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 being in 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.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.