Sedona Retreat 2024

Betrayal and learning to trust again with Dr. Debi Silber

This week on The Less Stressed Life Podcast, I am joined by Dr. Debi Sibler. In this episode, we discuss betrayal and learning to trust again.


  • What is post-betrayal syndrome & how to know if you have it
  • How betrayal is a different type of trauma & what counts as betrayal
  • The stages of  post-betrayal syndrome & how to heal from it


  • How to move past resistance to heal
  • How to learn to trust again post betrayal
  • What happens when one partner wants to change/grow & the other doesn't


Dr. Debi Silber is the founder of the PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute and is a holistic psychologist, a health, mindset and personal development expert, the author of Trust Again, and is a 2-time #1 International bestselling author of: The Unshakable Woman AND From Hardened to Healed. Her podcast: From Betrayal to Breakthrough is also globally ranked within the top 1.5% of podcasts. Her recent PhD study on how we experience betrayal made 3 groundbreaking discoveries that changes how long it takes to heal. In addition to being on FOX, CBS, The Dr. Oz Show, TEDx (twice) and more, she’s an award-winning speaker and coach dedicated to helping people move past their betrayals as well as any other blocks preventing them from the health, work, relationships, confidence, and happiness they want most.

 Website :
The latest TEDx: “Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome?“:
TEDx: Stop Sabotaging Yourself:    The From Betrayal to Breakthrough podcast: TikTok: 


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Transcript : 

Debi (00:00):
It has nothing to do with the scenario. You can stay in stage three for life. It has so much more to do with your level of resistance. The more resistant you are, the less you're gonna heal. The more willing you are, the more you will.

Christa (00:15):
Stress is the inflammation that robs us of life, energy, and happiness. Our typical solutions for gut health and hormone balance have let a lot of us down we're overmedicated and underserved at the less stressed life. We are a community of health savvy women exploring solutions outside of our traditional western medicine toolbox in training to raise the bar and change our stories. Each week, our hope is that you leave our sessions inspired to learn, grow, and share these stories to raise the bar in your life and home.

Today, on the Less Stressed Life, we have a doctor, Debbie Silber, who is the founder of Post Betrayal Transformation, the Post Betrayal Transformation Institute. It's a bit of a mouthful, I'll say P B T in the future. And as a holistic psychologist, a health mindset and personal development expert, the author of Trust again and is a two time number one international bestselling author of the Unshakeable Woman and from Hardened to Healed. Her podcast from Betrayal to Breakthrough is also globally ranked within the top 1.5% of podcasts. Her recent PhD study on how we experienced betrayal made three ground breaking discoveries that changed how long it takes to heal. In addition to being on Fox, CBS, and Dr. Oz, and having done doing a TEDx twice, she's an award-winning speaker and coach dedicated to helping people move past their betrayals as well as any other blocks, preventing them from health work, relationship, confidence and happiness barriers that they want the most. Welcome. Debbie, Dr. Silver, however you want me to refer to you today,

Debi (01:59):
Debbie's just fine. Thank you. Looking forward to our conversation.

Christa (02:02):
Yes. There's so much internal stuff, right? We're mostly emotional internal beings. So when I went into private practice, I was woefully under unprepared for the amount of anxiety and emotions and just the emotions of people. And I don't think that we have classes like that in college. So when I meet people that are part in dietician part, I've had some colleagues that have a minor in psychology or something. I think, oh my gosh, you're so much farther ahead <laugh> than some of us. So I wanna hear a little bit about your story that helps us understand you and where everything comes from, because that's kind of how all things happen. So for, and one thing I wanna know is through this story, is this something that you created? Did you create the term post betrayal syndrome? I'd like to hear about that if it fits into the story, otherwise I'll ask about it later. So I want you to take it away. Tell me where this all came from for you.

Debi (02:52):
Sure. Well, it's actually my 30th year in business and I started in health, and your audience will appreciate this. A registered dietician, master's in nutrition, personal trainer, functional diagnostic nutritionist, then PhD in psychology. You know, don't study something like betrayal unless you have to. So as life would change, So in business, I mean that was going beautifully until a few health crashes, which led to more trainings and other things to heal myself from the messes I found myself in. And then I had a painful betrayal from my family and thought I did everything I needed to do to heal from that. And then it happened a few years later. This time it was my husband, anyone who's been through that, you're shocked, you're blindsided, You're devastated. Your life as you've known it is no longer. So that was the deal breaker, got him out of the house.

And here I was, four kids, six dogs, a thriving business. And I was like, A book isn't helping me out of this mess. I need something way bigger. So I dove into this PhD program and it was in transpersonal psychology, psychology of transformation and human potential because I was changing so much, I didn't quite understand it. He was too, wasn't ready to look at that. And then it was time to do a study. So I studied betrayal, what holds us back, what helps us heal, and what happens to us physically, mentally, and emotionally when the people closest to us lie, cheat and deceive. That study led to three groundbreaking discoveries, which changed my health, my family, my work, my life. And to answer your question about post portrayal syndrome, that was one of the three discoveries, and I'm happy to go into any and all of them.

