When we get involved with narcissists and other toxic kinds of people, sometimes, it’s really hard for us to just move forward – to let go of both the narcissist and the person we THOUGHT we were signing up for, once the final discard takes place.
So, are you stuck and feeling like you need to let go – do you want to fully detach yourself from a narcissist in your life? If that sounds familiar, pull out your journal and ask yourself a few questions.
Which relationships in your life have become toxic? (Is your relationship toxic? Take the quiz)
What keeps you feeling stuck?
What would you enjoy changing in your personal life?
What do you want that you’re not getting as a result of this relationship?
What situations in your life aren’t working anymore?
What huge change are you putting off?
Do you stay stuck because it’s scary to make big life changes? (Does it seem like “the wolf you know” is better than the one you don’t?)
What personal changes, possibly even an overall change of direction, might make you happier?
Detaching from the narcissist is merely arriving at a decision to finally let go – no more allowing something from the past tense to influence your life today or to cut down your inner sense of peace and wellbeing. So all we have to do is to relinquish the beliefs and mental attitudes that keep us from receiving the pleasure of the moment. The issue comes in discovering precisely what that means; we have so many notions that keep us from living in the present moment, from becoming content and peaceful inside.
In addition to the commitment, we need to make to intentional vibration management, we have to use our sense of logic and our thinking ability to get past feeling stuck. Our information, our understanding, our beliefs and our perception are within our control. We have the ability to figure out and understand things on a logical level, through research, interaction with others and personal experience. We can then take that information and marry it to our emotions, which allows us to reassess them and process them more effectively, in my experience.
On top of this, once these emotions have been processed, we can choose to see things in the most positive possible way and we do this with personally affirming ourselves in the process, we can create our own empowerment.
Gray rock is a simple but highly effective way of dealing with narcissists, and in a nutshell, it means that you respond to the narcissist as briefly, and factually as possible. You don’t give them any of your emotions when you use gray rock; instead, you keep it as boring as you can: monotone, detached and as vague as possible.
Then, if the narcissist treats you badly, you simply ignore it. You go on as though they hadn’t reacted at all.
If they act like they aren’t “getting” what you’re doing, keep up with it and ignore it. Same goes for what to do if they irritate or upset you – keep going and ignore their response.
All of this begins with having the confidence to believe that we deserve to be treated with love and respect. We first need to recognize our own value and to begin to treat our SELVES with love and respect. It’s difficult, but you really can learn how to unconditionally love and accept yourself. And it is a beautiful thing!
Start with building your personal confidence.
Confidence is an inside game. True confidence comes from a sincere acceptance and love for yourself that isn’t influenced by outside forces. From the inside out, you love and appreciate who and what you are as it ever-evolves into something better. Loving yourself in this way creates space for nurturing when you aren’t feeling your best because no one better than you knows what you need.
Even the most confident people have bad days. From physical aches and pains to emotional stress, confidence doesn’t excuse you from life’s little setbacks. Confidence does, however, make taking care of yourself a bit easier. This is where self-care comes in.
Self-care is the art of nurturing and participating in activities that promote wellness, restoration, and balance. Self-care includes, but isn’t limited to, beauty, hygiene, personal interests, artistic outlets, mental health, physical health, and much more. Self-care is recognizing and responding to what your mind and body needs to be its best at any given time.
Let’s take a look at what self-care is:
Let’s take a look at what self-care is not:
Confidence comes from knowing yourself and what you want. Confident people are fully aware of what they need to feel refreshed and better about themselves. They also understand the value of self-care and don’t feel guilty about caring for themselves, whether that means taking time alone or spending income on a massage. Their worthiness isn’t tied to the costs for self-care… their health is.
There are different sorts of self-care depending on the need.
Physical (Body)– Physical self-care includes activities such as healthy eating, exercise, and hygienic care. Taking care of yourself may include shopping at a farmer’s market or eating organic. It might look like using high-grade essential oils or buying a titanium bike for your riding hobby. Physically caring for yourself may include monthly spa days or bi-weekly pedicures. Whatever the vehicle for pouring into yourself, it is worth it and it is vital.
Emotional (Mind)– Emotional self-care includes activities that restore your mental and physical health and give you back the clarity that is lost when overwhelm and anxiety creep in. From taking in a movie or date-night with your spouse, emotional self-care is as important as any other form of care.
Spiritual (Soul)– Spiritual self-care is the nurturing of your spirit and soul. Depending on your beliefs or your focus, this may include a religious practice, but it also includes the arts, travel, and expanding your social conscience and awareness.
Confidence comes from within and it is from within we are restored. As survivors, we must place a high premium on self-care and make it an integrated part of our lives. Use self-care to feel better about yourself and to model to others the benefits of caring for yourself so you can create the life you truly want and deserve. Isn’t it about time?
“Trust your own instincts, go inside, follow your heart. Right from the start. go ahead and stand up for what you believe in. As I’ve learned, that’s the path to happiness.”~ Lesley Ann Warren
Ever notice that many survivors of toxic relationships tend to be people pleasers? It’s true – we want to be assertive and to stand up for ourselves, but we feel like we need to know exactly how assertive is TOO assertive.
