Getting Educated, Part 2: It’s A Marathon Not A Sprint

Educating yourself about betrayal is just like everything else in the healing process: a marathon not a sprint. Nevertheless, many of the betrayed partners I treat tell me almost immediately that they have read everything there is to read about sexual addiction and partner trauma, and they know all there is to know about these topics.

I do believe that they have read a lot, but I do not believe that they know very much because almost 100 percent of the time they do not. Moreover, the partners who come in and have done tons of reading and searching for information are often in worse shape in terms of trauma symptoms than the partners who have sought out much less information. This may seem counterintuitive, especially since I am suggesting that you want to spend time educating yourself. So what gives here?

The reality is that you can only take in and truly absorb and understand a certain amount of new information in any given timeframe. If you flood yourself with book after book in one big rush, you get some head knowledge, but you don’t get the experiential, whole-self learning where you truly absorb, chew on, and let the information change you.

Betrayed partners often feel so lost and unmoored that books provide an anchor. Books are a place to go to understand what is happening, to discover language that describes the experience, and to identify what to do next. It can be tempting to believe that if a little information is helpful then more would be even better. But too much information means you aren’t absorbing it and are unable to really use it.

You also need to understand that your headspace will be in different places as you walk the path of healing. So information you read today will mean one thing, but a month from now it might mean something completely different. You will receive and process information differently at each step of the process. Sometimes it is helpful to have a preview of what is ahead so you can keep the big picture in mind, but each step requires its own information, knowledge, and understanding, and it’s impossible to just take the steps intellectually. You must experientially come to that part of the path and then learn how to walk it – and this best occurs slowly and deliberately.

So please pace yourself as you read, attend workshops, and engage in different ways of learning. Slower is actually faster in this situation. If you give yourself the time it really takes to chew on, absorb, experiment with, and internalize new information, skills, and tools, you will end up farther ahead in the end.


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