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S2 EP217 – Healing from Betrayal

Episode Summary

Have you ever suffered betrayal in your life? Betrayal is one of the hardest things to go through, and it is vitally important that you deal with it in a way that doesn’t cause you even more pain. 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding Podcast. Today I’m addressing the issue of betrayal, which is a very painful experience, and it’s so important to do your healing work around betrayal so that you don’t keep toxic anger and resentment in your body.

It’s devastating when someone whom we believe cares about us betrays us – lies, cheats, breaks a sacred promise, hurts us behind our back, steals from us, turns others against us, and so on.

Many of us have felt deeply betrayed when we were young or in our adult relationships, and it’s important to understand that it’s not love that betrayed us. That which is love is unconditional and incapable of betrayal. What betrayed us was the wounded selves of our parents, friends, or partners, who professed to love us, but who might have been incapable of truly loving us because they likely weren’t loving themselves.

It’s very confusing to children when parents or other caregivers betray them. A parent who is emotionally, physically, or sexually abusing a child and telling them they are doing this because they love the child, is creating enormous confusion about love. A parent who says they love a child and then acts in unloving ways is deeply betraying the child.

Many of my clients have been badly hurt in childhood, and then hurt again as adults by family, friends or partners, and have a hard time opening to learning because having their heart open feels too vulnerable to being so hurt again. Often, they judge themselves for being slow learners regarding practicing Inner Bonding, but being willing to risk opening their heart takes time. It’s not easy to heal the trauma of being betrayed.

Part of healing from betrayal is learning to trust our feelings. But many of us grew up with parents who did not trust our feelings and perceptions. We might have been told that what we felt and what we experienced was wrong. Here are some examples that can erode self-trust:

Mother: Put on a jacket. It’s cold outside.
Child: I’m not cold.
Mother: You’re just a child. What do you know? Now put on a jacket.

Mother: Go give your Uncle George a kiss.
Child: No, I don’t like Uncle George. He’s creepy.
Mother: Of course you like Uncle George. Now go give him a kiss.

Child: My teacher is really mean to me.
Father: I’m sure your teacher is very nice. If your teacher is mean to you, it must be your fault.

Child: Daddy why are you angry at me?
Father: I’m not angry.

After a while, we learn to discount and mistrust our feelings and perceptions. We learn to give our authority away to our parents and other adults, deciding that others must know more about what we feel, want, and perceive than we do. We abandon our inner knowing and stop trusting ourselves.

I have worked with many people who felt deeply betrayed by someone, only to discover in the course of our work together than they had betrayed themselves by not listening to themselves. I often hear statements such as:

“I knew when we first met that Darren was lying to me about his money situation, but I didn’t listen to myself. I believed him instead of believing myself, and now I’m stuck with all this debt.”

“I had a feeling that Lana was having affairs even before we got married but I didn’t listen to myself. The last thing I ever wanted was to be divorced with children.”

We can often feel in our body what is true and what is untrue, yet many of us don’t listen to these inner messages. Instead, we put our trust in others and then feel betrayed when others let us down. Putting our trust in our own inner knowing rather than give our power away to others will go a long way toward protecting ourselves from being used and betrayed.

How often have you ignored yourself when something didn’t feel right, only to later discover that you really did know that something wasn’t right? How often have you heard the voice of your inner or higher self and discounted it, only to regret it later?

Betrayal is one of the hardest experiences to manage.

I’m very familiar with betrayal. My narcissistic mother’s betrayal rocked my world when I found out, after she died, that she had cut me out of their will, and my father had gone along with it. They were furious at me for leaving Los Angeles. When I decided to move away from Los Angeles – I had never liked it there – I left my aging parents in the very capable and willing hands of my oldest son and his wife. He and his wife lived in an apartment below my parents’ house and were already looking after them.

While my parents were very poor when I was young, and not financially well off while I was growing up, after I was an adult, my father did well in business and retired at an early age. They were not wealthy, but they ended up being very comfortable. I was an only child and my mother had reassured me for years that I had nothing to worry about financially, as I could expect a decent inheritance.

