Ask anyone who’s been betrayed, and they’ll tell you that the “knife in the back” is not only a metaphor but an actual physical sensation. It’s been over ten years since I felt double-crossed by a business partner and walked away empty-handed from what I had believed was my purpose in life. The experience broke something inside me, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when I realize that what broke was my naive and innocent belief that a good, honest conversation and mutual compromise could overcome any conflict. Sometimes, it’s impossible to overcome conflict.
Everyone is mistrustful
In the months that followed my betrayal I was suspicious of all people. I wondered: if someone could encourage me to open up to them only to use that information against me later on, couldn’t anyone? It made me wonder if these promises were just ruses meant to conceal ulterior motives. Did I make a mistake? Is everyone trying to get me?These questions were a threat to my personal relationships and caused me to be afraid.
Incessant suspicion made it difficult to feel comfortable. I was proud to have been trusting from the beginning. This also meant I often had to share intimate details with people before they were entitled to them. Personal ambition was something I believed could never be overcome by a solid, mutually beneficial relationship. I hadn’t considered that often, blind ambition is precisely the energy that destroys personal relationships.
Through time and careful inner work I discovered the hidden treasure in my pain. A deeper connection to my intuition helped me to establish trust and confidence, and I was able to start building better relationships and trust.
Below are steps that I took to recover from my betrayal, and then trust again in others.
1. Understand that it’s not about you
Betrayal feels very personal, but it’s important to remember that other people’s actions have more to do with their inner landscape than with you. You might think they’re trying to prove someone to you or to other people. They might be influenced by your energy and reminisce about a past relationship. None of these things are your responsibility. If someone betrays you trust, know that they wouldn’t do it to any other person. You won’t be able to heal by wondering what they were thinking.
2. Understand that it’s completely about you
Wait, didn’t I just say that it wasn’t about you? Yes. But also: it’s CompletelyIt’s all about you. This means that if someone betrays your trust, it is a sign of your own betrayal. For example, in my situation, my body had tried to warn me in a hundred different ways that something wasn’t right. However, the nightmares, headaches and insomnia were ignored. So—where was the real betrayal?
This is not to shift blame to the other person. It’s more practical than that: becoming aware of where or how we have wronged ourselves is how we ensure we don’t do it again. As author Byron Katie says, “As long as you think that the cause of you problem is “out there”—as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless.”
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
3. Forgive…or not
People believe forgiveness is an essential part of healing after betrayal. It can be. However, forgiveness can also be a difficult thing that many people misunderstand. Often, we offer it too soon, trying to pretend that we’re “above it all” before we’ve fully processed the hurt.
It is important that forgiveness be about you and what it means for you. And forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing that person back into your life again at any level. When forgiveness works best, it resets your boundaries—the same boundaries that were violated in the relationship. It also helps to regain the space that was lost in your mind and heart.
4. Cut ties
Protect yourself from any betrayal to help you heal. This is the best thing to do. You need to prioritize your health and well-being for the moment. While this can feel like extra punishment, wrapping yourself in a protective bubble means that you won’t suddenly see a picture come across your phone that reopens wounds that were just about to heal. Yes, you’re strong, but being around people who remind you of the offender will only slow your healing.
Don’t forget the energetic ties, too, and cut the “chords” that were created between you. You can do this by journaling, meditation or just visualizing these connections. Then imagine cutting them. This simple exercise will allow you to free up space within your brain and heart.
5. Renegotiate your relationships
This is the step where you get to renegotiate your relationships—starting with the one with yourself. Do you recognize the warning signs that you didn’t see? Are you able to forgive your body and emotions for the difficulties they have created? And, will you commit to listening more closely to the still, small voice within you that might point out something you don’t want to see? While we can’t always heal the damage betrayal does in a relationship, we can develop a deeper reliance on our body’s signs and signals from now on.
You know you’re healing when…
You know you’re healing when you can look back on a person or an event and not feel your heart race or your palms sweat. You’re healing when that person doesn’t take up so much space or time in your life, or when hours or days go by without thinking of them. And, after enough time goes by, you know you are healed when you can look back with compassion for yourself while also recognizing how much wiser you’ve become. Perhaps you will one day be able to thank this person for helping you become who you are. I know that sounds crazy, especially if you’re fresh off a betrayal. Ten years ago I would not have thought it was crazy to thank my ex-partner. Here I am and there is nothing I can do but express gratitude and understanding.
Betrayed is not something anyone wants. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel betrayed, these steps can help you to transform that knife into wisdom and discernment. This will lead you into a deeper, more trusting relationship with your self, which will result in healthier relationships with other people.
Addicted 2 Success first published the post How to Recover from Betrayal, and How to Trust Yourself (and Others).