“Our self-respect tracks our choices. Every time we act in harmony with our authentic self and our heart, we earn our respect. It is that simple. Every choice matters.” ~Dan Coppersmith
In theory, putting yourself first sounds like a simple thing. Just do it, right? But it’s not always so easy, is it?
If you’re like most survivors of narcissistic abuse, chances are you think that putting yourself first is a little selfish. After having dealt with a toxic narcissist who could blame you? Narcissists are notorious for tearing us down and making us think we don’t matter – and that THEY do. Not to mention the society that teaches us that we’re supposed to be selfless – all the time. People are often praised for being unselfish, right? It’s not easy to shake off that conditioning. But it’s important for your health and wellbeing that you learn to put those fears aside and start putting yourself first.
Living a balanced and fulfilling life requires a balance between your needs and desires, and those of others. You’ll be in better shape to support other people if you fill your cup first. You will exhaust yourself if you run around everywhere helping everyone. It’s likely to make you feel overwhelmed, even angry and resentful. And that’s no help to anyone!
Did you know? Putting yourself first is good for you! It’s true. Studies have shown that putting yourself first has a range of benefits including
Being taken more seriously and respected by others
Your resilience in dealing with stress is enhanced
You have more control over your life
Your self-esteem will improve
Better physical and mental health
Putting yourself first can be as easy as learning to take responsibility for your own choices by being assertive about your needs. One of the most powerful ways of being assertive is learning to say no calmly and straightforwardly. Are you able to say no when you need to?
Journaling Exercise: Take a few minutes to answer the following questions in your journal.
Does saying no make you feel uncomfortable? Why or why not?
Do you feel like you have the right to say no when you need to? If you said no, are you willing to change that perception?
Can you think of a time that you wanted to say no but couldn’t? In hindsight, what could you have done differently?
What are some phrases you can use to say no when you need to? Write them down and commit them to memory for future reference.
Filling your cup
I don’t know about you, but when I’m not taking care of myself, I find myself feeling DRAINED and EXHAUSTED. The fact is that taking care of yourself is essential as no one can do their best if they’re exhausted. Pushing yourself past your limits will make you sick. In these times of 24/7 availability and communication, it is more necessary than ever to make sure you get the rest and downtime you need.
Filling your cup means taking time out for you, whether that’s spending a quiet evening watching TV, or a weekend hiking in the mountains. It means getting enough sleep; it means setting some boundaries and doing what’s right for you.
Setting a good example
If this still isn’t sitting right with you, consider this. Would you want your friends and loved ones running themselves ragged after you? What do you say when you see your friend or family member is stressed out or overwhelmed? Chances are you’d tell them to relax, right?
The people in your life who have been toxic aren’t really relevant here. But YOU are, and YOU matter, my friend. If it helps, think about what kind of role model you are to your kids if you have any. Not only will they follow your example they’ll pick up on your mood. If you’re stressed out and overworked, your kids will think that’s normal.
After a recent poll of my email subscribers, I noticed a few commonly asked questions and thought I’d share the answers with you as well. (Though, if you are one of my email insiders who completed the survey, you may have already seen this. If you aren’t, you can claim your spot on the inside right here). I’ll even give you some helpful free stuff when you do.
If you don’t see the answer to your most pressing questions below, please check out my FAQ pages as well – I’ve got a surprising amount of information covered there, too.
Without further delay, here are the answers to the 9 most recent frequently asked questions about QueenBeeing Narcissistic Abuse Recovery.
Q. Can you start publishing the transcripts with your videos?
A. Yes, I’m working on that. My channel is sponsored by CPTSDFoundation.org for subtitles, and I can pull the transcripts off of that. However, it takes some time to format and edit them into something that is comfortable to read. So I’m going to start doing that as often as I can when I publish the videos over on QueenBeeing.com. This will include going back to already published video posts on the site and updating the copy to include the transcripts. If you happen to know an easier or faster way of doing this that won’t break the bank, please hit reply and let me know your thoughts!
Q. Can I email you my questions and expect to receive an answer?
A. If I’m being honest, I get hundreds of emails every day. There is just no way I can possibly answer all of the questions that come my way, especially when sometimes people send me lengthy stories that I need to read to understand what they are going through. I DO try to answer as many emails and messages as I can, but it’s really hard for me, and I don’t currently have anyone who can help me with certain types of questions. This leads me to three suggestions for you:
First, if you keep your question to one paragraph or less (say, no more than 350 words), I am far more likely to catch and respond to your question.
Second, if your question is about something like an appointment, a group, a class/course or where to find something, you can always email my office manager Melina, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If she doesn’t know the answer, she’ll know where to find it.
One last tip: use your search bar in Google and/or YouTube and type your question along with my name (for example, you might type something like, “angie atkinson what is gaslighting?” to be directed to both my YouTube videos and/or my QueenBeeing blog posts on this topic. I have done a LOT of work in this field and a lot of people are surprised that this simple tip will often get them the answers they have been seeking. (It could save you time, anyway!)
Q. Why did you name your website “QueenBeeing” anyway? Isn’t that kind of narcissistic?
Q. I wish there were other ways to be part of the community. I am not on Facebook or any other social media, but I would like to be part of a group like you have on Facebook. Am I right that I would have to pay to subscribe to be part of a non Facebook group? I am not sure if or what my options are.
A. I totally understand. You’re right that thefree groups are primarily Facebook based and I know that doesn’t work for everyone. However, I do have an off-Facebook option at MySpanily.com that is available. It does cost $3.99 per month as it costs me money to keep it up and running. However, if you are in a position where you cannot afford $3.99 per month and you really need the off-Facebook support, please hit reply and let me know – I’ll gift you a membership. I want to support everyone I can and this is one place I am able to bend a little, and I do when someone needs the help.
Please Note: if you want to help cover the costs of memberships for people who can’t afford them, you can submit donations to my PayPal account under email@example.com. You’ll see my business name, BlissFireMedia, LLC – don’t worry, that’s me.
Q. I miss the coffee videos! It felt like we were just chatting on the front porch. Do you think you’ll do them again?
A. Given the number of people who asked for this, I think I will try to start adding them back in. Did you like the coffee videos? If you did, please hit reply and let me know what you liked about them! (PS Don’t worry, I promise I won’t be holding the phone in my hand anymore, lol!)
Q. I would like to see real survivors giving video testimonials about their abuse and life with their narcissists, how they managed to leave and start over, how things went for them and what steps they had to take to get to where they are now, and what their life has been like, since; ways it’s improved and ways in which it has deteriorated. Maybe a once weekly slot that a survivor volunteers to fill and allows to show on your site.
A. This is an excellent idea! The only issue is that a lot of survivors don’t want to put their faces on camera. However, I would be thrilled to work with anyone who would be willing to share their stories on camera. If you’re one of those people, hit reply and let me know and I’ll send you instructions on what to do. And don’t forget that we do have a whole section of survivor stories on QueenBeeing.com. I would LOVE to help you share your story too! You can learn more and submit your own written story here, if you’re interested. It may take a couple of weeks to get published, but we do our best to say on top of entries.
Q. Perhaps you have it already, but I’m looking a place to reach out for counseling. I am seeking one on one.
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.
2. Practice! 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.
3. Rehearse 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.