Even better, you can implement the strategies at home, on your own – and it’ll help your healing in ways you might not expect.
On a very basic level, NLP is just a way to manage your head – it helps with communication, processes, and procedures to help improve your life. Here’s what it is and how it works.
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a practical and effective way to create change by modeling successful people’s language structure and behavior. NLP can help you change your behavior, way of thinking, and communication with yourself and others. NLP has also been used to treat various problems—from phobias to schizophrenia.
The two biggest principles of NLP are that the map is not the territory and that life and mind are systemic processes. Any technique you learn in NLP is built on these principles, which allow us to understand better how the brain works—and thus change undesirable behaviors into more desirable ones.
1. The map is not the territory.
The map-territory metaphor illustrates how our mental constructs differ from the reality they attempt to describe.
For a map to be useful, it must contain enough detail that we can use it even when traveling through unfamiliar territory.
This means that, as people, we have no way to understand reality. Instead, we understand our perceptions of that reality, and those perceptions may be flawed.
We use our senses to map what we believe is there.
These maps are what determine our behavior, not reality itself.
So, if your map is skewed, you’ll behave in kind.
2. Life and mind are systemic processes.
This means that the things going on inside your mind and body, and between you and your environment, are connected and can’t be isolated. Trying to do so won’t result in success.
In other words, your mind and life are interconnected, so you can’t separate the mental from the physical, social, or emotional aspects. How people treat you and your environment influences your feelings about a situation.
How does NLP work for a survivor of narcissistic abuse?
It’s also highly effective for survivors of narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships during their healing and beyond.
NLP techniques focus on feelings and emotions, which are core aspects of narcissistic abuse. This is why NLP works so well for survivors of such relationships—its emphasis on these concepts makes dealing with trauma possible.
NLP applies to all aspects of life, from representing information and making decisions to interacting with others.
Why should you try NLP in narcissistic abuse recovery?
Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s best for us when we can’t see a way out. It may seem impossible to get away from the toxic person, but you can use NLP to change your life. (And then plan your escape!)
It can give you insight into your unconscious mind and tap into your deep-seated emotions, which can help you develop the power, confidence, and self-esteem narcissists often damage in their partners.
So, by using an anchoring technique to set off powerful feelings in yourself when you think about past experiences with your abuser, you can learn to control your reactions—and stop yourself from feeling bad about what happened.
Basic NLP Technique for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Anchoring
By applying an anchoring technique, you can learn to set off positive feelings in yourself and others at will—and eliminate negative emotions associated with past experiences.
Anchoring allows you to associate a feeling with a device, an object, a certain color, or even a specific type of music. When you experience the object again, it triggers the same feelings.
This can be helpful for survivors of narcissistic abuse because it allows them to create positive associations in their minds around the things they love and eliminate negative feelings associated with past experiences.
How to Quickly Create an NLP Anchor in 4 Easy Steps
1. Choose a goal.
Decide what problem you want to solve. For example, maybe you want to feel more confident to set better boundaries with the toxic people in your life.
Imagine how it will feel to achieve the goal you have set for yourself. (So, maybe you’ll feel stronger, happier, more sure of yourself, and more confident overall.)
Remember when you felt close to how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. It might just be an ordinary moment when you felt good about yourself or a more significant moment in your life.
3. Choose and configure your anchor device.
For instance, you can touch your thumb and forefinger together or make a fist to help keep yourself in the present.
Put yourself back in that moment. Take all the time you need to remember all the details of what you saw, heard, smelled, and felt when it happened.
Allow yourself to relive the experience as if you were there—don’t think about it objectively. You won’t feel better if you ignore your feelings.
Repeat the memory until you can vividly recall it.
4. Activate your anchor.
In this step, you link your anchor from Step 3 with the feeling created here to make a new association as strong and vivid as possible.
For example, touch your thumb and forefinger together as the confident feeling increases.
Release your thumb and forefinger when the feeling begins to subside.
If you’ve done this well, the anchor has been activated, and you’re ready for the next step.
