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The Sacrificial Lamb

I want to take a moment to explore the concept of self-betrayal. When you think of self-love , what comes to mind? Probably a flowery word like “self-care. ” When I say self-betrayal, you’re probably thinking in the extremes like giving up on yourself or your dreams . Yes, these are a type of self-betrayal, but there are all sorts of other ways we betray ourselves that we have normalized and even suggest is just apart of our personality.

In essence self-betrayal is when we ignore our needs, usually for others. This behavior can look like:

· Committing to one-sided connections

· Denying/minimizing your needs to preserve a relationship

· Lack of boundaries

· People pleasing

· Adopting the beliefs of others to be ‘accepted’

· Lack of trust in oneself

· Agreeing to do things you don’t want to do


In relationships self- betrayal usually manifest as someone abandoning their emotional needs to preserve the relationship. This can look like focusing on your partners’ needs in an effort to keep them happy and emotionally engaged while your emotional needs go unmet. Over time this can lead to resentment, unfulfillment, depression and more. Giving out love is a beautiful thing but when it is one sided it can have devastating effects- especially to our self esteem .


In one’s career self-betrayal can manifest in many forms. A common form is sacrificing your mental health in an effort to create an aura of perfection. On the outside you may give off the aura of successfully thriving while actually being wrecked with anxiety, self-doubt, and a constant need for reassurance. To others it may look like you’re always completing reports on time, moving up the corporate ladder, and flourishing but there’s another side to this phenomenon. That is to say this is a life that feels unlived, similar to merely living on autopilot.

There are small steps you can take to stop this cycle of constantly sacrificing your mental health, wellbeing, and time. These steps all center around one big concept, ‘Showing up for yourself.’ Showing up for yourself is just a different way of showing love for yourself. You overcome self-betrayal with self-love. Here are a few ways to help you show up and show out in the self-love arena:

· Be compassionate toward yourself

· Challenge your inner critic

· Create boundaries and keeping them

· Allow yourself to feel and not repress your emotions

· Be clear about what you want and need from yourself, but also from others

· Learn to trust yourself and your intuition

· Take time for ‘me time’

The bottom line is there are plenty of rewards (and risk) that come with making these changes. The fact is when you start showing up for yourself, it may infuriate those who benefited from your constant sacrificing of your mental health and emotional wellbeing to please them. And while this risk may sound scary ask yourself, “Is it really a lost to lose someone that required me to fail myself for their comfort?“

Healing is a verb, so let’s get to work.

Kares Clarke, LMSW

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Creating boundaries and sticking to them is difficult to me. I'm always worried about being cautious not to betray others....but I never really realized I was betraying myself.

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