6 steps for recovering from betrayal

Most everyone who goes through life will, at some point, experience the bitter injustice of betrayal. When those we love break our trust, it can be devastating. Here are six steps to recovering from the tragedy of betrayal.

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  • Everyone experiences some tragedy in life. Being betrayed is part and parcel to many, if not most, trials. If you're betrayed by a spouse, business partner, friend, neighbor, etc., how do you recover? This is Heavy subject ... and one that has derailed many of life's travelers. Yet the outcome for some individuals is positive. Over time, they become stronger, more resilient, and confident in themselves and in their relationships. What makes the difference?

  • The six threads, or steps, consistently woven through stories of healthy recovery include:

  • 1. Awareness

  • One cannot change the circumstances surrounding tragedy until one recognizes what has taken place. This may sound obvious, but often the secrets surrounding this form of tragedy are difficult to see. Betrayal is usually a "silent crime"; frequently the victim does not know he or she has been victimized. Whether it is through having an affair, leading a double life, and/or keeping secrets of financial indiscretions, those who betray others often do so for years without being discovered. Although a person cannot choose when they first become aware of being victimized, awareness must still be the first step to recovery.

  • 2. Acceptance

  • Grief follows any type of loss, especially the loss of heartfelt expectations. It is a natural part of an emotionally healthy recovery process. When the process is followed to its completion, acknowledgement and acceptance of one's reality can be comforting results. Finding ways to successfully manage fear and positively channel anger brings about the yearned-for, pain-free hope that is a necessary part of a full recovery.

  • 3. Action

  • Once the circumstances of tragedy are recognized and accepted, action must take place. Whether this action is choosing a particular path of treatment, or to continue or end a relationship, one must act, and not simply react. This can be done by setting reasonable limits, safely confronting issues, and taking risks to make life better.

  • 4. Authorization

  • Authorization, or permission to move forward with one's life, is a vital step in the recovery process. For example, one of the most common yet innocent characteristics of a victim of betrayal is his or her "willingness to submit," "to be the nice guy," or to give the betrayer "permission" to abuse. Establishing the proper support system and learning to trust one's self is a vital step in breaking away from the betrayer and healing the heartbreak.

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  • 5. Accountability

  • With any tragedy, responsibility and ownership mus be accepted. Those who suffer tragedy can visualize beyond the past and look with hope into the possibilities of the future by forgiving themselves and others and making themselves products of their decisions instead of their conditions.

  • 6. Advancement

  • An old Chinese proverb states, "Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still." Advancement may be considered the last step to recovery, but it is also the first step in the rest of one's life. Visualizing life with a set of fresh goals and a belief in one's self creates confidence and courage. To advance forward, one accomplishes his or her goals one step at a time while maintaining a proper balance in life.

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