When you figure out that you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, you learn quickly that not only is the narcissist unlikely to change, but that your best bet for a safe and happy future means ending the relationship and moving on. This is a scary but often necessary step that survivors of narcissistic abuse need to take to fully recover from the abuse and trauma they’ve suffered.
But no amount of planning will give you the courage you need to finally get the strength to leave the narcissist, will it? What will?
Justified Rage Propels You Forward
Justified rage or anger is sort of like fear with a little courage thrown in, sometimes. And if I’m being honest, ending my relationship with my narcissist was sparked by anger – I had to get angry before I could get away.
There is such a thing as constructive anger, and it is this kind of anger that causes you to stand up and to create positive change in both yourself and your life circumstances.
Sometimes, anger can help neutralize your fear and power up your gumption to get you through the hard transitions – the things you might just be afraid to conquer without that little push of emotion. Leaving a narcissist is one of those things. But why?
There’s the trauma bond factor to consider, but then there’s also the fact that when you’ve been through narcissistic abuse, you often don’t trust yourself, and for a lot of us, it’s only justified anger that will get us out.
A lot of people think that anger is all bad – but that’s not always the case. And while I’m sure someone will disagree with me, I think that, sometimes, for those of us who have been stuck in narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships, we need something big to get us to take real action.
We spend so much time being afraid, sad, alone – and feeling not good enough – that being angry can wake us up and propel us into action.
How do I stop feeling scared and take action to leave my abuser?
Here, I’m responding to a question from a viewer and a member of my online support group for narcissistic abuse survivors.
THE QUESTION – A SPANily Support Group Member Asked: “HOW DO I GO FROM FEELING SCARED, ALONE AND SAD TO FINDING THE ANGER I NEED TO TAKE ACTION AND LEAVE OR GET OVER THE NARCISSIST?”
In this video, I’ll give you the bottom line on anger, and I will explain what I mean by starting with a story from my own life.
Your turn: after you watch the video – tell me what you think.
Have you experienced this need to stop being sad and start getting mad – and take the action you need to get safe and back to your true self? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. Let’s discuss it!
Looking for tools, tips, resources and help with a narcissist in your life? Then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve collected more than 35 of them for you, right here.
I have written several books on narcissism, but I know that not everyone can have books delivered and/or doesn’t have the cash for the Kindle editions. Or maybe they’re afraid of being found out by their very controlling narc.
Listen, I’m not here to judge. I feel you. TRUST ME.
At any rate, that’s why I’ve put together a few links for you here. If you bookmark this post and/or this site, you can refer back to it as needed to get the virtual support and/ir validation that you need.
Consider this site your very own sort of “online ebook” of sorts – no charge, no strings attached. Just because I know how important it is to know that you’re not crazy when you’re in the thick of a relationship with a narcissist.
Is there a narcissist in your life?
Your narcissist could be anyone – your spouse, your child, your mother, your father, your boss – even your best friend or your neighbor. Here are some tips for identifying the one(s) in your life.
It’s confusing for a lot of people because people think being narcissistic means you take a bunch of selfies and care about how you look. But that’s not necessarily a toxic narcissist – the fact is that every human alive has a certain amount of narcissism in their makeup – it’s self-interest. It’s what makes us get up and get ourselves dressed, feed ourselves, get jobs, get married, have kids – it’s the part of us that prevents us from just giving up entirely.
Can you take control of the situation and/or overpower the narcissist?
Indeed you can, my friend, if you’re willing to stand up for yourself – at least temporarily. Once you’ve recognized the situation, you’re already one step closer. Now you need to know how to get through it. Try these posts for help and ideas.
Can you show me an example of real-life gaslighting?
I don’t usually share many personal stories about the gaslighting I have experienced in my life but recently, a well-known narcissist actually gave me a little bit of an unrealized opportunity by actually gaslighting me online.
It’s not always, and you and I both know this. Unless you’re being physically abused, sometimes it feels like the wolf you know is better than the one that you don’t. But here are some posts to help you get your head in the right place and tools to help you be happier.
One of my coaching clients asked me today if a “one-sided phone conversation” was a commonly used narcissistic abuse/manipulation tactic – and with her permission, I am sharing part of what she said to me about it.
In part, she said: When (the narcissist) calls from work..(if he decides to) out of no where he will say stuff like, “What is wrong with you?” or “Why are you starting a fight?” or “Why are you being a bitch, why are you doing this, you just like to fight…etc.” Is this something everyone else in this situation has had to deal with?
