Sometimes we feel cheated on by others.
Sometimes we feel cheated on by our circumstances.
Sometimes we feel cheated on by life itself.
In any case, we are faced with the reality that things aren’t always what they seem – we don’t always get what we expect. And we begin to learn that our expectations are like fine pottery – the harder we hold on to them, the more likely they are to crack wide open.
So what can we do?
Embrace reality, and make the best of it.
The truth is, we were promised trials and tribulations right from the beginning. They were always part of the program. Growing up we were told, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” And I’ve accepted it. The relationships, jobs, and projects that didn’t work out led me closer to the ones that did. The things I’ve lost too soon opened my mind to understandings and opportunities I never fathomed beforehand. So while I’ve rarely gotten exactly what I wanted, I’ve often received more than I bargained for.
Of course, in the heat of the moment, when disappointing things are happening to YOU, not to others, and the outcomes you’re dealing with are REAL, not imagined, embracing reality and making the best of it is not easy.
You feel cheated on.
You feel victimized.
You feel crushed.
Which is why, first and foremost, it’s important to…
Learn to Be Mindful of Your Expectations
Imagine you had a ripe, juicy apple sitting on a table in front of you. You pick it up eagerly, take a nibble, and begin to taste it.
You already know how an apple should taste, and so when this one is a bit more tart than you expected, you make a face, feel a sense of disappointment and swallow it, feeling cheated out of a good experience.
Or perhaps the apple tastes EXACTLY as you expected – nothing special at all. So you swallow without even pausing to enjoy its flavor, and you move on with your day.
In the first scenario, the apple let you down because it didn’t meet your expectations. In the second, it was too plain and unexciting because it met your expectations to a T.
Do you see the irony here?
It’s either not good, or not good enough.
This is how many of us live our lives… unhappily.
It’s why many of us feel cheated on, victimized, and crushed far too often.
Now imagine you try this instead: eliminate your expectations of how the apple “should” taste. You don’t know, and you don’t pretend to know, because you haven’t tried it yet. Instead, you’re genuinely curious, impartial and open to a variety of flavors.
You taste it, and you truly pay attention. You notice the juiciness, the grainy texture of the skin, the simultaneously sweet, tangy and tart flavors swirling around your tongue, and all the other complex sensations that arise in your awareness as you chew. You didn’t know how it would taste, but now you realize it’s different than the rest, and it’s remarkable in it’s own way. It’s a totally new experience – a worthwhile experience – because you’ve never tasted THIS apple before.
Mindfulness practitioners often refer to this as “beginner’s mind,” but really it’s just the outcome of a mindset free of needless and stressful expectations.
The apple, of course, can be substituted for anything in your life: any event, any circumstance, any relationship, any person, any thought at all that enters your mind, anytime and anyplace. If you approach any of these with expectations of “how it should be,” they will surely disappoint you in some way… or be too plain and unexciting to remember.
And you’ll just move on to the next disappointment or unexciting experience, and the next, and the next, and so on and so forth, until you’ve lived your entire life stuck in an endless cycle of things you barely like or barely even notice…
Until you kinda feel cheated on by everything and everyone you’ve ever known.
But if you approach each event, circumstance, relationship, etc. without expectations – and just see that event, circumstance, relationship, etc. at face value – then you will truly see it. You will truly experience it like you’ve never experienced anything before, because you haven’t. And you will be able to mindfully respond to whatever happens next.
But (and there’s always a “but”)…
Now that we’ve cleared the air a bit, and established some healthy breathing room, let’s get real about something else:
At some point, even when you’ve done your part to be mindful of your expectations, someone you trust or respect will deliberately hurt you. They will cheat on you in some way by placing their own self-centered agenda ahead of your feelings. And they will do it remorselessly, without an apology.
When you are faced with this reality, and you’re struggling to cope, let me prompt you with some essential reminders that Angel and I often review with our course students who are struggling with similar circumstances:
- The person who cheated on you is likely broken in more ways than you realize. – When people cheat in any arena, they diminish themselves – they directly threaten their own self-esteem and their relationships with others by undermining the trust they have in their ability to succeed and in their ability to be true. In many ways, they are deeply broken. This, however, does NOT excuse their behavior.