Christa (04:24):
How long ago did you make this shift? And that's an interesting take to say. I kind of wonder underneath, I wonder if you're like an achiever or you wrap that up beautifully in a little package. And I know it's not a beautiful little package at one time. You wrap it up so quickly. And I have to think that there's so much that goes into, Oh my gosh, this has been my identity and my career and I am going to change everything. And so it's interesting that you chose, I'm gonna jump into a PhD to try and understand that. So that way I'm kind of getting, I wonder if you were trying to kill two birds with one stone. I'm getting my PhD and also trying to under really figure out myself with that. That's an interesting choice. What made you decide on a PhD in the psychology of transformation? Yeah,

Debi (05:09):
It wasn't killing two birds with one stone at all. <laugh>. It was a book isn't gonna help me through this. I'm in so deep, this is such a mess. I need a whole PhD in it. That's how desperate I was to heal. And I remember going through the study saying to myself, I don't know how in the world I'm gonna heal from this, but if I do, I'm taking everybody with me. I remember feeling those words and I felt so pulled and you know, never understand things when it's happening, but when you look back, you're like, Oh, now I get it. Because I've taken all of the 30 years worth of the health and the mindset and the personal development and the psychology and the spirituality. It is all to do exactly what we're doing within the PBT Institute now.

Christa (05:55):
It's a huge shift. And so how many years did that happen over? It takes a bit of time to get a PhD for one <affirmative>. So tell me about that timeline a little bit because yeah,

Debi (06:08):
It was intense. So the betrayal was towards the end of 2015, and I was enrolled in the PhD program 2016. So two and a half years later I graduated to 2018 or so. So everything between the PBT Institute, our certification for practitioners from Betrayal to Breakthrough Podcast, the two TEDx talks, the seven books, six books, something like that. All of it is all in that time.

Christa (06:37):

Debi (06:37):
That's that's how you know are completely on track and on purpose because it has a life of its own now. Yeah.

Christa (06:44):
Was it hard for you to shed the old identity <laugh>? That's a hard question probably, but

Debi (06:48):
No, no, it's actually not. And this is something that happens with betrayal. It allows for you do, your identity completely shifts because everything crashes and burns. So you have an opportunity to leave behind everything that no longer serves and you create a version of you that would never have the opportunity to exist had it not happened. It's an easy way to look at it is like, listen, I'm a mom before and I know you have a lot of moms who listen. So imagine my kids used to love Legos and they're in their twenties now, but they used to love Legos. So imagine there's this Lego structure just in the living room, it's not good, whatever. It's just there. And then imagine one day the whole thing is just shattered. What happens with betrayal is it's like you're looking at the Legos saying, I don't wanna use that piece anymore. I don't wanna build it that way anymore. I'm gonna build intentionally and deliberately something magnificent. That's what happens. You don't have to, and many people don't. And I'll share that. That's part of the third discovery, but that's the opportunity.

Christa (07:48):
Yeah, I like that analogy. That's really helpful. How old were your kids when you started your PhD program? They

Debi (07:54):
Were in their teens. They were in their teens. And this was as big of a shakeup as it was for me and my husband too. It was for them as well. It's like they've been through war together. And this is the thing also with betrayal, you will see who the betrayer truly is. It also has the opportunity to shake the betrayer up as well to who they temporarily became. And here's the thing, rebuilding is always a choice whether you rebuild yourself and move on. And that's what I did with my family. It just wasn't an option to rebuild with them or if the situation lends itself, if you're willing, if you want to, you rebuild something from the ground up new with the person who hurt you. And that's what I did with my husband. So not long ago as to completely transform people. We married each other again, new rings, new vows, new dress. That's cool. And our four kids is our bridal party. Never in a bazillion years would I have done anything like that if I didn't completely transform and for sure if he didn't completely transform either. But with that crash and burn, there's the rebirth of,

Christa (08:52):
Yeah, that is cool. That's like a cool full circle story. And I was going to ask about mean, so many people have questions about what, if I'm going through personal development, my partner is not going through personal development. I know maybe that comes in with these discoveries. I wanna get to the PhD study and what you came from that. But naturally, since we just brought off your husband and his own, so he I think had this betrayal, <affirmative> and you guys both went off and reinvented yourself and now you've come back together, which is really interesting and cool. But what would you say to someone, because I see this coming up a lot, especially as I went through my initial personal development journey and I heard from other women, How do you navigate when one person is trying to develop themselves and the other person doesn't wanna develop themselves?

Debi (09:36):
It's really hard. Can you see my hands here? And for those on video, are we video, we audio? Cause I will show you something you will never forget. Ready? Here's where we are with betrayal. And then there's the shattering of trusting. You're so heartbroken and you're so upset and all you wanna have that pain go away. And this is why we have repeat betrayals because we just want that pain to go away. But here's the opportunity, and this is what we do within the PBT Institute. This is where you grow physically, mentally, emotionally. Right now, when someone is so committed to this person right here, the person who is not interested in growth at all, or the betrayer who has not learned the most profound lesson of their life, what happens is this person who's doing the growth very often will sabotage their success because they don't wanna outgrow that person.

