One of the most painful experiences that we endure as humans is the experience of feeling as though our trust has been betrayed. The trust that is broken can be with another person, a relationship, a workplace or your an institution.
A break in trust first causes us to doubt our own abilities and perceptions. If we trusted and it did not work out, then what is wrong with our own ability to see reality and size up situations? How can we trust ourselves or another again? We go through a period of doubt and questioning that can be quite profound. Emotional responses can run the gamut of anger, panic, grief, hurt and shock. Our responses depend on many things:
– how important that relationship is to us
-whether we felt there was malicious intent behind the action
-if we have experienced other significant betrayals in our lives
-how much we self-attack and berate ourselves instead of taking this as a learning experience.
Many times we need to decide whether to try to repair this break or to cut our losses and leave. Much of this decision depends on our perception of the depth of the betrayal and the intention of the other. Sometimes when processed, the betrayal can be seen as a miscommunication in expectations. Other times it will be viewed as deeper than that. The attitude of the party who let you down is very significant as well. Does the other seem to acknowledge the problem or just become defensive? Do they take ownership and responsibility for their actions? Do they care how you feel? If you want to repair a break in trust you may wish to ask for the following actions of the other:
-take responsibility for their part in the trouble
-understand your feelings
-change course and maintain it over time
-issue a genuine apology and exhibit remorse.
Betrayal of trust is often a topic in my work. If you are concerned about this issue, please feel free to contact me at