Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I know how hard it can be to believe you could have been abused by someone you thought loved you.

It’s not just that they were charming, seductive, and desirable.

It’s also that they seemed to care about you. You may have even felt loved – at least on some level.

Did you know that your brain betrays you in narcissistic relationships?

It’s true! Your brain and body seem to be conspiring against your conscious self when it comes to narcissistic abuse.

See, you know that what you’re dealing with is abuse, on a logical level. You know it doesn’t feel good to be with a narcissist.

And yet, some part of you secretly hates both the narcissist and yourself because you haven’t left or are missing them.

You start to think that, despite all of the evidence to the contrary in your personal experiences, not to mention your reading and research, the narcissist MIGHT really change for the next source of narcissistic supply. 

And obviously, some part of you is well-aware that this abuse is wrong and that you should end the relationship, or at least be happy it ended. 

But for some reason, you can’t stop thinking about the narcissist. You’re second-guessing yourself, feeling remorse and regret combined with self-doubt that ending is or was the right thing to do.

The more you miss them, the worse you want to see them – and the more you’re sure that you were overreacting and that you weren’t really abused at all. 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and you develop abuse amnesia – forgetting what the narcissist has done to you and beginning to believe that things really can get better this time. 

What are the long-term effects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? 

It’s hard to imagine that everything you thought was true about your relationship might have been a lie, and yet this is the very reality you might be dealing with if you’ve just recognized the narcissistic abuse in your life.

This is just one of many ways that narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship can lead you to find yourself dealing with serious cognitive dissonance.

And don’t worry – you’re not alone here – in fact, you’re in good company. The effects of narcissistic abuse are all-encompassing – and something like this happens to nearly every narcissistic abuse survivor somewhere along the way.

If you’re one of us, you might also be living with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that significantly affects your everyday reality.

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.\

What is neuroplasticity?

How do you reprogram your brain after narcissistic abuse?

As you probably know, our minds, more specifically our subconscious minds, control our lives.

In other words, 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 it possible for us to actually help to reverse and heal ourselves. 

This video gives you an idea of how neuroplasticity works and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (disagreeing cognitions) we experience when we encounter information that contradicts our existing set of beliefs or knowledge.

In other words, when we experience cognitive dissonance, we feel anxious because part of us wants to reject new information because it is threatening to our established beliefs – but another part of us knows that the new information may be true and is demanding that we accept it as such.

This internal tension can cause stress and anxiety – especially if we are unaware of its source. This video offers a comprehensive look at cognitive dissonance in narcissistic abuse recovery. 

 

How can you deal with triggers and feeling dissociated during narcissistic abuse recovery?

Understanding trauma bonding is vital to understanding why it’s often so difficult to leave a narcissist, as well as why you can be triggered by seemingly innocuous things if you were previously involved with one. And the good news is that knowing more about it can help you better cope with your experience. Take the information below and use it to better understand your trauma bond and how to get past it.

Try This Reality Anchoring Technique

Reality anchoring is one of the most powerful NLP Anchoring Techniques you can use during your day-to-day life – anywhere and at any time. 

Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of reality anchoring using different methods to evaluate it, and all of them have come up with similar results in terms of the effectiveness of the reality anchoring technique to reduce negative emotions, increase positive ones and enhance perceived well-being. 

This video offers a helpful reality anchoring technique for when you feel cognitive dissonance coming on. 

How does reality anchoring work?

A reality anchor is a mechanism that allows you to connect your current situation with an unrelated but positive place in the past.

In other words, you may want to consider looking toward the future while making an emotional connection to some positive experiences from the past.

Doing so can increase your sense of well-being and happiness. It can also decrease any amount of sadness and increase your ability to cope.

This can be achieved by creating a trigger that links one part of your body with a pleasant memory.

For example, you may believe that smelling fresh flowers will reassure you that you were happy on a particular day in the past.

The reality anchor technique is used to encourage a person to be able to adjust their current emotions by finding the source of those emotions in an event in the past or future.

 

Why should you care if you’re trauma-bonded with the narcissist?

Understanding trauma bonding is vital to understanding why it’s often so difficult to leave a narcissist, as well as why you can be triggered by seemingly innocuous things if you were previously involved with one.

And the good news is that knowing more about it can help you better cope with your experience.

Take the information below and use it to better understand your trauma bond and how to get past it.