They like it up here though, but they keep sabotaging themselves because this is familiar even though it's painful. So then they're here and they're like, Why doesn't this person do this? Well, they're not ready. So eventually what happens is think where this person's like what happened to you? And you're like, Ooh, I'm not the least bit interested in you. So the idea is after any sort of growth, shattering of trust, rebuilding, whatever you do, whatever it is to stay here and maintain here, this is where you live. And then you never know. This person may say, I better step up my game to meet the strength of this person. Or you just love and appreciate them for who they are. But this is where you live. At the very least though, when this is where you're committed to staying, these people can't help but show up. So with this little hand diagram here, see, but so often I see it all the time, people are just like, I'm so heartbroken, I'm so afraid, I'm so miserable. Just make it that we're okay again. That's the problem. But people are so afraid of doing this because of the unknown <affirmative>. I was too, but that was the deal breaker. So I was doing this regardless on my husband's own, he did this and then we met up again up here,

Christa (11:32):
Right? Yeah, there's no perfect, You can't change someone else. So it's more about probably understanding the dynamics and being really kind of understanding your own growth and being comfortable with that. Because essentially what you were saying is we sometimes we self-sabotage or sometimes we don't. We just stay up there. And then we have resentment between the two levels. Cuz one person's living on one floor and one person's living on the other one. And that's still a personal emotion to navigate, whether if you're resentful, it's still your emotion, <laugh>,

Debi (12:00):
<affirmative>. And it's hard because you're seeing things so differently maybe that you didn't see when you were at the same level as that other person. And you want them to experience that too, because you're seeing something so clearly that is just giving you such a greater sense of love, of life, of satisfaction, fulfillment, of whatever. You can't make someone else feel that. And if they're unwilling, that's their choice. But like I said, I mean all the time I see people really sabotaging. That's when my first TEDx was about stop sabotaging yourself. I see people do that all the time where they actually sabotage their healing so that they stay limited and stuck even though it's a toxic scenario.

Christa (12:40):
<affirmative>, I mean that happens in literally everything. <affirmative>, we accidentally sabotage. I think that's a beautiful way to look at it though, what you said about you want them to join you on this upper level, but they can't be ready. And I think that's a much nicer way and a better way to look at it than, Oh, I'm growing, but my XYZ does not want to grow. That's really a place of scarcity. It's like, what if your cup is just so overflowing, it's gonna overflow into them and you just let them know youd want the best for them. Otherwise we end up in more of a caged cat situation. Then I abundant overflow. So

Debi (13:15):
Even it's like from a health standpoint, let's say here you had your food buddy and the two of you were having margaritas and nachos every week or whatever, and then all of a sudden you're like, You know what? I just wanna go on this healthy eating journey. Now your food buddy is feeling two things. They're feeling abandoned. Where's their food buddy? And now they're forced to look at what they may not be willing or ready to do. But here's the idea, You are now at this place where you have more energy, you're feeling so much better. And of course you want them to experience that too, but again, they may not be ready.

Christa (13:45):
Yeah, that's beautiful. I love it. So let's actually kind of take a step back. So when you go into your PhD program, a lot of people create a study as part of their program, and I think that's what you did, <affirmative> <affirmative>. So how did you decide what the topic was gonna be? Because that was a big pivotal change in everything for you. You didn't even know what you were going into. You just know you needed a big thing. And so when you went into the study, it was like what you found on the other side was a big deal. So tell us all about how you kind of set up the study. What was the inspiration? Cuz I think you created on your own and what came out of that.

Debi (14:17):
And when you're doing this study, you're looking for a gap in the literature, what hasn't been studied? And to be perfectly honest, it was totally selfish. I just was so in so much pain and I had been through death of a loved one. I had been through disease, Nothing was ever as painful for me as this. And so it was really to get me out of this mess. I mean, that was truly it. And that's why I chose the topic. So I did the study and when those discoveries showed up, I mean it was such a game changer, not just for me, I mean for the study participants and for those who've been impacted because of it. So the first one was originally I was studying betrayal in post-traumatic growth. And for those who aren't familiar, I look at post-traumatic growth. It's kind of the upside of trauma, how that trauma, death of a loved one disease, natural disaster, whatever, leaves you with a new awareness, insight, perspective that you didn't have.

Maybe you lose someone you love, you realize life is short, that kind of thing. But like I said, I had been through those things and I was like, mm-hmm. Betrayal feels different to me. I didn't wanna assume it was the same for everyone else. So I asked him, If you've been through other traumas besides betrayal, is it different for you unanimously? I said, Oh my gosh, it's so different. And here's why. Because it feels so intentional. We take it so personally. So the entire self gets shattered and has to be rebuilt. Think about it, rejection, abandonment, belonging, confidence worthiness, trust, they're shattered. So it didn't quite qualify as post-traumatic growth. It's like, yeah, you need to rebuild your life, but you also need to rebuild yourself. So I coined a new term post betrayal transformation, which is the complete and total rebuild of your life and yourself after an experience with betrayal. So the first discovery was betrayal is a different type of trauma, which was exciting, not nearly as exciting as the next two. Want me to share the next one?

Christa (16:03):
Yeah, absolutely.

