We are frequently asked, “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from all the accounts of betrayal you’ve heard over the years?” One thing has been clear when speaking with all our survivors: bad stuff happens to everyone. Hurt, setbacks, and diabolical events touch all lives – there is no escape. However, inside all of us are the keys to unlock our courage and strength, and that’s how we move on and build a better future. That’s really what people want to know when asking the question – “What are the lessons learned that can help me ‘bounce back,’ to move on, and become whole again?” The answer can be found in the following three things:
- Listen to your gut. It’s more than just a trite expression; it can be an incredible natural warning system for you to utilize. We have seen how it can help individuals sense a betrayal before it becomes a reality. Instead of ignoring potential red flags or creating excuses for someone else’s odd behavior, listen carefully to your uneasy feelings. Those nagging doubts can help you avoid a betrayal, or at the very least, lessen the impact of one.
- Hold on to your power. You might be thinking, “What kind of power does a betrayed person have?” The truth is, even while you are navigating through a fog of deception and hurt, you do hold some cards; you just need to step back and recognize them. They can become a platform for a better future. For example, you—and you alone—decide whether to forgive a betrayer. Don’t think of forgiveness as giving your betrayer a “get out of jail free card.” By recognizing and addressing the new challenges, making decisions about your next steps, and retaining your sense of self, you reclaim your power. Most importantly, holding on to your personal power gives you control over your current and future path – you have the power to determine what comes next for you. Those who recover best never relinquish their power to the betrayer. Don’t give your personal power away.
- Have the courage to move forward. This ultimately means you need to let go. Allow yourself to face the fact that you aren’t in control of certain events; this is important because you can never create the perfect do-over to fix everything. To begin the act of recovery, look the nasty circumstances in the eye and see them for what they are. The fallout from betrayal says more about the betrayer’s values than it does about you, so toss the bad stuff in the garbage and put a permanent lid on it
These survival techniques are useful tools for any scenario or season of life. How you choose to use these can be critical to a successful outcome. When you feel you’ve been run over by a train, let the dust settle, survey the landscape, and then ask yourself, “Do I have the courage to get back on my feet?” Hint: The correct answer is “Yes! Of course I do!” One step at a time. One day, one week, one month. Just remember to listen to your instincts, hold on to your power, and give yourself the permission to move on.