Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to Deal with Betrayal

You've certainly been betrayed. Maybe your significant other cheated on you. Maybe someone stole from you; maybe it was someone you really trusted. Maybe someone blabbed something you told her in confidence -- all over Facebook. Maybe someone embezzled from an organization to which you contributed. Or maybe the premise under which your government has been operating has been a complete lie. (Warning: this last is a bit wonkish,)

So it's not just you who have been betrayed; it's everyone. And I've been thinking about that a fair amount lately. Here's what my guides have to say -- it's a bit dry, but it is fairly complete:

Trust is required for human cooperation, which is required for human life. All betrayal is a betrayal of trust. You trust people to either
  • Do something (e.g. keep information private, be sexually faithful, protect your goods)
  • Be who they represent themselves to be (e.g. licensed as a cosmetic surgeon if that is what someone holds himself out to be, or in love with you, if that's what he says)
Betrayal engenders lack of trust, which causes anger and grief. Anger is a natural reaction to a violation, in this case a violation of trust. All grief is loss, which can be physical or emotional, and if you are betrayed, you have lost trust, at the very least, but perhaps also money, or a sense of safety, or many other things.

Betrayal opens your eyes to the real reality. It also calls into question, at least temporarily, the nature of your own reality, not to mention your own judgement. But you can always trust your own experience. You may reframe the meaning of the entire experience in light of the betrayal, but your experience is yours, and can not be undone.

Here is a timeline of how betrayal happens, more or less, that is, the cycle of betrayal:
  • All is well
  • Betrayal
  • Lies to cover betrayal
  • Discovery of betrayal
  • Shock, anger, grief
  • Self-flagellation (why didn't I see this?)
  • Dealing with the consequences of the betrayal
  • Integration/healing process (including cycling through the 3 steps below)
  • All is well, with new knowledge/options/choices
Please note that the time frames here are hugely variable, from days to decades. 

The questions to ask yourself in order to deal with betrayal are:
  • What have I lost?
  • What do I still have? (hint: your experience, your abilities)
  • How was I violated?
  • What can be done to rectify that situation, either by the other person, if he/she wants to make good, or by me, if I want to be in some sense whole again?
Knowing the truth will help you make better choices going forward.

No comments: