How to Manage Guilt Related to Your Toxic Relationship with a Narcissist

How to Manage Guilt Related to Your Toxic Relationship with a Narcissist

“Guilt can prevent us from setting the boundaries that would be in our best interests, and in other people’s best interests.” ~Melody Beattie

Narcissists have this way of manipulating your emotions by playing the victim and holding little “pity parties” for themselves. They play the martyr. They make you responsible for their emotional well-being. Often, that means giving you guilt trips that are not only unfounded but also extremely unfair. However, since narcissists have no empathy (and often no sense of remorse), and since they seem to believe their own lies, they can seem very sincere – and you might find yourself believing that you’re to blame for whatever it is they’re trying to blame you for.

Unless you’re a psychopath, you’re going to feel guilty occasionally. It’s basic human nature. In most cases, guilt is the result of harming someone else on some level. But narcissists use your basic human nature against you in order to get you to do what they want – to achieve some outcome that is desirable to them.

Maybe they guilt you into staying with them, or into doing their bidding. Maybe they even guilt you into giving them your time, your money or your energy. In any case, let me reiterate: narcissists use guilt as a tool to get what they want from you.  And if you’re an empath, chances are you’re hypersensitive to the effect you have on other people – which makes it much easier for the narcissist to use guilt to manipulate you.

Things Narcissists Say to Guilt You

Narcissists will say anything they can think of to guilt you into doing what they want. There are no limits to how low they’ll stoop. A few examples of things narcissists say to guilt you may include things like:

  • I work so hard to pay all the bills. The least you could do is …
  • I can’t believe, after all I’ve done for you, that you ….
  • You really don’t love me. If you did…
  • Well, my friend’s wife/husband always does _____. Why won’t you?

Why You Need to Stop Feeling Guilty

Narcissists are, by nature, sadistic and in addition to using guilt to get you to do what they want, they may also use it to punish you and to drive your self-esteem into the ground. Many survivors of narcissistic abuse are prone to guilt and to beating themselves up for even the tiniest of infractions. In fact, the nature of the abuse (and of the narcissist) leads many of us to turn the responsibility for the problems in our relationships to ourselves for a very specific reason: we KNOW we cannot change the narcissist, but we also want to resolve the issues. So if we blame ourselves, we can try to modify our own behavior to resolve the issue. In reality, if the narcissist remains abusive (which they nearly always will), we can actually further victimize ourselves and lose even more of our own identities by trying to bend over backward to keep them happy.

Ultimately, by living with and aligning ourselves with this narcissist-induced guilt, we are effectively giving up our right to be happy, to feel safe and to be ourselves in favor of keeping the narcissist’s ego in check. It’s time we stop doing this and start taking back our lives!

How to Stop Feeling Guilty

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ~ Christopher K. Germer

Start by recognizing your own value and being compassionate with yourself in a way that you haven’t before. And, as you’re working through this, try to see the situation for what it is; put your emotions aside and look at it from a clinical, scientific point of view. And then, step by step, begin to pull it all apart so you can see what you’re really dealing with. Use the following techniques to get over your guilt and  move forward with your life.

