Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: 6 Steps to Understanding Your Past and Moving Forward

Written by Angela Atkinson

One of the things that I hear so often from narcissistic abuse survivors is that they just don’t know who they are anymore. During and after your involvement with a toxic narcissist, you lose yourself – and when you sort of “wake up” from the FOG of it all, you might find yourself lost or spinning – trying to grab hold of something to get a glimpse of yourself again.How to Use Your Past for a Better Future

Well, let’s start here – look at where you’ve already been.

You can better understand yourself and your life by examining your past. Your present can be directly attributed to your past, just as your future is determined by the beliefs, thoughts, and actions you take in the present.

It’s important to avoid living in the past, but you can still use the past to your advantage. Understand how your past has influenced the person you’ve become:

1. What was your childhood like? How did your parents treat you? What was your experience like at school? Did you have a lot of friends? Did you go to church? How did you use playtime?

  • Think about your best and worst experiences. How have those influenced your life? Did you have a bad experience in gym class that turned you off of sports? Were you bullied? Did you become a scientist because you received a lot of recognition for your success in high school science classes?

2. Make a list of your biggest failures. Choose the top 10 failures and leave the others alone for another time. 

3. Why did those challenges occur? Where did you go wrong? Did you fail to make a wise decision? Did you give up to quickly? Did you act without thinking or without enough information?

  • Examining your failures is an excellent way to prevent them from reoccurring throughout your lifetime. Repeating mistakes is par for the course.
  • You can do better! Examine your mistakes so you can avoid them in the future.

4. Make a list of the things you don’t like about your life. Maybe you don’t like your job, your house, or your physique. What happened in the past to lead to those negative circumstances? What mistakes did you make that caused these situations to arise?

  • Can you see how a few changes could lead to a big difference in the future?
  • What are the likely outcomes if you fail to change today?

5. Examine the major components of your life. A few examples include: finances, family life, social life, and health. Look at your present circumstances and then look to the past and find the roots of your behaviors and beliefs that led to your current situation.

  • For example, maybe you don’t save money because your parents never saved money. Maybe your mom was always raiding your piggy bank and saving money seemed like a futile effort.
  • Now that you know the cause of your belief, show yourself how these circumstances don’t apply any more. Give yourself permission to make the change you desire.

6. Consider your relationships – narcissistic and otherwise. Why did you choose your spouse? Do you not have a spouse at all? Is this by choice? How have your childhood and past relationships affected your current relationships?

7. Choose to let go of the things that are holding you back. Striking out at the league championship in fourth grade is not a good reason to shy away from the spotlight. Let go of the negative things from the past that are tainting your present and your future. Each day is a new day. The things you do today that don’t make any sense aren’t random.

Your past has had a huge influence on the person you’ve become. While it’s not wise to live in the past, it is smart to examine your past to gain a better understanding of your present situation and the person you’ve become. Use your past to your advantage and then let it go – it’s the only way to move forward! So, what do you say? 

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section and let’s discuss it!

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