 

How does trauma bonding from narcissistic abuse actively affect your brain and state of mind?

The chemicals oxytocin, which encourages bonding, endogenous opioids – responsible for pleasure, pain, withdrawal, and dependence; a corticotropin-releasing factor which involves withdrawal, and stress; and dopamine which is connected to the craving, seeking, wanting the narcissist back, even when they’ve caused you extreme emotional stress and pain.

Toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse lead your neurochemistry to fall into dysregulated states, which makes it really hard to leave a narcissist and even harder to finally get over a toxic relationship.

Take Dr. Daniel Amen’s free Brain Health Assessment to discover your Brain Type and your Brain Fit Score!

How can you re-wire your brain after narcissistic abuse?

Your brain is neuroplastic, meaning it can change and heal in some pretty amazing ways. When you’re dealing with the type of brain damage that is caused by narcissistic abuse, you can sort of re-wire your brain yourself.

(Of course, you should always check with your medical professional to ensure there’s not some other underlying reason for brain fog or being forgetful.)

Speaking of brain fog, let’s define it. 

What is brain fog? 

Brain Fog is the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse.

It’s a very common symptom of narcissistic abuse-induced C-PTSD.

Most survivors report feeling lost like they’re not really there, or like they’re sort of watching life happen through a screen or a bubble.

Use Mindfulness to Beat Brain Fog!

Mindfulness is a powerful way to beat brain fog. Learn to live mindfully by practicing the following.

  1. There is no wrong way to do this – just do it and know that everyone has wandering thoughts.
  2. Begin your mindfulness practice by focusing on your breath, it will help ground you for the session.
  3. Some people find it useful to use a mantra to focus on – that is a word or phrase that you say aloud and/or chant. It can be ‘Om’, something like ‘Peace’ ‘Love’ ‘Calm’ or anything you want.
  4. You can use an audio or video of guided meditation if that helps you stay focused.
  5. When you find your mind wandering, and you will, simply return to observing your breath for a minute or so to get back into your practice. You might say aloud ‘thinking’ to label what occurred (your mind wandering to other things) without judging it as bad or good.
  6. Observe – your thoughts, feelings, and sensations – this is the objective of mindfulness (though Buddhists would say there is no goal).
  7. Release – any thoughts, feelings, or sensations without judgment – this is critical to get the benefits of mindfulness.
  8. Label – your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, even the errant ones that occur when the mind wanders; this can be helpful in the ‘observing and letting go’ process.
  9. The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
  10. There are active forms of mindfulness for those who can benefit from something more involved, ie. mindful movement and mindful walking.

Begin by setting aside 5 minutes to practice mindfulness the first week, then increase it to 10 minutes and continue to increase your time every week or so until you are practicing 20 minutes. If you can’t manage 20 minutes, do what works for you. Even 5 minutes each day (or twice a day) will help you.

Supplements That May Help With Your Healing

Did you know that there are certain supplements designed to help with healing your brain?

Did you also know they can be taken while your brain is still in recovery from trauma bonding in narcissistic abuse?

Are you wondering what supplements actually do this and if the claims are true?

I’ve compiled a list of supplements that have helped me and others I have coached in recovery.

It is based on personal experience, what I have read, and what other people have told me.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but my aim is to help you find some useful information about healing your brain in recovery.

*Please note, I am not a medical professional and nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice. Do not take any supplements without first discussing with your doctor and getting their approval.