  1. Is the guilt legitimate, or not? Determine why you feel guilty. Be sure you understand why you’re feeling guilty. What did you do wrong? Did you really do anything wrong? Imagine you were supposed to meet your spouse at their work party, but you got a flat tire. Avoid feeling guilty for things outside of your control. If you missed the party because you forgot about it, fell asleep on the couch, or lost track of time, you should probably feel some guilt!
  2. Decide on a response. The first step out of guilt is responding appropriately. This might include an apology if you’ve actually done anything wrong. Maybe a detailed explanation is in order. Maybe you’ll lay out a plan to show the other person that your transgression won’t happen again. You might make it up to the other person in some fashion. Maybe you’ll agree to rub your spouse’s feet every day for the next month. Maybe you’ll take your daughter out to dinner. But if you’re dealing with a narcissist who has unfairly put you on a guilt trip, the best response is gray rock
  3. Stop beating yourself up! Be willing to forgive yourself. Once you forgive yourself, the guilt is gone. If you actually did something that warrants guilt, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Imagine that the error you made happened to you. You’d probably forgive the other person without too much fuss. You should treat yourself at least as well! Notice how much easier it is for you to forgive someone else than it is to forgive yourself. You should be the best friend you’ll ever have. Treat yourself like it.
  4. Write a letter. You can write a letter to yourself, to the person you harmed, or both. No one writes or sends letters anymore – that makes them especially meaningful. It’s also a great way to purge your thoughts and your guilt. The other person will be impressed, and you’ll feel a lot better. And when we’re talking about a narcissist, maybe your letter focuses on the truth of the matter (that, in many cases, you’re not actually guilty of anything) – and maybe you only write the letter to get it off your chest. Sending it may prove to be an exercise in frustration when the narcissist twists it and intentionally sees the worst possible perspective of what you’ve written.
  5. Do something positive that will boost your self-esteem. Volunteering can be great when you’re feeling guilty. Show yourself that you’re a good person. Make a donation. Help someone with a problem. Give away some of your stuff. Take some action that will allow you to feel good about yourself.
  6. Make changes instead of feeling guilty. Rather than feeling guilt, which helps no one, make some changes to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again in the future, if you’ve actually done anything to feel guilty about. Should you eliminate a bad habit, procrastinate less, or get more organized? Maybe you need to value others more than you do currently. What are some positive changes you can make that are related to the cause of your guilt?
  7. Move on. At some point, you have to let it go and get on with your life. There’s no value in holding on to guilt. Guilty feelings suggest that you did something wrong and need to learn from it. So, learn from it. Then, move on. And, if you’re dealing with a narcissist in your every day life, start considering the value of doing that. Can you leave? Can you minimize contact? Consider starting to PLAN for your future without the narcissist.

Everyone has felt the pain of guilt. Narcissists know this and use guilt to control and manipulate you. If you actually did something that warrants feeling guilty, it’s important to resolve the issue as well as you can, forgive yourself, make amends, and move on. There’s no value in punishing yourself for an extended period of time. You made a mistake, so do the best you can to fix it.

If you are just being manipulated by the toxic person in your life, you need to see it for what it is and release the guilt. It isn’t healthy and it is keeping you stuck! Now it’s time to set yourself free. Allow yourself to move forward from your guilt.

Feeling sorry for the narcissist? Watch this video to learn how to stop (and why you should).

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support: A New Way to Get Answers

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support: A New Way to Get Answers


Narcissistic Relationship Recovery Support: A New Way to Get Answers by Angie Atkinson

Click here to connect!

Sometimes, you just want to ask a question. Or you want to know that you’re not alone and that you’re not crazy. Maybe you simply need validation and direction on what you’re going through. Or you just want to know what to do next.

Maybe you don’t have the time or money for a coaching session by phone. Maybe you just prefer to text. Or you’re just looking for a less-expensive way to get the personal, one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery support you need.

Here is an inexpensive way you can get the support and answers you need, directly and confidentially. Are you ready to evolve beyond toxic relationships, narcissistic abuse, trauma and other painful circumstances? Do you need personal support and guidance from someone who understands where you’ve been?

My name is Angie Atkinson and like you, I’m a survivor of narcissistic abuse. As a certified life coach and narcissistic abuse recovery expert, I’m here to educate, empower, and inspire you, so you can truly begin to thrive. And now, thanks to a new technology developed by Reachable, I can offer you a new kind of on-demand, personal support for a fraction of the cost of traditional coaching.

Do you have questions you’d like me to answer? Or maybe you just want to chat with someone who understands? I am here to support you. Here’s a low-cost, direct way you can talk to me about your situation personally and completely privately. Go ahead, ask me anything!

Narcissists Believe Their Own Lies: Here’s Why

Narcissists Believe Their Own Lies: Here’s Why

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Cognitive Distortions – According to my research, there’s such a thing as “cognitive distortions” which are often associated with narcopaths, people with NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) and those in psychopathological states.

These cognitive distortions are defined as “exaggerated or irrational thought patterns that are believed to perpetuate the effects of psychopathological states, especially depression and anxiety.”

The first person to study these kinds of distortions was psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. Along with his student David D. Burns, Beck built up significant research on the topic. Burns’ 1989 book, The Feeling Good Handbook presented an overview of these twisted thought patterns along with his suggestions on how to eliminate them.

