Healing from betrayal

I imagine most of us have experienced betrayal – when you’ve built trust in a person or a process, and then that trust was broken. It hurts for so many reasons, and destroys the faith you placed in this relationship or in the process.  Once that happens, it takes a lot to heal that breech, and it may never heal, at least with those who broke it.

It can happen in any situation you’re invested in. It happens when a friend breaks a confidence, or when a partner sees another secretly, or when a business colleague goes around you when that wasn’t part of what you agreed to. It can be a minor betrayal or so major it can cause a permanent rift. But the real damage is that trust is lost regardless.

It takes a long time to rebuild trust after being betrayed.

If you have lost trust through betrayal, there are some things you can do for yourself that will help you move on:

  • Make your feelings known: say that you are hurt. Let others know how you are impacted by that betrayal in a way that describes your pain, without blame. For instance, if a friend betrayed a confidence, you might say how hurt you felt by that betrayal, and that you have lost trust in the relationship, and leave it at that, rather than add anything negative about the person who betrayed you. By focusing on your feelings and not on the other person, it’s easier to keep it simple and honest. Betrayal is confusing, often generating a feeling that you don’t matter, and have no power. Beginning by giving voice to your own feelings starts to reverse that sense of loss of self.
  • Say what you need or want from the other person. This is important, because it redresses the injustice, namely the lack of regard the other ended up demonstrating (whether they meant it or not). For it to work for you, the thing you want should be something the other person is able to give.
  • Learn from the experience, so that it’s less likely to happen again.

Here’s an example: let’s say you are part of a team that is working closely together, and as such it’s essential that you share information that is confidential, and that this is understood by everyone in that team. Then you discover that one team member shared sensitive information with others, disregarding the team agreement. One way of addressing this is to say how it felt personally (disrespect or disregard, discarded), that you want clear agreements around confidentiality along with an apology, and that you are willing to test this out for a period of weeks or months to see how it goes. It might also be good to double-check how confidentiality was established previously to determine if something was assumed that shouldn’t have been.

This example isn’t likely that serious and the damage can be readily mended. Intimate betrayal isn’t so easily mended. Even so, taking action that supports you in a in a way that reminds you that you matter and that you have power in your life, heals. Even if the relationship is lost.


Quote of the Week

Betrayal leaves us at a fork in the road. We can become stuck in the bad moment forever, or we can put it behind us for good. We decide our path.”

– Carmen Harra 


Betrayal: The loss no one is talking about


I hope you enjoyed this article. When you’re ready to take the next step on your life journey, book a free 20 min consultation with me.