Betrayal has detrimental effects on the sufferer’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Healing is possible, and there are five Stages every person must work through to fully heal. However, many people tend to linger in the third Stage; they get comfy there, get stuck, and have a hard time lifting themselves up to the next Stage.

Hi, I am Dr. Debi Silber and welcome to another insightful episode of A Dose of Dr. Debi.

Today, we will be discussing the five Stages of going from betrayal to breakthrough—and why it is important not to get stuck in Stage 3. We will also tackle what you can do to successfully move through each Stage.

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

In This Episode

  • Learn about The Five Stages from Betrayal to Breakthrough  
  • Discover what’s getting in the way of Post Betrayal Transformation
  • Find out how you can avoid getting stuck in your healing journey


Hi there, another Dose of Dr. Debi. Today I’m talking about getting unstuck. For the past few years I’ve been teaching about the Five Stages from Betrayal to Breakthrough and just to back up a bit. If you aren’t familiar, I did a PhD study that made three groundbreaking discoveries.

One was that well we can stay stuck for years, decades, a lifetime and so many of us do, if we’re going to fully heal, (going from symptoms of Post Betrayal Syndrome to this whole healed, strong, empowered state of Post Betrayal Transformation), both of those were the other discoveries, we will go through five now proven predictable stages. What’s even more exciting about that is, we even know what happens physically, mentally and emotionally at every one of those stages, and we know what it takes to move from one stage to the next. That discovery was so exciting, because that was the moment we realized healing is predictable.

If we are willing to do what it takes to move from one Stage to the next, we will predictably heal. So, in teaching The Five Stages and moving people through The Five Stages one thing has become incredibly clear. The most common Stage to get stuck in is Stage three. People stay in Stage three for a lifetime!

I want to briefly go through what The Five Stages are so you can see which Stage you’re in. See if you may be stuck in Stage three. Most importantly, I have something very exciting to share with you – a better way to move through it. So here are The Stages.

Stage one is like a setup stage, and I saw this with every study participant including me too. If you imagine four legs of a table-(the four legs being physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) what I saw with everybody was a real heavy lean on the physical and the mental and really not prioritizing the emotional and the spiritual. What does that look like? It looks like we’re really good at thinking and doing, not really prioritizing the feeling and being. We’re in our head, we’re not in our hearts. If we only have two legs of a table, it’s easy for that table to topple over. That’s us.

Stage two, by far the scariest of all of the stages. This is the shock, D-day (discovery day), and it’s the breakdown of the body, the mind and the worldview. This is like where that person you trusted takes the mask off and reveals who I’ve been this whole time. It’s a complete shock. So, with that, we ignite the stress response and we’re headed for just about every single stress related symptom, illness, condition, disease. Our mind is in a complete and total state of chaos and overwhelm-we cannot wrap our mind around the information we just learned. This makes no sense. And our worldview shattered. Our worldview is our mental model, the rules that govern us and prevent chaos (ex: don’t go there, trust this person, this is how it works, etc.).

Then, in one earth-shattering moment or series of moments, everything we’ve known to be real and true is no longer. The bottom has truly bottomed out on us. I remember one of my study participants saying about Stage two: “It feels like every negative emotion you can imagine, getting punched in the gut, and losing a child in a crowd, all at the same time.” It’s hard, it’s horrible. So imagine if the bottom were to bottom out on you, what would you do? You’d grab hold of anything and everything you could to stay safe and stay alive and that stage three, survival instincts emerge.

Stage three: It’s the most practical of all of the stages. “If you can’t help me get out of my way.” “How do I survive this experience?” “Who can I trust?” Where do I go?” “How do I feed my kids?” It’s that practical. Here’s the trap.

Once we figured out how to survive, because it feels so much better than the shock and trauma of where we just came from, we think it’s good. And because we have no idea there’s a Stage four and Stage five, we start planting roots here. We set up camp here. We figure; “Well okay, this is, I have to make this work.” And we start planting these roots in this spot. We’re not supposed to be here long, but we don’t know that. Then, four things start to happen.

1.      The first thing is we start getting these “small self” benefits. We get to be right, we get our story, we get someone to blame, we get a target for anger, we don’t have to do the hard work of learning to trust again; “Can I trust you?” “Should I trust you?” “Forget it I’m not trusting anybody.” We start planting deeper roots.

2.      Then because we’re here longer than we should be, the mind starts doing things like;  “Well, maybe you deserved it.” “Maybe you’re not all that great”, maybe that’s maybe that. We plant deeper roots.

3.      Now because this is what you’re thinking and this is the energy you’re putting out there, like energy attracts like energy. So now you’re calling situations and circumstances and people towards you to confirm; “Yep, this is exactly where you belong.” And you plant deeper roots. The misery loves company people-they start showing up now too so you plant even deeper roots. It gets worse but I’ll get you out of here… J.  

4.      Because it feels so bad, and you have no idea there’s a Stage four and Stage five (transformation doesn’t even begin until Stage four), because you have no idea and you think this is it, right here is where you resign yourself to thinking, “Well, I guess this is as good as it’s going to get so I’d better find a way to be ok with it. So right here is where you start using food, drugs, alcohol, work, TV, keeping busy, social media, reckless behavior, whatever it is, to numb, avoid, distract yourself from what’s really painful to feel or face. So think about it. You do that for a day, a week, a month (now it’s a habit), a year, 10 years, 20 years. I can see someone 20 years out and say: That emotional eating you’re doing (or that drinking you’re doing or than numbing in front of the TV you’re doing), do you think that has anything to do with your betrayal or the shattering of trust? They would look at me like I’m crazy, and you say; “That happened 20 years ago!” But do you see? All they did was put themselves in a Stage three holding pattern in stay there.

