If you are experiencing trauma bonds you may notice how difficult it is to put any attention on yourself except to feel the pain of the trauma bonds. One effect trauma bonding to a narcissist has on you is that it creates an overwhelming impulse to be thinking about the narcissist or trying to rationalize what happened in the relationship.
The gripping emotional pain and the way your mind wants only to think about the narcissist or the pain they caused you can make it feel impossible to even try when a suggestion of self-care is given. There are ways to help you through this and ideas for self-care which can be done simply throughout your day.
Self-care can take many forms, the more commonly thought of things like pampering yourself or treating yourself to something nice may not work for everyone when deeply trauma bonded. It may feel artificial or be hard to enjoy when your mind is on the narcissist. When things are really at a low point you may not even have the energy to do extra pampering things and think self-care will come later, once you feel better.
One thing to remember is self-care works, it just takes repeated efforts and many types of care to get there for some of us. A big piece of breaking trauma bonds is in taking back your life. Once you begin to feel your own joys and your own excitement about life and your activities you will begin to focus more on self and less on the narcissist.
Over time, and with healthy amounts of self-care the bonds lessen and you will feel your focus shift onto things you want to think about instead of things you have been in a sense forced to because of trauma bonds.
Here are 5 ways to use self-care in your everyday life:
Nurture yourself in everyday activities.
As you go about your day barely functioning it may seem impossible to think you can use any amount of self-care or add in anything new because of the exhaustion you feel. This is the perfect time to learn how to make self-care a lifestyle. One of the good things that can come out of being a survivor of narcissistic abuse is you can learn to care for self in a more compassionate, mindful and deeper way through your healing process.
What works great here is to look at the things you will do in a day and add some positive thought or intention to a few of those things. For instance, you are likely to shower or at least brush your teeth, Instead of going about these tasks in a business-like way and letting them just be tasks, use the time to experience self-care.
As an example, try adding in positive intention before showering by thinking something like, “I will let this water wash away a layer of my pain .” Before you get in set the water temperature to just the way you like it and allow yourself to feel the care you are giving to self through small gestures.
Appreciate yourself and try noticing things like the scent of the soap. Understand that you are taking the time for you. It only takes a few seconds and with practice can become a part of your daily routine. Try this when you eat, when you dress, when you take a walk (even if it's just from your house to your car). Pretty much any activity can have an ounce of self-care added to help you regain your sense of self again.
Use your senses
Using your senses for self-care can be the most nurturing thing you can do for yourself. It is especially useful when trauma bonded because it directs the attention, without words, to a more nurturing experience and reaches your emotions without the need for a lot of thinking,
The fastest way to the emotions is through the sense of smell. Since the sense of smell can trigger emotions it's important to find positive scents that please you to have around. While scent may get to the emotions the fastest, all of your senses are important for self-care.
If you can think of ways to use all of your senses to truly nurture yourself, you will be showing yourself love and care in easy to do simply ways. It's the kind of care that needs no words and is simply felt. After all the thinking you are likely doing while healing from trauma bonding it can be the perfect break from thought.
Here are a few for using your senses:
Get out in nature and experience the sights, scents, and sounds.
Walk barefoot in the grass or soft dirt/sand
Choose a favorite food and really let yourself taste it as you eat
Light scented candles
Put on your most comfy outfit
Curl up in a cozy blanket
Pet an animal
Sip your favorite hot drink
Wear your favorite color
Get yourself flowers and put them where you can enjoy them
When you've trauma bonded, your mind can feel stuck on thinking about the narcissist or the pain they have caused you. You may feel almost obsessed with understanding what happened and why.
Understanding is so important and I think for some people, critical to not only healing but to their not allowing another narcissist into their lives. Seeking understanding, however, needs breaks of focus so that you are also getting the nurturing you need in your day.
One way to get a break from the thinking about the narcissist is to find an outside focus to learn about or revisit. Maybe it's a thing you used to love and have not done in a while that you might take up again, or perhaps it's something brand new.
Taking time each day to seek out not only new things to learn or try but to revisit old things you once did and loved will help you to create a thriving self as the trauma bonds heal. It is never too soon to start this, even if you are still with the narcissist.
Self-care in this way helps us have a sense of who we are which is so quickly lost to narcissistic abuse. That sense of self, as it is restored or maybe gained for the first time will bring you a freedom that is totally separate from the trauma bond and help to allow those bonds to be less intense and eventually heal.
Allow for your feelings but add in breaks for your nervous system
The feelings you are experiencing are real and need validating but after a lot of time feeling so bad it can be extremely draining. By giving yourself breaks from the stress you will build hope for healing.
Taking a break will also calm your nervous system some and bit by bit this will add up to feeling better. I am not suggesting dissociating but rather shifting focus for a limited time to get some relaxation and relief from the trauma bonds. Some ways to get an emotional break in healthy ways might be:
Set a task to do that will take ten-15 min and do it with all of your attention
Take a nap
Gently tell yourself it is ok to have a break from the pain then take a walk
Create art- paint, draw, photograph, anything that allows you to create
There is a lot of adrenaline and cortisol coursing through you when being abused and that can cause a lot of issues for your health and body. Movement can help to begin healing that. It may feel impossible to get out and exercise and if that is the case do it right where you are.
