Could you be doing this harmful thing, too?
“I just feel disappointed in myself. It’s been a while and I should be over the relationship by now” said Leila, looking at me for approval.
Sadly, I had a problem with that: I didn’t approve of Leila’s sentiment. At all.
Having worked with Leila for a while, I know what she has gone through and what a courageous, amazing woman she is. I also know what can get in the way of her healing and the healing of any survivor. Plus, I know that it is normally the last place that survivors care to look.
So, before we go there, let me ask you, have you said the same things to yourself as Leila said? Have you said them whenever you encountered some kind of setback and found yourself revisiting old, painful feelings that you would have gladly archived in your Once Upon A Time file?
I objected to Leila’s sentiment because it resonated all too well with me. It is all too easy – not to mention counterproductive – to slip into that kind of thinking
In fact, it’s an unfortunate scenario in which two negatives really do NOT produce a positive.
Making yourself feel bad about something that is already making you feel bad is no way to make yourself feel good. Piling more negative feelings on your existing negative feelings only compounds how miserable you feel.
Doing more of something that is already not working for you is not going to change anything for the better.
You have to do something different.
The Slough of Despond
This is the point at which, in desperation, some people say that they need to “be positive”.
Faking positivity when you feel bad is the fast track to the noxious Slough of Despond.
So, the question becomes what can you do instead?
Over the years, I am sorry to have to admit that I have spent a lot of time sojourning at the Slough of Despond. (I probably have about a million loyalty points from sloughofdespond.com.) I’ve learned from that consistently miserable experience that it’s a place where I have an unfortunate habit of losing sight of my own resourcefulness.
That makes me remarkably like most every other survivor of narcissistic abuse.
Your internalized narrative
Abusers have a narrative about you in which you are so resourceless that you need to be very grateful to them for whatever “resources” they deign to share with you – or more accurately boast about to you. Without your abuser – or so the legend goes – you would fail completely, in every area of your life, within a matter of weeks, days, or even hours.
They likely know better than the nonsense that they purvey.
Sadly, you do not.
You have been brainwashed into believing that you are helpless, hopeless and useless.
The facts belie your assessment. But, hey, Narcissists really labor their alternative facts and alternative evidence about us until you end up seeing your reality through their eyes.
“And Yet” thinking
Most of the miracles of healing from narcissistic abuse exist in the world of “And Yet”. So, let’s shift our eyes from the Narcissist’s world of the Phony and Ungracious Saviour to the world of “And Yet”.
In “And Yet” world, even when you are at seriously low ebb, you know how to comfort other people who are in profound emotional pain. You know how to support them.
What’s to stop you from doing the same thing for yourself?
The short – and only partially accurate – reason is that you didn’t think it was allowed. You didn’t think that you deserved it. Plus, you get easily discouraged because you know that you are meant to slip seamlessly into self- love. Unfortunately, self-love is such an alien concept that you have no idea how to do it. Nor do you think that you are worthy of it anyway.
Apart from that, everything is just fine and dandy.
Let go of stock answers
Okay, so it is really, really not. However, accepting that the feelings you are having are not find and dandy is actually a great starting place. It means that you are starting somewhere real.
But what do you do next?
How do you shift from the stock answers:
- a) start to love yourself
- b) treat yourself the way you would a friend
to a nice, clear blueprint?
The detailed blueprint is one of the many that I have developed, in detail, for the Break Free Membership. Ideally, it is something that benefits from context and a comprehensive explanation that goes beyond the scope of this article.
Key principles to apply
However, the principles are simple.
- Accept yourself for being where you are, rather than where you might like it be.
- Tune in to your own internal narrative.
- Listen deeply to yourself –instead of pouncing on your perceived failings.
- Empathize with yourself and your predicament for once.
- Validate. You are really good at validating other people and they respond well to that. How about you try doing that to yourself for a change.
- Take the time it takes to hear yourself out. Never underestimate the world of difference between complaining – which can last a lifetime because it is just rehashing a script – and sharing your feelings –which, once fully heard, will subside and start to resolve.
- Pay attention to the lightening of the mood.
- Finally redirect by starting to inject some humor or otherwise uplifting note to the dialogue.
When you talk to pretty much any other person about their distress, you will take the time to show respect for their feelings. You wouldn’t dream of hurrying them from despondency to the insensitive, stereotypical pep talk.
Don’t you owe yourself – the person that you will surely spend the rest of your days with – at least as much regard?
If you don’t truly feel that you do owe yourself that regard, or if you know that you do but don’t see how you can possibly achieve it, then you likely need tools and support that you currently lack. No survivor ever wants to be unhappy after an abusive relationship. They remain unhappy because they don’t know how they can shift that state. The Break Free Membership is designed to offer you all the tools, techniques and roadmaps 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.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse. Starting with the basics.