Stages of Grief After Being Cheated On
There are actually 5 proven and predictable stages we go through in order to fully heal from betrayal. We even know what happens physically, mentally, and emotionally at every stage and we know what it takes to move from one stage to the next so healing is truly predictable.
Here’s an excerpt of the 5 Stages from my newest book (Amazon #1 international bestseller) From Hardened to Healed:
Stage one is like a “set-up” stage, and I saw this with every participant (including me).
Imagine four legs of a table: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. We’re leaning heavily on the physical and mental legs, often neglecting the emotional and spiritual legs. It looks like we’re really good at “thinking and doing” (using our mind) and not really good at prioritizing the “feeling and being” (tuning into our heart). With only two legs strengthened, it’s easy to see how that table would topple over. And that’s what happens to us.
The breakdown of the body, mind, and worldview. This is “D-Day” (Discovery Day). Here’s where you receive the news that will forever change life as you’ve known it. It’s a complete shock to the body, mind, and heart. Here’s what happens:
Physically, the shock ignites the stress response. Mentally, you can’t wrap your mind around what you’ve just learned. Finally, your worldview is shattered. In this stage, we’re scared, frantic, lost, confused, and desperate to feel better.
Survival Instincts Emerge. It’s the most practical stage where we ask questions like: “How will I survive this?” “Where do I go?” “Who can I trust?” Then, once we figure out how to survive, here’s what happens … and here’s why Stage Three is the hardest to leave:
Because survival feels so much better than the shock and trauma that we just came from, we think: “Whew! We’re ok.” The problem is, we don’t know Stage Four and Five are available to us, so we resign ourselves to thinking: “This is as good as it’s going to get, so I’d better get used to it.” When that’s the belief, a few things happen …
The first is that we start getting all kinds of “small self-benefits” from being in that space. We get to be right. We get someone to blame, etc. Next, because you’re feeling less than, unworthy, undeserving, unlovable, your energy attracts exactly what you feel. Your mind always wants to prove you right, so if that’s your belief, your mind will find confirming evidence to support your belief. If you weren’t stuck enough in Stage Three, this is the glue that keeps you there.
You’re not happy in this stage, but you don’t know that there’s a Stage Four and Five. You don’t know how to make those uncomfortable feelings go away, so you start looking for ways to numb, avoid, and distract yourself from the feelings. So, maybe you choose food, drugs, alcohol, work, TV, keeping busy, people-pleasing, and perfectionism. We dive into these “methods of mass distraction,” and while they may keep the feelings at bay, nothing is happening to move us through our discomfort. We’re simply trying to outrun it.
Finding and adjusting to a new normal. Here’s where you recognize, accept, and acknowledge that your old normal no longer exists. We realize we can’t undo our betrayal, but we can control what you do with it.
Finally, we move to the most beautiful stage—Stage Five.
Healing, rebirth, and a new worldview. Here, the body starts to heal. We’re prioritizing ourselves and our self-care. Our mind begins to heal as well. We’re making new rules and boundaries based on what we see so clearly now. By this stage, we’ve also formed a new worldview as we look back on all we’ve been through and the road we’ve traveled and see just how far we’ve come. We’re choosing to heal, and it feels great!
Healing is predictable and you deserve to fully heal. By moving through the Stages, that’s exactly what happens.
By: Dr. Debi Silber
Founder: The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute
Host of The From Betrayal to Breakthrough podcast