Trauma Bonds and Intermittent Reinforcement

Trauma Bonds and Intermittent Reinforcement

Ever wonder why you are so easily manipulated by a narcissist? Why you can never seem to break free from their toxic influence? And why it’s so hard to move on?

Narcissistic abusers are often pathological and subject to mood swings, where they can go from being very nice, charming, and giving to people who outright manipulate, demean and devalue you at the flick of a switch.

This is because narcissists have no emotional or compassionate empathy. In other words, they feel no remorse or guilt for their actions and truly believe they deserve only the best treatment from others.

Understanding the concept of intermittent reinforcement is an important step towards freedom. Why? Because it’s exactly what’s keeping you stuck in the trauma bond with the narcissist. 

What is intermittent reinforcement?

Intermittent reinforcement can be defined as positive (reinforcing) behaviors from the narcissist from time to time, leaving you in a continuous cycle of trying to de-code what they want to keep getting the good treatment. Setbacks or negative behaviors follow after periods where the waves of good treatment come, which keeps you hooked on trying to figure out how to please the abuser and get back into their good graces once again.

How does intermittent reinforcement create trauma bonds?

Trauma bonding is a coping mechanism. It’s also a survival instinct. Most people who have narcissistic parents experience something called intermittent reinforcement. Before we get into how trauma bonding is caused by intermittent reinforcement, let’s talk about what each of these terms means in detail. 

What is trauma bonding?

Trauma bonding as a coping mechanism is a condition that causes abuse victims to develop a psychological dependence on the narcissist as a survival strategy during abuse. Of course, this makes recovering from a toxic relationship significantly more difficult than it might otherwise be. While bonding is normal in healthy relationships, trauma bonding is a sort of toxic version of this that results in an abusive relationship – verbal, physical, or otherwise.

 

How does intermittent reinforcement lead to trauma bonding?

In layman’s terms, intermittent reinforcement is this on and off giving affection unpredictably that almost every narcissist does. This really does a trick on your brain! It’s what creates trauma bonding. 

That’s because when you are trauma bonded from intermittent reinforcement, it’s the intermittent reinforcement it keeps you trapped in the cycle of narcissistic abuse. Tiny bits of affection may now be all it takes to keep YOU addicted to the narcissist

This could even be why you can’t leave a relationship or feel the strong urge to reach out to the narcissist once you are doing no contact. The breadcrumbing in narcissistic relationships sets you up for the foundation of trauma bonding.

Another problem is this intermittent reinforcement could be the reason you think things will change, setting you up for cognitive dissonance.

What is cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is a form of psychological stress or discomfort that happens when you simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. As you might expect, it often affects narcissists as well as their victims at different times and for very different reasons.

This is how they take control of you. 

Narcissists use intermittent reinforcement to get you addicted to them, whether they realize it or not. This is, in essence, the very nature of trauma bonding.

When you experience trauma bonding as a result of intermittent reinforcement, it leads to you not trusting yourself – and sometimes not even knowing what you feel or think. Of course, this is the narcissist’s goal all along – to make you feel confused, afraid, and unable to trust your own perception. 

This way, keeping you under their control is much easier. 

Check out the video below for more about the narcissist, intermittent reinforcement, and how it affects you. 

Are you dealing with trauma bonding in a toxic relationship? 

This is one reason it is hard to leave and let go of a narcissist.  When you have been affected by narcissist abuse and are trauma bonded, there is a lot going on, but know that bit by bit, you can free yourself from the trauma bonds – and, as a result, from the narcissist. 

Understanding what you are experiencing can hopefully remove some of the confusion, fear, or anxiety involved with dealing with and ending a toxic relationship with an abusive narcissist. This will clear your head, so you can begin healing.

Do you have trauma bonds with a narcissist?

If you aren’t sure, try our trauma bonding self-assessment. And remember: trauma bonding is a real experience created by narcissistic abuse – and it is challenging to struggle through.

Get Support in Healing From Trauma Bonds via Zoom

Other Ways to Get Help With Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

No Closure At the End of Your Relationship? What Now?

No Closure At the End of Your Relationship? What Now?

Why do narcissists refuse to give you closure in a relationship?

Are you desperate for closure after the ending of a relationship with a narcissist?  Rarely is the need for relief from the discard allowed by the narcissist – and being able to speak your mind and discuss the issues you lived with if you have gone no contact is practically a foreign concept.

Lack of Closure After a Toxic Relationship Leaves You Reeling

Feeling the need for closure in order to move on and heal can perhaps be one of the more frustrating things survivors of narcissistic abuse go through after a discard. I know that for me personally, it left me feeling like it was impossible to stop thinking about the narcissist and I even struggled to forgive myself for having been with them in the first place. Can you relate?

What can you expect from the narcissist at the end of a relationship?

With a narcissist, if you get closure then you are one of the rare few. The narcissistic person will not allow you to get the closure you need. Instead of closure you get the silent treatment, smear campaigns, gaslighting, blame-shifting, the narcissist playing victim, hoovering, and repeated abuse. In other words, anything but closure.