In general, cognitive distortions cause people to perceive reality differently than literally everyone around them. Someone with Cluster B traits is less likely to perceive events and situations the way that most people do. This kind of thinking is often involved in the gaslighting process. I’ll explain it all in this video.

Please Take This Anonymous Survey to Help Me Serve You Better

Please Take This Anonymous Survey to Help Me Serve You Better

Hey SPANily! I need your help. If you have a few minutes, could you please fill out this anonymous survey about my channel? I truly want your honest feedback. Thank you in advance!

How to Heal from a Toxic Relationship

How to Heal from a Toxic Relationship

“Like arsenic, toxic people will slowly kill you. They kill your positive spirit and play with your mind and emotions. The only cure is to let them go.” ~Dennisse Lisseth
Healing from a toxic relationship seems like an impossible goal for many survivors of narcissistic abuse, and this is true for a number of reasons. This healing guide offers not only solutions but also resources to help you learn not only how to heal from a toxic relationship, but why you were there in the first place. Plus, you’ll learn how you can level up your life after a toxic relationship and begin to evolve into the person you’ve always wanted to be.

Before we begin to cover how to heal from a toxic relationship, please let me remind you that you are not alone. As a survivor of narcissistic abuse and a certified life coach myself, I have helped literally thousands of survivors of toxic relationships to discover, understand and overcome them. You can do this too.

Do I need to leave a toxic relationship in order to heal?

This won’t be a popular answer, but it’s the truth. Ideally, to heal, you need to separate yourself from the toxic person. I know it’s scary and emotionally draining to even think about it, so start with practical planning – especially if going no contact with this person means you are changing your living situation (as in, if it’s your partner or spouse or someone else you live with). Think about how you’ll manage financially, where you’ll go and who might help to support you in some way. Keep your emotions at bay during planning, and don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Getting out of the relationship is one of the most important things you can do to begin to heal. You can download my free PLAN (Preparing to Leave a Narcissist) resources right here. If you haven’t left yet, please read this article to get some encouragement and to get your head in the right place. 

Why is it so hard to leave a toxic relationship?

I know it’s not easy, trust me. There are a number of reasons you’re struggling, the most obvious of which is trauma bonding with your abuser. Plus, after the months or years of abuse you’ve suffered, your self-esteem has really taken a beating. Read this to find out how to deal when a toxic relationship has ruined your self-esteem.  And this article will help you understand in more depth why it’s so hard to leave and how you can get past that feeling of helplessness.

Will the narcissist come back to me after the toxic relationship?

You might also wonder if the narcissist misses you. Sadly, in most cases, the narcissist does attempt to reconcile at least once. We call this “hoovering” because it’s what they do when they want to suck you back into the toxic relationship. It can be hard to resist, but you have to do it if you’re going to get and stay happy and safe. In a few cases, the narcissist won’t come back, but it’s rare. They may come back anywhere from a few hours to decades later.

What are the first steps to healing from the toxic relationship once it has ended?

Start with a little self-care. You need time to just breathe at first – you don’t need to rush it. Then, figure out what stage of recovery you’re currently in – start with the DUO Stages of Recovery Test. Don’t forget to work on beefing up your inner strength once the relationship ends. Don’t forget to take care of your inner child, too. That’s going to be really important if you’re going to resist the hoovering that will inevitably follow the end of a toxic relationship.

How do I deal with the narcissist spreading rumors and lies about me?

We call that a smear campaign, and you might be surprised when I tell you how to deal. Read this to learn all about the psychology of a smear campaign – why the narcissist does this and how you can deal with it from your end. 

Why me? I am smart and capable but for some reason, I still fell for the narcissist. What did I do to deserve a toxic relationship?

You didn’t deserve it. Know that. And you’re not alone – some of the most intelligent, successful and attractive people I’ve met have fallen victim to narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. It happens to the best of us. However, there are certain things a toxic person looks for in a partner – check out this page. And there are things you can do to change your future and keep it free of toxic people. It all starts within yourself – you’ve got to accept, love and respect yourself enough to set boundaries and to stop tolerating toxic behavior.