Debi (16:04):
Okay. So the second one was that there's actually this collection of symptoms, physical, mental, and emotional. So common to betrayal, it's known as post betrayal syndrome. And we've had, I don't know, 80,000 plus people take our post betrayal syndrome quiz on our site to see to what extent they're struggling. A few things about that. The first thing is we've all been taught time, heels, all wounds. Well, I have the proof that when it comes to betrayal, that's not true. There's a question on the quiz that says, Is there anything else you'd like to share? And people write things like, My betrayal happened 35 years ago. I'm unwilling to trust my betrayal. Happened 15 years ago. Feels like it happened yesterday. So we know we cannot count on time or even a new relationship to heal betrayal. Again, it has to be deliberate and intentional. And I mean every few months I pull the stats from the quiz to see where people land them. I'm happy to share them if that would serve.

Christa (16:56):
Of course, I would love to hear the stats. And also, I know you've talked a little bit about betrayal, but I'm thinking of other ways to describe betrayal as well, but I don't wanna digress too much. So let's come back to that. So three discoveries. Betrayal is a different type of trauma. There's a collection of symptoms that is common to post betrayal syndrome, and we've all been taught the time heals wounds. So there's some insights that you gotten from your quiz and go ahead and

Debi (17:19):
Share those. Yeah, sure. So now imagine 80,000 people just about every country's represented, 78% constantly revisit their experience. 81% feel a loss of personal power, 80% are hypervigilant, 94% deal with painful triggers. And those triggers can take you right down the most common physical symptoms. And your health community can really appreciate these 71% experience, low energy, 68% have sleep issues, 63% have extreme fatigue. Your adrenals have tanked. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, 47% have weight changes. So in the beginning, maybe you can't hold food down later on you're using food for comfort. 45% have gut issues. And that could be anything from Crohn's, ibs, diverticulitis, constipation, diarrhea, the most common mental symptoms, 78% are overwhelmed, 70% are walking around in a state of disbelief. 68% can't focus, 64% are in shock, 62% can't concentrate. So imagine you can't concentrate, you're exhausted, you have a gut issue, you still have to raise your kids, you still have to work. That's not even emotionally, emotionally. 88% experience, extreme sadness, 83% are very angry, real common to bounce back and forth between those two. All day long, 82% feel hurt, 80% have anxiety, 79% are stressed. Joseph, a few more. Here's why I wrote the book. Trust again, 84% have an inability to trust 67% prevent themselves from forming deep relationships because they're afraid of being hurt. Again, 82% find it hard to move forward, 90% wanna move forward. But don't know how

Christa (18:57):
It feels like you just described everyone <laugh> kind of. But I mean it's looking at it through the lens of I see people with gut issues and exhaustion, whatever. And I'm very fascinated by, in traditional Chinese medicine we talk about, we harbor anger in the liver and other emotions in other parts of the body. And I feel that that is true. There's such, it's the challenges is what is unseen. Emotions don't feel as tangible to people. So we tend to, if you're like me and Enneagram three, I don't wanna feel my emotions at all. And so I just wanna shove those under the carpet. And so back to the three discoveries, <affirmative>. So betrayal is a different type of trauma. You were talking about the second one that tell me what the second one was. I mean, I wrote a bunch of notes and I'm like, I don't feel like that was the second one. So please just

Debi (19:40):
Read the second one. Yeah. The second one was that there is a collection of symptoms. So common to betrayal, it's known as post betrayal syndrome. Oh, got it. So just the discovery of post betrayal syndrome was the second one. Now here's the thing, I just before we wrap up, the second discovery <affirmative>, well first of all, you didn't hear me read one stat that was like 20%, 30%. These numbers are so high. What I find so interesting also is these stats aren't necessarily from a recent betrayal. This could be from something that happened when you were a little kid, your parents did something awful, that girlfriend or boyfriend who broke your heart in high school. So now think about this. That person may not know care, remember, they may not even be alive. And here we are with the hyper vigilance or the anxiety or the gut issues or the sleep issues because of something that happened 50 years ago. That's the issue.

Christa (20:27):
And I wanna share, there was something happened to me this year and I was working with a practitioner and she said, Really? She was looking for all the emotions for that. I'm like, I don't have emotions around this. I just wanna move on and move past this mistake. And she kept pulling. I said, Well, I feel like it was fraud. And so she said, she's like, That's it. So if you don't deal with this issue fully, completely and put it to you, don't close the chapter on it, you'll just continue to attract that fraud. And as I look back over the year, I had been attracting it in general. And so I would imagine that there's a similar parallel with betrayal. If we don't really address that particular small tea or big T trauma of betrayal, then it's almost like we attract more of that. And I don't know if that's the right way to say it, but it's like the record just keeps repeating itself almost in different ways. Would you say that that makes sense or is right? I heard it in your story. Your family did it and then your husband did it.

Debi (21:21):
Exactly. And here's the thing, that is one of the most common things. What or repeat betrayal is a classic sign of an unhealed betrayal. There is a profound lesson needing to be learned. Maybe it's you are lovable, worthy, deserving, you need better boundaries in place, whatever it is, until, and unless you get that, you're gonna have opportunities in the form of people to teach you until you get the mother of all betrayals where you're like, That's it. I, I'm never doing X, Y, Z again. Lesson learned. For me to enroll in a PhD program, seriously, I didn't know how I was gonna pay for it. I didn't know how I was gonna manage the time. I had a lot going on, but it was one of the first things I had ever done for me. Game changer. It changed everything. So that's when that lesson is learned. And it's not that it's your fault, it's that it's your opportunity. So you are so right there, a repeat betrayal lets you know there is something that totally needs healing or will just keep repeating through life.

