Recovery from narcissistic abuse is a long and complicated process, and there are so many factors at play. It’s also easy to focus too much on one thing—and ignore another important element of healing. And that often happens because we overthink things.
Feeling anxious and worried is pretty normal if you’re dealing with the most painful parts of narcissistic abuse recovery.
If you find that your thoughts are stuck on one thing (or person) over and over again, however—especially if this feeling is accompanied by a racing heart rate or other physical symptoms like nausea—it may be time for some self-care.
What is the difference between “normal” worries and overthinking?
The difference between normal worry and overthinking is that normal worry is usually caused by a situation that is happening right now while overthinking is usually an issue that happened in the past or will happen in the future.
When does overthinking happen for narcisisstic abuse survivors?
Overthinking (also called rumination) occurs when we repeatedly worry and ruminate over the same thoughts.
Overthinking happens to everyone – but for narcissistic abuse surivors, it can really feel like it stops us from functioning.
When a situation, worry, thought, or idea about what we could’ve done differently or the depth of the abuse we experienced embeds itself in our brains, it can lead to thinking about it…too much.
This is mulitplied for so many of us when the narcisisst is involved – whether during the relationship or afterward.
Does your personality type make you more likely to be an overthinker?
Worry is a complex emotion that can serve an important purpose. It often alerts us that something isn’t right and helps us take action to fix it.
Still, overthinking rather than acting on what’s happening now becomes unproductive and burdensome if we get stuck in worry about the past or future.
Worry can be important. Our intuition often alerts us that something’s wrong, and worry can indicate that you need to pay closer attention to whatever is triggering it.
When worry crosses over into overthinking, it loses its benefits and creates a burden. That’s because overthinking can lead to a number of complications such as the following.
Being afraid to decide on anything without asking for advice
Distorted thinking and insecurity
Physical health issues
Struggles with sleep
Is overthinking stopping you from healing from narcissistic abuse?
Overthinking can rob you of today, worrying about tomorrow. It can hold you back from fully recovering from narcissistic abuse – and actually, it can keep you stuck and unable to move forward. Here are some important signs overthinking may be holding you back.
You replay conversations and interactions over and over in your mind.
Self-assessment is important. It’s good to replay our interpersonal interactions over in our minds to be sure we are showing up in the best way possible. You may be at risk of overthinking if you tend to fixate on interactions long after they are over.
Additionally, if you spend time dissecting conversations and reading between the lines, you could be setting yourself up for overthinking. Overthinkers tend to dwell on situations with a critical lens which can trigger negative thoughts and feelings.
You jump to the worst-case scenario
We’ve all heard how failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s good to give some thought to what may happen in a given situation, but jumping to the worst-case scenario and spending too much time thinking about what could happen can cause overthinking.
Overthinkers tend to create anxiety by looking at every possible thing that could go wrong rather than what’s neutral or could go right.
Your sleep and eating habits are off
When we worry, we tend to experience disrupted sleep and eat too little or too much. Worrying in and of itself can contribute to sleep and eating disorders, and many people aren’t aware of the connection.
Rather than attribute their insomnia or appetite to their thoughts, which can be changed, they fail to realize worry triggers their health issues. Overthinkers often suffer from lack of sleep, digestive issues, and difficulty managing their weight.
You may recognize worry as part of your everyday life and wonder if overthinking has become an issue. If you are experiencing any or all of these signs, taking a deeper dive into the habit of overthinking may be important.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
Have you ever found yourself Googling stuff someone has done to you and running into something that led you to suspect someone in your life is a narcissist?
Is someone close to you generally cruel, unfair, manipulative, and painfully clear to you or others in ways that don’t make sense?
Identifying Narcissistic Behaviors and Characteristics
While other unifying characteristics aren’t as obvious, the way that narcissists affect your life almost appears to be from some kind of ‘narcissist playbook.’ no different in how they will impact your life.
A narcissist’s behavior can be difficult to deal with because it can be very irrational and manipulative. Sometimes it can be very subtle, especially when dealing with a covert narcissist. This, of course, confuses their victims.
For example, you know if someone is arrogant, demanding, has an inflated sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy, they’re demonstrating narcissistic traits.
Has someone in your life caused you to start Googling things that led you to suspect you’re dealing with a narcissist? Are you the target of cruelty, unfairness, and manipulation by someone you suspect could be narcissistic?
