4 Tips to Overcome Betrayal

We have all experienced betrayal at one time or another. The form of betrayal could be as seemingly minor as a collection of friends excluding us from a special celebration to something as major as a colleague stealing intellectual property or bearing false witness against another. These are certainly not pleasant experiences in life; yet, that is why this life experience is is called ‘earth school’ – we are all learning lessons. Let’s face it: it feels horrible when it is happening to us.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a powerful blog entitled ‘How to deal with crappy people‘, and I was drawn to read it, for many reasons. I was intrigued with his perspective, which was strong, bold, unwavering, and direct. I took a few thoughts from this blog, and coupled them with my own, to come up with a few tips on how to deal with folks who have betrayed us, have been unkind to us, have not had our best interests at heart, or have simply been deceitful, disloyal, or downright unkind – personally or professionally.

1. Don’t spend your energy thinking about them. We need to ask ourselves –  what can I learn from this experience? What can I take forward into life which will improve my life, my perspective, or my compassion? Everything else: ignore and disregard. We need to spend our energy on more worthwhile endeavors.

2. Don’t waste your time trying to talk to them, win them over, or give them advice. They will probably not ever listen to our advice, as they do not think they have done anything wrong. It will only lead to more cycles of pain for us. Frankly, this can be hard for those of us that want to help others, give back, and just really want to try to do good in the world. Furthermore, we want to ‘fix’ whatever we think we may have done wrong. Yet, two lessons I am trying to learn are that we can only teach when the student is ready and, almost always, we did nothing to warrant the betrayal.

3. Don’t gossip about them behind their backs. It is not relevant how ‘evil’ their actions may have been. It simply does not serve us when we get into the mud with them. Frankly, this can also be tough, as we feel a deep sense of betrayal and hurt. So, as the blog I read states: “Repeat this 500 times – do not fall into the trap of speaking ill of them…that is a vicious cycle. When we get in the mud with a pig, we get dirty and the pig gets happy.”  True, so very true.

4. And most importantly, as my mom has always told me, when people are ugly to you, pray for them. It is amazing to me when we truly do pray for others, especially those who have hurt us most deeply, over time (often not immediately!) this brings a true sense of forgiveness. And as Oprah has stated: “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”  This has all happened for a reason and most of the time, when the icky stuff is happening to us, we have no clue why (and sometimes we may never know why). Yet, by letting go of the anger and hurt, we allow room for love, learning, compassion and tolerance to enter.

Naively, I still hope, wish and pray that there was no evil in the world. In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora and other atrocities, it frankly seems overwhelming. Yet, one thing I do believe is that we don’t control anyone else’s choices in life – only our own. So, by allowing the ‘icky bits’ to stay and dwell within me, it truly only hurts me. We have to let go of the betrayals and move forward; that is the only direction in which to move.

What do you think? When you have experienced betrayal or ugliness in your life, and how have you moved forward?