If every person was born with a seed planted deeply in their heart, how many people would tend to that seed, nurture it, and let it bloom? What if the seed began growing into a palm tree but the person saw that everyone else was developing pine trees? Would they hide the palm tree to fit in? Would they go so far as to kill it? That’s what self-betrayal is all about. In its worst form, it’s a kind of suicide. People generally fear the disapproval of others—society, family, a first crush, bullies, or just plain fear being different and alone, so they squash their heart’s seed (aka, one’s first instinct, dream, intuition, God’s whisper, soul). But the seed is not so easy to silence, so multiple forms of escapisms often take hold in order to squelch it—working harder to acquire money and possessions, sex, love, food, alcohol, drugs, constant relocating and starting over, and/or isolating.
Abraham Maslow describes it the same phenomenon from his heiracrchy of needs pyramid model. He purports that people will respond to life based on where they are in the hierarchy. The bottom of the pyramid includes basic human needs—food, water, shelter, clothing. One step up is safety. Then comes love, community and a sense of belonging. On top of that is self-esteem. The top of the pyramid represents self-actualization and is that creative awe state where you are most congruent with your inner “true” self. You really don’t care what other people think. The seed from the heart is in full bloom.
Interestingly, Maslow describes that some people live out of a deficiency of needs while others live fully from a complete inner being. It’s almost as if the lack of attention to living one’s heart truth forces one to get stuck at the bottom of the pyramid and over-focus on base-level needs. Think about what makes up conspicuous consumption--fancier base level needs (these aren't bad, they are only bad if it's at the expense of the true inner self growth).
Living from a deficiency of needs (or self-betrayal) results in over-compensating in the material base level needs and spurs additional bad habits and addictions. Treating the bad-habit or addiction is just treating the symptom. The real work is on eliminating the first major self-betrayal and cultivating one’s heart seed. To assess if you might be living out of any deficiency needs, try asking yourself the following questions:
Deficiency Myth #1: I must make X amount of money in order to be a success.
Question to ask yourself: Did you give up on a very different inner dream in order to prove that you’re not a failure or lower class in the eyes of your peers?
Deficiency Myth #2: I must look like XYZ image in order for people to like, love and/or be attracted to me.
Question to ask yourself: Do you like your inner self or are you secretly ashamed and trying to hide the inner you?
Deficiency Myth #3: I try to be objective and rationale about every decision, so I ignore my feelings and instincts.
Question to ask yourself: Do your instincts still reveal themselves when you are making a decision or are have you completely shut them off?
Introspection works because it allows you to get in touch with your heart truth and live from your inner being, which means your heart seed gets watered, nourished, and is allowed into the sunlight of day so it can fully bloom. If a self-betrayal has resulted in stunted growth, people don’t usually don’t realize it without a severe wake-up call—like a brush with death, loss of career and reputation, extreme difficulties with their children, and/or addiction. So, while these wake-up calls may appear as disasterous, they can actually represent the biggest life-saving blessing.
If any of this resonates with you, try giving yourself at least 10 minutes every day to write whatever comes to your heart (even if it sounds like rubbish and is incoherent). Start paying attention to how many times you do or say things based on what someone else might think of you. Pay extra attention if you catch yourself being so hyper-aware that you are constantly anticipating what others will say or do. Then practice, practice, practice giving voice to your heart’s truth. Most important, love whatever blooms. Don’t abandon it. It’s you.