- The truth hurts, but it’s much healthier than holding on to the lies you once believed. – The really scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us in the long run than exposed lies. Undiscovered lies erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation to the bitter end. Keep this in mind. The truth heals, even if it hurts at first.
- Arguing with someone who has intentionally hurt you only enflames the pain. – Truth be told, you are often most powerful and influential in an argument regarding betrayal when you are most silent. The perpetrator never expects silence. They expect yelling, drama, defensiveness, offensiveness, and lots of back and forth. They expect to leap into the ring and fight. They are ready to defend themselves with sly remarks cocked and loaded. But your mindful silence? That can really disarm them. That can really give you the space you need to move forward, one way or another, with or without them. (Angel and I build mindful communication rituals with our students in the “Love and Relationships” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
- It’s always best to wish people well, even if they don’t deserve it. – As Gandhi so profoundly said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” If you spend your time and energy hoping someone will suffer the consequences for breaking your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.
- Healing gets easier when you learn to accept an apology you never received. – Forgiveness is crucial for your healing. The key is to be mindful and grateful, despite what happened. It’s taking a step back and saying, “Thank you for the lesson.” When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. It has nothing to do with freeing the perpetrator of his or her crime, and everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim. (Angel and I discuss this further in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- The person who hurt you doesn’t speak for the rest of us. – Every one of us suffers from at least one heart wrenching betrayal in our lifetime. In a backwards way, it’s what unites us. When it happens to you, the key is not to let one person’s despicable actions destroy your trust in others. Don’t let them take that from you.
- A wonderful, life-changing gift may not be wrapped as you expect. – When you don’t get what you want, sometimes it’s necessary preparation, and other times it’s necessary protection. But the time is never wasted. It’s a step on your journey. Someday you’re going look back on this time in your life as an important time of grieving and growing. You will see that you were in mourning and your heart was breaking, but your life was changing for the greater good.
In what ways have you struggled with feeling “cheated on” or disappointed by the outcomes in your life and relationships? How have you coped? Please leave a comment below and share your insights with us.
Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.
Photo by: Volkan Olmez
There are some things in this world you rely on, like a sure bet. And when that “sure bet” lets you down, it shakes your faith with feelings of betrayal and deep disappointment.
And yet, it’s not the end. It’s just the beginning of a new chapter… a chapter that eventually includes new smiles.
Thank you Marc and Angel. The strategies and understandings I’ve found through your emails and coaching over the years have been priceless tools for healing and growing through thick and thin.
Marc Chernoff says
You’re welcome, Nicole. I love your sentiment too.
Joanna L says
I’m paraphrasing your words here, but I often reflect on a quote from your 1,000 Things book (by Angel I think) that went something like:
“Those are the toughest times — when you feel a sense of loss, even though you never really had what you thought you had in the first place. I guess that’s what betrayal is — just a feeling of loss for something or someone you didn’t have in the first place.”
This really hit home with me and gave me some needed perspective when I was going through a heartbreaking break-up in a long-term relationship filled with cheating and deception. And this post reinforces many of the lessons I learned the hard way from this experience and the healing time that followed. Thank you.
Marc Chernoff says
I’m honestly inspired to know you found such lasting value in that quote from our book. Thanks so much for supporting our work. 😉
Expectations get in the way on my relationships and my sanity more than I like to admit. And although I’ve been wronged and cheated on in more ways than one by other people, I’m finally learning to see that I’ve been the one cheating on myself the most.
I’m finally learning to accept things as they are, and make the best of it all as you’ve said. And your emails and weekly guidance is getting me there.
I found point #6 most powerful. Often, we assume that we were cheated on because the fault lies in us. It’s good to introspect whether we did something to push our partner onto that path, but it’s not necessary that we will find something to blame ourselves for.
However, we could easily spiral into the “Does everyone hate me?” feeling. Eventually, that self doubt becomes visible to others, and that leads to a whole series of unpleasant events.