Do you keep repeating the same mistakes in relationships that hurt you but don’t seem to teach you anything?
You’re not alone in feeling frustrated by a lack of change in your relationships, even though you try to fix everything and make amends.
Narcissists may try and drive their partners into denying the truth that the relationship is over, and many do whatever they can to thwart and hurt their former partners, including things like stalking, intentionally shaming you threatening your safety and actively gaslighting you.
They may engage in hoovering through love bombing to try to suck you back in.
Hoovering can be any behavior that draws you back into the narcissist’s web – positive or negative.
In the case of some ‘lower level’ narcissists, they don’t even mean to hurt you as much as they do. They cannot feel in ways other than how they want others to feel, so they will cling and try anything else to get what they need.
The PLAN ensures a safe departure and leaves you no room for failure.
Each video is designed to both support and validate you as you’re preparing to leave, each video covers a different aspect of what you need to consider before, during, and after you’ve left the narcissist.
Plus, you’ll get a printable plan to leave, including a planning guide workbook and a planning timeline.
Also included are a to-do list, and checklists of must-have items and important paperwork you need to gather up and make copies of before you go, if possible.
Ever tried to explain something to a narcissist, and they pretended not to understand? It’s like speaking another language from behind a brick wall; in other words, incredibly frustrating, to put it mildly.
I should know. After all, despite what the narcissists in my life have claimed, I’ve become pretty successful in my communication skills – I literally communicate for a living. Some people say I’m pretty good at it!
And yet, even with a very simple concept, the narcissists in my life have always acted like they just couldn’t comprehend what I was trying to explain – no matter how many different ways I’d say it.
Narcissists choose to make you feel unheard and misunderstood.
Eventually, I would come to understand that they chose to misunderstand. It was a form of gaslighting, and it drove me insane!
After a while, I had to acknowledge that I was dealing with someone who was showing malignant narcissist traits.
The truth will set you free in narcissistic abuse recovery.
Once I finally figured out the truth – that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist, I felt devastated.
And yet, as painful as that was, it also relieved me beyond belief because it explained so much – and it proved that I was relatively sane despite the narcissist’s claim to the contrary.
Has the narcissist taken your identity away?
Before I discovered I’d been dealing with abusive narcissists in my life, I found myself feeling like I had nothing – like I had become a shell of the person I used to be.
I was so wrapped up in making the narcissist happy that I stopped feeling any desire for things and situations.
I lost myself and didn’t even know where to find myself! Nor did I want to be around other people.
I was overwhelmed by this person’s need for attention and narcissistic supply, not to mention his blatantly clear intention to misunderstand me and make me uncomfortable.
Whatever the reason, when I found myself at the point of being actively devalued, along with occasional silent treatment discards, I was fully focused on one goal: to fix this person and make it all okay again. It was all I could think about.
Of course, the only thing I had any control over was myself – and even though I was pretty sure that I couldn’t make the narcissist become something new, I was also someone who isn’t afraid to do a little work and fix the broken parts of ME.
So, I’d always focus on whatever was wrong with me and try to fix that (in hindsight, it was nothing but deaing with undiagnosed and unrecognized C-PTSD symptoms ).
I thought if I could fix ME, maybe the narcissist would naturally ease up. Of course, I was wrong there. I got a little mad at myself.
But then I did something SUPER dumb…
I tried to help the narcissist.
No matter how hard I tried, I never found a way to fix this person – at least none that worked.
Through the lens of my FOG (fear, obligation, guilt), I figured I’d try to fix the broken parts of “me,” thinking maybe he’d catch up – or that his behavior might change on its own if I was perfect.
Of course, the narcissist was pleased with this development. It offered plenty of chances to both love bomb and devalue in alternating rhythms, the intermittent nature of which is the very basis for trauma bonding.
But it also offered plenty of invalidation; I had zero support during this time, and I felt more alone than ever.
Narcissists don’t want your help unless they want it.
I couldn’t believe how clueless this supposedly intelligent man was able to act, but I must have believed his BS on some level.
After all, I would spend hours trying to figure out exactly how to explain something, I would even write down what I wanted to say and say it as calmly and carefully as possible.
But rather than trying to defend bad behavior, I’d shut my mouth and get lectured by the narcissist on my apparent lack of communication skills.
You can’t fix a narcissist.
