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The Social-Emotional Developing Society: Finding Meaning in Betrayal Trauma

Many people may feel as though economic contributions are only in monetary forms but what about the worth and value of social-emotional developments? And what does it mean when they are betrayed?

The development of social-emotional skills is a necessary requirement for the health of the individual first. What one does for and with self is what one will do and have available for others. These areas touch on emotional management, social interactions and how we think our way through life. 

Validation of our thoughts, feelings and value is always a critical ability for a successful life. According to an article called "What is Social Emotional Development?" by Help Me Grow organization states that "Social and emotional development means how children start to understand who they are, what they are feeling and what to expect when interacting with others. It is the development of being able to:

  • Form and sustain positive relationships.
  • Experience, manage and express emotions.
  • Explore and engage with the environment.

Positive social and emotional development is important. This development influences a child’s self-confidence, empathy, the ability to develop meaningful and lasting friendships and partnerships, and a sense of importance and value to those around him/her. Children’s social and emotional development also influences all other areas of development".

As we can see, Social Emotional development not only contributes to the health of the individual and their first impression of what a healthy understanding of self is but also in relation to the multiple perceptions of self external of that. Not only are people looking to add value internally but people are desperately seeking in ways they can contribute externally. The ways in which people are looking to receive is the same way people are seeking to give. How the 'idea' of worth and value develops within the Social Emotional development for individuals will show the fruit of the root of the tree from the seed that was planted.

Trust plays a very big role in maintaining this skill set. It is what we were taught that develops us, and what we should keep as a standard belief despite what we may actually know to be true. But what do you do when what you've been taught emotionally and socially to develop and maintain self is what society can easily betray? What if these very skills are also used to control individuals by expecting them to cooperate without being granted the same courtesy? When this happens, it breaks the ground for trust and causes immediate disruption in what reality was and could be for individuals. This is called 'Betrayal Trauma'.

Sanjana Gupta, "explores the causes, symptoms, and impact of betrayal trauma, as well as some coping mechanisms" in her article called "What is Betrayal Trauma?" She states that "Betrayal trauma describes the emotional impact a person experiences after their trust or well-being is violated, either by people or institutions that are significant in their life". This betrayal impacts the trust factor which can then result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Who would be willing to trust as openly without rejection being used as a 'defense mechanism'? A defense mechanism is a natural reaction to wanting to protect oneself from being re-traumatized. Symptoms of this mechanism may come in forms of getting angry, flight, freeze or fight type responses. 

Gupta continues to talk about the impact of "betrayal trauma theory", which "was proposed in 1991 by Jennifer Freyd, PhD, an American psychology researcher, author, and educator.  According to the theory, someone may experience betrayal trauma when:

  • They are terrified, sometimes for their physical safety or their life. 
  • They are betrayed by someone who they depend on for survival, such as a parent or caregiver, whom they rely on food, shelter, and other basic needs".

To be betrayed in the very place where the root of development takes place is one of the greatest nails in a coffin because "the person who is betrayed often cannot simply sever their relationship with the perpetrator". How can you sever the very relationship that created context of how your reality should circumvent? And most importantly, how can one use betrayal as a vital tool in understanding relationships? How can you be resilient and restore self as one tries to stay true to what you know but be honest enough to know that betrayal will occur in one's development of self socially and emotionally?

The article continues into a depressing spell that lets you know people who experience this type of trauma usually stay in relationships that deliver such results faithfully. I have known this to be true because it is where you access your worth and value. If this is where you invest in, with little to no change, it will be expected because it is now what you know to believe you're worthy of. 

I can personally relate to the context of betrayal trauma when it comes to the many relationships but one particular experience was most recent with employment. How can someone be highly trained and professional in the industry of choice but experience a slew of uncouth incidents that one would think would never happen because of age, policy and equal rights. To hold my tongue hoping management would uphold the highest regards of policy just to be the scapegoat of a long effective failing system put me in such a funk momentarily until I remembered who I was! Not that!  In hindsight, my mother spoke to me gently and reminded me that this was a stepping stone. And I can step over this hurdle if I could just bring myself to see the overall picture, which was it is time to elevate. 

I will be honest though. I had a full blown panic attack because I associated my self worth and value in that moment according to what I gave to the job, which was everything. Some symptoms to look out for to confirm if you or a loved one has been a victim of betrayal trauma are the following:

  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Trust and relationship issues
  • Physical pain and gastrointestinal issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression

Make sure you check your mood so that you aren't staying in a specific mindset because after a while, it will move to a temperament, which is a state of being. After a while in this state of being, a disorder can set in and depending on your type and level of trauma, you will spiral downhill as you rolled in.

Make sure you reflect on life so you can begin a healthy habit of going through your emotions, thoughts and feelings. Be honest about things so you can have a healthy outlook from many perceptions. Seek help from effective support that tells you the honest truth. And remember to set boundaries and most importantly keep them. Anyone or anything that makes you feel as though you have to compromise what you know to be true that keeps you healthy in any way must go. Many people like to settle for things they can actually do in self by themselves. This isn't a healthy outlook nor does it change things for the better.

Place yourself in your personal seat  of power. You can safely manage and learn to enjoy the activation of the developing social emotional you by validating self with the keys of change. Mean what you say. It's okay if people don't like you. Not everyone eats chicken and it is actually normal to love flavors that smell like color.

And no we don't break the love we create for ourselves. If you don't stay true to you then who else will? And if you're the author of the world you create, who else is responsible and accountable for it? If it hurts, let it go. If it left a bruise, let it heal. If it was worth feeling, love again but be wise and use your discernment. The creator gave it to use for these reasons.

Until then, healthy wealthy thoughts.





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