Am I always going to be miserable? Will I ever feel normal again? When will the pain end? When can I expect to start feeling like myself again after the end of a toxic relationship? Will I ever stop missing my ex? Am I ever going to stop crying?
How long does it take to recover from narcissistic abuse?
This is a complicated question, and unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. It varies depending on the nature and duration of the relationship, as well as the depth of the abuse and whether or not you’re intentionally choosing to focus on healing yourself. In general, you could be looking at anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.
Personally, I’ve seen some people manage to recover completely in less than one year, while others find themselves still struggling decades later. It also depends, of course, on your definition of recovery. For example, some people might consider going no contact the final step in healing, while others choose to go on to evolve into a better version of themselves.
Stages of Grief in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
It’s important to recognize that you might also need to go through the grief process after getting out of a toxic relationship with a narcissist. I know it seems wrong – especially when you’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse. But even if you feel like you won’t need to do it, you might want to be aware of the stages of grief as they apply to narcissistic abuse recovery. Most people do not expect this, but nearly all survivors will go through it. This video offers you an explanation of what to expect in each grieving stage.
Complications of Trauma Bonding: Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse
There are so many complications when it comes to recovering from narcissistic abuse – family connections, shared children, business and legal issues that make no contact impossible, for example. But for most survivors of abuse, trauma bonding makes recovery feel really hard.
The process of healing and recovering from narcissistic abuse is slightly different for each person, and it must be customized to fit the needs of the individual. In most cases, it loosely fits in with my DUO Method of narcissistic abuse recovery and it looks like this:
Discovery Phase:Where you begin to recognize there’s a problem in your relationship and you start doing the research to figure out what it is. You find a video or an article that perfectly describes your situation, and before you know it, you’ve gone down the rabbit hole, reading, listening and watching everything you can find on narcissism and narcissistic abuse. This is where you’re beginning to wrap your head around the fact that you might be dealing with a toxic person.
Understanding Phase:You continue to gather information and you are starting to recognize narcissistic behaviors in someone in your life. You are nearly certain this is what you’re dealing with, and you’re studying everything you can in order to figure out how it correlates to your life. You are drawing parallels all over the place and you might be talking with a coach, therapist or fellow narcissistic abuse survivors in a support group, as well as to people in your own life. You get it, and you’re getting the idea that you’re going to have to create any changes yourself, if you’re ever going to be happy. You’re digging into your own past and your own psychology as well, making sense of it all and figuring out why this happened to you.
Overcoming Phase: You’ve left or have decided you’re leaving, or you’ve been discarded and have decided you’re not going back. You KNOW logically that you’re doing the right thing and that you deserve better. You’re working on getting there emotionally and you’re working on taking the next steps to embrace your power and make your life your own again, or maybe for the first time. You’re making connections between your childhood and your adult relationships and you’re beginning to see what you can do to change yourself for the better – and to be more aware of toxic people so you can avoid them in the future.
Evolution Phase: The narcissist is no longer a part of your daily life, and if you’re in contact at all, it’s only because you share a child or because you have some business you can’t avoid with them. You’re starting to really live now. You embrace your truth. You follow your passions without shame, and you’re now enforcing your boundaries like a pro. Your standards are high, right along with your self-esteem. You have learned to unconditionally love and accept yourself, and for the first time in a long time, you can honestly say you are truly happy and fulfilled in your life – or at least you’re getting there.
Signs You’re Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
So how do you know if you’re really “getting there” when it comes to healing and recovering from narcissistic abuse? What kinds of signs would you watch for – and how will it feel? This video offers you a comprehensive overview of how to tell if you’re recovering from narcissistic abuse.
Ever feel like you’re going crazy and you can’t quite figure out why? Does someone in your life make you doubt yourself and your own reality? Do you ever ask yourself, “Am I being gaslighted?”
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a very toxic manipulation tactic that is employed by most narcissists. Not only is this tactic pervasive and highly-effective, but it is nearly impossible to detect unless you know what you’re looking for, specifically. Gaslighting is meant to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
Take this Am I Being Gaslighted Test right now, and find out if you might be dealing with a toxic person who is gaslighting and manipulating you.
When the Narcissist Makes You Feel Like A Narcissist – Narcissists are notorious for bringing out the worst in us. Why is that? Today, we’re going to discuss what happens when you develop toxic self-protective behavior in reaction to narcissistic behavior and gaslighting.
3 Simple Steps to Reprogram Your Mind After Narcissistic Abuse
As you probably know, our minds, more specifically our subconscious minds, control our lives. We are what we think or believe. Research has shown that there is a mind-body connection and that the mind can help us overcome health problems.
Whichever route you choose, one element that is crucial is your attitude. For any method to be successful in creating change in the subconscious, you have to want the change and to believe totally in its success. You cannot succeed without this belief.
While every method is different there three steps that each uses to reprogram your mind.
To achieve relaxation you have to take your brain to Alpha level. This is the level where you are able to ‘speak’ directly with the subconscious. Alpha level brainwaves are experienced first thing in the morning as you first awaken and the last thing at night just before you go to sleep. In Alpha level, you are awake (conscious) and aware of your surroundings but your subconscious is fully alert and you are most responsive to learning and accepting new ideas. You can achieve Alpha level by practicing relaxation techniques.
Picture your goal as an image or movie with you ‘in the moment’. It must be in the present so you must be living it. Use all of your senses to make it as real as possible. Tell a story and if you can add some humor even better. Your subconscious loves stories and it loves humor. By fully engaging your senses it becomes more real. Make the scenes really bright and colorful. Hear the sounds, feel the emotions. Touch and taste things.
When visualizing always answer these questions:
What can you see?
What can you hear?
