living and loving after betrayal

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Betrayal has many faces, including anger, abuse, deceit, and infidelity. These feel like betrayal because they violate the implicit promise of emotional bonds, that your loved one will care about your well being and never intentionally hurt you. If you’ve recently left a relationship where you felt betrayed by your partner, you may have difficulty moving on. In fact, it can seem impossible to view the world without the shadow of past betrayal hovering over you. As a result, you may struggle to create meaning in your life and build new, loving relationships.In Living and Loving after Betrayal, therapist and relationship expert Steven Stosny offers effective tools for healing, based on his highly successful CompassionPower program. He founded the CompassionPower agency on the belief that we are more powerful when compassionate than when angry or aggressive, and that true strength comes from relating compassionately to others and remaining true to your deeper values. In this book, you’ll learn practical strategies for overcoming betrayal-induced trauma and the chronic resentment and depression that result, using this innovative compassion-empowerment approach.Most books on betrayal only focus on the obvious issues, such as infidelity, abuse, or sex addiction. This book explores the effects of those kinds of betrayal, as well as less-talked-about types, such as emotional manipulation, dishonesty, deceit, and financial cheating. In addition, the book helps you regain a sense of trust in others so that you can eventually find another compassionate person to share your life with or, if you choose, to rebuild a relationship with your reformed betrayer.Recovering from the betrayal of partner isn’t easy, but Living and Loving after Betrayal offers potent ways to heal, grow, and love again.

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  • Publishers NoteThis publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

    Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books

    Copyright 2013 by Steven Stosny New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 5674 Shattuck Avenue Oakland, CA 94609 www.newharbinger.com

    Cover design by Amy ShoupAcquired by Melissa KirkEdited by Susan LaCroix

    All Rights Reserved

    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication DataStosny, Steven. Living and loving after betrayal : how to heal from emotional abuse, deceit, infidel-ity, and chronic resentment / Steven Stosny, PhD. pages cm Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-1-60882-752-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) -- ISBN 978-1-60882-753-4 (pdf e-book) -- ISBN 978-1-60882-754-1 (epub) 1. Trust. 2. Betrayal. 3. Intimacy (Psychology) 4. Interpersonal conflict. 5. Interpersonal relations. 6. Couples--Psychology. I. Title. BF575.T7S76 2013 158.2--dc23 2013011797

  • Contents

    Introduction 1

    Part I The Start of Healing and Empowerment

    1 Footprints on the Heart and Soul 72 How to Use the Natural Motivation of Pain to Heal 193 How to Develop a Healing Identity 294 How to Use Restorative Images to Heal

    Painful Memories 45

    Part II Retraining the Recovering Heart

    5 The Key to Healing and Growth: Your Core Value 576 Getting to Core Value under Pressure: Your Core

    Value Bank 757 Intimate Betrayal and Post-Traumatic Stress 898 How to Change Hidden Guilt and Shame into

    Self-Compassion 1019 Overcoming Resentment and the Danger of Trust 113

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    Part III Loving Again

    10 The Path to Wise Trust 13511 How to Know If Youre Dating a Future Betrayer 14912 Intimacy and the Hungry Heart 159

    Part IV Rebuilding a Betrayed Relationship

    13 Rebuilding a Relationship with Your Betrayer 17714 The Compassionate Repair Process 19315 The Reconnection Dilemma 211 Epilogue: Healing, Repair, Forgiveness 227 References 233

  • CH A P TER 5

    The Key to Healing and Growth: Your Core Value

    Core value grows out of the uniquely human drive to create valueto make people, things, and ideas important enough to appreciate, nur-ture, and protect. Consistently acting on the drive to create value pro-vides a sense of meaning and purpose in life. This chapter and the next will help develop your core value as a general means of healing and growth. Although a highly developed core value wont make you forget your betrayal, it will definitely make all that you have suffered less important in your life as a whole. The past can no longer control us, once it is overshadowed by the deeply human drive to create value and give our lives meaning.

    The Drive to Create ValueAlthough we have an innate drive to create value, we have to make choices of who and what to value. A sunset has value if, and only if,

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    you give it valueyou invest energy and effort to fully perceive it, thus allowing you to appreciate it. While it does nothing for the sun-set if you value it, valuing it does wonders for you. The moment of value creation makes you feel more vital, engaged, interested, appre-ciativein short, more alive. Life means more to you at the instant you create value, just as it means less to you when you are not creating value. Most positive emotion, passion, meaning, purpose, and convic-tion come from creating value, and most emptiness, aggression, and depression result from failure to create value.

