How do you heal when a friend shares your most intimate secrets with the outside world? How do you get beyond losing a promotion after being stabbed in the back by a co-worker? How do you make something positive out of a partner or spouse cheating on you?
The pain of being stabbed in the back or worse yet, the heart, is very real and multi-dimensional. It impacts us mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Every relationship has rules- both spoken and unspoken. Over time, we come to believe that if we play by those rules, we will be safe, happy, and fulfilled.
When someone betrays us, they break those rules and it impacts us on every level.
The impact of betrayal is not only real and multifaceted, but also ranges in intensity based on how close you are to your betrayer. The more you trusted and depended on the person who betrayed you, the more intense the effects. For example, let’s take a child who is betrayed by a parent and your coworker who took the credit for your idea. Both are betrayals but there’s a different level of cleanup left in the wake of each experience.
In fact, there’s a collection of symptoms (physical, mental and emotional) so common to betrayal it’s become known as Post Betrayal Syndrome.
People who have been betrayed can suffer from a wide range of emotional symptoms such as sadness, anger, stress, rejection, fear, irritability, depression and abandonment. They can also suffer from physical and mental ailments as well. In my PhD study on betrayal, I studied what holds us back, what helps us heal and what happens to us physically, mentally and emotionally when the people closest to us lie, cheat and deceive. A staggering percentage were found to suffer from low energy, extreme fatigue/exhaustion, digestive issues, weight issues and more. Add to that how common it is to also feel overwhelmed, shocked, unable to focus and concentrate.
According to the study, betrayal also shatters our worldview. That’s our mental model, the rules that govern us and prevent chaos. This is where the shock of the experience hits us hard. The rules we’ve believed in and counted on have all been broken. The bottom has just bottomed out on us and a new foundation hasn’t been formed yet-it can feel terrifying.
Healing from betrayal can be scary and messy, which is why some people continue to stay stuck. The good news is that moving forward is not only possible, it’s predictable with the right strategies. You can not only rebuild your worldview, you can do it in a way to become your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual best. That’s the silver lining of the dark betrayal cloud. You can come out of it stronger, wiser, healthier and more empowered than ever before and yes, you can learn to trust again.
When you heal, mentally, you’ll be able to focus on what you choose to pay attention to. Physically, you’ll feel more energetic, healthier and stronger. Emotionally, you’ll be calmer, centered, and confident. Spiritually, you’ll find the gift in the experience. What had become your life’s story will become a pivotal chapter in your next story. This isn’t just a hopeful idea. It’s predictable when you move through The Five Stages From Betrayal to Breakthrough. You’ve been through the worst of it already, you owe it to yourself to do something good with something so painful. When you do, that’s trauma well served. That’s Post Betrayal Transformation.
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute