17 December 2010 4 Comments

Betrayal as a Journey of Transformation, Part 5: Internal Conflict

Inner strength, peace and clarity of mind result from knowing and accepting who we are. Self knowledge gives us the ability to chose actions with which we are wholeheartedly aligned. Moving beyond betrayal depends on knowing what drives us. Whether or not we have inner conflict, we can make loving choices when we are in touch with ourselves.

P1020908Even principled, powerful men or women with upper-level business and social skills sometimes experience themselves as being unable to say “no” in more personal relationships. Intimacy can set off submerged issues. Those who fear intimacy feel conflicted about it. Part of them longs to be close while another powerful part works to undermine that intimacy, to reject the vulnerability. Control issues can make the fearful part of them resent or even hate those who love them or come too close for “making” them feel vulnerable.

A person of fairly good character, in conflict about vulnerability, may resist expressing uncomfortable feelings until fantasies of acting out blossom into actions that betray others. Efforts to act honorable can contribute to denying negative feelings and they override candid expression until their discomfort busts their seams. Then the built-up energy is expressed in inappropriate behavior.

People do not betray because we are doing something wrong. They are just as likely to betray if we do something right! And if they do, you can bet they are in conflict. Here are two examples:

  • When we are able to be more vulnerable and open than another person, they may feel threatened if we get close.
  • If you are virtuous it can bring up conflict in others. Those who want the feeling of virtue may judge themselves because they cannot live up to what they see in you, like alcoholics who caustically criticize people who do not drink.

To understand betrayal, accept and pay special attention to your own tendency to betray. If you are honest with yourself–and even if you never actually act it out because you recognize the consequences–you may be able to find a whiff of temptation to betray. Sniff out your conflicts and you can act intentionally instead of acting out.

  • What forces, fears, feelings, drives, and conflicts operate within you when betrayal crosses your mind?
  • What part of you feels weak?
  • What do you actually need in those moments?
  • What would you have had to admit, to yourself or to another person, to be open about your needs?
  • Do you need the other person’s approval?
  • What, exactly, are you afraid of?
  • What did you tell yourself that blocked up your compassion?
  • What is the most loving way you can meet your needs?
  • Are you willing to feel compassion for your weaknesses?
  • How can you use the challenge of sorting out betrayal as an exercise to develop your personal values and clarity?

Which of the above questions do YOU find most useful? Why?


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4 Responses to “Betrayal as a Journey of Transformation, Part 5: Internal Conflict”

  1. Therese 18 December 2010 at 6:43 am #

    This brought up an understanding that I tend to push people away when they start to become too meaningful to me. I’ve been able to overcome it with my husband but, so far, no one else. Of course, until now, I didn’t really know I did this. So, hopefully, I will be able to open up and let others in now that I’m aware. 🙂

    I understand this feeling has come about because of a fear of loss. I have a lot less fear of loss now. I think the final piece will be letting people come and go in my life as they please without feeling attachment to their preference.

    I’ll see what happens. Thank you for helping me gain this insight.

    • Teresa Dietze 18 December 2010 at 1:31 pm #

      Dear Therese,
      What a great insight. If I have played a role in evoking it this inspires me to continue my posts.
      So many of us protect our hearts when we long to be close. It’s amazing how powerful those protective impulses can be! Ironic that fear of loss can keep us from gaining in the first place–if even to borrow and enjoy for a while without keeping.

  2. Greg 20 December 2010 at 8:28 am #


    When I feel like I am vulnerable then my guard goes up fearing that I will be betrayed. My trust in myself and the other person may be put aside knowing I may be betrayed and lose the other person. All the while not telling the truth about my feelings to the other person is self betrayal and betrayal to the individual in the relationship. Fear of loss that follows me from previous life experiences influences my decision to not to be honest about my feelings in a realtionship. The cycle can be hard to break it is a slow process to trust myself and express my true feelings.

    Thank you,

    • Teresa Dietze 20 December 2010 at 8:29 pm #

      Kudos for your clear observation and courageous honesty in this forum, Greg. What you are describing is perhaps the most normal thing to do.
      I get tempted to do the same. Then as I begin to think about betray myself in creeps in the unnerving sense that if I go along with something that won’t work for me, the other person will start to count on me for it. Their feelings and expectations will grow. Every step in that direction means that I’d have to REALLY betray myself AND the other person in a much larger way. The thought of hurting them and feeling trapped by being around them while having to act falsely makes me so uncomfortable that I probably error in the opposite direction! I guess I’d rather lose someone right at start then after we’ve become invested in one another.

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