This week I answer a reader's question about her feelings of betrayal:
Dear Dr Jules
I wonder if you can help? I feel I have been betrayed most of my life, personally by more than one partner including my husband, and now also professionally. I trusted some work colleagues who have both let me down. I have got to the point where I just feel like shutting down my business because of it.
Betrayal is something that happens to all of us at some point, but it’s a tough lesson to face as at the root of all betrayal is a violation of your trust, and that hurts.
Regardless of whether it’s a romantic partner who leaves you unexpectedly, a friend who spreads vicious gossip about you, or a business deal where you get ripped off financially, the root of all of them is the fact that you gave your trust to those who were not worthy of it, and you are left feeling that you have no control over the situation. This can affect your self-esteem as well, as you can start to wonder if the people who have betrayed you ever valued you in the first place.
So what can you do to start feeling better after a betrayal? While we can’t change the situation and what has happened to us, we can change how we see it, so here are some tips to help you:
1. Start by asking yourself if these people were worthy of your trust, and how much should your sense of yourself depend on their actions? Reflect on this for the future as well, so that you choose the people you share your trust with wisely.
2. Keep good boundaries and do not allow a climate for betrayal to form. Be clear about your expectations from people and be open with your communication to them so they know where they stand and don’t have the opportunity to behave in ways that you would find unacceptable.
3. Don’t fixate on the past or dwell on how you were wronged and what might have been – channel your thoughts to the present and future and how you want things to be from now on. The anger can only fester in you if you let it, and that will cause you pain and hold you back. Retaliation can seem sweet in the moment, but you might be surprised how much of your time and energy you are devoting to fantasizing about your revenge, and sadly that is only detracting from time you could be spending on doing something positive for you or people who deserve it.
4. Let go by writing your thoughts about the betrayals down on paper and then flush it away in the toilet or burn it.
5. Build trust in yourself and your choices, and let go of people who you find untrustworthy, then put your energy into people who you know won’t let you down.
Ultimately, you can learn to see betrayal as a fork in the road where one direction leads to bitterness while the other leads to opportunity. Be kind to yourself and your pain, and in time you will move forward with your plans again.
If this topic resonates with you and you think I might be able to help you through Counselling, please get in contact. I offer a free twenty minute chat so we can decide if counselling with me is right for you.