Betrayal happens when there’s the breaking of a spoken or unspoken rule within a relationship. The more we trusted and were dependent upon the person, the bigger the betrayal. We can be betrayed by a family member, partner, friend, co-worker or someone in a position of authority. Which betrayals hurt the most? The ones which involved the greatest amount of our time, trust and heart.
These betrayals blindside us for three reasons:
- Without our awareness or consent, the person we trusted chose to break that spoken or unspoken rule, putting their needs above ours at our expense. This intentional decision is one of the reasons why betrayal hurts as much as it does.
- Betrayal sends a shock to the body and mind, imprinting the experience on us at every level.
- Trust, which is the foundation of relationships and what allows us to feel safe, valued and secure, is shattered.
This combination leads to a collection of physical, mental and emotional symptoms so common it’s been named Post Betrayal Syndrome™.
So how do you move past it?
Just completing a Ph.D. study on how women experience betrayal-what holds them back and what helps them heal, it’s been discovered that there are five stages that women experience from the shock of betrayal until they consider themselves healed. This involves unpacking and moving through all of the areas that were impacted by the betrayal experience in order to move from one stage to the next, versus handling individual symptoms as they arise.
For example, a digestive issue, fatigue, anxiety and a sense of rejection are all common physical and emotional symptoms left in the wake of a betrayal experience. Now, it’s natural to seek the support of a practitioner to help with your digestive issue, see a therapist to work through your feelings of rejection and take something prescribed by your doctor to help manage your anxiety. While that may bring some relief, however, it’s only a part of what needs your attention in order to fully heal.
it’s equally as important to find meaning from the experience (what have you learned because of it, what new insights do you have, what new boundaries are in place, etc.). How do you do that? One step is through what’s called deliberate rumination where you’re reviewing the experience in order to extract meaning from it. This is very different than marinating in the experience where you’ve gone over it endless times, each bringing you no closer to a resolution or understanding.
It’s also important to rewrite the story of your experience where your experience becomes a part of your story…not the whole story. This involves a very different way to view the person who hurt you where you work towards eventually seeing that person as one of your greatest teachers because they taught you so much about who you are and what you now see so clearly. I know that may seem impossible but it’s an important part of healing and happens through strategy and a plan.
It also involves a very unique look into forgiveness. We’ve all heard that forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person and has everything to do with letting go of the pain the person and the experience has on us. While that’s true, forgiveness is often so challenging because it speaks a language the logical and rational mind doesn’t understand. So, if you’ve been trying to forgive the person who hurt you through logic and reason, it’s like using a hammer for a home improvement job when a wrench is what’s necessary. Forgiveness can’t happen without a completely different way to view the person who hurt you, the experience, and looking at it through the lens of your heart and highest self, versus the mind and your ego.
Moving past betrayal and to a stage called Post Betrayal Transformation also includes healing aspects of the self that were impacted by the experience. Rebuilding a sense of safety, trust, confidence, self-esteem, healing from the wounds of rejection, the feeling of being disregarded, unimportant, cast aside, unappreciated and more all need to be addressed and rebuilt in order to heal and move forward. When you do, you realize that your experience helped to create the strongest, wisest, most empowered, unshakable version of you imaginable. Is it possible? Not only is it possible, but it’s also predictable and there’s finally a proven system to walk you through every aspect of your experience from betrayal to breakthrough. Your experience doesn’t have to define you, leave you sick, sad, stuck and small. Instead, it can be the most profound and single greatest catalyst leading to your most magnificent self.