As a narcissistic abuse survivor, do you ever find yourself feeling like you’ve completely lost control? Do you worry about everything, even the things you can’t do anything to change or control?
If you’re anything like I used to be, you might even find yourself feeling sick with worry sometimes. It doesn’t mean you’re bad or wrong – it just means you’re normal and that you’re not alone. Many survivors of narcissistic abuse find themselves overcome with worries, thanks in part to the abuse they’ve suffered.
I mean, think about it. When you’re always concerned about how the toxic person in your life is going to react to everything, you develop a terrible habit of feeling stressed out all the time – and this, of course, leads to not only mental health issues such as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) but also to a myriad of physical effects and health issues.
If you want to stop stressing about things you can’t control, stick with me here – and try the seven tips I’m sharing with you today. Let’s start here.
Worrying is a habit that many of us believe is helpful in some way, but the fact is that that worrying only has a negative effect – and that is especially true when we’re worried about things that we have no ability to affect.
Worry less and live more with these strategies:
1. Put your worries in perspective. I know how it feels to worry, believe me. And when you’re dealing with a toxic person, worries can overwhelm you really quickly. But try to shift your perspective a bit here – this is something you CAN control! You are in charge of how you see yourself and how you choose to perceive the situations in your life. For example, if you’re still in a relationship with a toxic narcissist, you may be worrying about how you’re going to get out. Instead of focusing on the worry, focus on empowering yourself with a plan to escape and on how you’re going to live your new, narcissist-free life! Or, if you’re worried about something like your weight, stop focusing on worrying about it and start doing something to change your situation right away – stand up right now and do 10 jumping jacks, or maybe get online and research more effective ways to eat healthier.
2. Expect good things to happen. Going through narcissistic abuse makes you pretty pessimistic if you think about it. After all, every day you spend with a narcissist feels like your own personal hell – right? But here’s the thing: now that you’re moving on (or preparing to), you need to stop expecting the worst and start expecting the BEST. Seriously. The fact is that you can’t worry if you expect a positive outcome. When you assume things will turn out poorly, they often do. If you need to, make sure you’re as prepared for the worst as you can be- but be optimistic. Your worry isn’t going to change anything.
3. Understand what is and isn’t under your control. We spend a lot of time worrying about things we can’t change. What’s the point? Do what you can to mitigate your risk and then see what happens. Let go of the things you can’t control. For me, learning this stuff was a HUGE factor in creating positive personal change in my own life. The moment I gave myself permission to stop worrying about things I couldn’t control, I instantly felt a sense of relief and my life seemed to be so much less painful. This intentional practice is SO powerful when you enact it! (If this sounds like something you’d like to try, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this article and try the journaling exercise I wrote for you).
4. Stay grounded in the present moment. It’s all about being mindful. Mindfulness is another (free!) powerful tool that we can use as survivors of narcissistic abuse. For the duration of our toxic relationships, we spent so much time feeling helpless and out of control that many of us found ourselves sort of living in our own heads. But if you intentionally change that and bring yourself into the present moment, you’ll find that your worries can disappear. Do this by paying attention to what you’re doing right now. Avoid thinking about tomorrow if it stresses you out. Use pattern interrupts if you need to do that to stay focused. Make the best use of your time each moment and the future will take care of itself. This video offers ideas on how to use pattern interrupts to your advantage.
5. Practice gratitude. I know that it feels like we don’t have a lot to be grateful for sometimes – especially when we’re still dealing with a toxic person in our lives, but those are the times when it may be most important to practice gratitude. When you realize how much you do have to be grateful for, the future isn’t as scary somehow. Remind yourself of how good your life is already, even if you start with things like “I’m grateful I woke up today.” You’ll worry less.
Remember: Gratitude is a habit. Take a moment each day and mentally list the things that you’re grateful for. This can do more to enhance your perspective than you think. I like to use my own gratitude practice as part of my intentional vibration management. Try starting your own gratitude journal. Want more information? This video will explain more about that and offer you tips on how to manage your own vibrations intentionally.
6. Avoid isolating yourself. During and after toxic relationships, it’s common for victims and survivors of abuse to isolate themselves for a number of reasons. But life is harder to manage all alone. It’s not reasonable to assume you can do everything by yourself. It’s also less stressful to have a few friends in your corner. Avoid isolating yourself just because you’re stressed. Your stress will only increase. Stay in touch with others. If you’ve lost a lot of friends and family members due to the toxic people in your life, try joining an online support group for narcissistic abuse survivors to make connections with people who understand what you’re going through and to get yourself moving in the right direction again. Check out this video playlist for more information about isolation in narcissistic abuse and how to overcome it.
7. Look at the facts first. Statistically speaking, we worry about way more than we need to – or at least, more than we should. The fact is that you’ve probably worried about a lot of things over the course of your life, right? How many of them actually came true? And how often did you worry about things that you had no ability to control or even affect? You’ll likely discover that most of your worry was inaccurate or unnecessary.
Most of the things we worry about never happen. And even if they do, it’s not nearly as awful as we anticipate. Conclusion: Any time spent worrying is wasted time. If there’s something you can do to resolve the situation, just fix it. Life is short and worrying detracts greatly from life. Work to minimize the amount of time you spend worrying each day. You’ll enjoy life more, you’ll be less stressed, and you’ll be one step closer to living your very best life!
Stop Worrying Journaling Exercise
Ready to take your narcissistic abuse recovery to the next level? Grab your journal and do the following exercise. If you prefer, you can just consider the questions and meditate on them instead.
- Take a moment to think about how much time you spend worrying each day. Has any of that worrying ever accomplished anything positive in your life?
- Think about the things you worry about. Make a list of your concerns.
- Evaluate your worries. Go back to your list and decide which of your worries are under your own control – as in, are there things you can do to change the outcome of the situation you’re worried about? If the answer is yes, take a minute to write down the actions you can take to change or affect the situation. If the answer is no, cross the worry off your list.
- Imagine what you could do with all of that time and energy. Imagine how much happier and comfortable you would be if you could minimize the amount of time you spend worrying each day. What would it mean for you? How would your life look if you didn’t have so many worries? Take a few minutes to write down your ideas.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.