Overcoming and Healing from Betrayal


A Blog Post by Judy Thompson, Director Mind-Body Services:

Betrayal in one’s life often shows up like an uninvited enemy. It is unwelcome, often shocking, full of hurt, judgment and shame and faced with this challenge, it can feel like an end, a demise. No matter who the betrayer is, the feelings of hurt and pain linger with little submission, but when the betrayer is someone with whom we have entrusted our hearts, the pain and suffering feels that much more intense and activating.  In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote, “The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.”  And so true are Shakespeare’s words still today, for it is those with whom we entrust ourselves and our vulnerabilities that the pain of the action, the betrayal, feels that much more deep and incomprehensible.


What may begin to arise within this activation is questions like, “How did I not notice?” “Why did this happen to me?” “How could they do this to me?” “How could I not have seen the writing on the wall?” “Why did I let this happen?” “How could they hurt me like this?” We begin to judge not only ourselves and our intentions, but also our intelligence, our trust instinct and our overall intuition.

Although betrayal is most often connected with infidelity, it can be realized and experienced through many other sufferings: disloyalty in work relationships, lies from colleagues or coworkers who you thought were your “friends,” abandonment from parents to children, even the spreading of gossip or lies by friends or family, verbally or otherwise.

As the brain tries to make sense out of the pain and understand the trauma, we are left in a place of lingering, a place of sadness, lost hope and sorrow. Our mind continues to try to work through and understand the abandonment and pain; it is trying to protect us and learn how to prevent the pain from happening again. It is vigilant, consistent, persistent and judicious.

Being able to apply skills of mindfulness, while still experiencing the pain and suffering of the betrayal, is one of the first steps towards healing.

1-Notice and state the hurt as something that happened…noting your thoughts, emotions, feelings, fears.

2-As you begin to notice and acknowledge these thoughts and fears, allow the story and description of the betrayal to really be your own. Describe it.

3- As you describe it, let details unveil themselves. Notice these details. Notice what is present within as you allow and invite yourself to be fully expressive, fully present to all that is unveiled.

4-Inviting yourself to be in this place of vulnerability is scary. Be aware of your own thoughts and judgments and cut your connection to any self-criticism that displaces your mindful awareness, rather than empowers.

Points 1-4 can be noted within the mind, with a therapist or closely trusted friend, or in writing or journaling. Having the elaboration in writing or journaling can be the most helpful, as the expressiveness and detail is a purge and release in itself.

These 4 points of mindful awareness are similar to the steps of noticing that we take when we invite in a meditation practice. In iRest yoga nidra we do all of these points while we are being gently and verbally guided into a state of mindfulness and inquiry. We invite in and notice all feelings, emotions and sensations, while simultaneously experiencing the awareness of safety and ease.

Beyond these 4 steps of noticing and mindfulness, it is essential to provide self-care and compassion in your daily life. Essential oils are one of these wonderful, subtle tools that you can utilize. As the sense of smell has direct interaction with the limbic system in your brain (our memory center and controller of emotions), you can offer your mind and body a gentle an alternative path to healing and wellness. Bergamot oil can be used in working through episodes of depression, anger, and moments of emotional fear. Frankincense oil helps us work through spiritual shifts when there is unexplainable obsession and attachment. It also helps to bring us to a place of grounding. Roman Chamomile is amazing at inviting in the possibility of transformation. It offers soothing and peace to the physical body as well as the emotional body.

Whichever technique or step you invite into your life, know it is a first step to a path of healing. This betrayal and pain does not define you. The person who hurt you, the betrayer, has a karmically connected debt, which at some point they will have to face.

With each step you take, with each offering and choice that you insert into your life, you are doing the best that you can do in rediscovering your strength and authenticity, and overcoming the pain burdened upon you.

With Love-