No matter how old you are or what you do, someone will stab you in the back at some point in your life.

I have been betrayed both personally and professionally, and sometimes I’ve seen it coming and other times, it completely caught me off guard. I usually have a strong intuition, but sometimes it kicks in too late, as I am a very trusting and open person.

Unfortunately there are just some people in this world who think that lying, hurting others, causing drama spreading gossip is necessary to get ahead or entertaining. These are dangerous people who you should try and avoid at all costs.

Each of us (I hope) tries to be a good person every day. You show people you are a good person by taking actions consistent with what you define as being a good person.

Let me give you an example of something that happened to me that sounds like an episode of the Real Housewives.

I had a friend who often enjoyed talking negatively about others and stirred up drama in our friend group. She also never seemed happy for others when good things happened to them.

Last year, this friend conspired to break up several of my long-term friendships and my relationship by spreading malicious lies about me to friends and my significant other. She calculatingly told friends half truths, embellished stories and fabricated outright lies to damage my relationships with them and planted seeds of doubt with my partner on whether we were a good match while suggesting that another woman in our friend circle would be a better fit for him. Why someone would pretend to be my friend and do this to me behind my back shows what a terrible person she is.

While her meddling worked in part to end my relationship and some friendships (all of these people were not good matches for me anymore in the long run), it ultimately backfired on her. She wound up alienating herself from our entire friend circle. People were so appalled by her mean girl behavior that today not one person wants anything to do with her. We keep finding out lies she spread and the damage she caused still reverberates.

When I found out the extent of her betrayal and lies, I cut off all ties with her without a word. This terrible behavior must stem from mental illness and unhappiness in her own life.

Many of us have encountered mean girls at work as well. I had a professional situation where a colleague became a boss. She was super smart, and I was excited to learn from her. I think she saw me as a rival and I can understand that given that we were similar ages and levels. After always receiving stellar performance reviews under my previous boss (when she and I were equals), as soon as she was elevated to my boss, I started to receive negative reviews and I suddenly could do nothing right. Going to work became incredibly stressful each day. Within a year I was gone. Unfortunately, I have heard many other friends recount similar stories like this.

Women are sometimes each other’s worst enemies. I think it stems from jealousy and insecurity.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself if this happens to you.

  • Cut this person out of your life immediately and anyone else who supports their negativity
  • Do damage control
  • Let go (as hard as it is) – some people bought into the many lies that the gossiper spread about me – the only way I could be in control was to be okay with not being in control and to instead focus on the things I could control. Eventually the truth came out.
  • Try not to ruminate and replay the situation
  • Rise above it and focus on you – use this time and your extra energy to focus on your career, fitness or family – whatever it is – just do something productive and far away from this toxic person
  • Correct false perceptions through concrete actions (but don’t gossip and don’t try too hard)
  • Take a time out (maybe that’s from the friend group or social media – whatever it is just unplug and disassociate)
  • Look at the big picture – yes this seems awful now, but it will pass. And thank god you found out how awful this person was before they caused more damage in your life.
  • Surround yourself with love – your family, true friends, a pet – lots of people love you. Don’t focus on those who don’t.
  • Don’t care about others say about you, Yes I know this is easier said than done. But I really can’t change what other people think. I realize that individuals who believe the lies that my former friend spread about me are not my friends at all and that my life is better off without them in it. Because if anyone could take her word over mine and partake in a vicious gossip attacks against me, they are not people with whom I want to associate.
  • Self-reflect – remember it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.
  • Keep going – I know how much better off I am without a toxic friendship and a significant other who would believe someone else over me.

I always believe there is something to learn from every situation. This was no different. From this experience, I learned a number of important lessons –  to be more appreciative of true friends who have always been there for me, be more sensitive to others and trust my intuition. Above all, I learned to protect myself more, be cautious of who I allow into my inner circle and to not apologize for being myself.

At the end of the day, people are free to believe negative things about you despite everything you do to prove them otherwise. As long as you know your values and take actions consistent with them, who you really are will shine through. Live with integrity and remember that we only have control over our own actions and how we react to situations.

Did I do anything to deserve to be betrayed by former boss and colleague, one of my so-called close friends, my live-in boyfriend and then someone in our social circle who jumped at the chance to date my ex right away? No. But this is life. And people are selfish and insecure. People will also make up lies to justify their behavior. These are not people I want in my life. The thing about the truth is that it always comes out. People can do their best to try and manipulate situations and hurt you, but the truth always prevails.

Just be a good person, trust the universe and let karma do its work. What’s meant for you will find you, always.