We must remember that if someone cheats, it’s not a reflection of who we are. Yes, if we have committed some mistakes, we should rectify them. But what our partner does should not take its toll on our self esteem.
Thanks so much Marc
Marc Chernoff says
EXCELLENT thoughts, Vishal. I couldn’t agree more.
These words are so timely. I have an ex who wants to reunite and I am not willing to go down that road again for many reasons. I have forgiven him and myself. The best has yet to come.
Jeff fire says
Are you with someone now?
My lawyer is cheating on me by not doing the work that I’ve asked them to do instead they’re spending their time running their own agenda and not taking care of the business that I have asked them to take care of.
I have paid a lot of money on the time spent asking for things to be taken care of. It is a betrayal, i’ll have to think through accepting the situation as it is, but in the meantime I have to move forward. A real conundrum, I will have to also think through how to function in a mentally healthy way in this situation. I’ll have to reread it and see if I can apply the advice.
In your situation with your lawyer, there are options for you and choices. One of them, is finding a lawyer that will listen, communicate and work in your favor, best interest etc: perhaps there is lack of communication on lawyer’s or your part, or both. Communication from you to your lawyer is vital in sit down conference. Woe Horsie!
I’ve been hurt over and over and went back to make it work and I’m.still hurt he let me with no explanation .one thing about me I love hard I want to be married and to feel excepted how do I move forward with guilt
You people are the reason I get through life easily most days. I faced real disappointment few days back and I needed this to get over my unfulfilled expectations. Thank you.
Yesterday i saw truth for what it really was… And felt so stupid that i could not see the lies earlier! Your blog popped into my mailbox today, by god’s grace to remind me that i am better off accepting the truth no matter how hurtful it is! Thanks for the reminder on forgiveness and accepting an apology that will never come! I firmly believe this will help me grow and above all, this too shall pass! Gratitude to you for bringing me this message from a loving universe! God bless you.
Thank for this article! I have been cheated on by all aspects of life for the last 4 years. By a close family member addicted to perscription meds, to a career change that started out great but ended up being way off course, to death, to the ending of a long term relationship because the other person has anxiety/ depression issues (they are choosing to leave rather than communicate and resolve). I have given 110% to help in all of those situations and have “lost” all of the battles. I’m getting tired of trying. Thought love and kindness could triumph anything, but was wrong. Don’t know what the answers are, but this article showed me to step back, be quiet and see a different perspective. Thank you!!!!!
I’ve struggled with forgiveness especially towards my family because of feeling cheated and robbed of a supportive and self accepting home. Growing up in an African home,expectations are beyond realistic and there is only so much one can do to please everybody. The harder I try,the worse it would get. I’m my own person and learning to embrace that can be scary at times. Normally if you’re termed “different” or going against the status quo,it can be very frustrating especially when people want to mould you into whom you are not! I’ve definitely felt cheated of having the freedom to be my true authentic self,but reading Marc and Angel’s articles have shed more light on my situations and I’m slowly learning how to embrace myself
Serenity pratt says
I woke up this morning and the first thing I see is your email… I begun to read it and it is so timely, like it was sent just for me. I really needed that this morning. I am feeling a little lost and hopeless I look forward to your emails everyday they give me hope and encouragement.
Have a blessed day.
Apoorva jain says
These 7 things help me a lot in day to day life. now i realise why i feel so much unexciting about my life. but this blog solved all my doubts.
Thanks marc and angel for this wonderful blog it really helps me.
You have no idea how much I needed to see this in my inbox this mornin. I was in an online relationship with i man I loved deeply for the past 4 years. In the beginnin he came here to visit me. It was an opportunity to get to know each other a lil bit better. We thought ours was a very unique relationship. we both came from abusive childhood backgrounds, he was handicapped from Spina Bifida, we felt like we were soulmates. I wish i had room to go into all of it here. He ended the relationship 6 weeks ago when i realized he had been cheating and i confronted him. He sent me off with hateful words. I sent him off with words of love and best wishes for him. For me the grief is overwhelming and I am struggling to try and recover.So thank u for giving me hope.