Now that I’ve left the toxic relationship, I cannot seem to function like a normal person. How do I get through this?

One breath at a time. This is one of the hardest parts of this process. Healing seems so far away right now that you can barely even imagine what that might look like. This is a really tender and emotional time, so the first thing a lot of survivors do is to self-isolate. Take some time to mourn the relationship, if you need it. Remember that this is a process and that healing won’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and if you need to take a little time for yourself, go ahead and do it. If you need time with friends, arrange that too. You might be dealing with depression – visit this page to get help with depression. Get free support from one of our online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. 

I feel like I want to die. How do I deal with feeling suicidal after a toxic relationship?

Self-isolation and mourning the relationship can be okay for a short time unless you’re in such a state that you might be a danger to yourself. Please note: I am not a doctor and I do not personally know your story. I cannot offer any medical or health advice, so if you have any doubt at all that you will be safe, you MUST contact your doctor or go immediately to the nearest emergency room. Even if you aren’t sure, please go see your doctor or other medical professional and get checked out, just to be safe. Be honest with your healthcare provider and let them know that you’re worried you might be a danger to yourself. See this page for suicide prevention resources and ways you can get help right now.

How do I stop hurting and start healing after a toxic relationship?

I know your heart hurts. And you feel lost, confused, angry and even rejected (and this is true even when YOU are the one to end the relationship). First, you need to put things in perspective. Start by reading this article that offers 10 ways to start healing faster. If you were the one who was discarded, read this.

My ex has already moved on to a new relationship. It’s killing me! How do I deal with this?

First, remember that narcissistic abuse is cyclical. That means that your ex is likely just starting the cycle again with a new person – so if the relationship is new, they are still in the idealization or love bombing phase. The new source of narcissistic supply won’t get a better deal than you – not for long anyway. Try to keep this in mind. And despite the urge to do it, avoid reaching out to the new supply to explain what they’re getting themselves into. You aren’t ethically obligated, and they won’t be able to hear you anyway, most likely. Because they’re in the love-bombing phase, they won’t believe you and will likely believe that you’re just as crazy as the narcissist probably already told them. Learn the truth about the narcissist’s new relationship. 

How do I deal with feeling so much anger after the toxic relationship ends?

Anger in some cases can be helpful in propelling you forward – especially when you still haven’t left the relationship yet. But at some point, it can begin to become toxic for you – and that’s when you need to let it go. Read this article to determine whether your anger is helpful or harmful and learn how to let go of it when it’s time. 

Being single feels weird to me, but I am not ready for a new relationship yet. What should I do?

I say you start here by learning to embrace the single life. There are SO many good reasons to love being single. Whatever you do, avoid jumping into a new relationship too quickly. That will set you up for a painful failure and increases the risk of getting into another toxic relationship. Take your time and heal first – there is no reason to get yourself stuck with another narcissist. And honestly, you are less likely to be an ideal partner if you get into a new relationship too soon – you may end up sabotaging it without even realizing it.

I feel like I’m walking around in some kind of fog. What is this and how can I deal with it?

This is common for people who have dealt with codependency in toxic relationships. You might be dealing with brain fog or dissociation, a common side-effect of C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). Use mindfulness exercises and practices such as the ones shared in this article to find your way out of the fog.

Why do I feel so confused all the time?

Like brain fog, feeling confused or unable to think straight can be a normal thing for survivors of toxic relationships. Here are some reasons you might feel so confused all the time as you’re trying to heal from a toxic relationship. 

I can’t leave the house anymore. I don’t want to get out of bed. How do I stop being lazy and start wanting to live again?

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!). Social anxiety disorder (SAD) 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.

My whole life seems to be a cluttered mess! Is this related to my toxic relationship?

Actually, yes, it’s possible that a cluttered home (and mind) could be a direct result of your mental state during and after a toxic relationship. Even Oprah Winfrey has talked about this before, as have many therapists and researchers. We know that a cluttered environment can increase anxiety and stress as well. Start changing that by decluttering your physical space and this can often sort of lead you to a more organized, less scattered mind in the process.

I feel like I’ve lost myself. How do I figure out who I am after a toxic relationship?

