After Your Trust Has Been Broken – 5 Ways to Avoid a Victim Mentality

I Am Not A VictimHaving someone break your trust is a painful and inevitable fact of life. There will be a number of situations during your lifetime where people will let you down, whether it’s something as innocent and unintentional as forgetting a lunch date, or as major and hurtful as a spouse seeking a divorce. You will have your trust broken. It’s not a question of if, but when.

What’s important is your response after trust has been broken. You have two choices: victimization or resiliency. Victimization is characterized by an attitude of powerlessness, blaming others for the negative situations in your life, believing that everyone else has it better than you, and a constant seeking of sympathy for your lot in life. Either you’ve experienced it yourself or you’ve seen it others. It’s characterized by statements like: Why me? People can’t be trusted. I can’t change my circumstances. Why is everyone against me? It’s not my fault.

The other response to having your trust broken is resiliency. Resilient people choose to embrace the power they have to make the best of their circumstances, to learn from their experiences, grow in maturity, and move toward healthier and more satisfying places in life. Statements that reflect the attitudes and beliefs of resilient people include: This will make me stronger. This hurts but I’ll deal with it and move on. I’ve got so many good things to look forward to in life. I’m not going to let this get me down.

Here are five concrete ways you can move from having a victim mentality toward an attitude of resiliency:

1. Own your choices – You can’t control everything that happens in your life, but you can control how you respond. You can choose to wallow in self-pity, depression, anger, or resentment, or you can choose to grant forgiveness, experience healing, and seek growth moving forward.

2. Quit obsessing on “why?” – Rather than asking “Why me?” when someone violates your trust, ask yourself “What can I learn?” Many times it will be impossible to know exactly why something happened the way it did, but you can always choose to view challenging circumstances in life as learning opportunities. Did you trust this person too quickly? Did you miss previous warning signs about this person’s trustworthiness? What will you do differently in the future?

3. Forgive and seek forgiveness – Years ago I heard a saying about forgiveness that has stuck with me:

Forgiveness is letting go of all hopes for a better past.

We often refuse to grant forgiveness because we feel like it’s letting people off the hook for their transgressions. In reality, choosing to not grant forgiveness is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It does nothing but hurt ourselves and hold us back from healing and moving forward. If you are the one who has broken trust or played a part in the situation, do what you can to seek forgiveness and bring healing to the relationship. It’s the right thing to do.

4. Count your blessings – People with a victim mentality often gravitate toward absolute thinking. Words like never and always frequent their conversations: I’ll never find someone I can trust. People always let me down. Life is rarely so absolute and one way to remind ourselves of that truth is to count our blessings. In the big scheme of life, most of us have many more positive things in our lives than negative. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for and you’ll realize how fortunate you really are.

5. Focus forward – Victims tend to live in the past, constantly focused on the negative things that have happened to them until this becomes their daily reality. Resilient people keep focused on moving forward. They don’t let circumstances hold them back, and they embrace whatever power they have to learn, grow, and take hold of all the good that life has to offer.

Having someone break your trust, particularly if it’s a serious betrayal, can be one of the most painful experiences in life. The easy path is to let it take you down the road of victimization where everyone and everything else becomes responsible for all the pain you encounter. The harder path is resiliency, choosing to acknowledge the pain, process it, deal with it, learn from it, and move on toward healing and growth.

Feel free to share your comments about how you’ve chosen resiliency over victimization. I’d love to learn from your wisdom.

29 Comments on “After Your Trust Has Been Broken – 5 Ways to Avoid a Victim Mentality

  1. Pingback: After Your Trust Has Been Broken - 5 Ways to Av...

  2. E+R=O… Events + Response = Outcome (via W. Clement Stone).

    The only thing in this equation we have 100 percent control over is our response and that’s what changes an outcome. Really fits well with your first point.

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    • I like that formula Kent! Our response has a dramatic effect on the outcome of our life events.

      Thanks for sharing your insights,

      Randy

      Like

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  7. Been dealing with some broken trust issues recently that have affected me pretty deeply. This is the first article that actually makes sense and strikes a chord on how to progress forward. As always, things are easier said than done and I’m not sure I’ll be able to effectively implement all these things off the bat… But it’s good to have a concrete list / set of tools so to speak that I can refer back to.

    Thank you.

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    • Hello Lehel,

      I’m sorry that you’re having to deal with broken trust, but I’m thankful you’ve found some help through my article. Best wishes as you move forward with your plan.

      Randy

      Like

  8. What the article states is absolutely true as I also experienced a serious state of distrust and betrayal. I first choose to be victimized which is the easier way and found out it was very difficult for me to live my life. Everyday would go like hell for me thinking about the same instances over and over again. Then I chose to chances my approach and started feeling much better as I started to think patient and changed my approach. It was very difficult to change my mindset as i trained my mind to be victimized but later with persistence I tried to change and once it happened I realized the true potential it had. Thanks

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  10. I am currently working through having someone I love break trust, and it is not the first time. What helps me is to stop rehearsing in my mind over and over what the person did. Rehearsing it over and over is like reliving it over and over again. I choose to be free. I do not have to be a victim.