After all, we don’t want to upset anyone. It just isn’t in our nature to be jerks for no reason, and we most certainly do not want to deal with conflict – we’d sooner live in misery than willfully enter into conflict – at least before we get to the point in our healing when we understand the value of standing up for ourselves.
Of course, as empaths, we look for and try to walk that fine line – that place of balance between assertive and aggressive, because we care how people feel and we don’t want to make them feel bad if we can avoid it.
We think about it far too much, and we ask ourselves, “Am I assertive to the point of being aggressive?”
The goal is to find that fine line in between too much and too little assertiveness. It’s really about balance and understanding how to pick your battles effectively. It’s about knowing exactly when to push a little more, and when to kind of step back.
It is about learning to establish personal boundaries for yourself and for others around you.
The Truth About Personal Power After a Toxic Relationship With a Narcissist
There are a lot of moving pieces to the whole narcissistic abuse recovery process. As we work on our healing and our personal evolution, we also must find our own voices, and that will include learning to stand up for ourselves like we did before we tangled with a toxic person in a relationship – or maybe even in ways that we never have before.
If you’re going to create and maintain personal change in your life intentionally, you must learn how to do exactly that – to overcome the need to shy away from changes that make you uncomfortable.
For example, let’s say someone at work is causing you a lot of stress because they won’t stop hitting on you at the workplace. Maybe you feel nervous about reporting this to your HR department, so you don’t say anything at all. Instead, you quietly tolerate it as your coworker relentlessly pursues and abuses you.
Is this situation comfortable in any way, shape or form? Absolutely not. You will dread going to work and you will remain on constant alert when you’re there. You will be mentally and physically affected by the stress of the harassment and abuse. So, you’re essentially putting yourself in a longterm misery situation in order to save yourself a few minutes of discomfort.
Of course, you already know you DO have the power to CHANGE this – and all you’d have to do is tolerate a few minutes of discomfort during the time you make your report to HR. After that, the situation can be resolved for you and this will take away a possible lifetime of ongoing harassment.
How to Stand Up for Yourself
It’s time to learn to be more assertive, my friend.
Now, listen. I know that the idea of assertiveness seems too simple to create any real personal change in your life, believe me. But as a survivor of narcissistic abuse, it’s not always easy to stand up for yourself, especially when it involves conflict, or it feels risky.
You can try dialing down the risk and build your assertiveness muscles in the way you deal with the dozens, if not hundreds, of small decisions you make every day. Think of all the times you choose to stand in your power or to go with the flow. Here are some top tips to help you stand up for yourself every day.
1. Start small
If you feel less than confident about being assertive, take baby steps at first. You can start by adjusting your posture to a more confident shoulder back and chin up stance, that says to the world “take me seriously.” If you’re a serial apologizer, try removing “sorry” from your everyday personal dictionary and save it for when an apology is warranted.
Resolve to try being more assertive at every opportunity. You probably know that it takes time and preparation to form new habits, with the latest research saying 66 days is the magic number. Schedule a reminder in your calendar, and practice asserting your needs daily for 66 days until it becomes automatic for you.
Maybe you’ve got a difficult meeting or conversation coming up, or there are some situations which always make you feel anxious and small. Try imagining the scene and write yourself a script where you stay in your power. Work out what feels right for you and try it the next time such a situation arises.
4. Practice patience
You might find that your new assertiveness provokes negative responses in people who are used to you being compliant. It’s a good practice to stay calm but assertive if they try to override you. Don’t react or be defensive, count to ten and stay in your power.
5. Be clear
When you’re standing up for yourself, it’s important to be very clear about your position and to avoid infusing it with emotion. Be straightforward and say what you want without being passive-aggressive or indirect.
6. Practice saying no
When you’re clear about what you want and what you don’t want, saying No politely but firmly becomes a whole lot easier. Work out what’s important to you and don’t leave room for doubt in the mind of the asker. Saying no doesn’t make you a mean or rude person, it’s a sign of strength and certainty, and everyone will know where they stand.
7. Watch these videos to help you learn to stand up for yourself, set boundaries and to take back your power.
I was raised in an ideal family, according to most people who know them. Relatively high standing in their community, very well known and respected in their religious network.
But behind closed doors, my parents and my siblings bullied me mercilessly, usually amongst themselves but sometimes in front of others too.
This trend has continued recently, as they have been ‘framing’ me online.
What has been most devastating is that everybody seems convinced that they are wonderful people and believe their lies, but nobody will believe what I have gone through.
They think that I am crazy (which my family freely implies). Maybe some people are aware of who they really are, but they’re afraid that they would be on the receiving end of their antics if they show any sign of siding with any of the people they pick on.
I cringe when I recall how I was unable to avoid the abuse due to the way that I was raised to be such a ‘good girl’ no matter what happened to me. In the network people think my parents are brilliant parents because they appeared to have such nice children. I was actually inviting and drawing abuse to me like a magnet.
