Going through a toxic relationship with a narcissist leaves many of us unable to stop overthinking everything. We get stuck in rumination. Do you find yourself spending too much time overthinking and not enough time getting things done?
Rumination and overthinking is common, especially when making decisions. Overthinking wastes time and lowers your confidence. The most successful people make decisions quickly and stick with them. The less successful take too long to decide and quickly change their mind afterward.
You might think that you’re being responsible and cautious by taking your time to decide, but you’re shooting yourself in the foot. There’s no evidence to suggest that ruminating excessively on a decision results in a better outcome.
Make up your mind and get on with your life:
1. List the advantages and disadvantages. Write them down. There’s something magical about taking pen to paper when making decisions. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a better idea of the right direction to take.
2. Be aware of your core values. Decisions are more quickly and easily made when you know your core values. When you consider a choice, test it against your core values. Often, these choices aren’t the easiest, but are in your best interests.
3. Remember that you can always change your mind. There are few, if any, decisions you must stick with until your funeral. Just knowing that you can change your mind later can give you the comfort needed to decide. It’s not possible to predict the future with 100% accuracy anyway.
4. Avoid paralysis by analysis. Overanalyzing doesn’t lead to better results. It leads to inactivity and confusion. The Special Forces have a rule that you only need to be 70% certain to act. You might not be in the military, but the same general concept applies. Often, the window of opportunity closes before the last 30% of the information can be gathered.
5. Think both short-term and long-term. Ideally, an option exists that satisfies both criteria. Ask yourself if you’ll be happy with your decision in 15 minutes and in 15 years. Any decision that meets both requirements is a great decision.
6. Stay busy. Those that overthink often have the luxury of too much free time. Busy people make decisions quickly because they don’t have the time to brood over every decision. Be more active in general. You’ll find it easier to make decisions in a timely fashion. Exercise is one way to stay busy. You don’t overthink when your body is tired.
7. Use your experience to your advantage. You’ve made plenty of poor choices over the years. It would be a shame to allow them to go to waste. Consider whether you’ve been in a similar situation in the past. You might gain some great insight.
8. Use a timer to make decisions. Most decisions don’t require weeks, or even days, to make. A couple of hours is more than sufficient most the time. Use a timer and put some focus on the issue. When you hear the alarm, it’s time to decide. A timer is an effective way to narrow your focus.
9. A good decision now beats a great decision later. What are you waiting for? Success is more about making decent decisions and working hard than it is about making awesome decisions. Avoid overestimating the value of perfection and underestimating the value of the activity.
Avoid overanalyzing every little decision. You’re limiting your results in life if you spend too much time making decisions. Be clear on your values and consider using a timer. You don’t make better decisions by overthinking them. You just waste time. Use that time to execute your decisions. You’ll be more successful.
We’ve talked before about how the trauma bonds we develop with narcissists affect the same part of the brain as any other addiction. We are literally addicted to our toxic relationships, and that is why it’s so much harder to end a relationship with a narcissist than anyone else.
Just like any addict, we need to recover from our toxic relationships and gain control over our addiction.
There’s one phenomenon that early in recovery puts us at risk, and if we fall for it, we will end up “relapsing” and find ourselves falling for hoovering from the narcissist – or worse, chasing after them. It’s called “the pink cloud.”
What is the Pink Cloud in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?
Pink cloud (or “pink clouding” or “pink cloud syndrome”) is a term that is used to describe the feeling of elation that many addicts and alcoholics feel shortly after detoxing and moving into sobriety. They feel excited and hopeful in ways they didn’t before, and things seem to be moving in the right direction for the first time maybe ever. Since survivors of narcissistic abuse are often trauma bonded with their abusers, they deal with very similar issues. Trauma bonding works very much like drug addiction in the brain.
Why is pink clouding dangerous for survivors of narcissistic abuse?
There is only one problem with the “pink cloud” syndrome – and that is quite simply that it can make people dangerously overconfident in themselves and their recovery. This overconfidence can sadly lead to a relapse. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it happens to many in narcissistic abuse recovery as well. For example, when you first leave a narcissist, you can start to see the possibilities of a life without constant control and codependency.
You feel like you’ve overcome your trauma bonding and you have all of this hope – you feel like you’re on top of the world!
With all of this new goodness coming your way, you start to think this is how you’re going to feel all the time. Like life has just turned on a dime and the only way to go is up.
It is an amazing feeling! And while I want to tell you to hold on to it as long as you can, I also want to be realistic with you and let you know that it won’t last forever.
You’re still human and you’ll still have bad days. In fact, I would venture to say, you may find yourself feeling a sudden drop from the cloud, and you’ll feel like you’ve crashed back to earth in a most undignified way.