You might be surprised to know that nearly every survivor has some sort of existential crisis during recovery from a toxic relationship. Start by doing some soul-searching. Think about who you were before and who you’d like to be. Read this to start finding yourself again and figure out who you want to be after the toxic relationship. Reexamine your personal beliefs and redefine them based on who you are today and who you wnat to be. While you’re at it, learn some new ways to level up your life. And start thinking about how you want your life to look – what you want to change, and what you don’t. Think about what makes you passionate and consider starting a project to keep your head in the game (and your mind off the narcissist). And let go of limiting beliefs that are holding you back.

How do I let go of the shame I feel after this toxic relationship?

Feeling shame is perfectly normal for survivors of toxic relationships, but it shouldn’t be acceptable. YOU aren’t the one who should feel shameful here. The narcissist may have berated, belittled and humiliated you on a regular basis, and you can bet that they feel NO remorse for it. Even though you’re not perfect and even though you likely recognize and take credit for your part in the relationship, you were not the abuser and you don’t need to feel any shame for what you’ve experienced. Take the time you need to recognize this completely so that you can release the shame and be proud of yourself for doing the hard work of healing. This resource will help you start to let go of the shame, fear and misery so you can reclaim your power and start living again.

How do I start living again, once I get past the initial shock after the relationship ends?

First, you’ve got to understand that big secret of narcissistic abuse recovery. Realize that you might begin to feel lonely around now, and this can be a dangerous time for you if the narcissist is trying to get you back. It’s especially important that you get involved with healthy people – at least on some level – and that you also understand that it’s okay to want to be alone sometimes. Try using my life reset button to start feeling alive again. Sometimes, if you sort of “un**** yourself, you can just start living again!

How will I know when I’ve started to heal after a toxic relationship?

I understand that it can be confusing, and you should probably know that it won’t be an overnight shift. Healing after a toxic relationship involves a slow evolution from victim to survivor to thriver. Check out this page to find out if you’re showing signs of healing.

How can I get help with how to heal after a toxic relationship?

We always suggest that you begin with a visit to your doctor or another medical professional that you trust. Assuming you’re otherwise healthy, QueenBeeing.com offers everything you need for self-help on how to heal from toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse on your own. You can also read a number of books that will help you to recover – here’s a list of our favorites. Remember too that it will take time to heal from a toxic relationship. We also offer other resources such as coaching, small group coaching and support, free online support groups, courses and more. Check out our services page right here, visit our freebies center or take the quiz below.

Video playlist on healing after narcissistic abuse.

Update: Your Love is My Drug (2nd Edition)

Update: Your Love is My Drug (2nd Edition)

**Second Edition, Updated 2019**Includes new chapters and information as well as an updated, more robust section on overcoming trauma bonding featuring Lise Colucci
Are you tired of feeling like you’re not good enough? Do you wish that someone in your life would just put your feelings first, for once? Or maybe just to consider you at all? Tired of being told you’re the crazy one as you deal with mind games at home or work? You might just be involved with a narcissist.

Narcissists are abusers – but they don’t usually beat their victims physically. No, narcissists are sneaky – they’re much more insidious in their form of abuse. When you think of someone in an abusive relationship, you think of someone who is getting beaten and battered on a regular basis, right? But while domestic violence is heartbreaking and unacceptable, there’s another form of abuse that might be even more dangerous. But even though you can’t always see physical evidence of abuse, the kind of overwhelming, all-consuming emotional abuse inflicted on the victims of narcissists is a form of aggression that should also be recognized.

The soul-crushing kind of abuse that is inflicted on the people who love a narcissist might not be visible to the naked eye, but it can leave devastating emotional scars that never go away. Most people have no idea how much the “sources” of narcissistic supply suffer in their relationships – and yet when these victims speak up, people often mistake them for whiners and dismiss their pain. This, of course, leaves them confused and blaming themselves for everything that is wrong in their lives.

This book offers an in-depth guide to surviving and thriving during and after life with a narcissist, in whatever degree necessary for your life. You’ll learn to recognize narcissism in those around you, plus how to identify and stop typical manipulation techniques, such as gaslighting, in their tracks. (Read More)

Get your copy free when you have Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime – or pay $2.99 and keep it forever. 

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