They might even call you the abuser. Of all the people I have spoken to about the abuse they have suffered, not one has said they have had closure directly from the narcissist.

Can you create your own closure so you can move forward with your healing after narcissist abuse?

Absolutely you can! This video talks about why a narcissist won’t give you closure as well as ideas for how to move forward with your own life to create the closure you seek.

Get Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Now

Additional Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

New Guided Meditation for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery (Heal While You Sleep)

New Guided Meditation for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery (Heal While You Sleep)

If you’re a survivor of narcissistic abuse, you may not realize how important it can be to be able to calm down and clear your head in the heat of the moment. During your toxic relationship, chances are you spent most of your time fending off the narcissist’s emotional abuse. You may not have even had time to deal with your own issues. But the effects of narcissistic abuse are serious and can lead to a variety of trauma-related physical and mental health issues. That’s why intentional healing is so important –  and exactly why not taking care of yourself can really negatively impact your health if you’re not careful.

On the plus side, meditation is one really easy way you can help yourself heal faster – and it has a ton of benefits that specifically help survivors of narcissistic abuse. Guided meditation is also helpful for survivors of narcissistic abuse who struggle to concentrate, and it only gets better over time, as you learn new and more developed techniques to make your mind and body go deeper into the meditative state.

And, since I know how tough it can be to find time to meditate during the day, I’ve created a guided sleep meditation just for you. That’s right – you can use it to heal while you sleep!

Heal While You Sleep with This Guided Sleep Meditation for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

This 4-hour guided meditation was designed specifically for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. It will help you to embrace your freedom from toxic, negative, dysfunctional relationships with narcissists. You’ll experience relaxation meditation that will help in healing abandonment, healing after a breakup, and healing after a toxic relationship. And, it will help in empowering you to become your higher self as you discover and embrace your true nature. It can also help in healing codependency.


See and hear the meditation for free on YouTube as often as you like. Want your own copy?

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Guided Sleep Meditation: Get Your Own Copy for Personal Use

Please note: you may watch and listen to this meditation on YouTube for free without limitation, but if you’d like your own copy, you may purchase the audio file here.

Buy your copy

How to Use This Guided Sleep Meditation

Are you ready to start overcoming the painful effects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? Listen to this guided meditation every night at bedtime for 30 days or as long as you need to do so. You may use it alone or in conjunction with other guided sleep meditations in a playlist on the device of your choice.

You may use it alone or in conjunction with other sleep meditations in a playlist on the device of your choice.

Coach Tip: Try This Guided Meditation Playlist

Consider getting creative and putting together a personalized playlist based on your own needs. It’s a small, simple, and low-cost way you can do some self-care that is YOU specific. In fact, here’s a narcissistic abuse recovery sleep meditation playlist you can use that I put together for you – featuring several different narcissistic abuse recovery coaches and meditation guides.

How It Works

Here’s what you can expect.

This guided meditation will first help you relax and fall asleep. You’ll experience a soothing, simple but highly effective talk down over calming, rest-inducing music. This section was designed specifically for you as a survivor of trauma and narcissistic abuse to help you relax and release the day’s stress as you begin to fall asleep.

Then, while you sleep peacefully, the healing magic begins to work on your subconscious with softly spoken and subliminal affirmations. This is combined with soft, healing restorative music created to help you maintain a sense of calm and to engage your subconscious during sleep or states of deep relaxation.

Sleep Meditation and Subliminal Healing for Narcissistic Relationship Survivors by Angie Atkinson – A 4-hour guided meditation to help you heal while you sleep after a narcissistic relationship. Features subliminal affirmations and guided meditation for overcoming toxic relationships and learning to love yourself again after narcissistic relationships.

What Are the Benefits of Guided Meditation in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?

The benefits of guided meditation have been known to humans ever since it was first practiced several millennia ago. This ancient practice offers both mental and physical benefits that can be especially helpful for the kind of damage caused by narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship.

Guided meditation can be used in narcissistic abuse recovery to not only help you to relax from a busy day but also to tune into your own body and mind. It helps in finding comfort, safety, and bliss when you use it on a regular basis.

Guided meditation can help you focus your thoughts and block out any distractions in order to experience the pleasure of silence and stillness.

Sleep Better With Guided Sleep Meditation for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

Going to sleep can be difficult during narcissistic abuse recovery as you’re prone to racing thoughts that keep you awake all night. Using guided sleep meditations can also help you to keep your thoughts in check while you’re going to sleep. Guided meditation helps you by gently guiding you through the stages of meditation, allowing you to relax and fall asleep peacefully and quickly. And, since meditation helps calm the mind and relax you, it can tremendously and positively affect your healing after narcissistic abuse. Plus, you’ll automatically feel better when you sleep better – it’s a proven fact. 

