Being stabbed in the back
Were you ever stabbed in the back by someone you never expected? Betrayal can be described as a sense of loss and hurt. Someone we trusted harmed us in ways we never thought possible. Maybe the person we love lied to us. Maybe your kindness was abused and manipulated. Maybe a close friend said something that can never be taken back. The shapes and forms of betrayal are numerous. These egregious acts can occur at any time, with anyone in our life. Really, the sad truth is that everyone goes through betrayal. Still, as common as betrayal is, the effects of this act can be devastating. Not only are we exposed to a host of distressing emotions, sometimes we experience signs of trauma.
How to Cope With Betrayal
When you get stabbed in the back, it usually starts with a feeling of shock. We question whether a loved one could hurt us. After a time, we fall into a state of loss and sadness. We let go of our illusions and admit that the person we thought we knew had intended to harm us. At this point, the betrayed may become obsessed with what was done to them. They question everything that led up to this point. They go over every interaction with the person and look at their own role in this drama. Self-doubt creeps in. They ask themselves how they could let this happen?
In short, when you fall into this place of uncertainty and chaos, it feels like your whole existence is crumbling. Betrayal puts your entire life into doubt. You don’t know who you can trust. You’re not even sure if you can trust yourself anymore because you didn’t see this coming. In essence, you don’t know who you are, and how you let life unravel. Reality seems forever altered.
We are no longer a happy friend, spouse, or sibling. Our bonds with others have been damaged. Adrift in questions, you wonder why life is like this, and what the people in your life are really like? The way we question our reality can bring us into uncharted territory. In some cases, this can bring us to a dangerous mental space, especially when someone purposely betrayed and wanted to hurt you. In the most extreme cases of betrayal, people can develop anxiety disorders, OCD, and PTSD.
Yet, even in less extreme situations, those who are betrayed hold on to toxic feelings of anger and resentment. These emotions can be harmful because they may turn into acts we later regret. In time we could commit betrayal of our own if we let our emotions fester. Maybe we cheat on a lover who had an affair. Maybe we tell the secrets of a friend who cut us in the worst possible way. At the extreme end of these acts are murder and violence. When a betrayal hits us to our core, when our life is so upturned, some people harbor terrible fantasies of revenge. They may feel the need to hurt people in irreparable ways, and sometimes they go through with their dark intentions. This isn’t a place anyone wants to end up in, and most of us don’t turn to this dark place.
But the question remains, how can we prevent ourselves from succumbing to the destructive emotions that are created by betrayal? Is it even possible to heal? The answer to this question is yes. With time, distance, and patience, we can all learn how to cope with betrayal. In fact, we should all learn from the lessons of betrayal because it isn’t going away.
The first thing we have to realize about betrayal is that it will happen. Whether in big or small ways, when we put our trust in people, at some point that trust will be violated, and we will feel betrayed. To cope with this reality, we should admit that we had a role in the betrayal. Sometimes we trusted someone we shouldn’t have. Maybe we had expectations of someone we should have evaluated more. Maybe we didn’t question someone’s character or motives. Our fault in the matter can vary, but being able to take some responsibility will help us regain control.
Change your mindset
A change in mindset is also helpful. Often, we want to think that we are alone, that no one in the world has gone through the pain we harbor, but this isn’t the case. If we adjust our thinking and reframe our situation, we realize something important. It hurts, but this has happened to everyone around us in some way. This isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but knowing this can allow us to heal and move on. It’s not wrong to hurt and mourn a relationship. We should take the proper time to grieve. Still, at some point, we need to take a step back from a situation and remove bias and emotion. This is the only way we can start the healing process.
Another helpful way to get some perspective is by talking to someone you know won’t judge you. When you confide in someone, you can assess how serious the betrayal is and what needs to be done. Sometimes betrayals are minor. Other times they are life-altering. Gauging the amount of damage done is helpful. You can find clarity in less serious situations, or conclude that you need to move on from someone. Some betrayals have no resolution. The best thing to do is to accept that the betrayal has happened and learn from it. In the end, obsessing or trying to take revenge will only make you feel worse. Realize that everything passes, even pain as strong as this.