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.

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

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  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.

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

      Thanks for sharing your insights,


    • I like the equation. I was married for 34 years to a narcesstic man. I cannot change the events that have taken place and my response was always trying to leave but then going back which created the same outcome of broken trust. A year ago I changed the response by getting a divorce which changed my outcome. Trying now to end being a victim by healing and gaining growth. Betterlife12,2016

      • I respect your courage Angelia. My mom has made a different decision, having stuck with my NPD dad 40+ years now. It’s difficult for her, quite a questionable relationship really. I, on the other hand, broke up with my very much self-centered girlfriend recently; it’s like cutting off a limb but I know it must be done in order for me to thrive.

      • Actually one girl in my building, she was our close friend and we all hoped that she would never break our trust. But because of one girl who possessed her, she broke and my friends fought really bad. Trust is the only thing in which you can believe that person unless no problem. I really don’t know what to do.

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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.

    • 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.


  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.

  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.

    • 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,


  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?

    • 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.


  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?

    • 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,


  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.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your personal and inspiring story.

      Best regards,


    • You will not get an apology best a false apology. You need to discard him. Then he will know you are not a source of Narcissistic supply

  15. thankx… dis is absolutely true, u r helping ppl to heal.. nice 🙂

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

    • 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,


  18. Hello
    I have a question? If I have given forgiveness over and over, but the same offense continues to occur, then what do I do to help myself in the relationship?

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      The only thing you can do to help yourself is to make a smarter decision by limiting or eliminating that person’s negative effect on you. You are bringing this pain on yourself and until you choose to do something about it, it will continue.


  19. This is very helpful thanks u so much
    But i have a question as u said that Forgive that person who break your trust but should i trust that Perosn again or not its realy hard to bulidup trust again on that Such person who betrayed you i had given him a chance Once but again the result was same

    • Thanks for your comments Adeel.

      Whether or not to trust someone again should be based on that person’s trustworthiness. Has the person changed his/her behavior for the better and earned your trust? I believe the answer to that question determines whether you should grant him/her your trust.

      Best regards,


  20. Hi Randy,

    Thanks for the helpful article.
    I indeed do give forgiveness after my trust has been betrayed, yet forgeting about everything has always been the hardest method to apply.
    I had always kept myself holding back at the same issue and it really has done me no good. I’m deepily indebted to you for sharing this inspiring and teaching article.
    Living in the past is not an option anymore.
    I have found a vehicle that can help my friends too.


    • Hello Amie,

      Thanks so much for sharing your positive feedback. It’s fulfilling to know you and many others have been helped through the Leading With Trust blog.

      My best,


    • Just wanted to say, your comment ” hit the nail on the head” for me personally!! Except I am the one that was in the wrong originally and my friend, best in the entire world, was the one that got hurt n the past and having a hard time moving past it and not bringing up the things that occurred, but when i give her space she then does whatever she can to get in contact with me again to tell me that she forgives me, and we should move forward. I fear the damage is already done and it’s to much to repair…

      • Hi Heather,

        Your situation captures the amazingly beautiful yet scary aspect of trust – it requires risk. All of our relationships possess a certain amount of risk, thereby requiring trust. We could choose to live life alone and not risk/trust anyone, or we can choose to take the risk, extend trust, and do our best to make the relationship be the best it can be. It’s scary, but worth it!


  21. It hurts to have a friend violate your trust. In my case one of my friends promised me she’d do something, then out of the blue quit. I want to forgive her, but I’m hurting.

  22. I’ve been dealing with a broken relationship, where trust was broken at both ends and I realize my part in it. Since I naturally steer toward the victim mentality, it is a conscious effort to be resilient. From years of giving up on people, I’ve realized I don’t want to anymore. I want to cherish the past. Be at peace with it. It breaks my heart to hear the person I love tell me he doesn’t trust me anymore. What I read on this blog has really helped…the five points hit the nail on the head. Specially, asking “why”…I’ve realized that sometimes there are no answers. As tough and heart-rending as it might be…it is time to let go and move on and not be bitter. The victim mentality also changes who you are as a person…at the very core. Makes one bitter.
    Thank you for the blog. I’ll keep reading it until it’s drilled into me.
    Divya from India

  23. Life is not static but constantly fluid and a trust that has been built and may seem secure today can just as quickly be broken tomorrow. Many of our problems and trust issues stem from our own expectations of other people and it is not until we can learn to be fluid and flexible that we can truly learn to navigate the journey of life.

    • Hello Shannon,

      Thank you for adding your insights. It’s critical that we have the proper expectations in a relationship, otherwise we set ourselves up for disappointment and broken trust.

      Take care,


  24. I had a best friend who was there for me always.she was always kind to me and she was always made me comfortable….she said she don’t like to be married but suddenly she changed she said she want to married with someone….but i can t be that one she also know that….but i feel so heartbroken and untrust within her…marriage will change her…now i feel alone and i can t trust her…what should i do?

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  26. Well, to be honest, this didnt answer the specific question I was looking for, but most definitely taught me several things I did not know that were also very interesting and I hope to b able to apply those things once myself and the other person begin rebuilding the relationship that was damaged and the majority of it was my wrongs!! That is why I am searching this online, doing anything within my power to show that i appreciated & miss her, & want my friend backm

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  28. After 5 years of relationship my partner brutally break my trust, she give me too many promises the she will never cheat me, she will always be my side but she brutally destroyd my love and trust..

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  30. I always did good for people and helped them when they needed me but when i asked for a hand they gave me but when i told my weaknesses they made fun of it in front of others…many things that i told only my trustworthy friends are now roaming between random people and they are making fun of me…i have lost my image and I don’t think i can trust anyone anymore ever.

  31. I don’t think I could ever forgive anyone for lying and betrayal. Some things just can’t be fixed. Broken trust is one of them. Every time I give someone the benefit of the doubt, I end up being let down. This year has to be the worst year ever. I hate 2020 and I hate lying,cheating, money-grubbing scumbags.

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  33. Can do all the above to move one but not sure how you deal with discovery of 20 years of betrayal and “process”. Not sure what is exactly meant by processing – how do put a box around betrayal/double life that has been 20 to 30 years of your life. To many tears and memories to process.
    All you can do is say my feelings/ love and commitment were real and those memories meant something to me regardless of the others duplicity otherwise you are writing off that amount of your life.
    That’s not processing because of you face what was going on with the other person – all your memories are destroyed. You have to say my memories are what I felt at that time not the realignment I am now going through.
    Otherwise you just can’t look back and your past is how you became you on the now. Doesn’t define you but you can’t write it off with only now or the future matters. It doesn’t.
    Living in the now may get you through the day but it is natural and normal to think of what you have experienced and where you are heading. Without letting both become obsessions that destroy action in the present. Sometimes it’s accepting it just is rather than processing which van do more harm if there’s too much to “process”.

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