The Psychology of Self-Betrayal

“I should have listened to myself”

A lot of us have been in situations where we know what we should do and how we should react, but still chose to do the exact opposite. At surface level, it looks like it was just a choice you made, with no “real” consequences, especially not to the self. To some, it might even come across as selfless if you chose to negate your own feelings, thoughts, concerns and needs for the benefit of the other. If this is done ever so often, it becomes part of your identity and people begin to expect you to always be in support of their requests, needs, demands, behaviours, etc.

But what people don’t acknowledge and talk about is the feeling you are left with after doing such a “selfless” act. You are left feeling disappointed in yourself for not listening to yourself, your needs, your gut, etc. You begin to feel angry at yourself for not, at least, trying to put yourself first. For some, you might even begin to resent the people you tend to placate because to you, it feels like they have some control over you and how you react to their requests/behaviours. During this time, you do not even realise that it might be a trauma response.

Perhaps, from past experiences, you have learned to become a placator/people-pleaser for the sake of peace as that would mean less tension. Or, it could be that you learned through past experiences to always put others’ needs first because your own were made to feel less important, like a burden, making you feel so alone and unseen.

Maybe, being a people pleaser, betraying yourself in those moments where you negate how you feel and what you need for the benefit of the other, finally allows you to feel seen because at least you have contributed positively to someone’s life and they have no other choice but to validate you. Yes, it feels great to be seen and appreciated by others. But what about how you see yourself? How you treat yourself? How do you expect to know what you need from others when you do not even know how to do so for yourself? Are you always going to be looking outward for validation just so you can feel that short-lived feeling of importance?

Reflect On This:

  • Do you remember the last time you betrayed yourself?
  • What indicators do you usually have that show that you are about to betray yourself?
  • What feelings usually come up when you realise you have betrayed yourself?
  • What do you do with those feelings that come up?
  • Why do you think you tend to placate others/betray yourself?
  • How do you plan on working on listening to yourself more?
  • What do you think you need for you to be able to listen to and stay true to yourself more?
  • How are you going to show yourself some compassion for those moments when you have betrayed yourself?

Embrace yourself even in those moments where you feel like you have let yourself down. Unlearning and relearning certain things is a process. Be patient with yourself.

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