    Virtually all our accomplishments occur through value creation, and virtually all our failures owe to devaluing (value destruction). Consider who is more likely to maintain healthy weight: the person who values health or the one who devalues her body? Who is more likely to succeed with fewer mistakes, the coach who values the skills and cohesiveness of the team or the one who devalues his players? Who will do better at work and feel more satisfied with it, the employee who values her contribution and her coworkers, or the one who devalues his job, peers, or managers? Now heres the really impor-tant question: Who is more likely to thrive after intimate betrayal, the betrayed partner who values her well-being, her other relationships, her strengths, and her resilience, or the one who devalues his life and most of the people in it?

    Unfortunately, theres a large problem with core value: Creating value consumes enormous amounts of energy. It takes a lot more effort to appreciate a sunset or a childs smile than to ignore them. Most of us try to conserve our limited stores of energy by withholding the necessary components of value creation: interest and attention. If we withhold too much too often, well end up running mostly on auto-matic pilot, just going through the motions of living. Eventually, well get depressed. Depression can be understood as extremely low value creation.

    A common way to avoid the depressed mood of low value creation is to devalueto lower the value of someone or something by

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    deciding that hes not good enough, or thats not worth it, or Im not worth it. Devaluing brings a temporary spike in energy, because it invokes a subtle form of anger or disgust directed at yourself or oth-ers. Devaluing behaviors (such as criticism, verbal aggression, and actions motivated by contempt or disgust) feel briefly more empower-ing than the depressed mood of low value creation.

    Everyone devalues sometimes, and were especially prone to it after intimate betrayal. But in the long run, if you devalue more than you value, your life will be pretty bad, even if a lot of good things hap-pen to you. Ive seen considerable evidence of this since my frequent media appearances have attracted some rich, famous, and powerful clients, whose lives are filled with good fortune. Its amazing how creative they are at finding ways to make themselves miserable, sim-ply because they choose to devalue more than they value.

    On the other side of the coin, if you value more than you devalue, your life will be good, even if a lot of bad things happen. My primary example is a mother I knew who lost both her teenage sons. Within a year, one son died in an accident and the other was killed while defending a preteen girl, whom he didnt know, from a bullys unwanted advances. Out of nowhere, this womans only children were taken from her. Yet she turned the deaths of her sons into inspiration for other members of the community through her impassioned advo-cacy for various youth groups. She was the most charismatic and gen-uine person Ive ever met, because, despite the enormity of her misfortunes, she valued more than she devalued.

    States of Core Value and How to Access ThemLike all psychological drives, core value works as an unconscious

    component of the human motivational system. However, to aid in

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    healing and growth, it can be cultivated as a conscious mental state, in which you focus your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors on increas-ing the value of your experience and staying true to what is most important to you. The more you do this, the stronger your core value grows and the less likely you are to feel devalued, inadequate, or unlovable as a result of your partners (or anyone elses) behavior.

    Developing core value as a mental state will provide a place within, where you can go, at any time, under any kind of stress or depressed mood, to revitalize your desire to create value and meaning in your life. It will function as a primary defense against future hurt of any kind (not just intimate betrayal) and offer the greatest potential for personal healing and growth.

    There are many paths to a conscious state of core value. Here are three:

    1. Honor the most important thing about you as a person.2. Prove to yourself that you are worthy by doing something that

    makes you feel lovable and adequate.3. Act on any one of the core value motivations.

    Path One: Honor the Most Important Thing about YouPlease write down your answer to the following question. (Writing

    it down invokes a motor skill, which is more likely to embed what you write in implicit memory, increasing the likelihood that youll auto-matically assume it the future.)

    What is the most important thing about me as a person?

    Im guessing that you wrote something like Im honest or loyal or generous or a hard worker, because thats how most of my

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    clients initially respond. These are significant qualities, to be sure, but theyre not the most important thing about you. (Its a hard ques-tion to answer, because we dont typically think about our most essen-tial qualities.) Heres a way to tease out what you might regard as the single most important thing about you:

    If you dont have grown children, imagine that you do. Choose how you would rather your grown childrenreal or imaginedfeel about you:

    Choice A: [Mom or Dad] was honest, loyal, generous, and hard-working. Im not sure [she or he] really cared about me, but [she or he] was always honest, loyal, generous, and hard-working.

    Choice B: [Mom or Dad] was human, and [she or he] made a few mistakes. But there was never any doubt that [she or he] cared about me and wanted what was best for me.

    If love is so important to you that intimate