Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lance Armstrong Reminds Us That The True Heroes Stand In The Shadow Of The Betrayer

Once again, as has happened numerous times over the past several months and years, another high profile and popular personality has betrayed his family, his friends, his most loyal supporters, and his national fans as well as an international audience.  Because Lance Armstrong is a world-wide phenomenon, the spotlight is beaming down on his soaring crash from grace.  Most of us want to hear from him and find out what he will do.  Will he –as the betrayer – apologize?  Ask for forgiveness?  Will he seek help? Get counseling? Change his ways of thinking…or his behaviors?  While the focus tends to shine more deliberately on the betrayer, there are individuals who are deeply hurting because of his actions.  Those who believed, trusted, and invested in the sport’s icon are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and find a way to begin again. One of the biggest traps that victims of a betrayal fall into is believing that their healing remains contingent upon what the betrayer does or does not do.  Whether the goal of the relationship with the betrayer is one of reconciliation or of restoration or whether it is neither, the individuals betrayed must do their own healing as well.

Although recovering from a betrayal is a lengthy process, the following four steps will help victims begin their work:

1. Get focused on your needs and feelings.  When a betrayal happens, individuals navigate through three States of Being: 

·         Confusion - Trying to make sense out of something that does not make sense
·         Worthlessness-  Realizing your lack of value or importance to the betrayer 
·          Powerlessness Understanding that you cannot change or control what has happened

      It is paramount that you take time to work through these States of Being.  It is hard work, but it is possible. Do this first.  Do this now.  (See note below)

2. Give yourself time to heal before making life changing decisions.  Although there can be exceptions to this (legalities or matters of safety), it is wise to hold off on major decisions when going through a period of upheaval or turmoil.  The choice you make today may be far different than what you would make in three to six months.

3. Guard against unhealthy input from well-meaning individuals and keep your circle of confidence small and close.  Sharing your pain with others and feeling that others are siding with you is a natural part of healing from a betrayal.  However, during this fragile initial period of recovering, the more we share with others and the more that others know, we unknowingly can set ourselves up for additional betrayals as private information leaks out or as individuals begin to shift in their support.     

4. Grab hold of strong support systems and implement healthy boundaries.  Although there is much to say about embracing support systems, a key to remember is to draw near to those people and practices that have proven worthy and unwavering in their allegiance to your well-being.  A good example might include embracing your spiritual or religious traditions or counseling with a trusted mentor/ advisor/therapist. Also, for your protection in moving forward, it is vital to set realistic expectations (for yourself and of others) and to establish and adjust boundaries (for yourself and with others).  This can be a lengthy and somewhat tricky process.  (See note below.)
Remember, the process of recovering from betrayal takes tenacity and turning your focus inward. This is your time.  Do the hard work.  Trust, first, in yourself…and then, in others.  And while others are whispering and wondering if Lance Armstrong will be a hero again, let his story remind us that the true heroes stand in the shadow of the betrayer.

Note:  Holli’s book, Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace Within, will provide you with a step by step process for working through the three States of Being. In addition, in this comprehensive road map to recovering, you will learn specific tools and strategies for setting and adjusting expectations as well as boundary-based decision making.


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