Reality will set back in and you’ll realize that even without the toxic person in your life, there are still difficulties and hard times.
What are the effects of pink cloud syndrome in narcissistic abuse recovery?
You may find yourself stuck in a deep depression if you’re not careful – remember, you weren’t allowed to show your feelings completely with the narcissist, so you may have sort of numbed out in order to get through it.
Letting go of the narcissist and working on your healing will require you, at some point, to mourn the relationship and work through all the hard feelings that go with it.
When you’ve lived in this constant state of control and numbness for so long, you might find that “normal” – you know, living without someone holding you down and without someone always sort of “managing” your every move – it might feel like you’re high on life.
You can’t even recall, if you ever knew, what real life feels like – and you have most likely forgotten how it feels to deal with your emotions.
It is good to feel happy and excited – it can help you to start to heal and make intentional choices. Don’t get me wrong.
But be aware that the pink cloud will eventually dissipate and you’ll need to keep pushing through the hard parts. You might think you don’t need help and you can just start living.
And I think you CAN just start living – but you must also stick with your support groups, and/or your coach and/or therapist. Don’t assume that “pink cloud” means all done healing.
How do you deal with pink clouding in narcissistic abuse recovery?
Here are some tips to help you get through the hard parts of the dissipating pink cloud.
1. Focus on finding balance.
In the relationship, all emotions are extreme. You deal with the highest highs and the lowest lows. After the relationship, start to focus on calmness and releasing the need to feel “extreme” emotions in order to feel normal.
2. Try to steer clear of the narcissist and places you know they will be.
Find a new route to work, or go to a different grocery store/bank, etc. Reduce the temptation of going back when you create new ways to do your business.
3. Create new routines and traditions.
After you are away from the narcissist, start creating new routines and traditions right away. Do things differently than before and when it comes to holidays and celebrations, keep the stuff you love, but release the traditions that don’t fit anymore – and in either case, add in new stuff and new ways to do things.
4. Realize that you must go no contact (or low contact) with the narcissist.
Do not fool yourself into thinking you can be friends with this person or just see them a little bit. Addiction is addiction. You wouldn’t just take one drink if you were a recovering alcoholic, right? The same principle applies to our recovery from toxic relationships.
5. Get support from a group, a coach, or a therapist.
6. Take care of yourself and be prepared for triggers.
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself during the narcissistic abuse recovery process. Self-care is so important for a number of reasons – primarily because you probably haven’t had much opportunity to focus on yourself for years, or even decades. It’s also important to watch for triggers and have a plan in place for when one hits you.
7. Keep your eye on the prize!
Narcissistic abuse recovery is not easy, so it’s really important that you remember why you’re doing all of this – you’re working on creating the life you want and deserve. And it’s about time!
Get support for narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
In the depths of my toxic relationship, I found myself feeling really sort of numb. I functioned like a robot and did just the bare minimum I needed to do to get by. When I finally left, I thought everything would change – I thought my life would suddenly get better and I tried really hard to act as if that were the case. But just under the surface, there was a sort of anxiety that bubbled up every time I thought about going out in public.
I stopped taking care of myself in certain ways. While I showered every day, I only did it because I was forced to go to work to support my child. I only put clean clothes on for that reason. I stopped wearing makeup and I stopped bothering to try to feel good about my appearance.
On the weekends, I’d do my very best to avoid leaving the house and I would not shower or get dressed. I felt like I was so overwhelmed and stressed out by going to work and shopping for groceries and whatever else I did during the week that I needed a break – at least that’s what I told myself.
I thought that was taking care of myself, and I guess in some ways, it was – sort of. But it also caused me to avoid any social situations that I wasn’t forced to be part of, and quite honestly, if I did not need to support my son, I most likely would have avoided leaving the house at all costs.
I found myself thinking things like:
I wish I never had leave the house. I don’t want to get out of bed. How do I stop being lazy and start wanting to live again? What the heck is wrong with me?
Can you relate? If so, you’re not alone. Many survivors of narcissistic abuse find themselves feeling just like this when they leave a toxic relationship (and often, while they’re still in it!). But what causes this? Have you developed agoraphobia? Or is something else going on?
When you’re abused by a toxic narcissist, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the simple idea of leaving the house to do anything. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean you’ve got agoraphobia or any other mental illness. The depression can be caused directly by the narcissistic abuse, not to mention the anxiety and general adrenal stress that comes along with it.
Even basic stuff like going to the grocery store can feel overwhelming – and you might find that you prefer to be alone a lot.
