Two Ways that You Could Be Kinder to Yourself this Christmas
Are you actually the kind of person who is kind to yourself at Christmas? Or throughout the year? Or are you the kind of person who prioritises being kind to other people and derives joy, above all, from seeing them happy?
If you are like most survivors of narcissistic abuse, receiving kindness has not been a big part of your experience. Especially, if that started in childhood, that left you with a need to explain the situation to yourself. And you know how children routinely do that, right? You blame yourself.
A weird family
As a small child, I once spent a weekend with the family of my brother’s best friend. That was a kind gesture on their part. Plus, they had a girl more or less the same age as me. They were kind, inclusive people who did their best to make me feel welcome.
Unfortunately, I found the whole experience deeply troubling.
I couldn’t help but notice how the family treated one another and especially how the brothers treated little Fran. They absolutely adored her and treated her like a precious, china doll.
My little head and heart couldn’t cope with that: I sensed that something unconditional was going on in the way they behaved towards each other. I could see it but I couldn’t make sense of it. It fitted not at all with my own experience of family life. So, I managed two explanations:
1) There had to be something wrong with me and
2) The family was weird. (That was an easy fall-back position because my parents often said that the parents – who they knew slightly – were weird.)
Where the charmed circle of kindness begins and ends
For me, the net result of my own upbringing was I learned that kindness begins – and ends – in the outside world. I could do kindness and did show kindness to other people.
But the charmed circle of kindness stopped outside the family home.
Needless to say, nothing changed for the better when my Narcissistic husband walked into my life. He had an entire narrative about Life being an unkind bitch. That narrative informed the way he treated people most of the time.
Admittedly, as a good, grandstanding Narcissist, he would sometimes make a show of Conspicuous Acts of Kindness, but they were only ever single “swallows” which never added up to a summer.
For me and, I would say, every last one of my clients, kindness was something that you showed “out there”. Only rarely was it shown back to you. While the thought of showing kindness to yourself was … well, unthinkable.
The problem with not being able to show kindness towards yourself is that it keeps you emotionally stuck in the abusive paradigm that has been depleting you since forever.
How to be kinder to yourself
So how can you be kinder to yourself?
- Get a handle on kindness. A quick consult with Mr Google revealed that meanings of “kind” include generous, helpful, caring and considerate. That makes kindness a big emotional hitter. But how much kindness – how much generosity, helpfulness, caring and consideration – do you routinely show yourself?
At a guess, rather less than you would show to a domestic pet. Possibly less than you would show even to a pot plant.
Over the next couple of weeks, how about you focus on showing yourself the kindness that you would show to pretty well anyone who is feeling low?
If someone – not even necessarily someone close to you – came and confided in you that they feel like a failure, I’m betting you wouldn’t say:
“You always feel like a failure. When are you going to stop feeling like a failure? You need to focus on your goals. You have to get out there and do something instead of moping around feeling sorry for yourself.”
You likely wouldn’t say it because you would know that
- a) it would hurt – and be like kicking someone who was already down.
- b) it would only immobilize them further.
Instead, you would likely say something along the lines of
“I’m sorry you feel bad. Everybody has bad days. You will be fine, just not right now. You can do this.”
Why would you NOT adopt the same approach with yourself?
You might think that it couldn’t possibly work but you can’t really know – because you have never done it for any length of time.
Between now and the New Year, how about you give yourself that gift and see how it works for you? You have absolutely nothing to lose – except, possibly an outdated belief or two.
2) Let go of Comparisonitis
Comparisonitis is one of the 3 Cs that Narcissists use – and train you to apply to yourself – to ensure that miss out on feeling happy. I discuss all of these in depth in my Break Free Membership.
Narcissists teach you Comparisonitis right from the get-go.
Narcissistic partners may start from the line that they have never met anyone like you before – which already implies that they have gone through their entire mental Rolodex comparing you to all and sundry. Reassuring as that might sound on Day 1, it really isn’t – and deep down you know that it isn’t because you can always lose that primacy.
Narcissistic parents start comparing you – mostly unfavourably – to all and sundry from the time you exit the womb, if not before.
Narcississism, after all, is the epitome of Comparisonitis.
The bottom line of Comparisonitis is that someone always has to be shown to be inferior. Theoretically, that is meant to inspire a person to do better. In reality, it does untold harm.
So, how about you give up on your old pattern of Comparisonitis?
Most survivors of narcissistic abuse spend so much time focusing on what makes them inferior that they have no idea of what makes them them and what makes them special.
Nothing that a Narcissist has told you is wrong with you is important. You don’t have to look too far to see that people tend to be about as successful in life as they believe that they can be and are worthy of being.
Just think about it for a moment, Narcissists can be dishonest, unreliable, monstrously selfish, lazy, damaging and whatever else and yet they can still impress people, find someone – thoroughly good hearted (like you) – to love them, and succeed in life.
So, each time you catch Comparisonitis creeping into your thinking, how about you remind yourself,
“I may not feel that I am the greatest right now and I am actually enough.”
Kindness outperforms Comparisonitis every time.
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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