Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Feeling Betrayed: Emotions, Archetypes and Recovery, 2

March 2nd, 2015 · No Comments · feeling betrayed

As we described in the first part of “Feeling Betrayed”, betrayal can be a devastating experience.  So, how could anything good possibly ever come from it?

feeling betrayed

Often, discovery of betrayal is a huge emotional blow.  Before anything can occur to bring an individual back into the flow of life after a major betrayal, this enormous impact must be acknowledged and accepted.
The individual must get past denial or splitting off of the grievous emotional pain.  He or she must also get past the temptation to pass punishing — and unjust — judgement on him- or herself for being the victim of a betrayal.

Seeing Oneself in Betraying Relationships

feeling betrayed

We can learn a great deal about ourselves in the process of understanding how a betrayal comes to occur in our lives.

Sometimes feeling betrayed arrives with no warning, and nothing in the relationship that led up to it, but most often, this is not true.

Acts of betrayal often occur in relationships of one kind or another where weaknesses go unacknowledged.  That is to say, that the relationship may have aspects of which we are unwilling to become conscious.  For instance, in a marital relationship, one or both partners may compartmentalize, showing one aspect of who they are in the marriage, and another, quite different, outside.

To deal with betrayal is often to be in the realm of shadow.  Betrayal forces us to quit idealizing the other.  Yet it also makes us less naive or idealizing about ourselves.  I may be taken past sunshine illusions, and realize how my denial, my complexes, my deep childhood yearning to be loved at any cost, may have all helped to set the stage for the devastation of betrayal.

A Meeting with Our Instinctual Selves

If we can stand to see it, betrayal can often lead to encounter with our core and instinctual selves, which are non-rational, but very real.

Often, in retrospect, the individual recognizes that the unconscious instinctive self warned of the betrayal prior to its occurrence.  Dream images, or even a direct voice urging the individual to “pay attention to John (or Jane)” are typical warnings from the unconscious.  Many individuals who ended up in betrayal situations recount having such warning experiences.

Connection with these instinctual aspects of the self can lead us to a different understanding of who we are, and a different journey through life.

Self-Honesty and Self-Acceptance

Betrayal represents a threat to the integrity of the self, leading to self-devaluation.  To see beyond the betrayer’s rejection to the love of oneself, as one is, is often the call of the self in the midst of the pain of betrayal.  This entails accepting our vulnerable, flawed selves, and the recognition of how much we yearn for love, and how fundamental it is to us.  This painful journey is essential.

Betrayal, Self-Betrayal and Power

feeling betrayed

Self-acceptance in the light of betrayal can take us deep into vulnerability and shadow.  Betrayal in our adult lives may take us to fundamental issues rooted in early life.

Professor Arno Gruen of Rutgers writes of how, deprived of basic love and the security of true acceptance at an early age, a child can be forced into destruction of the true self and pursuit of power and social status.  This requirement to betray self by surrendering autonomy to get the “love” of those who wield power over us can lead to self-hatred.  A betrayal later in life can reactivate intense feelings around early self-betrayal.

The depth psychotherapy of individuals in betrayal situations focuses on compassionate acceptance of our frail, needy selves, and our need to move into our lives from that place of self-love and deep acceptance.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  ©  peasapPorsche Brosseau ; lilivanili
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)