Betrayal: The Fourth Dwarf of Smallness


I've been writing about the Seven Dwarves of Smallness. Betrayal is #4. How does it keep you small?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about what I call the Seven Dwarves of Smallness. These little gremlins in your subconscious mind conspire to keep you small. They tell you all sorts of reasons why you can’t have, be, and do what you really want. They’re full of lies, but we believe them. They are the sons and daughters of FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.
They are insidious. They have been so deeply ingrained in our habitual thought patterns that we don’t even question them. We sometimes forget that our thoughts and our feelings create our reality, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We sometimes forget that we don’t have to believe everything we think.
These seven dwarves exist, to some degree or another, in everyone. They may show up differently, but we all had some version of these programs installed in our psyches. The dwarf of betrayal has several faces. They all occur when someone we love and trust breaks a confidence or a promise. All the variations of betrayal serve to keep us from trusting others, and ultimately they prevent us from trusting ourselves.
How do you make your acquaintance with the dwarf of betrayal and mistrust? Betrayal is the only dwarf that anchors beliefs in us later in life. All of the other dwarves set up their programs mostly by the time we’re eight or nine years old. Betrayal wounds can and do happen early in life, but many of them happen when we’re in our teens and early twenties. Here are some common ways we learn about betrayal:
1. As a child, you witness betrayal in the relationship between your parents. Perhaps your father has an affair, or your mother deserts you.
2. A parent repeatedly promises to do something with you or to take you somewhere special, then doesn’t.
3. You disclose a confidence to your best friend, then find out she told others your deepest secrets.
4. Someone you thought was a friend turns against you unexpectedly.
All of these forms of betrayal teach us that we can not trust the people closest to us. We learn that we can’t trust love, and we can’t trust people to do what they promise. We learn that our secrets aren’t safe, and that people aren’t always who they say they are. The betrayal wound makes us believe that we are alone in the world.
When we are betrayed, the natural reaction is to be angry and to hold a grudge against the person who betrayed our trust. We put up walls around our hearts, protected ourselves from further betrayal. All that does is make us lonely and angry.
The antidote to betrayal is to consciously decide to trust again. Although you may believe that people are untrustworthy, you can make the decision to extend trust to someone. I know this is possible, because I’ve been doing it with my husband for the past two years. We discovered that we didn’t trust each other, and decided to work on increasing trust within our relationship.
Trust is a bit like faith: sometimes you have to throw it out there without knowing what’s coming back to you. There will probably be times when you extend trust, then realize it was unwarranted. You’ll feel betrayed again, and it will be painful. And yet, I haven’t found a better way to heal the wound of betrayal. It may heal in fits and starts, but it does heal. My own relationship with my partner of 25 years is testament to that.
If you’d like me to help you heal your betrayal issues, please email me at for a complimentary 30 minute session.