I can’t get over the betrayal. I want to move on but I keep going back to the sence and beating myself up for not seeing what was coming. I guess I did not expect it from this person especially from him and that is why I am so angry at myself for trusting him. Why do I keep going back to that Sence? Why can’t I just get over it?
I know the feeling, about a month ago my relationship of two years ended. I was cheated and was made feel it was my fault. I was completely destroyed by this betrayal and I’m having the hardest time to move on. This man made me feel and believe I was his world, little did I know he was cheating on me on hookup websites. When I found out and confronted him he couldn’t explain himself as of to why he did it. After all that I forgave him and fought for my relationship. Little did I know I was only hurting myself, finally after 5 months of trying to make things work again, mainly Bc of my lack of trust in him, he ended things with me Bc according to him he needed his time to heal since I was never able to give him back all my trust, how could I? I love this man like no another and it pains me that he gave up on us by cheating. he wrote poems, letters proffesing how much he loved me and how he never wanted to part from me, he even called me his true love and telling me we were meant to be, well it took 5 months for all his words to eveparate and I was standing in front of a man I no longer knew. Stupid me after a month of not hearing from him I decided to call him to tell h how much I miss him and love him, and he asked me not to call him again. i have never been humiliated like that in my life.
Wow… This was such a good read this am. Your perspective reminds me that I am the strong one, I am on the right path despite the detour that this person caused.
I’m not alone in my story: betrayal by my now ex. Learning to cope with how a human can be so cruel without an ounce of remorse.
Today’s insight is one I should read everyday.
I’ve coped by my faith, my friends, remembering to be grateful and reading insights like yours to keep me planted. Not easy with a broken heart but it is what is and I will come out of this stronger.
And he will continue to be the same.
Thank you for today
Joe Halvarson says
I’ve lived the majority of my life in regret. I’m 33 now, and in the past year I’ve finally taken a hold of myself and have set myself on a healthier path of caring about myself, not diminishing myself, and not blaming myself for the past that was out of my control.
Growing up, I was a neglected child. We were an impoverished family. I didn’t receive much of anything. I was sent to school unprepared. I often went a day or two without eating anything except lunch at school. I went to school dirty, disheveled and with a head full of lice on more than one occasion.
Summers were chaotic as I took care of myself while my parents worked. Sometimes they wouldn’t be home until late and I spent the whole day by myself. I did have an older brother and sister, but they were cruel and I avoided them at all costs for those years. They were usually not home, anyway.
I was molested. My sister was molested. Maybe my brother was too, but he never mentioned it. Maybe that’s what made them cruel. My mother, it turns out, was molested by the same man. Her step father, our step grand father. It happened when my mom was 13 and probably before that as well. It happened to me when I was young. It happened to my sister when she was 11 and 12 and maybe before that.
For the longest time, I was angry. Inwardly. I’ve heard that depression is anger turned inward and I was depressed. I was incapable of expressing my anger. A mental break hit me when I went to my grandmother’s house. I was 15. I went in to let my mom know we were there to pick her up and to say hi to my grandma.
And I was greeted by a one-two to the jaw. A one-two to the solar plexus. I felt cold. I felt numb. I immediately retreated into silence and hurt and confusion and…because sitting there was my step grandfather. The one who molested me. Who molested my sister. Who molested my mother.
And I always regretted that I didn’t leap onto him and choke him dead. That was my regret. I regretted not committing violence against him because at the time it was all I thought he deserved.
It turned out, much like after he molested my mother, my grandmother took him back in. I didn’t know what to do. What to say. How to act. I held that in for 17 years. He still lives again with my grandmother. And our family has pretended like it isn’t happening.
Last year, I finally let my grandmother know how I felt. She did not appreciate hearing about how I felt. So, I let her know that I would not speak to her until she stops living with and cuts off communication with that person because the pain that it causes is too much to continue to bear.
That was the first time I stood up for myself. It was a long time coming. It was five years of therapy coming. But, I finally did it. I didn’t put things quite as eloquently as I would have liked, but I did it. It was a relief.
