Getting Past The Pain Of Betrayal Requires This Subtle But Dramatic Shift

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What Does Betrayal Mean? How To Recover From The Trauma Of Being Betrayed In Relationships
Heartbreak

The fact that relationships can be challenging is hardly surprising, but when someone you love betrays you, the knowledge of what they've done doesn't only challenge you — it turns your whole world upside-down.

Betrayal — defined as the "violation of a person's trust or confidence [or] of a moral standard" — is what happens when one or more spoken or unspoken rules within a relationship are broken.

And being betrayed, especially if you're blindsided, can leave you feeling anxious, angry, fearful, sad, and exhausted, possibly even questioning everything you believe in and trust.

RELATED: How To Know If You're Suffering From 'Betrayal Trauma' After Being Cheated On

Whether it comes in the form of a broken agreement between you and a friend, co-worker, family member, or romantic partner, the shock you feel when these rules are violated sends the message to your body, mind, and soul that you are unsafe.

It's a wound that takes many people years to heal from.

The betrayals that hurt the most are those that come at the hands of people in whom we made the greatest investment ourselves.

Betrayal impacts people so deeply for these four reasons:

1. You realize the person you trusted put their needs above yours.

2. It sends shock waves to your body and mind, imprinting the experience on you at every level.

3. The trust that was the foundation of your relationships is now broken.

4. You now have cause to question your judgment in all other areas of your life as well.

When you experience a betrayal, an intense fear overwhelms your system, igniting your body's stress response and its cascade of physical, mental and emotional symptoms, including adrenal issues, fatigue, digestive problems, confusion, mental chaos, brain fog, depression, sadness, anger, rage, and humiliation, just to name a few.

Your confidence is also likely to suffer, as you struggle with a sense of worthlessness, feelings of rejection and abandonment and the pain of having been disregarded and taken advantage of by someone you love.

Here’s the challenge: If you try to get by with managing one symptom at a time as they each arise rather than unpacking them all as a whole, you won't make the kind of progress you want.

RELATED: 3 Betrayals That Destroy Relationships (And Aren't Infidelity)

When you only work on fixing your individual symptoms, the root issues are never addressed, and therefore, cannot be healed.

First and foremost, it’s important to know that you’re not crazy and you’re certainly not alone.

What many people don’t seem to realize is that betrayal causes a complete breakdown of our body, our mind, and our worldview.

It’s common for people suffering from post-betrayal trauma to treat their symptoms in isolation because they worry that if they admit what's really going on inside of themselves, they’ll be judged or made the target of other people's pity.

However, isolation only compounds these problems.

You need support now more than ever. Without it, you will have a difficult time moving forward from the experience.

When we heal and move forward, we learn to trust again, feel safe again, love again and open our hearts again.

I recently conducted a study in which I found that women typically heal from betrayal over the course of five distinct stages. While some women may remain stuck in any one particular stage for weeks, months, years, decades, or even a lifetime, moving through each of the five stages at your own pace it the only way to achieve a complete restructuring of your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual self, as well as the creation of a stronger, more empowered worldview.

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When you address the traumatic effects of a betrayal on your life as part of a whole wound, you can move past the pain and shock into a place of healing.

And when you heal, physically, you have more energy and feel healthier, lighter, and stronger again. You sleep more soundly and wake up refreshed, up for whatever challenges the day may bring.

Mentally, you’re able to concentrate. Your mind is no longer ruminating on the experience. Your attention is back and focusing on positive thoughts and ideas.

Emotionally, you’re more centered and calm, as well as more confident and hopeful about the future.

Most importantly, when you heal, you no longer allow the betrayal to define you.

It becomes a pivotal and defining chapter in your life story, rather than overtaking your story entirely. You become able to see it as an experience that's helped you grow into the confident, strong, and wise person you are now.

You’ve learned to discern what resonates with your soul and how to set clear boundaries. You now recognize and surround yourself with people who build you up, support you, and accept you for who you truly are — while limiting your exposure to those who aren’t able or willing to be the type of friend or partner you deserve.

Your greatest crisis now becomes your greatest gift.

RELATED: 5 Signs That You Can Trust Your Partner Again After A Major Betrayal

Dr. Debi Silber is a transformative psychologist, founder of the PBT Institute and author of The Unshakable Woman: 4 Steps to Rebuilding Your Body; Mind and Life After a Life Crisis who helps women overcome the pain of betrayal and loss and move on to live their best lives. Fnd out if you're suffering from Post-Betrayal Syndrome by taking this quiz.

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