“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” ~ James Baraz
If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you may have experienced various symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of suffering from narcissistic emotional and mental abuse.
One of the most common issues that my narcissism support coaching clients tell me they have is feeling like they’re “not really here,” as though they’re on a sort of numb-autopilot as they float through life, surrounded by some kind of barrier between themselves and the world. Everything feels sort of foggy and surreal.
Are you aware of how many “automatic” behaviors and habits you have?
When you do something over and over, it can reach the point where it becomes a mindless task. You can do a task and finish it, then realize your body worked to complete the project while your mind was actively engaged in something else.
Mindfulness can help you learn to be present, to refocus your thoughts so that you’re actively experiencing your life rather than walking through it on autopilot. Sometimes, people assume that mindfulness is a time consuming practice where you have to sit quietly somewhere for a lengthy amount of time.
While you can enjoy sitting quietly, it doesn’t have to take a long time. In fact, if you don’t want to or don’t have time to just be still and practice mindfulness, then you don’t have to – putting yourself under pressure will do no good,
When Chaos Comes Calling
There’s no denying that having chaos in your life is going to happen, and that’s especially true when you’re going through or have recently remove yourself from a toxic abuse situation with a narcissist in a relationship.
If you’ve already left, it might not be a constant, but it will happen. When chaos does occur, it puts a lot of narcissistic abuse survivors in a state of anxiety or panic.
You know the feeling I’m talking about, right? It’s when you get that knot in your stomach that seems to rise up into your throat and make you feel sick.
It’s when you simply don’t know what to do and how to calm the chaos, when you can barely even focus on ANYTHING as a result.
Regardless of what type of chaos you’ve experienced with your narcissist or are going through as you recover, focused, intentional mindfulness can help. It lets you be in charge and not your emotions or your thoughts.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People
What happens when chaos hits is that the outward or inward situation isn’t taking place in the present. The chaos is because of what might have happened or what’s going to happen as a result of this chaos.
When you experience turmoil, your stress levels will skyrocket. When that happens, it can be difficult to keep calm. Your mind will start to race and the negative emotions will spring up, multiplying one after another.
Chaos causes you to become distanced from peace. It hijacks your thoughts and pummels your emotions. But when you practice mindfulness, it doesn’t give in to the chaos.
Why You Should Choose to Be Mindful
But mindfulness allows you to have peace and focus despite the physical or emotional storm you might be caught up in. It keeps you focused on the present and anchors your thoughts and emotions.
This helps you feel at rest even when you’re not. It bolsters your sense of purpose and ability to make decisions. Mindfulness calms the anxiety and lets you be in charge of what you need to take care of.
During turmoil, your mind gets an influx of negative toxic thoughts and when you don’t practice mindfulness, those thoughts then cause the emotions to become more intense.
Mindfulness doesn’t stop the negative emotions from coming, but it helps you to be in charge of what’s going on in your mind and with your emotions because it lets you coral the thoughts that are trying to stampede.
It brings the wayward emotions back to the present and floods your mind with peace and purpose.
Mindfulness brings a peace to the negative emotions and thoughts so that you’ll be aware of them, but they won’t control you.
When chaos happens, most people end up being controlled by their emotions, by the anxiety and turmoil they feel. But mindfulness will allow you to take a pause, view the situation and be able to make decisions that are based on reality rather than hyped up feelings.
Mindfulness will allow you to keep order in your thoughts and emotions even when everything around you is in crisis. Being mindful will help to give you space to be able to keep yourself at peace.
So how the heck do you become mindful?
There are many simple ways that you can be mindful throughout your day without ever having to take a break from whatever it is that you’re going. Knowing this has helped many extremely busy people to be able to get into the habit of practicing mindful activities.
Brush Your Teeth
One simple way to practice mindfulness is by brushing your teeth. You do this so often that you probably do it without even thinking about it. Instead of brushing your teeth on autopilot, take the time to focus on the steps involved in this routine.
Feel the bristles of the brush as they cross your teeth and tongue. Pay attention to the thickness of the toothpaste of the flavor of it. While you’re brushing your teeth, pay attention to the process and don’t let your mind think about worries or negative thoughts.
Another way that you can practice mindfulness as you go about your day is through mindful listening. So many times, there are sounds around you and yet you don’t even hear them because you’re not listening with a focus.
Wherever you are, you can take a few seconds to listen to the sounds. You might be able to hear a bird singing, the wind blowing or the distant roll of thunder. You can practice mindful listening with popular music or with instrumentals.
Hear each sound and focus on it for a few seconds while tuning out anything but the sound.
Mindfulness can be practiced by focusing on breathing. It doesn’t take long and can be done any time of day and in any place.
As you breathe, focus on the breath that you’re drawing in. Then focus on the breath that you’re exhaling. Keep your mind centered on the movement of your body as you breathe in the air and release it.
Feel the air move within you and tune in to the sensation as you’re going through the exercise. You can practice mindfulness through many other activities including walking, eating, while cooking or cleaning, and even while taking a shower.
What do you think? Do you struggle with mindfulness? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor 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 personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, 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.
She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.