The effects and aftereffects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship can be physical, neurological and psychological – and these issues can, without intentional healing, last a lifetime. One of the most painful things that we deal with as survivors of narcissistic abuse is the complete destruction of our self-esteem and our ability to trust ourselves, thanks to the control, gaslighting and manipulation that narcissists inflict on the people closest to them.
Perhaps most distressing is the fact that narcissistic abuse can cause neurological issues – also known as brain damage. On the plus side, the neurological changes caused by this long-term trauma can be reversed, thanks to our brain’s neuroplasticity.
How do you reprogram your brain 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. As I mentioned, one of the most important things to remember is that your brain is neuroplastic – this is what makes this part of recovery possible.
What is neuroplasticity?
Offering hope for survivors of narcissistic abuse, neuroplasticity is how our brain can “rewire itself” by forming new neural connections throughout life. This means that the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain can compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. Even better, we can intentionally control this process if we choose to do so.
What are the most effective methods for reprogramming your brain after narcissistic abuse?
What is NLP?
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) can offer a lot of hope and support for survivors of narcissistic abuse, as it’s a way of enhancing communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s. Learn more about NLP here.
What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention combined with an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. Hypnosis is sometimes used as a part of alternative medicine, such as aversion therapy or pain control, but this use is controversial due to the risk of negative side effects (e.g., flashbacks) and other potential adverse effects. For narcissistic abuse recovery, techniques such as post-hypnotic suggestion and self-hypnosis have been used.
What is visualization?
Visualization is the process of creating images in your mind. Visualization can be defined as a mental process that evokes visual, auditory, and other sensory-based images. For narcissistic abuse recovery, visualization techniques are used to gain clarity, motivate you, relieve pain or discomfort, create new neural pathways, and enhance memory.
What is EFT?
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a method of tapping on various points on the body which is used to resolve certain blocks or issues. You can access this tapping technique at any time, day or night. EFT is a powerful tool that can be used to help almost any issue, related to narcissistic abuse or otherwise, whether mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, or financial.
What are affirmations?
Affirmations are words, sentences, or phrases you repeat out loud, in writing, or in your head. They are designed to help you meet a goal or create personal change in your recovery, and they can be used alone or in conjunction with any of the other healing methods mentioned here.
Do you need a coach or therapist?
If you need help, there are hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners, and coaches that can be hired to work with you. If you can’t afford to get therapy or narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, or you have another reason that you can’t or won’t get help for your recovery, there can be some self-help options. This, of course, is providing that you don’t have any other issues that require therapy or medical care, you may feel able to make positive changes on your own with a little knowledge and some resources. You can find a ton of information online or by going to your local library.
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.
3 Simple Steps to Reprogram Your Mind After Narcissistic Abuse
While every method is different there are three steps that each uses to reprogram your mind.
Step 1: Relaxation to Alpha Level
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. At 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.
Step 2: Guided Visualization
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?
Step 3: Practice Affirmations While Visualizing.
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.)
- Include emotion.
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.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.
- Sign up for our free email newsletter service that includes a free guided recovery experience via your inbox.
- Start your narcissistic abuse recovery here with our free narcissistic abuse recovery support system and program.
- Think you might have C-PTSD, but you’re not sure? Then, take our free C-PTSD Self-Assessment.
- Join one of our free online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups!
- Join one of our private small coaching groups!
- Get private, one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery coaching or counseling.
- Get a therapist who will work with you online. Check out our guide to finding a therapist or psychologist who understands narcissism and narcissistic abuse.
- Learn more about the narcissist’s cycle of abuse.
Other Helpful Resources for You
- Narcissists Brains Are Different Than Yours: How and What It Means
- Brain Health: 3 Things That Affect It
- Change Your Mind, Change Your Life
- Law of Attraction: Flow Don’t Fight