Suddenly, so much opened up before me. So many opportunities I’d closed myself off from. I didn’t realize how much that held pain was shutting me down and shutting me off from the world, from joy, from experience. Finally standing up for myself allowed me to build back up my feeling of self worth. It was no longer locked up with someone else. I was no longer going to let myself be the victim to my past. I would no longer let myself blame my past for my present condition.
It’s still a long road yet to go. I still slip into blame of my past, but thanks to further therapy and further self help, I know I can relieve myself of some of the blame. What happened to me, what happened to my sister, that wasn’t my fault.
Growing up poor, being unprepared for school, feeling hopeless, lost, and helpless as a child, that wasn’t my fault. Being ignored, being taunted, being hated, that wasn’t my fault.
I am not my past though my past has allowed me to this present place of deeper understanding.
I’m going to fight for me, what I love, and the people I love. I will no longer fight against those who abused me.
Reading this brought a tear to my eye. I was abused mentally and physically by my father, I am still having councilling for problems I have even though I am nearly 29 now. Something about your post I just really needed to say welldone for being so strong and so great. I hope you continue onwards and upwards and respect to you! Xx
Nicolette Skenjana says
Reading this brought tears to my eyes, just remember what happened to your Childhood it’s not your fault. I would recommend that you go for counselling. Life will get better, time heals, remember it is OK to cry it cleanses the soul, time heals. Take care.
I’ve really never thought of cheating in this light. This describes my relationship with my spouse perfectly. He’s a good man. He would never be an adulterer. However, his priorities have taken him away from me physically and emotionally. He lives and works 500 miles away and I see him seldom. I feel cheated. Cheated out of a partnership, an emotional connection, and a fulfilled life with my spouse…
Number 6 hit me right between the eyes! I have been trying for years to get over all the things my ex-wife did. I will think I have finally succeeded, but then the fear of being betrayed comes back, and I find myself where I began. I know there are many good women out there, and I am only cheating myself out of having a great relationship with someone. I don’t know that I will ever trust to the point of marrying again, as my ex-wife used the legal bonds of marriage to try to destroy me financially after she destroyed me emotionally. I feel really sad that I have so far been unable to get past that fear. Once trust is lost, how do you ever rebuild it?
I was cheated by an ex in many ways. I left my stale marriage to join up with a wonderfully attentive and loving woman. I soon realized that the woman I thought I knew wasn’t anything like she presented herself to be. She was not a good mother, yet she adopted one child before we got together and five while we were together (she also had two biological children). I was the one who gave the children the love that they so desperately needed. I physically showed them love, played with them, read them stories, and put them to bed at night. She prepared their meals, did their laundry, and harshly disciplined them. I was psychologically abused during the relationship.
After many hours of counseling, I painfully decided to leave that situation and go back to my husband. She immediately cut off my communication with the children and eventually sued me for money that I “promised” to pay her back (a total lie). For her evidence, she had kept all sorts of items from the entire time we were together, as if she knew she would eventually need them. Unfortunately, I lost the case and was forced to file bankruptcy. I lost contact with 6 children that I dearly loved. I have tried to contact the oldest two through Facebook, but one shut down her page after I messaged her, and the other one blocked my messages. I’m sure that she has poisoned them against me, which hurts desperately, as I was the one who was their true “mother”. However, I have my loving husband back, as well as my own three children (and now 4 grandchildren) who genuinely love me. While I have lost contact with these 6 adopted children, I know that I have done all I can do. Do I feel cheated? You bet! But the really sad part is that these 6 children have been cheated out of having a relationship with a person who loved them dearly. I have tried to forgive her, but I am having a difficult time. I know I need to do it in order to move on. I am hoping that I can take your advice and let it go.
Wonderful post guys.
