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5 Ways to Recover From Betrayal

Have you been betrayed by a friend, lover, or colleague?

Kristin Meekhof
Source: Kristin Meekhof

If you ever experience betrayal, you may feel heartsick and find it difficult to even complete simple tasks. As you begin to realize the totality of the betrayal, it is not unusual to feel emotionally paralyzed and unable to begin thinking about your next steps. Betrayal requires an integrative approach to healing because it impacts emotional, spiritual, and physical dimensions of one's life.

Here are five things to consider in healing from betrayal:

1. Understand that betrayal is an issue of trust. No matter what circumstances led to the incident of betrayal, beneath the drama and tears lies trust. What happened is that you felt you could trust this person to have your best interest at heart. When you discover otherwise, it will impact you at multiple levels (mind, body). Due to the fact that trust is involved, it is not unusual for you to think about other times when your trust was compromised. And you may relive those circumstances now.

2. Forgive yourself. When betrayal occurs, often the person betrayed blames themselves for getting involved in the situation or connecting with the person. Many times, the betrayed person will say "I knew better than to speak with this individual" or "I was warned not to get involved with them, but I did it anyway."

When you go against your better judgment or override the "gut feeling" you had, it leaves you feeling emotionally depleted. One of the ways to recover is to begin the process of forgiving yourself. And if you can't forgive yourself entirely, begin to let yourself off the hook for a small part of it.

3. Seek licensed professional guidance. Depending on the severity of the betrayal and how it was discovered, the body may process it as a traumatic event. And should this happen, it means that the betrayal may cause unpleasant physical responses such as headaches, muscle tension, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. These are signs that your body is under duress, and licensed professionals are trained to help you manage the stress.

4. See betrayal as an actual loss. Due to the complexities of betrayal, it can feel almost like death. Clearly, this is not an actual death, but the betrayal can have elements of loss. For example, an end of a friendship or job may feel like your world was torn apart. So it isn't unnatural for your body and mind to begin to go through stages of grief because your foundation shattered. You may feel a loss of identity if you are no longer the partner in a relationship or a C-Suite executive. These are losses and addressing them as such will help you better manage your emotions and feelings.

5. Learn the lesson. Whenever a betrayal happens, what remains is an opportunity for deep personal growth. For this transformation to begin, though, you must be willing to open yourself up to the possibility that there is a lesson. It is critical to drop the defense mechanisms, such as blame and guilt, because as long as you are pointing a finger at the other person or yourself, it will impede your ability to learn. The lesson might be to trust your gut and not override your first impressions. Or the lesson may be there are kind people in the world who support you when you feel you lost everything. And if you choose to forgive the other person, never forget the lesson.

Betrayal will feel like your world is falling apart. However, healing is possible and building healthy emotional skills will help you plan for your next best steps.

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