Shame and Betrayal

Like the cruellest of conjurer’s tricks, betrayal leaves us feeling exposed and belittled. The shame of betrayal erodes trust, so we are prey to feelings of hopeless revenge bitter cynicism and paranoia. By avoiding false forgiveness, it is possible to begin to rebuild and move forward.

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 1  

When we are betrayed, it opens a jack-in-a-box of past rejections, failure and mistakes.   Betrayal is such a visceral shock it sparks our shame.  Moving from toxic shame to healthy guilt.  Separating the behaviour from the person. 

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 2 

The different kinds of betrayal.  We are betrayed by our friends and lovers, not by our enemies.  If we speak about a betrayal and it is not believed - that is a second betrayal. Shame & betrayal both thrive on secrecy.   Breaking small promises.   

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 3 

Betrayal at work.  Self-betrayal. Betrayed by your own body.  Betrayal is a psycho-physiological experience. Juliet talks about her first husband’s affair. Once the door of betrayal has been opened it never quite closes again, and we fear that same betrayal happening again. We all have the right to renegotiate our relationship.

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 4 

The time of innocence before the betrayal. Pure, naked, untroubled and free. Then cast out of Eden.  Lost innocence.  Poem – ‘Counting the Marigolds’ by William Ayot.  Naïvete - the flying boy and flying girl

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 5 

Trust and betrayal and inextricably linked. Death by 1,000 cuts.  James Hillman and the puer eternam.  John Lee.  The qualities of the flying boy & girl.  Icarus got too close the sun and crashed. Juliet’s experience of her couples therapist knowing about her first husband’s affair before she did. The naïve person wants to avoid conflict.  The importance of rupture and repair.  

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 6

Breakout room discussions.  Revenge. Pesso Boyden recognises revenge as a normal human need.   Family constellations - the guilty person put things back into order by carrying the consequences themselves. How do you balance it, so that when you have been betrayed you don’t have to hold a grudge.  Revenge: symbolically manifest that desire so that you can move on. Sex and the ‘beans in the jar’.   Stronger in the broken places.  Beautiful in the ugly places. 

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 7 

Poem: by William Stafford – ‘Meditation’.  Meeting the flying boy and bringing him to the ground.  One of the most serious betrayals is self-betrayal.  The monogamy contract is not with my partner, it is with myself.  Being a leader who has to deliver a message to your people that you know is not true. To violate your values of honesty. Juliet talks about getting ‘sacked’ by her closest friend.

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 8

Paranoia, with the aim of protecting oneself against being betrayed again. A demand for a relationship without the possibility of betrayal is not based on trust, but on power.  I cannot control my partner.  All I can do is control myself, and sometimes I cannot do that!   

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 9 

Forgiveness brought too quickly can lead to resentments.  Hillman says, the betrayer needs to carry their sin, otherwise the   betrayed person has to carry it.  Help clients to wrap the betrayal into the story of their relationship.  Poem by Alden Nowlan.  Learning to forgive those you have betrayed.  Journey from primal trust to betrayal, to death of naivety, to becoming grounded.  Blocks to this are revenge, denial, cynicism, self betrayal, paranoid delusions and defences.  Different kinds of lies.  

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 10

Atonement.   We need to atone to the opposite gender.   3 weeks after William making atonement, William and Juliet were in a relationship.  Contempt between the genders.  Taking an honest inventory of when we have been the betrayer.  

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 11 

Acknowledging our betrayal, Moving from toxic shame to healthy guilt.  What actions and decisions led to the betrayal?  What excuses did you use? Did you hide from yourself?  What did you lie about?  How did you come to make those errors of judgement?  Trust can be broken in an instant and may never fully repaired.

Exploring Shame Episode 5: Part 12 

Question: the fine line between wanting someone to be accountable for their actions and shaming them.
Question: If the person who has betrayed is not remorseful is it possible for there to be forgiveness?. You cannot rush forgiveness.  Empowering self to put boundaries down. Poem – ‘Hooked’ by William Ayot.  We are going to be a disappointment to people in our lives and they are going to disappoint us and that is a grounded reality.


What people say about Shame and Betrayal

  • 5 star review

    I loved the ideas you put forward about the betrayed and betrayer relationship, and how important it is that each of them takes responsibility before repair can truly happen.

  • 5 star review

    Dark, But So Important This is one I will remember for a long time. In particular, the journey from primal trust, through betrayal, and the death of naivety, to finally becoming grounded. The other important topics for me were the blocks to healing: revenge, denial, cynicism, self-betrayal, paranoid delusions and defences.



Juliet Grayson & William Ayot

JULIET GRAYSON has worked as a psychotherapist since 1991. She specialises in working with couples and sexual problems. As a psychotherapist she is UKCP registered, NLPtCA accredited, COSRT accredited, and a PBSP accredited Trainer. WILLIAM AYOT is an award-winning poet, author, teacher and ritualist. Over three decades he has hosted and led, men’s and mixed personal development events and rites of passage. He uses poetry and the arts to teach leadership in boardrooms and business schools around the world, currently teaching on the Advanced Management Programme at INSEAD. William designs and leads bespoke rituals for individuals. He is available for one-to-one coaching online.

You Can Also Watch

Episode 6: Treating Shame

  • £10.00

    £10.00Shame 6: Treating Shame, Tools, Techniques: 90 mins

    You can watch this video in short segments, all in one long film, or download the audio to listen 'off line'.

    Many therapists don’t notice shame in their clients. Others notice, but lack the confidence to tackle this slippery topic. And there are those therapists who cannot bear to address a client’s shame because they have not explored their own. It is said that if a client is stuck then shame will often be at the root of that.

    Juliet Grayson and WiIliam Ayot will bring together and share a wide range of tools and techniques to deal with this pervasive issue in ourselves and our clients.

    They share their model called:
    The Five Aspects of Treating Shame.

    This is a workshop that will be beneficial for both therapists AND for members of the general public.
    Buy Now