Christa (22:18):

Debi (22:18):
Maybe it's, yeah.

Christa (22:20):
And maybe I wonder, this is hindsight's 2020, but I wonder, let's just pretend that you'd had this amazing growth and experience after the betrayal with your family <affirmative>. It's almost like could maybe things that happen in the future don't feel or seem like betrayal? Maybe it's in the eye of the beholder. I don't know. Maybe you'll tell me in the third discovery.

Debi (22:40):
Yeah, yeah, you'll see this with the next one. This was, for me, the most exciting. And what we learned was while we can stay stuck for years, decades, a lifetime, and so many people do because of those repeat betrayals, because the lesson hasn't been learned. What was discovered was if we're going to fully heal, going from that place of post betrayal syndrome to that completely healed whole state of post betrayal transformation, we're gonna move through five proven predictable stages. And what's even more exciting about that is we know what happens physically, mentally, and emotionally at every one of those stages. And we know what it takes to move from one stage to the next. Healing is entirely predictable. And I'm happy to share the stages if you

Christa (23:22):
Yeah, I'm ready for the stages. What are the stages of healing?

Debi (23:25):
So they're all mapped out in trust. Again, it's what our coaches are all certified in. It's what we do within the P B T Institute. So here's just a real breakdown. Number one, stage one, it's like a setup stage. If you can imagine four legs of a table, the four legs being physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. What I saw with everybody, me too, was a real heavy lean on the physical and the mental thinking and doing and kind of neglecting or ignoring the emotional and the spiritual feeling and being, well, if a table has two legs, easier for that table to topple over, well that's us. Stage two, shock trauma, D-day, discovery day. This is the scariest of all of the stages. And it's the breakdown of the body, the mind, and the worldview right here. You've ignited the stress response. You're headed for every single stress related symptom, illness, condition, disease.

Your mind is in a complete state of chaos and overwhelm. You cannot wrap your mind around what you just learned. This makes no sense. And your worldview has just been shattered. Your worldview is your mental model. The rules that govern us that prevent chaos, trust this person, don't go there. This is how life works. And in one earth shattering moment, every rule you've held to be real and true is no longer the bottom has really bottomed out on you. And the new bottom hasn't been formed yet. This is terrifying. But think about it. If the bottom were to bottom out on you, what would you do? You grab hold of anything to stay safe and stay alive. And that's stage three. Survival instincts emerge. It's the most practical out of all of the stages. If you can't help me get outta my way, how do I survive this experience?

Who can I trust? Where do I go? How do I feed my kids? Here's the trap though. Stage three by far is the most common place to get stuck. And here's why. Once you've figured out how to survive your experience, because it feels so much better than the shock and trauma of where you just came from, you think it's good? We're like, Okay, I got this. And because we don't know there's anywhere else to go, we don't know there's a stage four or stage five transformation doesn't even begin until stage four. But because we don't know there's anywhere else to go, we start planting roots here, we start staying here, we start settling here, and four things happen. The first thing is you start getting all those small self benefits. You get your story, you get to be right, you get sympathy from everyone you tell your story to, you know, get a target for your anger.

You get all these things and on some level it feels good. So you plant deeper roots here now that you're here longer than you should be. Again, you don't know that, but you're here longer than you should be. The mind starts doing things like, Well maybe you're not all that great, maybe you deserved it. Maybe this, maybe that. So again, you plant deeper roots. You're not supposed to, but you don't know that now that these are the thoughts you're thinking, well this is the energy you start putting out. So energy attracts like energy now you're calling situations and circumstances and relationships towards you to confirm, yep, this is where you belong. The misery loves company crowd, they come around now too, and now it gets worse, but I'll get you outta here because it feels so bad. But you don't know there's anywhere else to go.

You're like, I have to get through my day. How do I do this? So right here, we resign ourselves. We're like, this stinks, but I have to feed my kids. I have to go to work. So here's where we start using food, drugs, alcohol, work, tv, keeping busy, anything to numb, avoid and distract ourselves from what's so painful to feel or face. So think about it, you do it for a day, a week, a month now to have it a year, 10 years, 20 years. And I can see someone whose betrayal was 20 years earlier and say that emotional eating, you're doing that, drinking that numbing in front of the tv, do you think that has anything to do with your betrayal? And they would look at me like I'm crazy. See, it happened 20 years ago. All they did was put themselves in stage three and stay there. Does that make sense?

Christa (27:14):
Yeah, absolutely. <laugh>. Yeah. It's the realization that's the problem.

Debi (27:18):
Exactly. And I was blown away. I was like, you know what? Trust again, has the five stages mapped out, but everyone is getting stuck in stage three. So from hardened to heal, my most recent book is just for stage three. I'm like, you owe it to yourself to not stay in that painful space anyway. If you're willing to let go of the small self benefits, grieve more in the loss, bunch of things you need to do, you move to stage four. Stage four is finding and adjusting to a new normal. So here's where you acknowledge I can't undo what happened, but I control what I do with it. Right there in that decision, you start turning down the stress response, you're not healing just yet, but at least you stop the massive damage you've been creating in stages two, in stage three, stage four feels like if you've ever moved, if you've ever moved to a new house, office, condo, apartment, whatever, all your stuff's not there.