And who can blame you? It’s incredibly exhausting, both mentally and physically, to deal with narcissistic abuse and people with a narcissistic personality disorder. And recovery has so many of its own challenges that we often stay stuck in negative patterns unless we intentionally choose to start to work through it and get out.
With all of that being said, I think it’s important to define agoraphobia for you really quickly. Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. Contrary to popular belief, agoraphobia does NOT mean you’re unable to leave the house, but that is often a complication of the anxiety associated with extreme agoraphobia.
You might also have a number of other anxiety disorders related to your toxic relationship – including stuff like social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and more. Social anxiety disorder (SAD), for example, can be a side effect of C-PTSD.
These issues along with a number of other factors will cause you to not want to leave the house – and there are lots of things you can do to get unstuck. In the short term, try things like pattern interrupts and baby steps to get you moving in the right direction. Watch this video for more.
Going through a toxic relationship with a narcissist often leads to a very unhealthy habit: people-pleasing. How often have you not followed your heart because you were worried about what other people might think? How often have you avoided doing something you truly wanted to do because you couldn’t stand the idea that other people would judge you?
What is people-pleasing?
To put it really simply, “people-pleasing” is what we call it when you find yourself putting the needs of others ahead of your own, to the point where it becomes detrimental to your mental health. For example, I spent so much energy worrying about what other people thought of me in my own toxic relationships that I completely lost sight of my own needs. This caused me to shut down and lose all passion for life in general. Of course, being a people-pleaser is a prevalent behavior for survivors of narcissistic abuse — so common that it’s actually seen as a personality trait (and, in some cases, a symptom of C-PTSD).
Why do survivors of narcissistic abuse tend to be people-pleasers?
It’s totally normal to be concerned about what other people think of you on some level. We all want to be accepted and loved. So it’s not surprising that most of us want to please the people who we care about. But for survivors of abuse, people-pleasing is more of a survival tactic, and it’s all about avoiding negative attention. When you’re a people pleaser, you place everyone else’s needs over your own because that gets you the one thing that matters (and the one thing most survivors of narcissistic abuse are seriously lacking): validation.
See, if you grew up with a narcissistic parent or in a toxic family, chances are that you learned very quickly that the only way you could get the love (that every kid needs) was to make the toxic parent(s) in your life happy.
From infancy, we learn that when we do what someone else wants us to do, they’re happy with us–and that feels good. However, as we get older and learn to make the occasional unpopular decision, we are sometimes shocked that some people actually seem to stop being nice to us when we don’t follow their “advice” for living.
But ultimately, we care what people think because we are taught to base our identities on the messages they give us. When our parents tell us we’re good at following their rules, we begin to feel that we need to follow the rules to be good. When our teachers scold us for coloring outside the lines, we begin to feel that unless we “stay inside the lines,” we’re wrong.
We take the messages that we hear from others about ourselves every day of our lives, and we internalize them – to such an extent that we find ourselves dependent on the approval of others for our own self-worth.
What most people-pleasers don’t realize, though, is that their desire to please comes from deep insecurity and is often at the expense of their own happiness. The truth is, no matter how hard you try, there will always be people who won’t like you and some who will even hate you. There will also be times when following your heart won’t make sense to other people. The only person whose opinion matters is you!
Is being a people-pleaser a bad thing?
People-pleasing isn’t necessarily bad, but it can become very toxic for some of us because we become programmed to put others first and sacrifice our own needs. It is amazing how much you can change when you realize that people-pleasing is toxic, and it’s getting in the way of your own happiness.
People-pleasing has become so second nature to us that we hardly notice it most of the time. We go through life as if we’re constantly treading water and really struggle to stand up for ourselves to be who we want to be, rather than who others expect us to be. It’s time to take a step back and look at how much damage we are doing by trying to please everyone.
What are the toxic effects of people-pleasing behavior?
Have you based your major life choices on your own desires, or have you allowed other people to influence you? Do you have regrets because you have given someone else the power to make decisions in your life, whether directly or indirectly? For example, have you chosen your job, a partner, or home because someone else thought you should?
At one time or another, almost everyone has made a choice in their lives that was based on someone else’s opinion. And while there are certainly times when it’s appropriate to do so, there are plenty of times that we regret not following our own intuition.
The difference is this: when you accept the advice of someone else because you feel that it’s right for you, you’re following your own gut and can consider it inspired action–but when you bend to someone else’s will to please them (despite your own feelings), you’re shortchanging yourself in the happiness department.
Are You a People-Pleaser? This is How You Cure the Disease to Please
In this video, we will talk about how to stop being a people-pleaser (right now) and how to stop caring what people think. So if you are always people-pleasing and you’re sometimes accused of having people-pleaser syndrome, this video is for you.
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