My answer? Oh yes indeed, and here’s what happens.
Picture this. Your narcissist is standing in front of a room full of co-workers or friends, and you call him/her about something you need to ask him/her or info you need to pass along.
As the phone rings, he or she groans and says to the people in the room, “Oh GOD! Not this again…”
Begrudgingly picking up the phone, he/she says, “Hello?” ever so sweetly.
You say hi and say whatever you have to say – and before you know it, the narcissist is saying strange things – things that don’t make logical sense in the conversation and that don’t seem to be responses to what you’re saying.
Next thing you know, the narc seems enraged or offended, and is saying stuff like, “You’re crazy!” Or “Geez, you’re so paranoid/controlling/bitchy/lazy/desperate/etc.” And the more you try to convince the narc that you’re really not trying to offend him/her and that you just wanted to see if they’d stop by the store and grab a gallon of milk on the way home (or whatever), the more he/she seems to ramp up the bullshit.
Suddenly, you hear him/her tell you “I’ve had enough! Don’t talk to me. I don’t think I’m coming home tonight,” or whatever version of that seems to hurt you the most, and then the phone goes dead.
So where does this leave you? Hanging by a proverbial thread, in most cases.
Now you’re confused – you’ve just been gaslighted. You wonder if you’re the crazy one – AND, on top of that, you realize that conversation just happened in front of other people, who are now judging you based on ONE SIDE of a really strange conversation that has left you completely spinning and lost.
See what just happened there? You got “narc’d” so to speak – the narcissist pretended that you were a crazy, awful or otherwise unsavory person, thereby not only cementing his/her position that YOU are the problem in your relationship with the people around him – but also, you’ve been used to elicit additional sources of narcissistic supply.
How to Deal When the Narcissist Hangs Up the Phone
What can you do about it? You’re stuck with this now-corroded self-image that the narcissist keeps putting on you to their “flying monkeys” and so you know that no matter what you say or do, it can be interpreted to highlight or validate the narcissist’s lies about you.
So the only thing you can do in this case is:
1. Avoid all phone calls with the narcissist unless absolutely necessary and
2. When or if you do have to get on the phone, stay calm, keep it quick, and don’t indulge the games. Keep your emotions out of it.
You might also consider texting instead – and one client I know even records the calls. Who can blame her?
Should You Expose the Narcissist?
Okay, now we’re going to talk about what else you could do, if you wanted, to expose the narcissist to the people around him or her – if you really feel like you want to do that. TO be fair, the best option is really to just NOT engage the narcissist, to move on and to go no contact. But, failing that…here’s some stuff you might wanna know. Check out this video.
And, my guess is, if you’re here, reading this article today, you know exactly that feeling I mean. It’s when your stomach stays in constant knots, you always feel a lump in your throat and your tears are always just below the surface, ready to burst forth at any inappropriate time.
It’s when your heart has been broken, or when you’ve finally felt the final “snap” of a broken bridge from a life you’ve left behind. Sometimes it’s when your children grow up and leave you, and other times it’s when your parents pass away, or when you lose the job you’ve loved for so long.
Whatever the reason for your pain, it’s there and it almost feels like the physical side of it can be as intense as the emotional side. You can’t eat, or you over eat. You can’t do anything – you are lucky if you even shower, much less function on a “normal” level.
You dissociate and you cease to exist, at least on certain levels. It feels awful, and it’s unhealthy. It’s time to change your mind, because if you don’t, you’re sure to continue on your current unhealthy and potentially devastating path.
What do you do when your heart feels broken beyond repair?
How do you deal when your whole world seems to be falling apart before your eyes? What does it take to survive the difficult times? How can you get through the most difficult days of your life when all appears lost?
How do you find the will to go on and do the regular, everyday things that you need to do in order to maintain a life?
Whether it’s the end of a relationship or the inevitable foreclosure of a home, some circumstances are simply beyond saving. Some situations have to run their course and other plans need to be made. But hopeless events don’t exclude the possibility of better days ahead. If you’re in a hopeless situation, letting go, learning, and moving on can be a great solution.
Try these strategies when it appears all is lost:
Let it go. If the outcome is inevitable, does obsessing over it ever help? This might feel like giving up, but how intelligent is it to continue with something that can’t possibly be won? Make the decision to let go and get on with the rest of your life.
