Learning to be assertive is one of the most important life skills you can develop. That’s true for anyone – but especially for narcissistic abuse survivors. Studies have shown that being assertive can lead to a whole host of benefits, from increased self-confidence to better relationships and improved mental and physical health.
What does it mean to be assertive?
Before you start trying to develop the strength you’ll need to make this happen, it’s important to understand what being assertive means. Psychologists define assertiveness as being able to express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view while respecting the rights and beliefs of others. The basis of assertiveness is mutual respect and honesty. Assertive communicators are straightforward and know how to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Their relationships value and promote trust.
Why is it so important to be assertive in narcissistic abuse recovery?
‘When we have been in situations where we’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse, we often fall into the role of people-pleaser. We become codependent and end up allowing ourselves to be walked all over by the toxic people in our lives. As you go forward in your recovery from narcissistic abuse, you are going to go through a whole-self transformation, one that can change your life forever – and for the better. You’ll be living more authentically and you’ll be setting boundaries in ways you never have before. It can be a beautiful thing.
But, if you’re serious about living an authentic life and succeeding in reaching your goals, learning to be assertive is crucial. So let’s dig into this.
How do you learn to be assertive?
Take a few minutes and think about how you feel about your life right now. Ask yourself some simple questions.
Are you satisfied with your personal and professional situation?
Are you conflict-avoidant?
Do you worry about what other people think of you?
Do you often put aside your own wants and needs in favor of others?
Do you find that your relationships tend to be one-sided?
If you’re not happy with where you are now, the good news is that assertiveness is a habit that can be learned just like any other. With practice and commitment, you can change your mindset and live a life more aligned with your true values and aspirations.
Try these tips for becoming more assertive.
Decide what your priorities are and stick to them.
Work out your individual boundaries.
Develop a positive open posture and look people in the eye when you speak to them.
Use positive “I” statements about how you’re feeling instead of blaming or finding fault with the other person. Be especially wary of feeling tempted to say, “you always” or “you never.”
Get comfortable with saying “no’ to things you don’t want to or can’t do. Keep it simple and non-emotive and don’t feel you need to add an excuse or explanation.
Only use “sorry’ when it’s appropriate for the situation. You don’t need to apologize for saying no.
Offer alternative suggestions to proposals you don’t like.
Look for compromises.
Be honest and direct about your feelings, thoughts, and intentions.
Consider writing a script for a situation that feels awkward. Rehearse being confident.
Try to keep your focus on the impact of the situation and finding a way to work together to find a mutually satisfying solution.
Above all, being assertive means staying in your power, accepting that you have control over how you approach the situation and your feelings about it. Assertiveness won’t get you everything you want all the time, but you will feel in control and deal much better with situations that would have previously been stressful.
Helpful Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors
10 ways that are within your power to use for keeping yourself safe from toxic people. In this video i talk about many ways which all work together to help create life where you can not only spot a narcissist but steer clear of them in your future. Let me know what you think and if you have any tips to add which might help someone else.
When an empathic person is in a sexual relationship and especially an intimate long-term relationship with another person, sex creates emotional, physical and spiritual bonds. Bonds and trust that grow from the connected exchange sex provides deepen the feelings of love and caring toward their partner. The chemical release of dopamine and oxytocin during sex floods your body and brain with feelings of love as well as creates a need to feel more of the same.
But when there’s a narcissist involved, things don’t quite work this way.
You may think the narcissist is bonding to you too and may believe deep connection and love flow reciprocally between you both. In the case of a sexual relationship with a narcissist, the bonds on their side do not exist in the same way and the sharing of sex for connection is not what it appears to be.The narcissist uses sex to gain a feeling of power.
Meanwhile, because of the emotional bonding coupled with the body and brain chemicals, we grow deeper connections to them. Likely the love bomb-devalue cycle in other areas of your relationship with the narcissist will happen and trauma bonds will take hold as well further complicating things.
Lack of empathy means lack of intimate connection.
Without empathy, the narcissist can not put themselves in the place of the other person or find the depth of connection that the empath feels. They also are ego driven people and view sex not as a way to bond but as a way to own or possess another person and to meet their own needs only. The narcissists may seem like attentive lovers (at least at first) that appear to be giving pleasure for the benefit of you, their partner, but as the relationship continues and masks come off it can become clear that this is not the case.