At any moment stretch, move your arms around, do a squat or two, try a plank, or just touch your toes (or knees if bending hurts). Work within your physical limits and move!! your body care at the same time. Your body takes on a lot of stress from emotional abuse, things, like dancing or even swaying to music, may give you nurturing care. You may find that yoga, Pilates. dance or another exercise class which includes core work and stretching very beneficial. For now, if that is too much to add to your day, just move your body with love and intent on healing.
What are self-care ways that help you to get through emotional pain? Can you think of things you might do to nurture another person and then try them on yourself? What will your life look like once you are healed and thriving?
Thanks for reading this post! My name is Lise Colucci and I am one of the certified life coaches at QueenBeeing. Learn more about me here or schedule a one-on-one coaching session with me here.
*Editor's Note: Please help us welcome Lise Colucci to the QueenBeeing team!
I was feeling really run down and in low spirits today. It's allergy season and it has begun to hit full force. Before I knew it, I was hit with a few personal setbacks that set off negative thinking.
As the dialogue in my head escalated from a mildly complaining tone to feeling defeated and undone, I realized this was a reality that I was creating for myself based on my beliefs in that moment.
I had fallen out of self-care. I ran right through self-preservation and sped through "just making due” before just totally giving up.
That realization woke me up; this is not the life I wish to have, I thought.
This attitude will serve nothing but to carry my burdens all the way to bed and likely into my dreams. Then what?
More of the same tomorrow? NO thank you.
What can we do when the world feels so heavy and difficult, so much so that our beliefs alter our inner worlds to match its gravity?
Observe, then restate the beliefs, that’s what! It took a good half hour to get into it, catching the sighs of bodily discomforts and restating the inner dialogue which came out of those sighs.
"I am so tired” needed to be restated, while respectfully validating the needs of my body. "I can take a 10-minute rest and restore some energy“ became the new thought.
The phrases I heard myself thinking that felt full of weight and unhappiness such as, “I am alone and I have no help” needed another approach.
That one I could go at head-on by shifting my beliefs. I restated it to "I am capable. I also have friends and know I am not alone, if I need help I am able to ask."
I realized that in that moment that no one could physically help - but certainly, a loving friend hearing me could lift my spirits and that alone can go far in restoring positive energy.
All I needed to do was ask for a listening ear. So I did, and it worked! The beliefs began to lighten up and I was able to restore positivity in my day.
During and after emotional abuse, it can get dark in our inner worlds. We lose the ease of joy and uplifted outlook on life and often feel hopeless, unwanted, alone.
Worse than that, the dialogue in our heads can become that of the abuser, telling we are wrong and unworthy. The same practice that I used above can be applied here, any time.
We don’t need to force the beliefs to change.
The beliefs we hear ourselves think can be gently and incrementally restated to improve our self-worth and our outlooks - and to increase our joy. It can be done in a simple, honest way that allows you to believe in your worth and feel gratitude for many things in life.
Do you catch yourself believing things that are unkind toward yourself or are dragging down your day? Do you hear someone else’s words echoing in your mind reinforcing the abusive things you were told? What can you do, right now, to begin to create change in your very important belief system?
Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section, below. Let's discuss it.
Thanks for reading this post! My name is Lise Colucci and I am one of the certified life coaches at QueenBeeing. I am so happy to be given this opportunity to serve this community and honored to get the chance to witness others healing as they seek the amazing help that coaching can provide. I will be posting short articles on different topics that relate to narcissistic abuse, healing, self-care and more and I hope that you gain some comfort or deepen your own understanding through them. This article is a bit more personal than I normally write so that you can get a sense of how I work in my own life as well as the ways I use to problem-solve the healing process.
Learn more about me here or schedule a one-on-one coaching session with me here.
Whatever you are today is the result of your experiences up to this point - this includes your problems, strengths, habits and level of self-esteem. In every age category, from birth to infant and child to adolescent, you have met distinct and specific challenges. As someone who has experienced toxic abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you may need to work on healing your inner child.
What is inner child healing after narcissistic abuse all about?
In most cases, if the people around you raised you in a natural and healthy way, you would turn out to be a well-balanced and relatively strong person. However, if your childhood experiences are filled with traumas and problems (as they mmost likely were if you were raised by a toxic narcissist), these past incidents have had a significant impact on who you are as a person, at least the way you are today. To understand this topic, you have to understand the concept of inner child.
In today's video, we're going to discover what an inner child is and how you can begin to heal yours - the basics of our whole-week series.
So, sort of an amusing discussion happened this morning in my SPAN group. One of my admins said that having gone to the dentist proved to be more enjoyable than actually hanging out with her toxic narcissist.