So, I didn’t worry about it. I spent most of my money on private schools and colleges for my children, and then on developing SelfQuest, and didn’t think much about retirement. While I now know that I don’t ever want to retire because I can’t imagine not doing the work I love, I didn’t know this at the time of the betrayal.

Little did I know that in my mother’s view, I wasn’t allowed to move. You can imagine my shock when I found out that my mother had changed their will without telling me. Not only that, but she also told my children, to whom she gave the inheritance, about the change, and made them promise not to tell me. I not only felt betrayed by my parents, but by my children as well. Of course, my parents had every right to give their money to whomever they wanted. The betrayal was in not telling me, and in insisting that my children not tell me.

I found out after my mother died, which gave me no chance to even speak with her about it. My father wanted to change it back, but due to having Parkinson’s, he wasn’t allowed to.

I went through awful heartbreak and grief over this. I was so outraged and devastated that I distanced myself from my whole family after my mother died. I cried and cried a seemly bottomless well of tears.

The pain of having been told all along not to worry, and then having not been told about their decision was crushing to me. I felt so helpless over this situation with my family, and it took me a number of years to understand what loving myself meant in the face of this betrayal.

The first thing I did was seek the help of a therapist. I needed a place to cry and express my outrage over the lies and injustice of it. I needed support in moving through my pain.

The next thing I did was write a letter to my mother, expressing the depth of the pain that her decision to die without being honest with me caused me. This was another level of release. I buried the letter near my house.

Then finally, I was able to ask my guidance the turn-around questions: “How had I betrayed myself? How is their betrayal of me a mirror of my own betrayal of myself?”

The answers came quickly.

“You betrayed yourself by giving yourself up so much. You ignored your own feelings and needs for so long, instead caretaking everyone else. You cannot expect them to have cared more about you than you cared about yourself.”

I knew this was right. I knew I could no longer blame them for betraying me when I had betrayed myself so much.

This was the hardest part for me. It’s easy to feel like a victim when betrayed, and hard to look at our own beliefs and behavior. There was much I had to come to terms with regarding how I had abandoned and betrayed myself in so many ways with my parents, my ex-husband, and my children. I eventually came to see that they were treating me the way I had been treating myself for many years before Inner Bonding.

I’ve learned that there are some important steps you can take to heal from betrayal, which has to do with learning to love yourself and listen to yourself.

Every situation that provokes us or causes us pain holds within it much learning and growth. Loving yourself in the face of betrayal means:

  • Getting the support you need
  • Learning to be very compassionate with yourself each time the pain comes up, especially the pain of heartbreak, loneliness, grief, and helplessness regarding the people who betrayed you.

    You need to find ways of releasing the feelings rather than staying stuck with them. It is vitally important to find healthy ways of releasing the outrage, heartbreak, and helplessness over the person or people who betrayed you. The first step in releasing these very painful feelings is to move into compassion for yourself. Too often, we may blame ourselves for not seeing the signs of betrayal and getting caught unawares, but we must remember that we are human and can’t always know what’s happening.

It’s unhealthy for us to get stuck with the deep pain of heartbreak and helplessness, or stuck feeling like a victim. Stuck feelings can cause illness, and this is the last thing we need while dealing with betrayal.

The way to release stuck feelings is to be very kind and gentle with ourselves, acknowledging how very hard it is to go through a betrayal. You might want to roll up a towel and beat the outrage out on a bed, saying all you wish you could say to the person or people who betrayed you. This might release tears and when the tears come, allow them to flow, being very tender with yourself. It’s healthy to cry it out and unhealthy to be stoic.

  • Then, open to learning about your part of the system that contributed to you being betrayed – how you might have abandoned and betrayed yourself. Like I said, every challenge in life has lessons for us, and once we move some of the very painful feelings through, we can then learn. The two primary things we want to learn about are:
  • Is there some way I betrayed myself by giving myself up or abandoning myself in other ways?
  • Is there some way I betrayed myself by not listening to my inner voice, my gut feelings? What did I ignore that I needed to attend to?