5. Test your anchor.
For example, touch your thumb and forefinger together as you did while activating your anchor.
This time, pay attention to how you feel.
You should notice a change in your feeling.
If you don’t, repeat the process until you do.
If you’ve been successful, it should feel like the anchor has been activated and is ready to use whenever necessary.
And, if you used the example I gave, you can now trigger your confidence by touching your thumb and forefinger together anytime you like.
Apparently, not only are psychopaths and malignant narcissists the most likely people to develop a gambling problem, but they’re also more likely to take gambling to a dangerous, life-destroying level.
Study links gambling addiction to psychopathy.
In a recent study, researchers linked gambling addiction to psychopathy.
What makes psychopaths so different from other people?
The study suggests that psychopaths may process language differently from other people, likely due to both genetic factors and early exposure.
Psychopaths often have trouble understanding sarcasm and metaphors, which suggests that they may have difficulty with language processing.
The study authors point out previous research that leads them to believe this may explain why psychopaths differ from others. They also speculate that this could be a reason for the high number of psychopaths in prisons, where gambling games are common.
Psychopathic traits that lead to addiction to gambling
The traits most commonly associated with psychopathy that also lead to addiction to gambling include an inability to feel guilt or remorse and a tendency toward impulsive behavior.
The psychopath’s lack of empathy is confusing for many people since they can appear to understand how you feel.
But that’s because psychopaths experience only cognitive empathy, in which they can deduce logically what you might be feeling.
That means they can logically understand what you’re saying, but they don’t care and aren’t moved to help or stop hurting you.
How are psychopathy and gambling addiction issues connected?
While we know that psychopathy has been linked to many negative outcomes, the authors say they’ve found a new direct link between psychopathy and pathological gambling.
Researchers examined the relationship between primary psychopathy, secondary psychopathy, and problem gambling.
Primary psychopathy vs. secondary psychopathy (FYI)
Primary psychopaths tend to be more socially adept, whereas secondary ones are usually aggressive and impulsive.
Psychopaths who were high in urgency also used fewer harm-reduction strategies.
Primary psychopathy is thought to result from genetics, while secondary psychopathy—which results from trauma and their environment—can appear to manifest as high anxiety, the study authors said.
In the study, college students who gambled were asked how they would deal with situations in which their gambling might cause problems and what protective behavior strategies they used to prevent such things from happening.
They also answered questions to detect whether they might be prone to psychopathic behavior.
The assessment included questions about financial problems for the household and mental health issues such as stress or anxiety caused by gambling.
Researchers considered whether a person suffered from gambling addiction and the extent of such addiction.
Study Findings: Psychopaths are more likely to ruin their lives with gambling addiction.
Ultimately, they determined that people more likely to gamble away their money also tended to score higher on a psychopathy test and were more likely than other gamblers to have financial problems for their household and mental health issues caused by gambling.
And people with higher levels of primary psychopathy are less likely to stop or protect themselves when gambling, making their addiction worse.
The Recent Increase in Psychopathy Research Leads to New Insights
Because psychopaths are so difficult to deal with and tend not to form meaningful relationships, we’ve always been fascinated by their behavior.
This study sheds new light on the relationship between psychopathy and gambling addiction-related problems by identifying certain personality traits that may lead to addiction.
Takeaway: Psychopathy and Gambling Addiction
Simply put, people who lie, cheat and act without empathy are more likely to get into gambling problems. And because they also tend not to use strategies that would keep them safe from such problems, those issues are made worse.
All of that makes them more likely to ruin their own lives and the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to be close to them, including their closest sources of narcissistic supply.
Kramer, M. P., Peterson, R., Leary, A. V., Wilborn, D. D., Magri, T., & Dvorak, R. D. (2021). Psychopathy and Occurrence of Gambling Problems: The Role of Gambling Protective Strategies and Urgency. Psychological Reports. https://doi.org/10.1177/00332941211022998
As results from a recently published German-Danish research project show, these traits share a common ‘dark core.’ So, if you have one of these tendencies, you are also likely to have one or more of the others. Read the full study.