It's not quite cozy yet, but you're like, Okay, okay, we can do this. We got this. It feels like that. But what's so interesting about stage four is think about it. If you were to move, you don't take everything with you. You don't take the things that don't represent who you wanna be. And what I found was if your friends weren't there for you, you don't take 'em with you. And this is so common in this one place, and I hear it all the time, What the heck? I've had these friends 10, 20, 30 years. Is it me? Yes it is. You're undergoing a transformation and if they don't rise, they don't come. So as you're looking around at who you want in your life and getting more deliberate about who you wanna surround yourself with, it really common for friendships to change in this one very specific place.

Anyway, when you're making this area mentally cozy, make it home, you move into the fifth most beautiful stage, and this is healing, rebirth and a new world view. The body starts to heal. Self-love, self care, eating well, exercise. You didn't have the bandwidth for that earlier. Now you do. The mind is healing, you're making new rules, you're making new boundaries based on what you see so clearly. And you have a new worldview based on the road you just traveled. And the four legs of the table. In the beginning it was all about the physical and the mental. By this point, we're solidly grounded because we're focused on the emotional and the spiritual two. Those are the five stages.

Christa (29:27):
There's a lot there. Right? Okay, so I just wanna make sure I got it and everyone else got it. So let me just walk through them and I'll have you fill in the gaps. So stage one, there was awareness of what I have down is there's physical, emotional, spiritual, and we usually are hanging out with the doing and the being, but not paying so much attention to the emotional and spiritual is

Debi (29:47):
That physical? Physical and mental.

Christa (29:49):
Physical and mental. Thank

Debi (29:49):
You. Thinking and doing.

Christa (29:51):
Yeah, thinking that makes more sense. Thank you. Thinking and

Debi (29:53):
Doing versus the emotional and the spiritual feeling and being, mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah,

Christa (29:57):
I would agree. That's literally my stuck point. <laugh> with clients, et cetera.

Debi (30:03):
And especially I say this with busy moms all the time, and this was so me here, I was like four kids, six dogs, a thriving business. You don't have the luxury of feeling, you know, just put yourself in go mode because there's so much to do. And then of course the typical mom thing, well if there's any time left, then I'll take care of myself. I mean what you have left, right?

Christa (30:24):
Well, and that's why it's really fascinating that you jumped into a PhD with four kids because it feels like stage two shock trauma, D-day breakdown. Can't remember on it. I'm having a midlife crisis and I'm gonna go have my PhD because good god, what else could there possibly? That's what it feels like. It's shock and trauma. And I'm like, everything has fallen apart. I'm gonna go do something that's not quite true because you would've gotten stuck in survival and mistakes and whatever. So it's probably more stage four <laugh>. I have no idea. But stage two is shock and trauma and the bottom falls out,

Debi (30:54):
It's shock and trauma. And in my case it was this shock and trauma is so bad and I know I can't stay there, so what's gonna get me through? What's gonna get me through? I just have to learn this at the PhD level. And I'm a big believer in learning. And so this was the biggest thing I had ever been through and I needed the biggest dose of learning I could find. Yeah,

Christa (31:16):
So no kidding. And how did you find that program? Universe was kind of conspired to say, this is what you should do

Debi (31:22):
This. It's so perfect how the universe works. Because I remember a million years ago when I was, I had a double major in college TV production, broadcast journalism, minor in speech. And I was doing that. It was so unrewarding and unfulfilling. So I remember getting a different job and my college roommate we're still dear friends to this day and she calls me at one day and she's like, Are you bored? I'm like, Oh, you have no idea. She goes, Let's take a class that's perfect. Goes, I goes, Just sign me up. I don't even care what it is. She goes, No, no, no, let's take it towards something. Let's be dieticians. So I'm like, okay. So I signed up for an Ms r d, She never did. Okay, so here's so funny. I go through that and it was the Ms r d and to pay for it. I became a trainer while I was going through that, through that. And now here it is years later, and I meet up with a friend, I am fresh out of my betrayal and she's like, I'm like, I need to do something really big, but I don't know what to do. I'm a holistic nutrition. I don't know. She goes, I don't know, but I heard about this transpersonal psychology. I'm, what the heck is that? And she tells me, and I'm like, That sounds amazing. I signed up. She never did. Oh,

Christa (32:23):
That's funny.

Debi (32:24):
These people just show up in your life to just, here's a little angel putting you, helping you find a path and then they flirt away <laugh>.

Christa (32:31):
And you're an action taker for sure. You're an action taker. Yeah. Okay, so stage three is survival and sticks. And this is where people hang out for decades, <affirmative>, where it's like you don't even realize it. And so this numbing, and there's so many ways that this could manifest, right? You get overwhelmed, you just scroll mean and or you get overwhelmed and you yell or all kinds of things. It can look like a lot of things. And this is where we just hang out, correct?