For the narcissist, there was clearly no desire for change on his part, and his sense of entitlement blew my mind.
He reminded me often that he thought I was a total loser, someone who needed all this mental health help – and sometimes, he’d even convince me that I wasn’t as smart as I’d led him to believe. It got so bad that I literally started to believe him.
Narcissists do not change.
The fact is that narcissists simply do not change because, in layman’s terms, they don’t think they need to change. Their personality disorder essentially causes it to feel impossible.
Not only that, but their glaring lack of emotional or compassionate empathy for you or anyone else is exactly the reason why the narcissist has no remorse when they flip everything around and become angry with you.
You are NOT crazy!
I “needed help,” they’d say. So obviously, I felt like no one understood me, and I felt alone and completely insane – and the narcissist took advantage of my weakness at the moment and assured me that this might be the only time I’d ever been right.
(If you can relate to that, please know that you’re NOT crazy – and know that the narcissist behaved this way on purpose to add “mental health” issues to your plate.
That’s because when you don’t trust your own judgment thanks to their abuse, narcissists will actively try to disturb your peace and, yes, even your sanity. They can’t stand for you to be happy.
Even my friends didn’t get why my relationships were so toxic.
It floored them, they said, because I was so easy to get along with. After all the years of hearing about how awful I was to live with, you can imagine my surprise to hear otherwise.
But my friends weren’t alone in their confusion. In fact, I got plenty of feedback from anyone who had the nerve to offer it.
My toxic parent mystified them, but they’d say in a horrified voice that she was my MOTHER and I had better repair the relationship with her before it was too late. That last part, for the record, means they would shame me.
People would tell me to just get over it and move on.
Some suggested therapy – but that never works with a malignant narcissist.
When it came to my toxic marriage, it was even worse – they were annoyed and would ask, “why don’t you just leave already if it’s so bad?” (NOT helpful, btw!)
Does your life feel like some kind of cosmic joke that makes you dysfunctional?
I have gone through several existential crises during which everything I did felt wrong, off-balance, or just plain crazy. Here I was, living in what felt like a cosmic joke of a life, with narcissists everywhere I turned.
Even friends who weren’t intrinsically toxic were still unable to understand my issues.
I mean, after being so beaten down and being so conditioned to question myself – I really didn’t even know what I believed, much less understand how to figure all that out.
I knew I needed help.
But not just any help. I needed to feel seen and heard. I needed a way to share the times when I did not feel good enough or even like I was a “real” person.
I didn’t know how to find help. I wanted a very specific kind of help. Not from just anyone, but specifically with people who UNDERSTOOD where I was.
After searching and trying out therapists and various support groups and systems, I found no relief: no one could quite “get” what I’d been through.
But something in me told me that I couldn’t be the only one going through this.
So, I got busy and started doing my research, and right about 2012, I learned about narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse. And boy, am I glad I did – these little bits of information were life for me – as in they changed mine.
Back then, no one even really knew the term “gaslighting” – I had to go to the library to learn about it. There wasn’t much information on the internet that was easily digestible. As I began to post about this stuff on my blog, things turned interesting: many people came to me and asked for my help.
How could I help?
I was a journalist by trade, so research and writing were my bag. I knew how to write, I reasoned – and I I felt terrible when I learned how underserved this group of people was at that time. And after a lot of study and research, I took it upon myself, and I got to work creating that much-needed content.
It was a start anyway. But I had bigger plans. I wanted to build an app. And so I did.
Easier, less painful narcissistic abuse recovery is the goal.
My goal in building this new app was to make it easier – or at least far less painful – for our fellow survivors than I had it back then. I wanted to create content that made narcissistic abuse recovery easier to discover, understand, and get through.
I did this by sharing information and helping victims and survivors understand what they were dealing with and what they’d need to do to heal themselves. This led to an entire movement that would eventually be supported by a whole team of fellow survivors.
Over the years, we have really learned who we survivors are and exactly what we need to heal ourselves so we can evolve and thrive from here on out.
Not only do I do my best to be the person I needed in my own recovery for you, but I have simultaneously healed myself along the way.
So, I learned I wasn’t alone – and I hope I’ve helped you do the same. (If not, stick with me – we will get there!)
Because I’ve developed something BETTER to help you in your recovery.
Because after all these years, and after helping hundreds of thousands of survivors get through their recovery a little easier, I’ve created something that will intuitively help you heal and get (and stay) connected!
