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How we betray ourselves

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One of the worst things you'll ever experience is betrayal. You trusted someone and they failed you. As a small child, you are dependent on your parents for provision and protection. Whoever they let into your home is assumed to be safe. Which is why the abuse of an uncle or a cousin can be …
By Seth Barnes

One of the worst things you'll ever experience is betrayal. You trusted someone and they failed you.

As a small child, you are dependent on your parents for provision and protection. Whoever they let into your home is assumed to be safe. Which is why the abuse of an uncle or a cousin can be so devastating.

As an adult, we trust friends with our secrets. We trust bosses with our future. We trust our government for the enforcement of our laws. We are a high trust culture. In countries where they have suffered wars or high crime, trust may be in short supply.

When you trust a friend with a secret and she shares it inappropriately, it can rock your friendship. When someone wounds you in a place you're vulnerable, it can be hard to heal.

Perhaps the most common form of betrayal is self-betrayal. We hurt ourselves.

by doing things we know we shouldn't – maybe starting up a bad habit that we've already beaten.

by hanging around people who are a poor influence, perhaps friends who we know may hurt us.

by not making time to grow in ways we feel we should. We just don't love ourselves enough to be disciplined.

by not taking risks that we sense we should take. Why try when you've been hurt before?

It's amazing how we'll hold others accountable for their betrayal, carrying bitterness with us like a treasure. But then we let the one person who has hurt us the most – ourselves – off the hook.

I've got friends who really are their own worst enemy. They know the right thing to do, but they won't do it. Having been wounded by others, they continue to hurt themselves. I had one friend who ended up dying because he kept betraying himself.

Are you a victim of self-betrayal? How do you betray yourself? The first step in healing is to acknowledge the reality and begin looking for help.

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