That sparked her idea of a blog post entitled "Things I'd Rather Do Than Hang Out With a Narcissist," which is here - (more…)
"No matter what you're going through, there's a light at the end of the tunnel and it may seem hard to get to it but you can do it and just keep working towards it and you'll find the positive side of things." ~Demi Lovato
If you ask me, being in a relationships with a narcissist feels a lot like running your head into the same brick wall, over and over. And despite the fact that it gets bloody and beaten, you don't stop. You just keep running your head into the wall, hoping to get through it (and make it happy) - and while you logically realize, eventually, that there's no breaking that wall down, and that the wall is not capable of change, something in you makes you keep hitting the wall, bloodying your head and hoping for different results.
When you look at it that way, it seems literally insane, right? After all, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things but to expect different results.
So let's talk about the light at the end of the tunnel.
I'm about to wax philosophical on your ass, so get ready. If you've ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you can probably agree that eventually, you stop living for yourself and start living to avoid the next blow-up, drama or manipulation.
When you're dealing with gaslighting and the other ways a narcissist will abuse you, you're almost always just "existing," and while you might not admit this to many people, you sort of forget who you really are.
So many people have come to me as they were beginning the process of recovering from an abusive narcissist asking me how I was able to redefine and rediscover myself after escaping my own narcissistic abuse situation. And this is what I tell them.
As I see it, living without that kind of passion is sort of like living in the dark.
Food doesn't taste as good, the air doesn't smell as nice, the colors don't seem as bright.
Without passion in our lives, it's as though there's a barrier between our senses and the world around us, one which doesn't allow us to fully experience our lives.
This barrier could present itself in the way of depression, anger, fear, or any number of debilitating emotions. Or maybe there's a certain situation in our lives of which we've lost control. Maybe it's simply that we're bored, and that we've begun to take our blessings for granted.
This is an almost toxic state for our souls and even our bodies. But we can change our minds, and this can change our lives. But how? Try this Bliss Mission.
Bliss Mission: Discover What Inspires You
Begin with figuring out what inspires you. Then, find a way to make it happen. This can help you to start living with passion, and living with passion is one of the first steps to becoming whole, to becoming truly happy.
Whatever your passion or inspiration, take some small step toward it today, and let the rest flow. If you're not sure where to start, consider taking a walk to clear your head, or writing in a journal to work it out. You could draw or paint a picture, or cook your favorite meal. Take a bath or do a little yoga. Whatever works for you.
Tell yourself that today is the day that you begin living with passion and purpose. And then, my friends, do it. Your life will be richer and your heart will be happier.
Feel good! You ready? Let's do this.
Not ready yet? Then keep reading.
Be brave! Discover Your Courage
Have you ever thought of yourself as brave? You may find it challenging to imagine how courage would be a part of things like your social life, going to work, or communicating with your spouse. However, courage is important to all types of situations and relationships. Remembering your natural bravery will also boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Here are some super-simple daily actions you can take to strengthen your own bravery.
Embrace yourself and:
1. Look people in the eye. If you're shy or feel awkward, looking people in the eye or chatting with someone you just met takes a certain amount of inner strength and fearlessness. But each time you muster up the courage, you gain more self-confidence for the next social situation.
2. Speak up. Standing up for the project you want to do at work illustrates a lot about you. Although co-workers may be vying for the work and your boss might have his own idea about the person he wants to do a particular job, stepping forward to claim what you hope to do exhibits fearlessness.
Tip: You'll be more likely to receive the type of work projects you want to do when you step up and ask for them. These courageous behaviors pay off.
Tip: Maybe there have been situations when you've strongly disagreed with something your partner did or said. Maybe you ignored your own feelings at those times. But if your spouse keeps repeating these behaviors or comments, step forward bravely and discuss your feelings with your spouse. Doing so can actually strengthen your relationship.
4. Change how you look. Color your hair or cut it short. Or just put on make up for once! Any kind of change in your appearance reveals a certain amount of bravery. Even trying out a trendy new style or a color you don't normally wear is a great demonstration of your firm decision to change something about yourself.
Tip: Have you ever wanted to change your image or renew your style? This can be challenging and even a little scary. Such decisions require great deliberation and resolve to follow through. But when you do it, you feel great. These simple acts of courage associated with changing your looks facilitate the renewal of your confidence.
5. Stand up for what you believe. Regardless of the venue, stepping forward to make a point is a pretty brave thing to do. Have you ever decided you weren't going to take it anymore? Standing up for yourself can garner the respect of others, as well as improve your situation.
Tip: Whether you were the only one in the parent teacher organization who thought something wasn't a great idea or you joined the local anti-vandalism group in your neighborhood, standing up for what you believe takes some measure of fearlessness. Stepping forward for a cause that you feel emotionally invested in requires passion and bravery.
Recognize that it takes a certain amount of bravery to live in this world of ours, and if you're just starting out in trying to take back your life after being abused by a narcissist, this is all the more important.
Taking part in social events, speaking up at work, voicing a disagreement with your spouse and doing something to change your style or looks all reflect a sense of courage. And standing up for what you believe in your everyday life shows you aren't afraid to express yourself.
Discover your fearlessness by acknowledging those simple acts of bravery you do every day.
You'll be deeply rewarded emotionally and will go forward into your everyday tasks with greater confidence. Essentially, by reinforcing courage, you lay the groundwork to get what you want and deserve from life!
You've got this! What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.