Narcissistic abuse recovery support that you can put in your pocket and take with you wherever you go.
That’s right! Even better, there are hundreds of narcissistic abuse survivors just like me – just like you– who have joined me, and they are finding (and giving) serious support in our new in-app tribes, not to mention the tools, tips, and helpful information that is designed to walk you through your recovery from wherever you are, right now.
Introducing the All-New Narcissistic Abuse Recovery App
Inside this amazingly intuitive and easy-to-navigate app and its private community, you’ll find a new (and more secure) way to connect with me, my fellow coaches, and our fellow survivors.
You will also find toolkits, trackers, helpful tips and ideas, and more from the QueenBeeeing team – all designed to make your recovery as painless as possible.
You can count on not having to deal with any more judgment. No more shame or worries about narcissists or flying monkeys finding your posts or anything about you.
The app offers you a safe space where survivors are free to share their thoughts, ask their questions, be scared, and stay vulnerable without any judgment or shame.
No longer will narcissistic abuse resemble a lonely, dark crawl out of hell and into the unknown.
Now, you can recover faster and with less pain with our new narcissistic recovery app and the full support of the QueenBeeing Narcissistic Abuse Recovery team and your fellow survivors!
You’ll get immediate access to our support tribes community.
You’ll be given toolkits and complete step-by-step blueprints to help you get and stay safe and healed, from discard to evolution and more.
You’ll be warmly welcomed as a member of this secure community by our amazingly supportive, empathy-filled survivors who truly understand where you’ve been – because they’ve been there too.
What does it cost?
While I usually price my apps at a reasonable $25 per month, this one is different. I want it to be more accessible – so I’m only charging $9.99 a month for now. And as long as you remain a subscriber, you’ll never pay more.
If you’ve used one of my previous apps, I am so excited to tell you this is the VERY BEST and most intuitive one we’ve ever built! You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to customize for your own needs and the level of information, tools, and support you have at your fingertips!
Are you ready to get safe support and validation from your QueenBeeing team and your fellow survivors?
Then there’s only one thing left: get the app now!
When Insecurity Looks Like Extreme Confidence: A Narcissistic Example
When I was just starting my business, I decided I needed to do local networking. I’d heard it would be good for the business, so I did some digging and started looking at small business groups on meetup.com.
I felt so lucky when I quickly found a local small business meetup that was happening just a short distance from my house.
At the first meeting, we were each invited to briefly introduce ourselves and explain our business. When it was my turn, one woman looked up sharply like she’d been stung by a bee as I started to talk about my business.
She caught my eye as I spoke, and I smiled at her. At first, she just stared, but then I saw a small smile form on her face. I felt relieved and went on.
After the introductions, we had lunch. I went over to say hello to the woman, and she seemed really friendly.
The Facade is Cast
She was a gorgeous, charming, and seemingly very successful woman. She seemed to be someone I could really learn a lot from.
She said she’d been in business for years (though in hindsight, I realize that she didn’t really explain her business when given the chance and was pretty vague about it). Still, she seemed quite successful.
She talked the big talk. And as far as I could tell, she was walking the big walk.
She drove an expensive car, had an expensive bag, and had those expensive shoes with red soles. You know the ones I mean. And her jewelry! I could tell it was all real – a stark contrast to my costume knockoffs.
I was on the hunt for a mentor, and she seemed like a perfect fit! She was confident, attractive and seemed quite intelligent.
The Private Meeting On the Pedestal
She asked me a lot of questions about my business and offered little snippets of advice that seemed legit. At the end of the meeting, she invited me to meet her for lunch the following week.
The day we met for lunch, she asked for more details about my business, which I happily shared. Then, much to my delight, she was telling me all about her upcoming executive board meeting.
She said they were considering investing in other local small businesses and that if I played my cards right, they might invest in mine.
Of course, I was over the moon! I practically worshipped her – I wanted to BE her!
It was a lot like when I almost interviewed Sam Vaknin, but she was more covert than he was in her narcissism. She came to me as a would-be mentor, and I ate it up like so much cake.
And since the lady promised to bring me up at this meeting, I started pulling together all sorts of documentation and information about my business.
The next day, I emailed the information as she had asked, and I waited for her to get back to me after her meeting. But then she went silent. I was a little sad but figured maybe my business just wasn’t up to snuff for this executive board.