Mental and Physical Benefits of Sleep Meditation for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

The benefits of properly guided meditation can span from relieving migraine headaches to relaxing cramped muscles to a simple moment of pleasure, satisfaction, and quiet. For survivors of narcissistic abuse, struggling with feeling overstimulated and over-stressed are common.  The abuse you suffered over the course of the years in your toxic relationship would have caused you to become trauma bonded with your abuser.

Trauma bonding leads to a change in the way your brain functions.  This can make it more difficult for you to slow down and rest – and this leads to additional stress and tension on your body and mind.

You might feel stressed and hopeless about your current home or work situation, or you might still be dealing with the narcissist in your life in some capacity. A lot of survivors think that a vacation or a break from their daily lives is the way to relieve this stress. but unfortunately, these kinds of retreats only help temporarily. Once you get back to the “daily grind” of it all, you’ll often find that you’re right back where you started.

On the plus side, using guided meditation can help you learn how to manage your daily life and your recovery with ease, patience, and a clear mind.

By using guided meditation to connect your mind, body, and soul in a calm and peaceful manner, not only will you find yourself feeling more capable and centered when you’re dealing with the daily tensions of your workplace or home environment, but by embracing the foundations of guided meditation, the situations that can usually seem impossible to stay calm through (with the narcissist and during healing from narcissistic abuse) can feel much easier and less overwhelming to think through and figure out.

Working the Phases of Trauma Recovery After Narcissistic Abuse

We say the words, “DISCOVER, UNDERSTAND AND OVERCOME NARCISSISTIC ABUSE” often enough that many of you may be very familiar with that phrase. Let’s look a bit at how working the phases of trauma recovery after narcissistic abuse might look.  Each of these phases can go on simultaneously because healing from abuse is in layers. Different discoveries, understandings and overcomings happen at different times. There will be times during your recovery where you will feel like you are going backward but please do not be discouraged, this is normal.  Layers of healing and mountains of growth are what happens for anyone evolving out of toxic abuse into a thriving survivor.

DISCOVER

What we discover in this phase is not only about narcissistic abuse but about how the abuse affects us as survivors. You may come to a lot of realizations as you discover the things about narcissistic behaviors that make it abuse, realizations about how you feel as a survivor of abuse and also that you are not alone. Validation of the way you feel and that what you experienced truly is abuse is what can help you in this phase to realize you truly are not alone. There is a lot of information being taken in when in the discovery phase, it can cause a bit of overwhelm as well. Keep at the discovery and things will become more and more clear as you enter into the next phase of understanding.

UNDERSTAND

Understanding also can mean accepting that the toxic person truly is toxic. Seeing things as they are instead of how you wish they could be opens your mind to an understanding of the situation that helps you to break the trauma bonds and begin to recover. Understanding that this is not your fault can help you to gain more self-worth as well as be kind to yourself through the healing process. Understanding the abuse can help you to separate your own needs from those of the narcissist that you were groomed to emotionally “take care of” so that you can begin and continue to see the path to healing is in self-care, self- focus and letting go of the narcissist.

OVERCOME

Finally, you get to overcome this abuse and thrive! This is not an overnight thing that just happens. Often there is a huge “ah-ha” moment in the understanding phase that leads to a giant perspective shift which then helps you let go of the abuser. Through the overcoming phase there can be a lot of grief, feelings of loss, feelings of not really knowing oneself as well as other not so comfortable things. If you feel this, it is totally normal and part of the healing. What can happen is self-discovery and a renewed focus on your own life and wellbeing. This is where the deepening of healing can take you to great places, to discover and do things that truly create a beautiful life and that get you on the path you choose to be on. Keep the hope up as you overcome narcissistic abuse, you always were enough, you always were and still are worth it!

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

6 Ways A Narcissist Manipulates

6 Ways A Narcissist Manipulates

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is confusing and can completely change the way you feel, think or believe things about yourself for a reason. They are constantly manipulating!  There are many forms of abuse and manipulation in the narcissists repertoire of toxic behavior, the following video gives a brief description of 6 of these. Understanding the ways you are being manipulated can help you to see the situation for what it is and  the narcissist for who they are. If breaking trauma bonds is the goal,  understanding and acceptance that the abuse is real is one thing needed to help you get there. What are some ways you feel you have been manipulated by a narcissist?

Check out other videos for more information on any of the 6 ways a narcissist manipulates at Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by QueenBeeing.com.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by QueenBeeing.com offers free video coaching each week on YouTube on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays along with videos and help on recovery from toxic relationships. Featuring certified life coach Lise Colucci and supported by QueenBeeing founder and certified life coach Angie Atkinson. 

If you are looking for an affordable way to get ongoing personalized support as well as peer support and validation in a small group setting join our private coaching group https://lifemakeoveracademy.teachable…

Get one-on-one coaching with Lise Colucci at https://queenbeeing.com/lise-colucci-…

Get notified free for free video coaching sessions by texting LISELIVE to 33222. Find Lise on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lise.colucci…

Email Lise with topic ideas or any questions about the coaching options available  at [email protected]

 

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