Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in one's lifetime. But we should not let it destroy our trust in others when that happens.

For betrayal to come about, there would have to have been trust first. But it's hard to tell who has our back; who has it long enough just to stab us in it.

Let's go deeply and analyze the makeup of betrayal inspired by the writings of Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D.

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.Ē― William Blake

The very name, betrayal invokes deep hurt and heartache. Betrayal is the subject of great literature, pulp fiction, films, theater, romance novels,  country western ballads, and many more. It is a universal theme. It is part and parcel of the human experience. Betrayal comes in many packages including lies, denials, sins of omission, broken promises, hurtful actions, stubborn passivity, and choosing anew.

In order to exist, betrayal requires a connection; it is relational. It  happens across the board, from our neighbor, our colleague, our spouse, a family member, a professional, or a beloved institution. It is an equal opportunity offender; it cuts at the essential cord that attaches us to one another. It breaks a bond predicated on trust.

For the receiver, betrayal hurts. Itís the unexpected knife in the back, sucker punch to the gut, or dagger in the heart. Itís a devastating blow. You are left breathless and reeling in pain.

Betrayal is also unexpected for the receiver. It comes out of the blue; like a flaming meteor plunked on your door step, betrayal has not been anticipated. You are confused and unprepared. You never saw it coming.

For the giver, betrayal is premeditated; it is an individual choice that has been hatched in secrecy and, possibly, duplicity. The act of betrayal is an influential moment on the personal journey which provides a choice, a choice that can be made out of fear or faith.

 A choice made out of fear can be a real or perceived easy way out, such as a friend or relative who refuses to repay a business loan or someone who walks away from a sick relative or friend. Whereas a choice based on faith can be a fearless act of courage, think of a whistle-blower or a spouse leaving an abusive marriage.

The concept of betrayal can be slippery. There are times you may decide to betray another in order to be true to yourself. There is a saying that says, ďItís not that I love you any less, itís just that I love myself more.Ē

Clearly, betrayal is a self-centered act. Whether good or bad, betrayal is a matter of context and perhaps, the good or bad piece is irrelevant in the long run.

The worst pain in the world goes beyond the physical. Even further beyond any other emotional pain one can feel. It is the betrayal of a friend or a relative.

I think the root cause of betrayal, whether viewed as right or wrong, is emotional survival, a fundamental core drive for safety and protection to be in the world; to feel important or superior. This drive is based on life experiences, especially the early years.

The enormous magnetic pull of this drive is to keep safe and to keep safe at all costs. Enormous hurt and pain notwithstanding, the primary drive of betrayal is not always to hurt or harm; it is an emotional drive for safety and survival. You are not the target, per se, but have become the collateral damage.

Without a doubt, betrayal is crazy-making. There are always repercussions. What you do to me or I do to you has ramifications, be it mental, emotional, physical, energetic, or spiritual. Cause and effect, actions and reactions are the physics of life.

When it gets down to it, we can say that each of us has betrayed someone and each of us has been betrayed. Regardless, betrayal is a part of life and a requisite part of the spiritual path. It is a master teacher.

Betrayal levels us; the entire playing field is gone. We are called to face ourselves and choose how to respond, how to rebuild, and how to go forward. Certainly, we can hang out in victim mode; the choice is ours. Or we can transform the dirt into greater clarity and step into the fullness of ourselves.

Related page: After Effects of Betrayal

 By Tim Pedrosa



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Tim