I understood – after all, I had just started my business and wasn’t super successful yet.
And there was a stark contrast between my business and hers – she, at that time, was clearly well beyond me, it seemed.
I counted myself lucky for our time together and moved on.
I mean, she had an EXECUTIVE BOARD. All I had at the time was me.
The Shocking Truth
Then, a couple of months later, I noticed that she’d created a brand new Facebook page. It seemed she had just launched a new business – and when I started looking into it, it turned out that her business was eerily familiar.
In fact, it was like she literally copied the business plan and structure that I had outlined for her months ago.
I reached out to her and asked what she was doing. She told me that I was mistaken, that it had been her idea the whole time.
She said that the business plan I had submitted to her was a joke, and THAT was why she’d gone silent. In hindsight, I realize that was straight-up gaslighting.
She subtly tore me down, implying that I was stupid to think that someone like HER could possibly take an idea from someone as small potatoes as ME.
Of course, when I pointed out that she had literally done everything I’d put in the business plan, she got offended and screamed at me, telling me she was tired of people always accusing her of stuff like this.
She called me jealous and immediately blocked me. I had been officially discarded.
Then, from what I heard, she started talking to our few mutual connections about how I thought I owned my niche and how she practically invented me anyway. (Sounds a lot like a smear campaign, no?)
It went on from there.
What I missed was that her apparent confidence was more like grandiosity.
I missed that she had used me to get an idea for a short-lived business.
Later, I would learn that I wasn’t the only person she had done this to – apparently, several people who had been part of the group at different times had experienced the same thing.
I learned that her fancy bag, car, and shoes were thanks to her wealthy husband.
And she was a bored stay-at-home wife (no kids) with too much time on her hands. And as for her stealing all of my business? I admit I worried for a minute.
After all, she had a lot more money than I did and, as far as I could tell, would be far more successful than I could.
But I didn’t have to worry for long because after failing to become immediately successful, she moved on to someone else’s idea. (Plus, if we’re being honest, she was trying to be someone she just wasn’t.)
“Shadow work is, at heart, about developing self-awareness and ultimately, self-acceptance and compassion. Shadow work is often both therapy and more spiritual, helping you see the different parts of yourself.” ~Maggie Wooll
Advanced Self-Help Healing: Shadow Work in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
If you’ve found yourself dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, chances are you’ve found yourself feeling lost, unseen, unheard, and even completely invisible. You might not be sure who you are anymore.
While nearly everyone could benefit from shadow work, for narcissistic abuse survivors, not only is it something that could temporarily soothe some of the pain you’re dealing with, but the long-term application could change everything for you.
For survivors, going this deep can be far more difficult and painful than most people realize. I can relate because I’ve been there myself.
Narcissists are so good at manipulating us and keeping us under their thumbs that we are often left feeling like a hopeless mess, with no sense of who we are or what we want. Shadow work may offer exactly the help you’ve been looking for if you’ve found yourself in this situation.
This is just one reason why shadow work is so important for narcissistic abuse survivors.
How can you do shadow work on your own?
Good news – shadow work is one way you can “self-help” your way through recovery. In fact, I recently launched a new series to teach you about shadow work in bite-sized pieces.
Carl Jung, a psychologist from Switzerland, is reportedly the first person who conceived of the idea of the shadow self. In Jungian psychology, the word ‘shadow’ refers to hidden parts of our being.
Jung described it as the “unknown dark side of the personality” that was “instinctive and irrational.”
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain,” Jung said. “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
He also noted that the shadow is prone to psychological projection. This, he said, would lead to perceived personal inferiority within yourself, just as you might notice that someone else has some sort of perceived moral deficiency.
What is Shadow Work?
“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.” ~Carl Jung, Aion (1951)
Shadow work is a term used to describe the process of facing your own darkness. It’s meant to help you find and fix the “broken” parts of yourself. In other words, shadow work will help you to identify the parts of yourself that you are afraid to look at, either because they are taboo or because they might not be so nice (or because you might feel embarrassed or shy to share them with anyone else – sometimes, you’re even hiding from yourself).
Shadow work reconnects us with our spiritual selves, helps us find the parts of ourselves that have been broken and damaged (and even little habits we just don’t love about ourselves), then guides us on the path to personal growth and empowerment.
How do you know you need to do shadow work?