That’s why Stage three is the most common place to get stuck. I’m going to share with you what Stages four and five are, and then I’m going to come back to stage three for a very important reason.

 If you’re willing to let go of the “small self” benefits and everything you get with it, (grieve mourn the loss, a bunch of things you need to do), you can move to Stage four.

Stage four is finding and adjusting to a new normal. Here’s where you acknowledge; “I can’t undo my experience, but I can control what I do with it.” And I always use the example of if you’ve ever moved to a new house, office, condo, apartment – your things aren’t all there, it’s not quite cozy yet, but it’s going to be okay. And, you know, when you’re in this space, you start turning down the stress response. You’re not physically healing just yet, but at least you stop the massive damage you’d been causing in Stages two and Stage three.

What’s also interesting to Stage four is, if you were to move, you don’t take everything with you. You don’t take the things that don’t represent who you want to be when you’re in that new space. And what I found was if your friends weren’t there for you, you don’t take them with you, you’ve just outgrown them. People say to me all the time; “What the heck! I’ve had these friends 10, 20, 30 years. Is it me?” Yes it is. You’re undergoing a transformation, and if they can’t be there in the way you need them, you’re not taking them with you.

When you settle into this space, you’re making it cozy. you make it mentally “home”, you move into the fifth most beautiful stage and this is healing, rebirth and a new worldview.

Stage five: The body starts to heal. Self-love, self-care, eating well, exercise, etc. You didn’t have the bandwidth for that earlier, now you do. Your mind starts healing. You’re making new rules and new boundaries based on your experience. And, you have a new worldview based on what you see so clearly now. Also, the four legs of the table, (remember in the beginning it was all about the physical and the mental). By this point were solidly grounded, because we’re focused on the emotional and the spiritual too.

Those are The Five Stages. Now, within The PBT Institute, we move you through The Five Stages. Our certified coaches are all certified in The Five Stages, our signature programs move you through The Five Stages. My book Trust Again moves you through The Five Stages.

Because I found that most people get stuck and stay stuck in Stage three, I just wrote another book, and this time it is all about Stage three. So if you’re new to the Stages, Trust Again will walk you through all of them. You’ll hear my story, my study participants stories, you’ll learn the four step trust rebuilding process and more.

If you know you are stuck in Stage three, you’re going to want to join me, because I am celebrating the release of my newest book: From Hardened to Healed: The Effortless Path to Release Resistance, Get Unstuck, and Create a Life You Love. This is for those of you who are stuck in Stage three.

So, I decided I am having a book launch party because this is a time to celebrate. We can’t change what we’re unaware of. So I want you so aware of where you are, so you can do something about it.

In these times of chaos, chaos as far as COVID and everything else going on in the world, lots of people are stuck in Stage three. (Even though The Five Stages are for betrayal, they really apply to any life crisis or even a set of limiting beliefs that have gotten you only so far.)

You can see the Stages even as it relates to COVID. Think about it, there are some people who are so stuck, and I get it. I’m not minimizing it at all. I had COVID, I’ve lost loved ones, I understand, the devastation of it. But there are some people who are just complaining: “I gained the COVID 15.” “I don’t see my family.” “I haven’t seen anybody and it’s so terrible and it’s so awful.” They have their story, that Stage three story.

Then, there are some people who look at it very differently. They’ve moved to Stage four, they’re a bit more flexible Being rigid and you break, be flexible and you bend. With the more flexible, you’re hearing things like;  “I cleaned out my house.” “I’m more social than ever on zoom on FaceTime.” “I only have to iron or steam the front of my shirt J.” Some people are adjusting and adapting and being okay with it. They have clearly moved to Stage four. Others are stuck in Stage three.

It applies to so many different things. So, this book launch is October, 5th, and that is the release of From Hardened to Healed. And what I want to do is invite you to a free book launch party, where we’re going to be celebrating.

I’m going to have all kinds of contests, and you’re going to want to participate because I have some really fun, prizes. So, if you find that you are stuck in Stage three, awareness is the first step so that you can do something about it. You do not have to stay stuck at all, it is proven it is predictable to move through the Stages. I did the study so I can share that with you.

Yes, we know how to move from Stage three to four to five and beyond. It’s all very exciting. So I’d love to invite you to the book launch party, and what you do for that is RSVP at the https://thepbtinstitute.com/bookparty/ . It’s going to be an incredible celebration. That is the day you’re going to want to be there because that is the day I am going to be having amazing prizes, I’m having some of my coaches who are going to be there, and they’re going to show you how, how it looked when they were in their Stage three of their five stage journey, and what they did to move through it.

It’s nothing that you can’t do. I didn’t do anything you couldn’t do. I just realized; “This this feeling is terrible. What can I do to move forward?” I’m sharing everything that I know. So join us for the book party. It’s going to be on October 5 But you need to RSVP, and to do that, and then find out on that book page, how to be eligible for these great prizes that promise you they’re good. https://thepbtinstitute.com/bookparty/ . I’ll see you there.


PBT Podcasts

Post Betrayal Syndrome Quiz

PBT Institute Membership Community

Trust Again: Overcoming Betrayal and Regaining Health, Confidence and Happiness

Trust Again Free Gift

Follow Dr. Debi Silber on Facebook | Twitter | Youtube | LinkedIn

227: Taming the Anxious Mind w/ Madhur-Nain Webster