This is because the narcissist never had the intention of giving to you, they had the drive only to please them self and to make you react to them in a sexual way which fuels their ego and gives them supply. The way the narcissist uses sex creates an imbalance of power in a relationship where you are becoming filled with trust and intimate love and they are remaining self-oriented only and using the vulnerability intimacy can create to gain control.
This power was always the intent and main sexual drive of the narcissist, the intimacy felt was only yours and once under their sexual control in this way the power becomes abuse and is a factor in deeper trauma bonding.
Sex as supply.
There are ways the narcissist gains supply through sex, for one, they hear our words of love and gain supply, it’s like direct feedback to the narcissist that they have secured us as supply and we are fully bonded. The narcissist also feeds off of the oxytocin and dopamine high, both their own and ours, that sex floods our brains and bodies with.
These chemicals that are released are powerful “feel good” and bonding chemicals and leave you feeling satisfied yet wanting more so it deepens the connection to a partner.
We know that all attention is supply to a narcissist and sex seems to be a heightened supply because of the intense feelings it creates in you. Narcissists often get an ego boost from sex which is another form of supply. They sometimes view themselves as really great at sex and use you to prove that to themselves. They often like you to “perform” or make a show of just how great they are sexually. This can feel inauthentic and cause you to have a sense that something is not right or even leave you feeling unloved.
Objectification of all people is common for narcissists. They see us as objects for their own gain or pleasure maybe even so far as eventually you may feel like a sex doll or like you are expected to perform in a certain way lacking all authentic and spontaneous behavior on your part, or maybe like you are not even there.
Basically, a narcissist is having sex with them self and using you as an object to complete the sex act with as well as gaining further power over you. You may be seeking love and sharing an intimate exchange with them but they are seeing you as a warm body to use for their own purpose. It can feel like sex with a stranger when you look in their eyes as they objectify you.
Have you ever felt empty and ended up in tears during sex with a narcissist? Knowing intuitively something is not right but feeling connection and love at the same time can cause that empty feeling and leave you silently crying. Being objectified is not being intimately cared for and emotionally abusive.
Ways a narcissist may abuse intimacy
The deeper we feel a connection through sex the further the power is stolen by the narcissist to use as their own supply and manipulate you. They do this in many ways, here are a few examples:
Forcing you to cross personal boundaries and go beyond the comfort zone
Demanding sex when it’s not wanted
Threaten to leave if sex is not up to their expectations at that moment
Forced or non-consensual sex
They know sex bonds us to them, they may even think or say they feel close and bonded after sex, this, if is a truth at all is a half-truth and it works to ensure you that the feelings they are having are mutual which sadly is not possible given they do not feel empathy. The narcissist feels like they own you and sex is one way they use to make sure it stays that way.
What happens to you?
Having a narcissist for a partner can leave you feeling emotionally alone and when it comes to sex it’s no exception. The isolation and loneliness when in a sexual relationship with a narcissist can be so completely devastating you literally change and seem to lose vital parts of yourself.
Having your intimacy abused not only diminishes the feeling of empowerment you may feel but damages self-worth. Being used sexually in the ways a narcissist uses and abuses is not an easy thing to accept; it’s painful, humiliating, devaluing, dehumanizing and can crush self-esteem.
Having the natural and beautiful part of being an empath, your ability to bond with love and empathy expressed through sex and intimacy not only unreciprocated but used as a point of power and control against you can leave you feeling like it is now hard to trust. You may even feel naive or foolish for having trusted. Feelings of guilt, shame and anger may also be present. These are all normal ways to feel after having your intimacy used and abused, Now is the time for understanding exactly what took place and using active self-care to find healing.
Can you think of ways the narcissist used sex to manipulate you? If any time you felt off or distance or emotionally not right during or after, maybe even sad or used these could be clues to seeing the manipulation that took place.
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.
One of the hardest things we go through as survivors of narcissistic abuse is letting go of the negativity when we move forward in our lives. So often, I hear survivors tell me that they can’t seem to let go of the feelings of dread, sadness and confusion after the toxic relationship ends. One easy way we can start to move toward being happier and more positive is to focus on intentional vibration management – as in, speaking, thinking and doing only things that are toward our highest good and toward our true divine desires.
That means we have to let go of the need to complain – or at least to cut down on it. This means rather than focusing on what we DON’T want, we turn away from it and only focus on what we DO want.
So how do you do it?
Cutting down on your complaining is something that will take practice. We’re not all naturally inclined to lean toward the positive. In fact, it’s easier for our brains to fall into patterns of negative thinking than to look on the bright side of things. You may wonder how you can begin to become a more positive person. It takes time and intentional practice. I’d like to give you some ideas on ways to shift your focus toward positivity. Once you begin to do that, you’ll start to find positive thinking comes more naturally and with ease.
