7 ways to overcome betrayal

How to cope when those you trust break your confidence.

Being betrayed is one of the most painful feelings in the world. It can shake you to your core, affect your ability to trust others and leave you feeling vulnerable or exposed.

Betrayal can come in many forms, but ultimately it’s when someone you love and trust does something that hurts you deeply. You may feel betrayed if your parents split up or start seeing other people; a friend reveals your secrets; or someone talks about you behind your back. It can leave you angry and questioning your relationship with the person who’s hurt you. It can also damage your faith in others as you end up wondering if they’ll betray you next.

Why do people hurt those they love?

There isn’t a definitive answer to why people betray others. People change, people make mistakes. Sometimes people aren’t as kind-hearted as you’d like to believe. Betrayal means the deliberate act of hurting someone, but sometimes you may feel betrayed even when the person who has upset you hasn’t done it with that intention. People who betray others are often overcome by a sense of ambition, greed or passion and when they can’t control these things, they may do something that causes them to betray those they love. For example, a friend’s desire to be accepted could mean they reveal secrets or share information given to them in strictest confidence just so they can get into another friendship circle. When someone is determined to do or get something, nothing can stand in their way – even if it means betraying those closest to them. In relationships, powerful emotions can change people and make them behave differently. 

7 ways to overcome the pain of betrayal

1. Don’t bottle up your feelings

If you don’t discuss how the betrayal has made you feel, it might have negative effects in the future. For example, it could disrupt your sleep patterns, affect your mental health or prevent you trusting others. Feeling betrayed hurts, so allow yourself to cry, shout and think about the situation for a while. It’s natural to be upset in these circumstances.

2. Write it down

Take the time you need to consider what emotions you’re experiencing and write down how you feel. You may also want to write a letter to the person who’s hurt you, explaining exactly how you feel – but don’t send it. Wait a week or so and re-read it before deciding whether or not to pass it on as you may find your feelings have changed, too. Even if the letter is solely for your own eyes, you’ll find that just writing the words down can make you feel better.

3. Avoid retaliating

It’s normal to want to get revenge on the person who betrayed you, but don’t react quickly. Actions and words that come from a place of anger and hurt could be ones you end up regretting. Take time to process what’s gone on and think the situation through. Look after yourself first.

4. Talk to someone

Discussing the situation can help you clear your mind and start the healing process. If you’re finding it hard to get over the hurt and feel it’s affecting you and that you can’t switch off  from it, talk to a trusted adult – it might be a guardian, an aunt or uncle, or the school counsellor – who will be able to advise you and suggest where to get extra help if it’s needed.

5. Forgive and forget

This may seem hard but, depending on the particular circumstances and how much the person means to you, give it time – it will benefit your mental health if you’re able to forgive the person involved. It doesn’t mean you accept what they did is right or forget it – but it will allow you some control over the situation in your mind and help to enable you to move on. If you have hate and anger in your head for too long, it can drain you and hurt you more than you realise.

6. Listen to the person

If the person who’s hurt you wants to talk to you, it may help you if you listen to them. They might admit their mistakes and ask for forgiveness or have things to say that make you look at the situation differently. Take time to consider their words. If you still want them in your life, you’ll have to forgive them at some point.

7. Trust others

Just because one person has betrayed you, it doesn’t mean everyone will. Surround yourself with positive, honest friends to remind yourself that betrayal is rare. Don’t allow one person to affect how you see others. Continue to be brave and trusting and you’ll see that most people in the world are kind-hearted, just like you.

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