When I first learned about shadow work, I thought I’d already healed from all of my damage and had nothing left to fix – at least nothing much. But sure enough, I still had plenty of deep-rooted issues – and it really helped me to clear my head, my heart, and my mind so I could evolve into the next best self I could be.
Often we don’t realize that these things exist within us until someone else points them out to us through their behavior toward us (or sometimes even just by using language like “you’re not good enough”).
When we hear something like this from another person (in whatever form), it feels like confirmation of all the things we may already know about ourselves but that we haven’t been able to face before now – so instead we project those thoughts onto other people instead.
Now, there’s another thing to think about: if you’re anything like me, your first instinct when you started noticing these things was to just shove it down and stop the behavior rather than going to the trouble to work through it and move forward in a healthier way.
What’s the difference between inner child work and shadow work?
If you’re wondering what’s different between inner child work and shadow work (or even the difference between inner child and shadow self, know that you’re not alone. When I began to research shadow work, I suspected they were either connected or were one and the same.
And, according to my research, they are indeed connected. The way I understand it, shadow work encompasses more than the inner child, but does include the inner child.
So, in layman’s terms, the inner child will be healed as one part of the shadow work, but the shadow encompasses your whole life up to this point, along with all of the latest traumas.
When you grew out of being a child, your inner child stayed stuck – but your shadow continued along the way with you and saw the rest of the stress and mess you experienced.
How is Shadow Work Used by Narcissistic Abuse Survivors?
Many narcissistic abuse survivors report that doing shadow work has helped them to reclaim their identity and find their true self-worth again after being manipulated and controlled throughout their relationship with a narcissist.
Shadow work involves looking at aspects of your personality that aren’t healthy or positive, so they can be brought to the light and resolved through positive action steps like journaling or meditating on them until they resolve themselves internally.
Shadow work can also help survivors deal with painful memories related to the abuse cycle itself (i.e., flashbacks).
This process is often difficult for people who’ve experienced narcissistic abuse because they’re triggered regularly by things like social media posts or news articles about similar situations happening around us today.
At what point in narcissistic abuse recovery is shadow work most effective?
When you’re ready to do your shadow work, you’ll need to be beyond the first stage of recovery if you’re going to be effective and not retraumatize yourself too much. Why?
At the beginning of recovery, you might find yourself sort of spinning and feeling very raw. In this state, you’re not going to be very effective with shadow work, due to both your own fragile state and the fact that you’re going to be trying to figure out the narcissist and their own psychology at this point.
That’s exactly why I believe that shadow work will work best for survivors who are in the last stages of healing and evolving after abuse.
As we muddle through the early steps of recovery when we’re often feeling like it’s painful to even be awake, much less digging into ourselves to find the hidden broken parts.
We’re just not there yet; we’re not really ready or even equipped to do our shadow work as we suffer through the early stages of recovery.
But by the time you’ve gotten past the first few hurdles in recovery, you might be looking for a deeper or more advanced way to work through your traumas and finally, release them – once and for all. Shadow work might be just what you need.
You’ve just taken the first step in this process by reading the information above. Now, it can help to understand why you need to do this work and how it will help you heal from narcissistic abuse in ways that other healing modalities can’t.
5 Steps For Doing Shadow Work
You might feel like you’re beating your head against a wall, but you will get there. We will be using a modified version of my DUO Method to do our shadow work together.
Here are the steps we’ll follow doing our shadow work.
Step 1: Identify the problem. What do you want to work through or fix in yourself? (Discover)
Step 2: Acknowledge the problem and accept it. Accept without condition both the problem and yourself in the process – you’re not bad or evil because you’ve struggled with this or any other issue. (Unconditional self-acceptance)
Step 3: Look at the problem (this is where you have to dig deep) and do your research to understand it. (Understand)
.Step 4: Be honest with yourself about what’s been going on, who’s been involved, and how this has impacted your life in a negative way for years now, even when it was just one or two small things happening every once in a while that added up over time until all of a sudden everything changed overnight…because it usually does! (Overcome)
Step 5: Unconditionally accept and learn to love you for YOU. This is where evolution happens for a survivor.
Shadow Work Prompts for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors
One of the simplest and most effective ways to start your shadow work is through journal prompts. You’ll want to get a dedicated notebook or to even use YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok to record yourself and your efforts in mind and to keep your thoughts in place and organized.
