forward in a realistic, mindful way.

I was reminded of this paradox while cleaning my garage this weekend. I had come across an item that took me back to an incident that occurred just one year ago. I choose not to provide details because it wouldn’t be fair to the other party. The point is that, from my perspective, I was screwed over by someone whom I considered a budding friend.

It felt like a sucker punch in the gut by proxy. In other words, I received news of being double-crossed, not from the alleged perpetrator, but from someone else who was totally unaware that the information would cause me to feel immediate anguish.

In the impact of that moment in time, it was an immense deal to me that was amplified two-fold by not having the opportunity to face my friend, as well as the possibility of having to choose to pursue the matter legally. It was that serious. And, in all honesty, my mind was completely thrown off balance.

Standing in my garage, while holding onto the item that brought me back to what was an uncomfortable, confusing point in my life, I recognized that I had moved on or let go, compared to other not-so-similar but nevertheless painful incidents, rather quickly. And, I accomplished this by using the aspects of mindfulness (observing, nonjudgmental awareness) in non-traditional yet familiar ways. Here’s how I did it:

I talked to a friend. I immediately got someone on the phone that I could talk to about the situation. I chose someone that was trustworthy and wise. I selected to speak with a “3 a.m. friend” who could be calm and talk me off the ledge as well as help me to see the situation from a more reasonable, ahem, pardon me…mindful way.

I wasn’t looking to bash the person who wronged me. I wasn’t looking to commiserate with someone else. That would be reacting, and mindfulness is all about responding.

Also, talking to a friend reminds you that you are not alone. There were lots of acquaintances around when the news dropped last year, but I felt totally isolated and vulnerable. Reaching out to any one of them for advice just didn’t feel right. I needed a friend. That’s all there was to it. It’s why we have them. We need them just as much as they need us.

I released steam. Aside from meditation, one of the most effective methods I picked up to relieve stress was learning how to box. Just 30 minutes on the bag will release and melt away any tension I might be carrying.

Meditation, particularly if you are still honing your practice or haven’t seriously given it a try, probably won’t do the trick if your mind is racing like mad. That’s what the brain does, it produces thoughts all day long. Thoughts are one of the main reasons people say they can’t do meditation so trying to focus on an anchor, whether it’s a mantra, someone else’s voice, or your own breathing might be too much to ask in light of a fresh, traumatic experience.

So, if you can, go punch a pillow. Jump in the pool and scream under water. Do 1000 pushups. Go running. Release that steam- just don’t hurt yourself or someone else in the process.

I observed a pattern. After talking to my friend and releasing my steam, I felt a lot more grounded. Now, I had space and the opportunity to observe the situation a lot more clear. By doing so, I recognized that it fits a pattern in my life.

While the situation was totally unique, I observed that I’ve been in similar cases with other friends over the years. I wasn’t blaming myself or them, I was weighing the experience from the perspective of both sides, and I concluded that this could have been avoided.

To be clear, I’m not looking to “avoid” experiences because this is where personal growth happens. I’m merely pointing out that I missed the opportunity to learn the last time this happened which is why, under a new script involving a crew of new actors, this little drama was remade, rebranded and released back onto the stage of my life.

I was mindful. After observing the pattern, I saw myself playing the character of the perpetrator in other life scenes. In other words, I was once the asshole. I’ve played that part, and at the moment I had my reasons or justifications. This was an important reminder in subsequent steps involving (finally!) learning from this pattern and moving towards forgiveness.

I didn’t wait around for karma. In the popular, spiritual parlance of our time, “karma” is regarded as justice. It’s informally viewed as destiny or fate, and I know a lot of people that believe in this invisible force which will somehow eventually fix society’s ills or deliver punishment to a wrongdoer via karma.

Sometimes it happens; a lot of times it doesn’t. Believing in this kind of karma can do more harm than good because it’s akin to having hope without action.

I let time do its thing.

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
Rose Kennedy

It is never gone…so true. The knowledge of the incident may always remain, but the wisdom within you will allow you to evolve, witness and experience it in healthier ways that won’t hinder you from what is happening in the present.

I gave thanks. As the days passed, I realized that I was pretty damn lucky for this incident to happen when it did. I figured, what if I was invested in this relationship much longer? How many people are in “bad” situations and have the opportunity to bail but never do so, only adding more burdensome consequences to a toxic relationship?

There was damage caused as the result of my relationship, but it could have been a lot worse if the charade was to proceed for months or years without facing something that was bound to happen sooner or later.

This is another way of saying that I am grateful for the life experience, the opportunity to learn from it and the blessing of not wasting a year of my life.

I meditated. Meditation works. Period. They say it’s one of the easiest things to learn but one of the hardest things to do. It’s a practice. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a choice. And for it to help you, you have to do it every day.

If a friend upsets you (or worse) and you don’t meditate, I know that it’s a really hard “sell” to make you feel better about yourself and even that friend by advising you to listen to a guided meditation. That’s why it’s one of the last things I’m writing about because to experience the long-term effects of meditation means that you have to do it regularly.

Will the guided meditation help you right in the heat of the moment? Yes. Maybe. I really don’t know. It all depends on how willing are you to make a change in your life.

Do you want to continue doing what you are doing and experiencing the same things over and over again?

Or, do you finally want a shift to happen?

If you really want change then it’s time to give meditation a proper try.

I forgave the person. Caught by the fever of a drama, it is next to impossible to forgive someone truly. In hindsight, I don’t condone my friend’s actions but if I didn’t forgive, I would have never been able to release myself from the pain.

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