Try to answer these questions honestly, but without any judgment toward yourself. Often, but not always, if we had been alert to our gut feelings, we could have known ahead of time that bad things were happening.

Recognize that we all ignore things that are painful for us to see, even though it may eventually result in even more pain. Again, be very compassionate toward yourself for being human and avoiding knowing the truth about some situations.

On the other hand, there may not have been early signs. Sometimes others are very good at seeming to be caring and honest, and we can all get pulled into the illusion of caring or charm. Again, be very compassionate with yourself for not knowing. 

  • Next, take the loving actions for your inner child – over and over – until you no longer feel like a victim of the betrayal. Keep letting go and moving into acceptance.

Each time the pain of the heartbreak and helplessness comes up, feel it fully with compassion and then be willing to release it. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in self-blame, rumination, what-ifs, or anger toward the betrayer. None of these will help you heal. We tend to blame ourselves, stay in anger at the other person, or ruminate as ways of not feeling so powerless over the person or people who betrayed us, but allowing ourselves to get stuck in these feelings only serves to continue to hurt us. The deed is done and cannot be undone. No matter how much you blame the betrayer or yourself, it doesn’t change the fact that it happened. Acceptance of the truth, and of your helplessness over what happened, will help you heal much faster than holding onto anger, blame, resentment, or rumination.

  • Take all the time you need to heal. Be sure not to tell yourself that you ‘should’ be over this by now.

None of this is easy, and none of it is quick, but you CAN heal.

Keep doing these steps over and over and the times of deep pain will get fewer and fewer. It does take time, but eventually you will have long periods when you don’t think about it. There may always be situations that trigger the pain, and when this happens, be very gentle, tender, caring and compassionate toward yourself, again allowing the feelings to move through you.

When slowly, day by day, you take the risk of opening your heart to loving yourself, you will gradually develop your strong loving adult who is capable of lovingly managing the hurt of betrayal.

In one of my workshops, a participants asked me “How do I get over feeling betrayed?”

I said to her, “What are you feeling about having been betrayed?”

“I feel angry, hurt, misunderstood, unheard.”

“How are you not listening to yourself and not understanding yourself?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t listen to myself at all,” she said.
Not listening to ourselves is self-betrayal, and it will often be mirrored by others’ behavior toward us.

“Use this betrayal as a mirror for seeing the various ways you have been betraying yourself’,” I said to her, “without any self-judgment about it – which is another form of self-betrayal. Just be open and curious. You will find the way to healing only when you are loving yourself rather than betraying yourself.”

Fortunately, she was very open to this. She had been suffering and she was deeply desirous of finding a way to deal with the betrayal she had felt in her family. Her eyes lit up in understanding and relief that there was something she could do besides trying to get others to hear and understand her.

I told her that I could not reconcile with my family until I had reconciled with myself. And once I did, the way toward family reconciliation appeared.

But, once you’ve been betrayed, it may be hard to trust again.

I received the following question about how to trust again:

“My husband and I remarried after we both got divorced and went through a number of relationships. I have been hurt a lot but tried to end all the relationships in peace so when I met my husband, I felt alive and saw him as my right great man. And he is actually great in many ways. But when I found some of his communications with his ex-wife and ex-girlfriends, I found that he lied to them a lot. And sometimes he lied to me also. I know our relationship is sort of controlling-resistance. I am trying to control, and he is trying to resist. And I told him that I do not trust him or respect him any more for all he has done to other women and me. Because he lied, I felt like I have the right to judge him and to make him feel guilty for what he has done to me and other women. Then he told me that he felt so bad about himself and that he is as bad as what I told him. I feel it is his problem and I cannot respect a man who is not responsible for what he is doing. I’ve gotten very angry many times and scolded him and called him names. I know I should not have done that, but I have lost trust in him. Through the Inner Bonding process I am trying to get myself back and get my love and respect and trust back for him. My question is how I can restore all these? And how can I trust that I will not be his victim in the future?”