Ditch Negative Influences – Let’s start with one of the toughest suggestions I have to offer, and that’s to get rid of negative people in your life. Cutting people off is difficult and painful. It’s hard to sever a connection with someone who may have been important to you, but allowing toxic people to bring you down with their constant negativity is harmful to yourself. Ultimately, it may be better for you to put yourself and your own needs first. If you can’t eliminate a negative person from your life completely, at least make an effort to spend less time around them. Once you do, you’ll probably feel like a weight has lifted from you and being positive will come easier. You can always reevaluate things later.
Smile – Yes, a simple gesture like smiling can turn your whole attitude around. It’s hard to feel cranky when you’re smiling. Give it a shot. Smile at strangers on the street or colleagues in the hallway at work. A good mood tends to follow a genuine smile, both your own and the recipient’s. Smiles really are contagious.
Look Forward – Set some goals for yourself. Being able to look ahead to the future with hope and anticipation will do wonders for your outlook. When we’re feeling stuck in a rut, it’s far easier to let things bring us down. These goals can be personal, professional or something else entirely. Just be sure it’s an objective that excites you in order to keep your motivation and your spirits high.
Brighten Your Surroundings – If you want to lift your mood and perk up your thinking, it could really help to brighten your surroundings a bit. The things you see around you have an impact on how you feel. If you want to feel more positive, add some uplifting elements to your atmosphere. You can do this by making sure your office desk always has fresh flowers on it or by adding some fun dŽcor to your home. This small lift can go far to turning your mood around.
Step Outside Yourself – Finally, sometimes you have to get out of your own way and out of your own head if you want to change your perspective. One awesome way to do that is to help others. It can be in a small, informal way or by throwing yourself into a big project. Whether it’s offering assistance to your overworked colleague or starting a huge philanthropic campaign, helping others can totally change your negative attitude.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to bring some sunshine into your life. Perhaps you can build upon them and find ways that are personal and meaningful to push you along the path to positivity.
Wow! Can you believe how fast these 30 days have flown? We’ve reached the end of the 30 Day Overcoming Anxiety Challenge, and I sincerely hope you’re feeling more in control of your anxious mind and that you’ve gained a toolkit of real strategies you can use to feel better despite occasional bouts of anxiety.
We’ve covered a ton of information in this short 30 days. You may need to go back through it to remember some of the advice and action steps. That’s okay. In fact, it’s really a smart idea to review the information from time to time so that you can keep your favorite strategies at your fingertips for use when you need them most.
No matter how much anxiety you’re facing, there are things you can do all by yourself to lessen it. Seeing a mental health professional is also recommended if you need expert guidance and support to handle your level of discomfort. But knowing that you have the power to lessen your own discomfort related to stress, anxiety or overwhelm is pretty darn empowering.
You’ve learned what anxiety is, the ways it affects your brain and how to recognize it. That’s all a great foundation for understanding this toxic condition that can take hold of our lives. You also now understand the impact anxiousness can have on your job, relationships and overall happiness. It’s serious business.
You don’t have to feel overwhelmed, though, because you now know several coping mechanisms for diminishing those awful feelings that come along with anxiety. You can recognize it creeping up on you and know how to frame it in a realistic way. Strategies like deep breathing, exercising, visualization and eating well are things that can be used to maintain a more positive frame of mind with higher energy levels and to stop anxiety in its tracks when it catches you off guard.
Using calming techniques, taking control of your finances and environment, practicing gratitude and beating procrastination are also active methods to reduce anxiety. Finally, please remember that you don’t have to face anxiety and stress on your own. Rely on your support network to help you through the tough times.
Get out there and be social, even when you feel overwhelmed by the world. As social creatures, we need to be around others. Let them help you, make you smile and heal you. Giving of yourself to others is also a way to lessen your fears and put things into perspective.
Which of these 30 days of exercises has resonated with you the most? Which seem like they will fit into your lifestyle and mesh with your personality?
These are the ones you should add to your anxiety toolkit first. When a strategy makes sense to you, it will be easier to implement. Once you begin to gain confidence and feel that you can impact the way you’re feeling, add some other techniques to the mix. Keep what works. Toss what doesn’t, after giving it a fair shot and practicing the method for a bit. I truly hope you feel more control over your anxiety and are ready to face the world with more confidence, peace and enthusiasm.