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  11. This has been very helpful thankyou . Reading articles like this is definitely helping me process my current situation . I am finding it very difficult to forgive and move forward as everytime we try to build our relationship , there is yet again another betrayal of trust . It’s hard to know when to keep trying and when to walk away.

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    • Hi Elly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      It can be hard to move forward, especially when your radar is attuned to any potential slight that may feel like another betrayal.

      I encourage you to trust smartly by taking small steps. Extend your trust in stages as people prove to be trustworthy.

      Best regards,

      Randy

      Like

  12. Thanks Randy. I’m dealing with a situation in which a long term close friend lied to me about a mutual business deal. It is my perception that he was very sneaky and underhanded about the whole thing. I feel like I need to meet with him and tell him what I think happened and what bothered me about it and listen to his response. I fear that nothing he will say will be good enough for me to grant forgiveness. I want him to feel my pain and grasp the depths to which he hurt me. I know this probably serves no purpose. Is this victim mentality?

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    • I don’t think that is having a victim mentality. I think it is an attempt to explain the seriousness of how this impacted you.

      Best of luck to you.

      Randy

      Like

  13. Thank you for taking the time to share and help others.

    I do have a question if I may. I have been living the victim mentality. I see by repeat thought patterns and a roller coaster of emotions welling up within me with every thought. I too have had repeat offenders in my life and began turning it around on myself. My question is, how do I know when it is their real offense of breaking trust, or when it is my lifetime of broken trust and the emotions, rearing its ugly head? Have I become so scared and insecure that I am seeing trust issues everywhere? I no longer trust my own judgment, which makes things difficult. As he says it is now my insecurities, despite evidence of the broken trust. Is it just crazy making to shift the focus off of him? How do I trust….myself, let alone him?

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    • Hi Marie. Thank you for the honesty and vulnerability of your message.

      I recommend you take a look at some of the articles on my website that discuss the ABCD Trust Model. You can use that model to assess someone’s behavior to determine if he/she is demonstrating trustworthiness or not. Try to focus on just the person’s behavior, not your emotions or what you think their intent may or may not be. The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak, to see if someone is trustworthy by the track record of their behavior.

      Best wishes,

      Randy

      Like

  14. Love the blog. Trust really is the foundation of all human relationships. I was sick from lead poisoning during a large house renovation and my brother told me to trust him to take me to the ER and he’d pay my bills, I was mentally confused and exhausted and not in a good state. He told the docs I was suicidal. I’d never had as much as a cold before in my life. $20K in bills and a week later in the psych ward where I happily got to know all the patients but still had a headache and fatigue I found out what he’d done, he told me he would not pay my bills. Has never apologized even going so far as to try and convicnce me that I was suicidal. It affected our relationship on a deep level the more I ask for an apology the higher the defensiveness, I didn’t really understand what was lost at first. But it was trust. Loss of trust causes anger cause you’ve made a fool of yourself and lost your reputation especially when it concerns anything to do with mental health because just hearing about it causes other people to lose their trust in you. Something that can take years to reconstruct especially if you actually are sick. Funnily it’s actually made me a better person because I am very clear and honest about my intentions in all transactions so that I don’t do that to anyone else. Sometimes I don’t get the work because I am too honest and could probably learn some better sales techniques but the jobs that I do get are really solid. Ironically I’m writing clinical mental health software systems for non-profits – I have first hand experience! 🙂 They trust me to guide their entire operations. It feels good to be trusted again.

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  15. Hi , recently I learn about my issue in leadership as my lack of trust. Abused, emotionally unstable, I don’t like to show myself as a vulnerable person. In appearance I seem to be a leader to everyone else but inside there is such a strong fear of revealing the nice person I truly am … for I dislike being taking advantage if… especially in a professional and social or public situation. So I missed many opportunity to take upon a post of responsibility and decline promotion. Which is quite and extremely sad to say.

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  16. Hi Randy,

    Thanks for the amazing article.! :).

    I have been going through victim mentality for so many months recently. I had proposed to a guy whom I know from a long time(one of my best friends) and he had accepted it after taking some time. Now ,due to some misunderstandings between us and also because his parents are against us getting married, he wants to end the relationship we have. When we had some argument where I insisted that ending this relationship is not the right thing to do, he says he can do anything for me as a best friend except getting married to me. He also told me that any guy who marries me will go mad because I am not modern enough to leave relationships quickly and I stick on to a person much if I am in relationship with the person.

    All this has hurt me a lot and he doesn’t respond well if I try to have conversations with him. This makes me feel so victimized as I have got attached to him so much and I miss how happy we used to be earlier. No matter how much I try to move on, I feel the time I spent and affection I shown are all getting played with and it is not right.

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    • Hello Sandy,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your situation Sandy, and I’m glad my article provided a measure of help.

      Keep moving forward and believing in yourself.

      My best,

      Randy

      Like

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