Debi (32:59):
Oh, for sure. And here's the thing, and that's why when I was writing from Harden to heal this space doesn't even necessarily have to be from a betrayal. This could be from a misinterpretation <affirmative> of something that created a belief in you. For example, let's say you were a little kid and you had earth shattering news to share with mom. You race into the kitchen, she's on the phone and she s hushes you right there at that moment, you could have made that mean I don't matter. Now if you fuel that, you keep that going. Now you have a belief, I don't matter. So if you feel you don't matter, your life will confirm that with what you do and don't do who you're with or not with, things like that. So stage three for you, just from something like that can be a representation of I just don't matter. And then your life kind of stinks on all levels because what's the point? What's the point? It doesn't matter. I'm not worth it. That sort of thing.

Christa (33:53):
So in stage four, that's finding and adjusting to a new normal. And that can only happen after awareness in step three. Is that

Debi (33:59):
Right? Oh yeah. Here's where you realize I can't control what happened, but I control what I do with it. Here's where you're looking at the rubble of Lego pieces and you're like, you know what? It's time to build something incredible

Christa (34:13):
Is stage five healing, rebirth in a new world view. I wrote that, but I jammed it all together. So that's fun, right? Yeah. Okay. It is. So tell me about the timeline of this, because we've talked through the discoveries and we talked about the stages of going through post betrayal syndrome, which all of this would require awareness and understanding, betrayal. So tell me about the timeline and then I also wanna talk about different ways betrayal shows up. So I mean, I just want you to give some synonyms, and maybe we've done that enough a little bit. But maybe tell us a couple of the things that help you identify post portrayal syndrome as in the quiz, but timeline first. Sure. One of the concepts here was that this can be corrected not in years and years and decades. This could be faster if you know about it. So what is a common timeline to healing?

Debi (35:02):
Yeah, I mean, do you know how many people come into the PBT Institute and said, Oh my gosh, this would've saved me 20 years. And here's why. It has nothing to do with the scenario. You can stay in stage three for life. It has so much more to do with your level of resistance. The more resistant you are, the less you're gonna heal. The more willing you are, the more you will. And for example, there were also three groups in the study who did not heal. And I'd love to share them. So this way everyone can know, if you're doing this, you are not gonna heal. The first thing was first group was this was the group who refused to accept their betrayal. They were deeply stuck in stage three. They had their story, they were sticking with it. They didn't heal the second group.

This was the group who was numbing, avoiding, distracting. They ran to the doctor who put 'em on a mood stabilizer, anti-anxiety, me. They were numbing and distracting through food or TV or drinking, whatever. They didn't heal. It may have made the day a bit easier to get through, not without a price. <affirmative>. The third group, this was the group where the betrayer had very little consequences. So whether it was out of financial fear, not wanting to break up a family religious reasons was a big one. They just did all they could to put it behind them and sort of act like they're okay. And I saw two things with this group. Number one, a further deterioration of the relationship. And two, this group was the most physically sick. Your broken heart can't handle that, but that's what people do. So if you are doing any of these three things, know that you're wrecking your health and keeping your healing at bay.

Christa (36:27):
Interesting. Okay. Those are the barriers. And then tell me about the timeline. Once you decide that you are going to heal and you've acknowledged betrayal, you realize that you're numbing, distract and avoiding, and you're like, Okay, how can I actually address this <affirmative>? And you decide you're gonna put aside these people pleasing things of I have this and this and this belief and I'm afraid to deal with it.

Debi (36:49):
If you really want to take off with your healing and move through the stages, I mean, like I said, there's a roadmap now. It's predictable. The biggest needle mover, like I said, is willingness. And it's addressing the betrayal on all levels. And because it hits us physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. So people wonder, I'm doing the work, Let's say they see a therapist. First of all, if that therapist isn't highly skilled in betrayal, it does more harm than good. Because if anything is gonna glue you to stage three cement, it's going over your story endlessly without a strategic plan on how to move forward incrementally. Yeah, I hear that a lot. So that's one thing. And it could be the most well meaning wonderful person, but we see that all the time. The other thing is most people, a lot of people may just do something that's one aspect of it, but it's still one aspect. The issues are in the tissues. So there's this somatic body based releasing that has to happen too. That's why all of our coaches within the institute, they're each bringing in areas of their own expertise that are part of healing. Because it is so holistic. It is so multi-pronged that you just can't address it from one level.

Christa (37:59):
So timeline, if we do decide to address it, how long does it take to move through these steps and to start undoing what's been done?

Debi (38:08):
Yeah, it could be really from a matter of, I mean, weeks is really pushing it. That would be if you're so ready to leave stage three with me, I couldn't afford to stay in stage three for long because I was my own case study representing the work as I was learning and putting it into action. So you know, need to go through these deep, deep emotions. And we have a saying within the institute, face it, feel it, heal it. You need to face it, you need to feel it and then you can heal it. So I would say mean weeks is really pushing it, but months, that's too normal. But many people would say, Oh, it's gotta take a minimum of two years, whatever. No it doesn't. No, no. Mm-hmm

Christa (38:51):
<affirmative>. Cool. Is there any other names we should give to betrayal that help people to let it how? Sometimes <affirmative> to bring back nutrition. Sometimes when I say the word reflux, I have to use the words indigestion, heartburn, burping or something else because mm-hmm <affirmative>, those words mean something different to every single person. What are some other words for betrayal in case someone is wondering if this actually relates to them?