Purge your emotions. Hopefully, you already know several healthy ways to make yourself feel better. Perhaps you feel better after a long exercise session. Others feel relief after a good cry. Maybe having dinner with a friend will boost your spirits. The key is to find a healthy solution. Drinking, drugs, and spending money irresponsibly are a few examples of unhealthy alternatives. Choose wisely.
Try to learn something. In most cases, hopeless situations are at least partially the result of poor decisions. Think about how you contributed to the situation at hand. Did you ignore warning signs when you first started dating your partner? Did you take out a larger mortgage than you could afford? It’s common to repeat our mistakes. What can you learn to avoid a repeat performance in the future? Imagine how great your life would be if you only made each mistake once.
Enjoy yourself. Now might be the perfect time to visit your favorite restaurant, take a walk in the park, or see a movie with a friend. Just because life has thrown a curveball doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Have a good laugh and forge ahead.
Keep up with your responsibilities. Your children still need your love and attention. The bills still have to be paid. Avoid letting the other areas of your life suffer.
Create a plan for the future. Looking forward to an interesting and exciting future may be the best way to move forward. If the future seems bleak, it’s hard to be happy. Allow yourself to be open to the possibilities and create a compelling future for yourself. Then take one small step towards making that future a reality.
Make a list of all the things that fill you with gratitude. It’s likely there are many people in the world with far more challenging circumstances. It can be easy to forget this fact. If you think about it, you have lots of things going for you. Make a list and add to it often.
Remember other situations in your life that seemed hopeless. Odds are you survived and ultimately came out on the other side more resilient and knowledgeable.
Hopeless situations happen. Not every situation is salvageable. Letting go and moving forward can be the best solution. Worrying has never changed the actual outcome of any situation. Allow yourself to enjoy life and create a future that keeps your eyes facing forward.
What’s the True Definition of Inner Strength?
When we go actively searching for ways to beef up our inner strength, it’s because we’re in a state of helplessness – almost like we’re hanging on by a thread and feel like if we don’t get a stronger hold on our emotions and confidence, we could lose everything.
Everyone has her own definition of inner strength. You might see it as simply being able to say no when you want to, while another person might consider it living life in a way where every action and emotion you have is geared toward your happiness.
We’re All Born With Inner Strength
When we’re first born, we are void of excuses – of negative thought patterns about ourselves or life in general. There’s nothing we can’t do. You’ve seen babies and toddlers move about – they do it with no fear. They attempt things without thinking of consequences.
Of course that kind of carelessness can have a negative impact on you as well, so there’s definitely a health balance between not caring and caring so much that outside factors cripple or paralyze you.
We Allow Events and People to Chip Away at Our Inner Strength
It doesn’t just dissipate like steam rising from a boiling pot. Inner strength is envied by others, and ignored by tragedies that we go through. In order for this to occur we have to hand over a certain amount of permission allowing it to happen.
As children, we’re taught that other people have power over us to some degree – teachers, parents – any and all authority figures. We’re taught to play nice and cave in to some activities and elements of life we may not enjoy just to be polite.
It’s hard to grow out of that mindset, but kids usually take a path when they reach the teen years – and it continues on throughout adulthood. As a teen, you either were labeled headstrong (which translates into inner strength), or not labeled at all – because people without inner strength are barely noticeable. They go along with whatever expectations people have of them.
Sometimes even if someone starts out on the right path – of having ample inner strength – they can lose it as they let their defenses down and allow other people to deeply influence them. Or, they go through a series of situations that bring them to their knees and with every encounter, they’re a little less strong.
Inner Strength Can Always Be Replenished
No matter how often you feel like you’ve been knocked down or that you’re unable to face a situation, you will always have a spark of inner strength ignited in your soul. Sometimes it will be a large flame and sometimes you’ll wonder if it’s gone for good.
But it’s in there. You simply have to fan the flames and focus on it to get it back. Like a muscle that’s atrophied, your inner strength has to be flexed for it to work again. It has to be used on a regular basis – tested so that it becomes a force that’s able to protect you from harm and lift you to heights you never knew were possible.
A final bit of advice, from me to you: if you are feeling guilty or nervous about moving forward, ask yourself how much control you really have over the causes of those feelings.
If you are able to control the situation, then make the necessary changes and move forward – guilt and anxiety are doing you no good. If you cannot control the situation, you must let it go and focus on what you CAN control. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your energy and doing yourself and your loved ones a huge disservice.
You feel me?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. Let’s discuss it.