The pain of betrayal can be excruciating, and more likely than not, it's something you've experienced. Results from a survey I recently conducted, showed that 90% of people 35 or older have experienced betrayal. Sadder still is that the closer you are, and the more dependent you are to the person who betrayed you, the more agonizing the experience. What makes betrayal so painful is that it hits you on every level.
People who have been betrayed suffer mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Mentally you are reeling from shock and disbelief. Over 50% of people who have been betrayed suffer from mental symptoms such as being foggy-headed and overwhelmed. They also experience an inability to focus and concentrate. More than half of those surveyed also struggled emotionally with sadness, anger, depression, rejection, irritability, anxiety, and abandonment. Physical symptoms such as having low energy, fatigue and exhaustion were experienced by over 60% of our participants.
Additionally, you have great difficulty falling or staying asleep. Because spiritually your worldview has been shattered and there is no order to your universe, over 75% experience a loss of personal power with 72% becoming hypervigilant and on guard to threats and danger.
There are many reasons why betrayal hurts. All relationships are based on spoken and unspoken rules, and the understanding is that if you both abide by those rules, everything should be okay. By breaking a rule without your knowledge or consent, you feel completely disregarded.There is a genuine disbelief that someone you love and trust could intentionally put their needs above yours.
When you are betrayed you feel blindsided. You have little to no expectations from strangers or people you have little interaction with; however, when you love and depend on someone, you are vulnerable so when they choose to break a spoken or unspoken rule that you both were abiding by, it's heartbreaking. In addition to beingin pain, you very often have to deal with shame, guilt, embarrassment and humiliation. Although you didn't do anything wrong, very often the person who was betrayed feels as though they did.
“How could I have been so unaware," and “What could I have done differently" are common questions that plague the person who was betrayed. This makes the experience even more traumatic.
I know because it happened to me. My own story of betrayal sent me on a journey of discovery that transformed my life, and it can transform yours. My own experience forced me to learn to take my needs seriously, and after years of putting everyone else's needs before my own, I committed to begin a PhD program in Transpersonal Psychology (the psychology of transformation and human potential). While I was there, I did a study on how women experience betrayal-what holds them back and what helps them heal. That PhD study lead to the discovery of Post Betrayal Syndrome, which is all too real to those who have been betrayed. What was also discovered was that if we're going to heal from betrayal, we're going to move through The 5 Stages from Betrayal to Breakthrough.
Stage 1: OUT OF BALANCE: Disproportionately prioritizing your physical and mental state, while simultaneously neglecting emotional and spiritual health. This disconnect can explain why people who are betrayed often ask, “How did I not see it coming?" and blame themselves for the betrayal, although it's important to know that there's no blame meant here at all. Betrayal occurs because the betrayer chose to say or do something hurtful.
Stage 2: BREAKDOWN: The breakdown of the body, mind and world view. Your stress response is ignited and this is where the betrayed experiences mental, emotional and physical symptoms more acutely. If you stay at this stage too long, illnesses, conditions and disease will ensue. It's the most frightening of all stages because your foundation has been shattered and a new foundation hasn't yet been formed.
Stage 3: SURVIVAL: Survival instincts are emerging. This stage is the most practical in figuring out how you will survive this experience. Decisions made are coming from a place of fear and pure survival. You are focused on where to live, how to make money, what to eat, taking care of the kids, etc.
Stage 4: NEW NORMAL. Finding and adjusting to a new normal begins slowly. The old circumstance or relationship no longer exists as it was, and a new life, along with a new set of beliefs is slowly being created. It may not feel great yet but there is a measure of safety to slowly begin again.
Stage 5: HEALING, REBIRTH, NEW WORLD VIEW: A beautiful stage which is centered on healing, rebirth and a new worldview. The body begins to heal; you're more interested in self-care and in this stage, you not only pay attention to your mental and physical needs, but also to emotional and spiritual needs too. You are worthy and expect to be treated in a manner that honors who you're becoming.
So, what's the first step to healing? First and foremost, you have to have a willingness to heal. My survey showed that 82% of those betrayed are actually wanting to move forward, but they don't know how. Becoming your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual best takes commitment to do so.
There's a strategy involved in making sense and meaning of your experience so that you can make it a defining chapter of your story, and not your whole story. As you do, you'll begin to feel calmer, more centered and in control. You'll sleep better and feel more energetic, and because like energy attracts like energy, you'll slowly gain momentum.
You'll begin to see new possibilities and new opportunities, and you'll begin to make sense of the experience.
If you feel safe and valued, you become more willing to forgive the person so that you can move on or rebuild a new relationship with that person if you choose to. If you don't feel safe and valued, you can clearly see the level of consciousness of your betrayer and choose to forgive (for your sake) without rebuilding the relationship. You want to set yourself free from the anger, the resentment, and the pain of the experience because you begin to realize how holding onto the pain is only hurting you. You also begin to see the gift in the betrayal. As one of my mentors once said, “An experience, without the pain, is wisdom."
Your Post Betrayal Transformation allows you to see how just how much you've grown and changed. You can appreciate how much stronger you are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and you know that it's because you've transcended the pain and suffering betrayal causes.
Betrayal is more common than most people may think. According to my survey, 90% of those over the age of 35 have experience betrayal. Whether it was from a co-worker, friend, family member, partner or spouse, the pain and effects of betrayal are all too real. Fortunately, you no longer have to suffer, and you most certainly don't have to do it alone.
I've been there, and that's why I opened the PBT Institute for healing and growth. Together we can transcend the pain of betrayal and you can become stronger mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually- the best version of you yet. Let me help.
WRITTEN BYDr. Debi Silber