What can you feel? (Physical touch as well as emotions.)
What can you smell?
What can you taste?
3. While visualizing yourself living your goal it is also important to affirm this. You can either say your affirmations out loud or just think them. To make them even more powerful and effective you can write them down and display them wherever you will see them regularly throughout your day. You can also record yourself saying them out loud and listen to them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Affirmations must be:
In the present tense.
Said with positive conviction. (You must believe in what you are saying.)
For example, if you’re worried about a presentation you need to give at work, you might use affirmations such as the following.
I am giving a presentation to my department and superiors. I am standing at the front of the room. I feel confident and calm. I am speaking with conviction. I know my topic. My presentation is interesting and fun to give. The audience is listening intently. They are smiling and nodding their heads as I speak. My voice is confident and easy to hear, even at the back of the room. I am standing tall wearing my favorite navy suit. I feel smart.
Knowing these three simple steps can help you successfully program your mind for positive change.
“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” ~Soledad O’Brien
Are you ever too scared to try new things, or do you feel stuck because you’re filled with overwhelming fear? Is it possible that you allow your fears to impose limits on you and your life? If you’re a survivor of narcissistic abuse, chances are you can relate to the feeling of being paralyzed by your fear and unable to take action. And it makes sense if you think about it.
After all, narcissists work hard to manipulate you, psychologically destroy you and tear down your self-esteem. They need you to feel worthless and not good enough. They use gaslighting to make you feel crazy and doubt yourself. All of this keeps you feeling scared so you will be easier to control. And it creates a trauma bond that prevents you from leaving them.
Maybe you stay(ed) in that toxic relationship that holds (held) you down because you think you lack options. Maybe you have dreams that go unfulfilled because you doubt your abilities and hesitate to take risks.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Fear that develops as a result of narcissistic abuse can really paralyze you,and it can stick with you for life, if you’re not careful to intentionally heal.
Your emotions have become dysregulated due to the abuse, meaning that you’re always feeling panic and/or depressed – often in alternating patterns. You might even feel like you can’t function like you used to – you’re not getting things done.
Your hormones and brain chemistry have been thrown off-course by the constant roller coaster of emotional abuse and intermittent reinforcement that kept (or keeps) you hooked to the narcissist in your life.
This video will help you understand exactly what happens to your brain when you deal with narcissistic abuse.
You begin to live in a constant state of fear, and you become hypervigilant. You’re so worried about how the narcissist will react to things that you stop concerning yourself with your own needs and desires. You push people who might support you away, intentionally or otherwise. And while you feel like this is your choice, in reality, you’ve been manipulated into isolation by the narcissist. You live in perpetual fear of rejection.
Naturally, your stress is high and so are your cortisol levels. This leads to potential weight gain, blemishes on your skin, slowed healing, physical weakness and a serious loss of self, among other major physical and psychological issues.
If you don’t make an intentional effort to heal, the symptoms can continue to appear for years. In addition to the debilitating fear you’re dealing with, your symptoms may also include:
A Simple Formula for Overcoming Fear After Narcissistic Abuse
You can break out of your comfort zone. Follow this 3-part formula for accepting your fears and dealing with them effectively.
Overcoming Fear Through Acceptance:
Increase your awareness. To figure out what you’re really afraid of, it’s important to confront your fears. Pay attention to physical signs like your heart beating faster or your voice shaking when your boss criticizes you or you’re preparing to speak in public.
Avoid judgments. Try to understand your fears instead of blaming yourself for having them. Speak to yourself in a gentle and reassuring way. Give yourself time to calm down.
Think rationally. Fear can make you exaggerate the consequences in any situation. If you have trouble being objective, imagine what you would think if the same events happened to someone else.
Choose deliberately. Remember that you’re in charge of your life even when you feel frightened. Keep your long-term interests in mind when you’re tempted to run away from circumstances that scare you.
Overcoming Fear Through Confidence:
Breathe deeply. Use your breath to relax your body and mind. Broaden your chest with each inhalation and release tension with each exhalation.
Remember your achievements. Visualize some past accomplishments that you’re proud of. If you can plan a wedding or buy a house, you can handle making small talk with strangers.
Keep practicing. Anxiety grows when you live in denial. On the other hand, your fears diminish each time you face them directly. Start out walking in the shallow end of the pool if you’re afraid of water. Once you complete enough swimming lessons, you’ll be ready to dive in with no hesitation.
Acquire skills. Genuine confidence is based on competence. Pursue the education and training you need to reach your goals. Use your leisure time to study foreign languages or master a new sport.
Overcoming Fear Through Courage:
Care for yourself. It’s easier to feel brave when your body and mind are strong. Cultivate healthy habits like eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.
Seek support. Surround yourself with family, friends, and colleagues who provide encouragement and assistance. Ask for help when you need it and welcome honest feedback.
Repeat affirmations. Affirmations are a simple tool for changing your mindset and focusing your efforts. Tell yourself that you are brave, and you refuse to let your fears rob you of success.
Focus on gains. Motivate yourself to try new approaches by thinking about the rewards. If you’ve been procrastinating about asking your boss for a raise, imagine how the extra money would help your family. Whatever the outcome, you’ll also gain experience with advocating for yourself and negotiating.
Practice your faith. Many believers rely on their spiritual faith when they feel threatened. Your trust in God or your own personal principles may sustain you when you’re going through a divorce or lose your job.
Consider therapy. If you need additional help with overcoming your fears, you may want to see a counselor. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other techniques can be very effective. You may discover that your fears are connected to past events that you still need to resolve.
Fear can be your teacher and friend rather than an obstacle. Accept yourself for who you are and develop the courage and confidence to tackle challenges head-on.
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