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.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."