What To Do When You Feel Betrayed

4 min min read
Updated on November 11, 2021
By Trevor Throness
What To Do When You Feel Betrayed

What to do when you feel betrayed

A famous story in our family is me doing ‘trust falls’ with our little kids.

Then of course I was distracted by something and one of the kids did a full body face plant to the linoleum, flat smack on the ground.  It was tougher to convince them to play after that.

Betrayal.  Today’s topic applies at work and at home.  If you live long enough, you’re going to feel betrayed.  Multiple times.  By bosses, partners, colleagues, friends, spouses, children, and others.

The closer they are/were, the more it hurts.

So, what do you do when you’re devastated by another person’s feckless behaviour?  Here are some ideas to help you move to a better place.

Stop drinking the poison

‘Bitterness is like drinking poison hoping the other person will die.’

The problem is, the other person probably doesn’t even know that you’re taking a nice big draught of poison every morning and sipping at the jug in spare moments through the day.

They’re the ones who did the bad thing, and you’re the one drinking the poison?

How does this make sense?  They already hurt you.  Why voluntarily keep nursing the pain?

It’s like picking a scab; it hurts, it’s kind of disgusting, it prolongs the pain, and it guarantees you’ll never heal.  And there’s a weird pleasure in it too.  Give it up.  The pleasure isn’t worth the continued pain.

Take the first step

I once mentioned the word ‘forgiveness’ to a group I was talking to, and a lady threw her pencil across the room at me!  For which I forgave her 😊.

Think about that.  A grown-up person actually threw an object at me across a room full of people in a professional setting.  Fortunately, it was high and outside.

But what kind of psychic pain must she have been in?  How many nights had she laid awake rehashing the injustice of her situation?  How many gallons of poison had she ingested, hoping for relief that would never come?

These painful moments can hold us prisoner for years.  For a lifetime even.  Sometimes a person already in the grave still controls aspects of your life.

Would you rather get the flu than consider forgiving the person?  If so, you’re not alone.

First, let’s review what forgiveness doesn’t mean

It doesn’t mean:

  • What you did didn’t hurt
  • What you did wasn’t plain wrong
  • Your actions are excused. ‘It’s okay.’  (No, it isn’t)
  • I’ve forgotten all about it and moved on, no big deal (I can’t seem to forget, and it IS a big deal)

The first step is simply to say:

I lay down my right to take revenge

I’m not going to try and hurt you back.  I won’t attempt to sewer your career and reputation and future relationships.  I’m just going to lay down that right.  So I can move on.

The first step is almost…. selfish.  You’re doing this for you.  It’s time to stop drinking the poison.

It’s not the last step in forgiveness, but it’s the first place to begin.

Make the most important decision

Here’s the key question you now have to answer:  How will you treat the next person who fills that seat?    Will you trust them, or will you erect a huge wall that they have to scale before they earn your trust?

The most important decision you can make is to trust again, over and over.  Not foolishly.  If it’s a business situation, watch your P/L closely.  Check your bank accounts.  But trust.

If it’s a personal relationship, do your homework, be in relationship with people who share your values, but plan on trusting fully again.

The downside of this policy is that you might get burned all over again.

The upside is that you’ll find wonderful people to surround yourself with who will enrich your life in ways that you can’t yet foresee.

Also consider that your trust in them will make them more trustworthy too.

These are just some initial ideas.  Please post yours in the comments below!

And remember,

The secret of getting ahead is getting started

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at gettingpeopleright.com https://gettingpeopleright.com/

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068


Lorie Hansen 01.12.2021, 04:13

Thanks Trevor for another great weekly tip. I too have frequently used the same expression (more about anger than bitterness) about drinking the poison and waiting for the other person to die. These are emotions that do more damage to us when we hold on to them and rehash the situation. Your definition of forgiveness was helpful as well. So many times we do feel that forgiveness means that we are accepting the bad behavior and saying it’s okay. But truly, it’s about setting ourselves free from it so that we can move on. Thanks again and by the way…loving the videos…feels like I’m having a personal conversation with you.

Trevor Throness 01.12.2021, 06:44

Lorie, thanks so much for your comment. Forgiveness is so very important.

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