At first, I attributed the theft of some documents from my desk drawer as an act triggered by envy. After all, whoever took the documents also stole the new name badge that was printed with my name and job title–“Public Service Director”. I had some suspicions as to which of my colleagues might have done it, but there was no definitive proof. To this day, I don’t know for sure who betrayed my professional trust in that manner.
Anyone who has struggled to achieve some measure of success in the workplace or in society in general has had to work hard to get where we are. The dark side of success is that there will likely be people who covet what we have attained and are ready to undermine us. A common result of corporate competition is betrayal. Because of this, we learn the hard way that we need to prove what we have done and file memoranda with management about it as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, as we gain wider visibility in our professions or in the public limelight, it’s more likely that some peers may be envious of our successes. They may sabotage our work or conduct smear campaigns that impugn our integrity. They will somehow challenge us or work to take us down. As we move up the ladder in business or socially we can expect an increase in chances that we will be betrayed in some manner.
Oftentimes a sabotage or rumor campaign will catch us by surprise as it did with the document theft from my workspace. It takes extra effort not to feel jaded afterwards. In order to get along with others, it’s good to keep some faith in mankind. Betrayal has a way of eroding that trust. Betrayal is more than an awakening, it’s an aggressive act.
Betrayal in the workplace is only one iteration. When betrayal occurs in the context of friendship or romance, it’s especially painful. To break trust causes harm to both the transgressor and the transgressed. The transgressor forfeits integrity, and the transgressed loses some amount of faith. If you’ve had a friendship or romantic relationship end due to betrayal of trust, the notion of trusting someone else with your heart can seem stupid.
As we grow older and hopefully wiser, we learn about emotion-laden events. There is joy and sadness; birth and death; love and hatred; trust and betrayal. Anywhere and anytime people come together, these things may happen.
I write about this topic today because the betrayal of American values has been in the news yet again. The news of betrayals brought back to mind a couple of ways personal betrayals have affected me.
I’ve learned that it is important to cultivate self-confidence and work on self-improvement. In my case, I had to discover the meaning of the term “boundaries” and then learn how to protect my own boundaries in order to lessen the chances I will be betrayed. If a betrayal happens, it is important to constructively confront the parties who threaten and oppose me. One of the biggest challenges is to regain a realistic trust in humanity.