And another question about how to trust again, from a different woman:

“Being forthright, honest and loyal are important attributes for myself and in others. Once the ‘bridge of trust”‘ has been burned significantly (i.e. infidelity in marriage or an intimate relationship), can trust be truly re-established when it seems to be more important to one partner? How does the one betrayed respond when the other is apologetic but thinks an apology is enough? How do you prevent this feeling of distrust from affecting the relationship?”

Learning to trust again requires work on two levels:

The first thing that needs to be done is your own inner work. You need to do enough Inner Bonding to become a trustworthy loving adult for your own inner child. This means:

  • Accepting that you have no control over whether or not someone betrays you again and letting go of trying to control the other person.
  • Fully grieving the loss of trust.
  • Learning to trust your own inner knowing. As you develop your trust in your feelings and your guidance, you are more equipped to sense a lack of honesty and integrity in others.
  • Becoming willing to lose the other person rather than lose yourself
  • Becoming willing to take whatever loving actions you need to take on your own behalf.

The second level of work in learning how to trust again is relationship work.

  • Both you and your partner need to attend couples counseling to fully understand your relationship system. Lying is sometimes the result of one person trying to control and the other resisting or fearing to be honest. Both partners need to do the work of healing old fears and beliefs and developing a trustworthy loving adult inside, who can be honest rather than deceitful. You can never trust that the other person won’t lie or be unfaithful if your own inner healing work isn’t a priority.
  • Apologies are never enough. Apologies don’t mean anything without the inner work to heal the underlying fears and false beliefs that led to lying or being unfaithful.

It is unrealistic to trust again without this inner and relationship work. The wounded self in all of us isn’t trustworthy and can act out in very hurtful ways when there isn’t a strong loving adult in charge of our actions. For trust to flourish in your relationship, both of you need to become trustworthy loving adults with yourselves and with each other.

Trusting others starts with self-trust.

Your trust issues with others will be resolved when you develop a consistent Inner Bonding practice and learn to become a trustworthy adult with yourself – following through on what you say you will do – and trusting your inner knowing. It will be harder for others to get away with unloving acts toward you when you learn to trust yourself.

It starts with each one of us – with how we treat ourselves, whether we love ourselves or betray ourselves.

Are you loving yourself or betraying yourself?

The more you learn to love yourself, the more you bring people into your life who are capable of loving.

In my experience, there is nothing more profound than connecting deeply with a person who is capable of offering unconditional love.

I never thought I would experience this in my life from an actual person, but now I do. I could not have gotten through the betrayal of my family without the support of my dearest friend, soul sister, and Golden Girl housemate, Dr. Erika Chopich. I’m so blessed to be unconditionally loved by her. Not that we don’t get upset with each other at times, because we are human. But we each know in the depths of our souls that we can completely count on the other’s love to have our backs and to comfort us when we each need it. We know with our whole beings that we each have the other’s highest good at heart.

It took a long time for each of us to heal all that was in the way of purely loving. We fought, we learned, we mothered each other. We pushed each other’s buttons, challenging each other to become all we can be. The rewards of all this hard work are truly what life is all about. 

In our older years, we are reaping the peace and joy of all our hard work.

We laugh, we play, we create, we share love with other, and we bask in the safety and connection that comes only from having healed the blocks to loving.

We all have the opportunity to move ourselves, day by day, more toward being able to unconditionally love ourselves and unconditionally share love with others. Please be patient with yourself, as this is anything but an easy or quick process. But is there really anything more important in life? Isn’t this what we came here to do – evolve in our ability to love and fully manifest our gifts on this planet?

All the money or success or fame in the world cannot fill you up like love does – your love for yourself and sharing your love with others.

Loving yourself and becoming a trustworthy loving adult who trusts your inner knowing and your spiritual guidance is the very best way of protecting against betrayal and learning to trust others again.

I invite you to join me for my bi-monthly masterclass and receive my live help, which you can learn about at

I invite you to heal your relationships with my 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my new book, “Lonely No More: The Astonishing Power of Inner Bonding” and from our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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