Debi (39:14):
Yeah. Lies, deception, heartbreak, anything where someone broke the spoken or unspoken rules of the relationship. That's really it. Like, and here's the thing, it's like you can have this relationship with someone in a position of authority. You listen to me, I'll keep you safe. And then they don't, You can feel betrayed. It could be mom and dad when they get older, we'll take care of them. And then mom and dad are older. Where's your sibling? That could be a betrayal. It could be you're in a work scenario and then your coworker took credit for your idea. Your best friend shared your secret, you knew that person, that food wasn't in your best interest and you keep going back for it. That's a self betrayal. So it has so many faces. But when you've broken that spoken or unspoken rule or that someone else has, that's

Christa (40:01):
Betrayal. I think you just brought up something that's really interesting is that if you've had betrayal happen to you, it's possible that you start to self betray.

Debi (40:10):
It's so common because think about it, it's like it's such a shattering of the body, the mind, the heart. And what also happens is think about it, this was the person you trusted the most. So if you can't trust the person you trusted the most, the next thing is you look at yourself, you're like, Where was I? How did I not see? How did I not know? Now you don't trust yourself. So then you say, Well if I can't trust in the person I trusted the most and I don't trust in myself, how in the world can I trust in anything or anyone? And that's why people ask me all the time, Can trust be repaired? I say, No. Can it be rebuilt? Yeah, it's a big job though. But you absolutely can. But self betrayal, when you don't rebuild that trust in yourself, it's a big one.

Christa (40:52):
And then your confidence goes, This brings up, I was at a conference this beginning and they talked about, let's say I'm gonna go do this. And then you constantly don't do it. That's kind of like you're just breaking your own confidence cuz you're breaking a promise. I mean, that is a version of self. It's an interesting way. All of these concepts, even though they don't look so deep on the outside, it's like an ocean underneath <laugh>.

Debi (41:11):
Oh yeah. Fantastic. Part of rebuilding trust and I talk about it and trust again, is rebuilding that trust in yourself where your word is law. If you say something, you mean it. And it gives you such a sense of strength because you realize if I say something, that's all that I have to do. I know I will follow up on whatever I say. I will drink that glass of water and then I do, I will do that workout and then I do, I will not call that person and then I don't whatever it is. But you have such a sense of trust in yourself because if you say it, that's, it's done.

Christa (41:46):
<affirmative>, I think about what you just said, which was can you repair trust? No, but you can rebuild trust. And I think about your relationship and it's happy ending <affirmative>. And I kind of want you to use that story to wrap us up a little bit here to show, Cause I think that's a fear is like, yeah, I feel betrayed and it's coming out in my current relationship and I do want this to work and I do want to love my family. I do want, but this really stings and it hurts and it's, I'm carrying it around and numbing through it and it's like a bandaid getting ripped off all the time. So do you wanna share anything about how, what had to happen for those, I mean, and your experience is not everyone's experience, but I think it's a nice, sometimes our brain's proof of what can be done and so to speak of repair and rebuilding instead of repairing. Yeah. Tell us a little bit about that in context of your own story.

Debi (42:34):
I'm gonna give you an analogy so you see it so clearly and this can serve everyone. I look at trust like a brick wall. The only way I know of a brick wall being built is brick by brick, by brick. It's the same thing with trust. Every opportunity someone has to show that they're trustworthy. That's one brick in that brick wall. So it can take a really long time. Now imagine the person who spent years building that brick wall in one earth, shattering, move, shatters the whole thing. Well, the person who's been betrayed can look at the rubble of bricks and say, I don't have the least bit of interest in watching that thing get rebuilt. Totally fine, move along. However, if that person is just, they, all they have to do is be willing. The job of now of the betrayer is they have to be a really good brick layer. And the same way it went up the first time is the same way it goes up again. Every opportunity they have to show that they're trustworthy. That's one brick in the brick wall. And so it takes time again, but that's the only way to do it.

Christa (43:30):
Well, this isn't really fascinating. I'm sure I'll go to sleep tonight and think of lots of other questions and we can do another part about some of these other, I mean, there's a lot to uncover here and I think I feel very inspired by your story because sometimes I think you can reinvent yourself at any time, but seeing the proof of it is really fascinating. So Debbie, where can people find you online and where can they take the quiz?

Debi (43:51):
Yeah, everything is at the P b t is in post betrayal transformation, the PBT

Christa (43:57):
Cool. Well thank you so much for coming on today. I'll put the link to that quiz. Everyone loves quizzes in the, That

Debi (44:04):
Is, I love it. I have too. One is the post betrayal syndrome quiz. That's a deep dive. The other is you is the healed or hardened quiz. You will see exactly what stage you're in.

Christa (44:12):
Cool. Very good. Those that's where the stages are. Well, thank you so much for coming on today.

Debi (44:17):
Thank you so much.

Christa (44:19):
Sharing and reviewing. This podcast is the best way to help us succeed with our mission. To help integrate the best of East and West and empower you to raise the bar on your health story, just go to review this stressed life. That's review this stressed life, and you'll be taken directly to a page where you can insert your review and hit post.


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