Resources for Psychopathic, Sociopathic & Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
Narcissists make you feel like you’re worthless and act like they’re better than you and everyone else. They emotionally and psychologically abuse you and then pretend you’re crazy when you react like a normal human. Sound familiar?
Narcissists are manipulative, egotistical, and often cruel.
They get a feeling of superiority by making others feel inferior.
Why do narcissists often get away with their abuse?
Narcissists are experts at using emotional and psychological manipulation to get you to do what they want and to gain control over you. This makes them feel more secure, and when you become their primary source of narcissistic supply, it gives them a sort of emotional dumpster.
I came up with a little hack that has helped me whenever I felt stuck – and I still use it today.
It is so simple you probably won’t even believe me – but try to do one thing.
Yes, I know, it sounds like it’s TOO simple.
But hear me out. When I felt stuck over the years, I’d eventually permit myself to STAY stuck.
And then I’d tell myself I just had to do ONE thing – that if I wanted to, I’d be able to stop right after that one thing. (For example, if my house were messy, I’d make myself clean off just one table).
And even though I allowed myself to stop at that point, often, that was enough to keep me going – that feeling of accomplishment would push me forward to do the next task, and then the next, and so on.
Don’t worry, though. I’ve been there, and because of that, I have done my best to make it possible for you to recover with the kind of support I WISH I’d have had back then.
In other words, my team and I have you covered, no matter your budget. The following list of free and lower-cost support options might help you as you embark on your narcissistic abuse recovery journey.
“You could be a really great and fabulous person, but if your method of communication with a woman doesn’t trigger her physical attraction by “pushing the right buttons,” you will only ever be “just a friend” in her eyes.” ~Sahara Sanders
And if you’re dealing with a narcissistic partner or close friend, this person became aware of the “buttons” or the triggers you had initially and then exploited them.
By doing so, they also learned the “layout” of your buttons; by now, they can push them in their sleep.
Why Narcissists Push Your Buttons
Narcissists become very knowledgeable about who we are and what makes us tick. They also know what to do when seeking a reaction from us – and perhaps more frustrating, they get narcissistic supply from driving you crazy.
For the record, emotional vampires are incredibly toxic people who drain us of our energy. Not all emotional vampires are narcissists, but they’ll all leave you feeling empty and emotionally exhausted.
They are like parasites who intentionally provoke our emotional reactions, allowing themselves to feed off our emotions, energy, and resources.
So, until you can finally go no contact and end the relationship with the malignant narcissist in your life, you’ve got to learn some new techniques to deal with it.
What to Do When the Narcissist is Pushing Your Buttons
So, how does a person with a reasonable amount of emotional intelligence deal with a narcissist?
Start with these tips on what you can do to remain cool, calm, and collected when the narcissist pushes your buttons and is waiting for a reaction.
Please note: These techniques are meant to be temporary measures to get along – and most survivors can only tolerate this behavior for so long before it causes longer-term damage.
On the plus side, when you regain control of your feelings, something else happens: you’re no longer being manipulated by the narcissist. Instead, it’s as if those buttons now activate themselves—you’ve re-wired them!
If you’re in a toxic relationship with a malignant narcissist, you probably feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster.
Do ever feel like you can’t control your emotions, or are you worried because your feelings have been all over the place for years?
You might be dealing with intermittent reinforcement as a form of manipulation from the narcissist in your life.
What is intermittent reinforcement?
Intermittent reinforcement is a pattern of callous treatment mixed in with random bursts of affection. This behavior may lead you to believe the narcissist loves you, but in reality, it’s just another way they manipulate you.
In other words, the narcissist (whether they’re a grandiose or a covert narcissist) gives you the illusion of being loved and cared for by behaving in a loving way between intermittent bursts of abuse.
Worse, intermittent reinforcement can leave you confused and disoriented since it’s unclear why the narcissist has “rewarded” you. This devastates your self-esteem as you realize that can never do or say enough to please the narcissist.