Recovery from narcissistic abuse is a long and complicated process, and there are so many factors at play. It’s also easy to focus too much on one thing—and ignore another important element of healing. And that often happens because we overthink things.
Feeling anxious and worried is pretty normal if you’re dealing with the most painful parts of narcissistic abuse recovery.
If you find that your thoughts are stuck on one thing (or person) over and over again, however—especially if this feeling is accompanied by a racing heart rate or other physical symptoms like nausea—it may be time for some self-care.
What is the difference between “normal” worries and overthinking?
The difference between normal worry and overthinking is that normal worry is usually caused by a situation that is happening right now while overthinking is usually an issue that happened in the past or will happen in the future.
When does overthinking happen for narcisisstic abuse survivors?
Overthinking (also called rumination) occurs when we repeatedly worry and ruminate over the same thoughts.
Overthinking happens to everyone – but for narcissistic abuse surivors, it can really feel like it stops us from functioning.
When a situation, worry, thought, or idea about what we could’ve done differently or the depth of the abuse we experienced embeds itself in our brains, it can lead to thinking about it…too much.
This is mulitplied for so many of us when the narcisisst is involved – whether during the relationship or afterward.
Does your personality type make you more likely to be an overthinker?
Worry is a complex emotion that can serve an important purpose. It often alerts us that something isn’t right and helps us take action to fix it.
Still, overthinking rather than acting on what’s happening now becomes unproductive and burdensome if we get stuck in worry about the past or future.
Worry can be important. Our intuition often alerts us that something’s wrong, and worry can indicate that you need to pay closer attention to whatever is triggering it.
When worry crosses over into overthinking, it loses its benefits and creates a burden. That’s because overthinking can lead to a number of complications such as the following.
Being afraid to decide on anything without asking for advice
Distorted thinking and insecurity
Physical health issues
Struggles with sleep
Is overthinking stopping you from healing from narcissistic abuse?
Overthinking can rob you of today, worrying about tomorrow. It can hold you back from fully recovering from narcissistic abuse – and actually, it can keep you stuck and unable to move forward. Here are some important signs overthinking may be holding you back.
You replay conversations and interactions over and over in your mind.
Self-assessment is important. It’s good to replay our interpersonal interactions over in our minds to be sure we are showing up in the best way possible. You may be at risk of overthinking if you tend to fixate on interactions long after they are over.
Additionally, if you spend time dissecting conversations and reading between the lines, you could be setting yourself up for overthinking. Overthinkers tend to dwell on situations with a critical lens which can trigger negative thoughts and feelings.
You jump to the worst-case scenario
We’ve all heard how failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s good to give some thought to what may happen in a given situation, but jumping to the worst-case scenario and spending too much time thinking about what could happen can cause overthinking.
Overthinkers tend to create anxiety by looking at every possible thing that could go wrong rather than what’s neutral or could go right.
Your sleep and eating habits are off
When we worry, we tend to experience disrupted sleep and eat too little or too much. Worrying in and of itself can contribute to sleep and eating disorders, and many people aren’t aware of the connection.
Rather than attribute their insomnia or appetite to their thoughts, which can be changed, they fail to realize worry triggers their health issues. Overthinkers often suffer from lack of sleep, digestive issues, and difficulty managing their weight.
You may recognize worry as part of your everyday life and wonder if overthinking has become an issue. If you are experiencing any or all of these signs, taking a deeper dive into the habit of overthinking may be important.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
When you are in the grip of narcissistic abuse, it can be hard to think about your own needs. You may be so preoccupied with what is happening to you that you feel numb, or so angry that you feel like an emotional volcano about to explode. Either way, it can be hard to take care of yourself.
Is Self-Care Selfish?
No matter what the toxic people in your life would have you believe, self-care is not selfish. It is essential in order to maintain your physical and emotional health. And this is even more important for people who have survived narcissistic abuse because, for many of us, our whole lives have been about making other people happy. It’s time to focus on yourself, possibly for the first time in your life.
Have you survived narcissistic abuse?
If you have been in a relationship with a narcissist, you know how frustrating and exhausting it is to repeatedly deal with their crazy-making and mind games. When they aren’t treating you like your feelings don’t matter, they are making you feel crazy for having feelings in the first place! It can be that hard to be in a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), but you probably already know that it is possible to leave such relationships when you learn how to recognize the signs of narcissistic abuse and how to set boundaries.
What you might not realize though is that self-care is a vital part of healing from narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship. If a partner or ex-partner has been abusive toward you, you might have experienced a lot of trauma. It can be hard to get out of bed in the morning, and even to take care of yourself and your needs when you’re in the depths of recovery.
Why is self-care important in narcissistic abuse recovery?
Everyone heals on their own time frame, but by practicing some self-care tips for narcissistic abuse survivors you can improve your quality of life and begin the process of healing from narcissistic abuse. But without proper guidance, healing from narcissistic abuse can be long and arduous.