I really enjoyed reading this. I’m 27, got married last year and divorced this year. My ex husband left me after abusing me emotionally, verbally and (once) physically. He opened many cases against me in court, and tried to destroy me with his lies. He never got anywhere because they were all lies. But I’m heart broken because I feel cheated on, last time we met he pretended that everything was ok and then 2 days later I received a paper from court letting me know that he wants a divorce and that I treated hi, badly etc… I feel like I did everything I could for him, I tried my best and I truly loved him. But he proved to me that he never loved me or cared about me. I’ve always lived a happy life and I still try to, but every night I get very sad and start remembering the details and all the good moments that we had together, and I start missing him. I am very angry, but after reading this post I realised that I should only wish him the best even though he destroyed me, and that I need to forgive him to be able to move on… I feel like I’m waiting for a miracle, and for someone to come and tell me that this nightmare isn’t true, or to meet an amazing person that will make me forget that ugly phase in my life.
koena lefosa says
Thank you marc and angel for this life-changing post.
Tiffany Garrett says
My name is Tiffany Garrett and I am reminded why I love this site every time I read it.
This article spoke so much to me and how I feel currently that everyone I ever trusted I no longer know and have been cheated on and lied to..
I will email this as a reminder of what I must do..I struggle daily with the emotions from this pain I TOOK over and over again and now I may be divorcing, I’m alone and my family is broken up..
But this article gave me peace and applies and makes so much sense..
I just recently experienced hurt from a long time friend. It reminded me of the grieving cycle. I was hurt, mad, defensive, calm, enlightened, etc. I went through several phases but what I never did was react. I never mentioned it to the person. So many times I’ve tried to “clear the air” with people only to end up making it worse. Silence really is golden. As I reflected on the situation, discussed with other trying to make sense of it all, I came to the realization that the relationship was flawed and on shaky ground before the final betrayal. It really opened my eyes to the fact that the relationship had changed but I never changed. In the end, I was truly grateful things happened as they did even though it was hurtful because it was necessary so that the relationship could switch gears.
Nicolette Skenjana says
Thank you… Thank you, this was written for me. I needed it. I know I will be fine, it just takes time.
I’m deeply touched by article itself and by the comments nevertheless.
Article hit me by surprise. I wasn’t prepared to see the “cheating on” conception from that point of view: when you diminish your experiences by putting too much of expectation on it in the first place. By getting “just good or not so good” results, you rob yourself of life’s excitement, which you may feel otherwise. This is big. For that inner cheating point, is my huge “Thank you” to Angel and Marc!
In comments people shared the pain from being cheated by others. Been there and know how incredibly painful it is. And have a words of comfort & wisdom in the moment like that, is priceless.
Thank you again Angel & Marc.
I liked what you wrote “The person who cheated on you is likely broken in more ways than you realize.” I have stopped/started your Getting Back to Happy program because it meant change. I wasn’t ready. My heart was but my brain wasn’t. Your comment can be not only for people that cheat but people that abuse. I grew up in a very abusive alcoholic household and was given every conceivable message physically and mentally to tear away someone’s identity that you can hand them. And I have floundered for a long time. Too uncomfortable in my skin to recognize what I had to offer…I started reading a book about Adult Children of Alcoholics and it has been a big game changer for me. I realize how damaged the very people I was supposed to trust were and I feel for them. I haven’t talked to them in a few years but I can at least let go of being resentful. Reading this book is not easy but when a person is ready to do the dark work, like I am it is Amazing. And, you are right it doesn’t excuse the persons behavior but your reasoning about the person being broken, puts the sadness and yes anger in a different perspective. And I hope people take your words to heart. So I am finishing the book and starting back to your program as I believe it will be a healthy step to just that…getting happy. I get to chose if I want to continue the breakage or start the repairing.
Marc Chernoff says
Small steps, Rachael. It sounds like your mind is in the right place. Please let us know who else we can assist you with the course, or with anything else.
Marc Chernoff says
Thanks for all the positive reinforcement on this article, everyone. Angel and I both appreciate it.
Thanks Marc and Angel. Your advice really hit the spot for me. My ex left me for another man months before our 35th anniversary,. I thought she was a very strong person. But during our brief counseling together, I saw she was/is broken from her childhood. She abandoned everything I thought was important to her (me, children, grandchildren, career, future plans) and became like a self-centered teenager. The only thing that mattered to her at that point was that she found someone who would devote all of his time and attention to her.