I’ve recently launched a new series for narcissistic abuse survivors on my video platforms. Here’s the first video for your convenience.(I’m using the hashtag #shadowworkforsurviors on all platforms – so feel free to follow wherever you prefer. I’m on YouTube, TikTok, IG and Facebook Reels)
If you want to get a jump start on this process, you can start by taking some time to answer each of the following questions in your journal or video diary.
How can I feel safe in this world?
What is my worth, and how am I going to get it back?
How do I trust people again, or do I even have the capacity to trust people again?
What are some of the ways that I have been damaged by being in a relationship with someone who was toxic like this one was?
How do I express my emotions now that they’re no longer being oppressed by my abuser’s behavior?
There are simple ways to begin doing shadow work, but it takes a long time and can be painful. In any case, it’s totally worth the effort. You can do it!
Healthy relationships are a challenge for anyone, especially those of us who have been through narcissistic abuse. However, by doing shadow work, you can heal your past trauma and find the confidence to move forward with your life.
Shadow work can be used as part of the process of healing after narcissistic abuse. The idea behind it is that when you have been in an abusive relationship, you have become confused about who you are and what is real. Shadow work offers the opportunity to rediscover yourself and redesign your life.
Your abuser has controlled your reality by gradually changing how you think, how you feel, and what makes sense to you. As part of this process, they may also have convinced you that there are parts of yourself that are negative or bad.
It can be helpful to think about shadow work as a process of facing the parts of ourselves that we have been avoiding (the shadow). This might include our pain, our feelings about being controlled or manipulated by others, or even just our own feelings about ourselves.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
You are still reeling from your experiences during narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship.
And who could blame you?
After all, you’ve lost your sense of who you are and of what reality is all about. It’s not that you’ve lost your intelligence or your personality – it’s just that it feels kind of disjointed or disconnected from the person you are today.
Something you may not remember right now is that MOST people you meet actually really enjoy your company.
They like you as a person, and they value your contributions. You’re great at conversation and even better at making people feel worthy and seen.
That is what the narcissist has hidden from you, and it’s why you’re feeling so foggy and lost, at least in part.
Understanding Brain Fog and C-PTSD in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
Brain fog is common for survivors of circumstances when a loved one- especially a parent-was dealing with untreated mental illness.
How can your brain feel so foggy after a relationship with a toxic person? Brain fog is a difficult and confusing experience to live through, and it is one that is poorly understood by most people.
Brain Fog is, to put it simply, the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse. It’s a symptom of C-PTSD. It is what’s happening when you’re feeling lost, like you’re not really there, or like you’re watching your life through a screen or a bubble. You might also feel stuck and unable to function like you normally would.
How can you tell you’re dealing with brain fog?
Brain fog presents itself in different ways for different people. Some feel just stuck and unable to function.
Others feel like they’re watching their lives through a movie screen or like they’re in some kind of bubble that makes them feel like they’re not really here, or like they’re separated from everyone else.
What are the effects of brain fog after narcissistic abuse?
Along with the brain fog effects listed here, there are many other issues and concerns for those of us who have or have had struggles with brain fog.
But ultimately, when you realize that you have been gaslighted for many years and wonder why your health problems are getting worse, or why you are experiencing brain fog, that is because of the trauma from the abuse. (If you think you’re being gaslighted but you’re not sure, take this free gaslighting self-assessment).
Childhood trauma and toxic families lead to C-PTSD.
There is hope… even if you have severe brain fog and other illnesses related to the disorder. (If you think you’ve got C-PTSD, take this free C-PTSD self-assessment and find out).
The brain fog that many of us experience after a narcissistic relationship is one of the many symptoms of CPTSD. Brain fog is an impairment in a person’s ability to process information, think clearly, and make good decisions.
You may feel like you’re in a mental fog or daze most days or have difficulty remembering what you were just thinking about. This can go hand-in-hand with the memory problems experienced with PTSD, especially if the abuse you experienced was not physical but psychological.
Want to learn more about brain fog and narcissistic abuse recovery?
*Disclaimer – Please note: First and foremost, If you think you may be experiencing these symptoms, you should see a doctor. The last thing anyone wants is to end up misdiagnosed and treated for something that’s not impacting their health. ALWAYS be sure to check in with a doctor first, do your research, and talk to other people before making any decisions about your treatment options.