5 Ways you could be giving yourself a hard time without even realising it

07 Oct 2021

How kind are you to yourself really?

How often do you tread carefully so as not to hurt your own delicate feelings, the way you would with a friend?

Or when it comes to you, do you tend to adopt the tough love approach – only with the emphasis entirely on the tough piece?

If you are like most people, you could be giving yourself a hard time in 5 ways that you probably aren’t even aware of.

#1 Your empathy does not begin at home

In fact, your empathy doesn’t seem to know its way back home.

Yes, we both know that you are exquisitely sensitive to the feelings of other people and you would rather hurt yourself than hurt them.  Commendable as that might be in a certain light, it is based on a thoroughly wrong-headed premise.

Let me spell it out for you, the premise is: somebody is always going to get hurt and it is better that that person should be me.

So, let me ask you a couple of questions:

a) Is it always true that someone is going to hurt – or is that only true in abusive relationships?

  1. b) Just supposing that it were true, why should that person always be you?

It is about time that you started factoring your own feelings into the equation.

Not to mention the fact that you need to test the assumption that the alternative is to be forever hurting the feelings of people who take advantage of you and – dare I say it? – might well be narcissistic and abusive.

2) You are not acting like a friend to yourself.

You really wouldn’t turn that tough love routine that you inflict on yourself on a friend – or even acquaintance – who was struggling emotionally, right?

So what makes it okay to do that to yourself?

What gives you the right to treat yourself so mean?

Yes, we both know that other people – who were meant to love you – treated you mean. But you know how much that hurts.

So, why would you do that to yourself?

If you don’t believe that treating other people mean motivates them, you need to apply that same conviction to yourself.

You have had a lifetime’s worth of being treated mean to motivate you to do better. That never did anything good for you. Sure, it apparently did a lot for the people who treated you mean but in no way did it improve your quality of life.

As a smart person, you know that when something isn’t working for you, you can’t afford to keep doing it. You need to focus on what will work better for you – like kindness and compassion.

Kindness, compassion and acceptance would work a whole lot better for you.

3) You need to ditch your “should” script.

Did you know that every time that you “should” yourself another little piece of your self-worth goes into a coma. That’s right, it doesn’t quite die but it certainly doesn’t live either. It becomes deactivated.

Yesterday, a client came out with a typical, self-harming “should”.

“I should be over the narcissistic abuse that I’ve suffered by now.”

According to popular “wisdom” which is mostly based on ignorance and sweeping generalisations that bear no relation to the individual in question, she should have been over it by now.

Popular “wisdom” takes no account of

  • Your upbringing and family trauma
  • Your temperament
  • The amount of support that was or was not available to you
  • Your adult relationship history

To name but a few key factors. Yet popular “wisdom” dares to proclaim what you “should” be able to do.

Please try to stop “should”-ing  yourself.

You just have to substitute that “should” for a could and you can see what a nonsense the should claims really are.

You only have to try “I could have been over the narcissistic abuse that I’ve suffered by now…” for your own BS detector to kick in as you realise “No, I wish I could have been over it by now. But I have not been able to cover that distance. Yet.”

4) You ruminate

You go over your alleged crimes over and over again – only to keep coming up with the same result.

Somehow, it must have been all your fault.  Even if you can’t really work it how.

What has happened is that you’ve internalised all the negative things that a Narcissist has said about you and accepted them as your truth – without even realising that that is what happened.

You have to start challenging that old ruminating tendency.

It is a massive drain of your time and energy.

All the rumination in the world isn’t going to change anything.

These are the possibilities that you face:

  1. a) The Narcissist will return to your life, after a few semi-blissful moments, things will return to misery as usual and you will be back in Rumination World.
  2. b) With or without the Narcissist’s physical presence in your life, you can look back and ruminate about the past for weeks, months, years or even decades. Nothing much will chance.
  3. c) The Narcissist doesn’t return and you decide what to do about your healing and the rest of your life.
  4. d) You can turn your focus forward and commit to creating your happy future – and present.

As you can see, an awful lot is riding on what you focus on and the choices that you make for yourself.

5) You give up on yourself

Two phrases guaranteed to reduce me to a seething mass of fury are,

“I’m broken” and

“It’s easier said than done.”

I’ll admit that my intolerance for these phrases is very comparable to that of the ex-smoker who cannot tolerate the smell of cigarette smoke. Yes, they were once my go-to phrases. And no, they didn’t do anything at all to move me on from my own personal slough of despond.

You cannot afford to give up on yourself. I fully understand that you might struggle to believe in yourself. But in that case you have to examine the evidence.

By evidence, I don’t mean the things that “your” Narcissist tells you.

Why would you anyway?

Most all of what they say is ridiculous. Even if you struggle to believe that you are not as bad as they say you are, you know full well that they are nowhere near as good as they tell you that they are. So, you have some wiggle room for doubt there.

Still, you need to look instead at what friends, family, co-workers, or a boss –  anyone who holds you in the high regard that you deserve – have to say.

When you can’t trust yourself, you need to trust the opinion of people whose values and ethics you respect. That pretty much excludes the Narcissist, right?

Giving yourself a hard time most of the time is not normal – even if it feels normal for you. So, if you are feeling down most of the time as a result of your relationship with a narcissistic partner, you need to tune in to see whether you are enacting  the five ways of giving yourself a hard time.

If you are, that really needs to stop. You need to break free from that old pattern. If that sounds like you, my Break Free Membership could provide you with the support, community and tools that you need.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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