It’s very common for adult children of narcissistic parents (ACONs) to suffer from Complex PTSD. Worse, many ACONs also end up getting into romantic relationships with narcissists and other toxic people – it feels normal to them. That’s why, without proper support, it is so easy to fall back into old patterns.
Did you lose yourself to narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a particularly vicious form of psychological abuse. It is important to recognize that narcissistic abuse takes a toll on your mind and body. After experiencing an abusive relationship, it is normal to feel like you have lost yourself. You may also feel like you don’t know how to take care of yourself anymore. These feelings are often due to the way you were treated in your past relationships and can develop into a very unhealthy pattern if not addressed. After abuse, your whole sense of self needs to be rebuilt and nurtured.
Self-Care Tips for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors
Self-care is important for all of us, but especially for those in the healing process following narcissistic abuse. You can use these self-care tips as tools to help you heal and recover from the effects of narcissistic abuse and re-establish a sense of inner peace within yourself. Even if you have not left your abuser yet, self-care can help protect your mental health while you decide to leave or work on other aspects of your life that are related to the abuse.
Here are some self-care tips for narcissistic abuse survivors:
1. Remember You Are a Whole Person.
It may sound silly, but if you are still reeling from the abuse of a narcissist, it can be difficult to remember that you’re still a whole, multifaceted person. Narcissistic abuse survivors often find themselves existing in a fog of confusion and pain, and being told repeatedly that they are “crazy” or “imagining things.” It can be hard to muster the motivation or energy for self-care when you feel so beaten down. If you’ve been abused by a narcissist, it’s important to know that what you’re experiencing isn’t your fault. Narcissists are experts at gaslighting their victims into believing that they have no right to their own feelings or opinions. You have every right to grieve the loss of these relationships and experiences, and to take time to work through your feelings. You also have a right to care for yourself in whatever way is best for you. This video explains exactly what happens to you during narcissistic abuse and why you stop feeling like a whole person – this is exactly why it’s so important to take care of yourself now.
2. Assess Your Needs and Make a Self-Care Plan.
Maybe the most important step in self-care after narcissistic abuse is knowing what you need in order to feel cared for and nurtured. You’ve been through the hell of emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of a narcissist. You might just need to start by taking a bit of time for yourself. You can practice setting boundaries. Take a week or a weekend and just turn off the phones, close the door, and relax. If possible, use this time to disengage from the narcissist. Breathe deeply. Meditate. Stretch out any kinks or tension in your body. Do something creative or spiritual. Then sit down and write down your self-care plan. Note: Make sure you pencil in time to get enough sleep and relaxation. You can’t think straight or make good decisions when you’re stressed and exhausted. Watch this if you need to remember how important self-care is for survivors of narcissistic abuse!
3. Don’t Discount the Value of Positive Affirmations.
You’ve spent way too much time worrying about everyone else in your life – and the narcissist has facilitated this by requiring you to make them the center of your world. This means you’ve got a lot of thoughts, feelings, and unspoken words flying around inside you, likely adding to your pain. My suggestion here is to go out and buy a journal or a diary. Or just use a plain notebook if you prefer. Either way, use this to write in every day about how you are feeling, your thoughts, what you have been doing, and any other information that is important to you. The idea is that whatever you put into this journal is just for you. You can tear pages out if they are painful to read later on, or you can keep the book forever as a reminder of how far you have come. Personally, I prefer bullet journaling these days – here’s how I do it.
6. Pay Attention To Your Breathing.
Did you know that if you breathe through your mouth, you are going to feel more anxious? It’s true! And that will only cause you to think more about the pain you had endured. The best way to stay relaxed is by breathing through your nostrils. In fact, this is something that patients that suffer from insomnia are told to do before they attempt to fall asleep. Breathing through your nostrils will help lower anxiety levels and the more you do it, the more you will rewire your brain into a calmer state. Try the exercises I share here for help.
7. Tap Into Your Creativity
I always say that narcissistic abuse recovery is a great time to start a new project. Maybe you want to redecorate a room in your home, or learn to paint. Perhaps you’d like to write a book or a story. Maybe you’re a songwriter? When you listen to songs like Stronger Than Ever by Christina Aguilera, you know she was inspired by her own healing from abuse. And this is a positive way to deal with pain and trauma. Channeling your pain into creativity is highly therapeutic. Or, if you’re struggling with finding a project because you’re drowning in your own clutter (a common issue for survivors), you might try a decluttering project, as described here.
8. Ask For Help
Possibly the most important step to practicing healthy self-care tips for narcissistic abuse survivors is surrounding yourself with supportive people who understand what you’re going through. I think it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are millions of people who have experienced the pain that comes with being in an abusive relationship, so don’t feel like your situation is unique or uncommon. If you are struggling, be sure to look into finding a therapist and/or a narcissistic abuse recovery coach who understands what you’re going through. They can give you some helpful tips and since they may have been there themselves, they can empathize in ways no one else can. There’s also the option to join a small Zoom coaching group. If therapy or coaching aren’t within your budget, you can also join a free support narcissistic abuse recovery support group. The more support you have, the better! It MATTERS.
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.