It was not until I had some space from my family and children of my own that I realized how terribly my own mother treated me and managed to step away from the toxic network that I was raised in. I could never treat my own children the way she has treated me; nor would I allow anyone to. I want to raise my children in a way that they do not tolerate staying around for anyone who tries to hurt them. The love for my children has been a huge inspiration for me in my healing.
My family enjoyed pushing all my buttons to provoke me and when I snapped they would shame me for being so terrible and call me crazy. I now realize this was gaslighting. At the dinner table, they would call me names and make fun of me: they told me that I would be a lonely old spinster with cats that nobody would want to be around. I was afraid for years that believing this was becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One sibling would do all in her power to destroy my friendships, to have them only be friends to her, this also applied to my boyfriends. Another would do all in her power to have my boyfriends date her.
I was madly in love with one boy and foolishly confided to her that I knew he wasn’t the best looking guy ever…but that whenever I saw him my heart skipped a beat. The relationship started to go downhill very fast after this.
When he broke off with me angrily saying that ‘I wasn’t so good looking and he could do better than me’, I realized what had happened. One of my siblings begged me to lend them money when I had just gotten paid. I explained that I really needed that cash for my rent at the end of the month. They insisted they would have the money back to me in time for when the rent was due. When I followed up on this they told me they had sent the money to my mom’s account, my mom denied receiving it. I was left in trouble to pay my rent and to this day I don’t know who was lying about the money.
In desperation, I stopped bringing home any of my friends or boyfriends. I met a man and without their interference, things progressed and we got engaged.
One month before I was due to be married, my younger sister (who had previously said she would never get married), announced that she was engaged to be married. The wedding date? One week before mine.
I asked my mother (who was splitting the money she was contributing as her gift for my wedding with my sister) how she could let my sister do this. My mother’s reply was ‘Do what?’
This was my life. I asked my mother who is famous for her baking if she would make my wedding cake, and she agreed. The day before the wedding, I learned she had changed her mind. She had no intention to make the cake.
I was amazed…she is the woman who is always there for anyone who needs it at church, having made so many wedding cakes for my friends. She makes them beautiful wedding shawls and knits blankets for their babies.
But when it comes to me, nothing.
My sister couldn’t have her wedding the week before mine, as she had forgotten to sign a document and instead, she got married on the day of my husband and my wedding reception in his country.
I was unable to attend her wedding.
I couldn’t understand what it was for the longest time… that I seemed to be surrounded by awful people and I believed that I must be imagining it.
Was I imagining it or was it really just me?
It turns out that it actually was me, but not how I expected. I was attracting these kinds of people into my life and allowing them to stay.
And in the meantime, they were not giving any room for healthier relationships to draw close to me.
I had had enough.
In one year, I cut contact with three women that I considered to be close friends because they all were becoming increasingly abusive toward me, verbally and emotionally manipulative. Then my own mother in law physically intimidated and threatened me in my home in front of my children. At this point, I started to make the connections to my upbringing and the dynamic that I had been drawn into.
I had never challenged anyone before and my mother in law did not take the “no contact” kindly as it threatened her reputation. My MIL took the opportunity at a family wedding to try to create a scene to make herself look innocent and me the aggressor.
I had one of my children with me and I realized at this point that she would stop at nothing to protect her facade. So refuse to allow the children near her without close supervision. I hadn’t recognized her narcissism at all until that last time she would be in our home and then it came super clear from every single interaction after that.
She told me to forgive her and get over it. She referred to my husband only as ‘My son’ and the children as ‘my grandchildren’ as though they were not people in their own right.
She emailed me, copying my husband, and implied that I was sabotaging his birthday and not allowing him to spend it with family.
The truth was I was actually quoting what he had told me to write so it backfired somewhat. She almost did succeed in splitting up our family as my husband struggled to accept the reality of his mother and how she was affecting me.
Virtually his entire family are in denial and downplay what she does. I can see that my husband is like me in ways- a people pleaser.. and I see that as I have gotten stronger and happier, learned boundaries and no longer apologize for doing what works for my family, so has he too.
We are are in our 40’s and finally have allowed ourselves to have peace and be truly happy! My heart is with you who feel alone navigating this in your life. Do not let the bastards get you down. Do not let them push you into choosing to isolate yourself further.
I almost deleted my Facebook account several times. Had I done it, I would have cut myself off from what would become my largest support while coming to terms with everything. For a long time, I thought that maybe it was all my own fault as I was told that I am deserving of the treatment I received, but now I know that it is not.
I never go out of my way to hurt anyone. I still feel I’m doing something ‘wrong’ sharing this even though I know in my head that I’m not. Just part of the process of healing.
Be patient with and kind to yourself. Reading and learning as much as you can can help with healing. I’ve learned ‘not to wrestle with pigs, because we both get dirty and the pig likes it.’
When one door closes it truly does allow space for another to open, and you can choose to keep it open or close it to make space for another if it does not bring a mutually fulfilling and rewarding relationship. Big hugs!
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