  • Calm My Brain: Quell your worried mind with this highly effective formula for the relief of anxiousness, featuring the ultimate calming mineral magnesium, the powerful stress-busting herb KSM-66® ashwagandha, and the fast-acting amino acid L-theanine.*
  • Attention Support: Trouble concentrating? Can’t sit still? Attention Support contains natural ingredients selected for their clinically proven benefits to help you relax, stay calm, and increase your attention span.
  • Betaine TMG: Provides the nutrient betaine (trimethylglycine, TMG), which enhances SAMe for healthy mood; provides crucial methyl for DNA, brain neurotransmitters, melatonin, and myelin production; and helps cells regulate their water content.
  • Brain & Body Power: The easiest way to get your daily mind and body essentials – parceled into convenient packets including a brain optimizing multi-vitamin-mineral, and pure omega-3 fish oil capsules.
  • Brain & Body Power Max: The most advanced memory-directed formula – perfectly portioned into convenient daily packets including a multi-vitamin-mineral, maximum memory-boosting nutrients, and omega-3 fish oil for complete daily nutrition.
  • Brain & Memory Power Boost: Our most advanced, best-selling memory formula with a lineup of powerful nutrients clinically proven to help protect circulation in your brain, boost mental connectivity, sharpness, and sustained focus.
  • Brain Boost On-The-Go: Fight brain fatigue and tackle your day with the zero-calorie, caffeine-free, and sugar-free, effervescent berry blend that’s perfect anytime, anywhere. Quick natural energy and hydration to help promote mental clarity. Simply add to water and enjoy.
  • Craving Control: Anyone who has ever tried to make better choices knows all too well how cravings can sabotage the best intentions. Craving Control contains all-natural ingredients that help to calm the craving centers in our brain, balance blood sugar and promotes a positive mood.
  • NeuroLink: Feeling irritable or sad for no reason? NeuroLink helps to balance our emotional ups and downs by delivering an exclusive blend of key nutrients to neurotransmitters in our brain helping us to feel tranquil and clear.
  • BrainMD’s GABA Calming Support: Calm your mind naturally with GABA Calming Support, an exclusive formula that contains clinically studied nutrients that help to calm your brain waves and help act as the biochemical “brakes” your brain needs to slow down your anxious or fretful thoughts.
  • Serotonin Mood Support: Does your mind race with negative thoughts? Try our customer favorite Serotonin Mood Support, which contains a patented form of saffron along with other key nutrients that help to promote calmness, positive mood, serotonin balance, and even healthy weight management.
  • SAMe Mood and Movement 400: SAMe Mood & Movement 400 provides SAMe (S-AdenosylMethionine), a nutrient with very high energy that helps power numerous enzymes important for the brain, joints, liver, muscles, and other organs. SAMe is fundamental to the body’s renewal, repair, and overall well-being.

Going Forward in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Being in a relationship with a narcissistic abuser causes survivors to experience a form of trauma and shock. For this reason, trauma therapy is helpful because it acknowledges that healing is a process and that there is more than one way to move forward.

Trauma therapy is often focused on the past but will also guide you toward future goals and dreams while teaching you how to deal with various triggers.

Awareness of cognitive dissonance, trauma bonding & emotional flashbacks can be instrumental in understanding what your inner experience of the relationship was so you can work through it & begin letting go. Find a therapist here. 

You might also want to try narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, or if you’re looking for more of a small group setting with a lower price point, try our small group coaching plan – there are significant benefits to this and the price is significantly less than one-on-one coaching. 

Takeaway

You are not to blame for your traumatic relationship with a narcissist. By understanding what happened to you and having the right support on your healing journey, you can go on to live a happy and meaningful life.

After overcoming narcissistic abuse, you may find yourself feeling like a whole new person. If you have found yourself in that stage, take comfort knowing you’re not alone.

It is a journey that is as exhilarating as it is exhausting, but the end result is well worth all the effort.

You can recover. You just have to take your time, and you have to trust the process.

Give yourself permission to rebuild your life from the ground up. It’s going to be a long and difficult road, but it will be worth it in the end.

Get Help With Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery – Here’s the link for your free tools.

5 Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Tips for Expedited Healing

5 Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Tips for Expedited Healing

After enduring abuse from a narcissistic partner, you’ll have a long road to recovery. But having the courage to leave an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist (whether it was from a partner or a parent, or anyone else significant) is a big deal – you should pat yourself on the back! That was the hardest thing to do. Believe me, I know.

Still, recovery and healing are possible! Whether you choose a therapist or a coach (or even a free online support group), or you choose to go it alone, these tips will be really helpful for anyone dealing with narcissistic abuse recovery.

1. Block the Narcissist On Social Media

The best thing to do is to block the abuser on social media – this is part of the whole “no contact” thing. Yes, you don’t want them checking up on you and they still could with a fake account. However, you will be tempted to check on them and by doing so, you will only become hurt from the painful reminder of seeing what they are up to. This can easily disrupt your attempts to heal from the pain. This video offers more tips on how to go no contact with a narcissist and what to expect.

2. Educate Yourself About Narcissistic Behavior

The best thing to do when you are healing is to learn about narcissistic behavior. This way you will know that the abuse would have been directed to anyone else in that relationship, and not just you – you aren’t the problem, and you aren’t crazy. However, more than that, having a good understanding of the behavior will give you the power of knowledge and understanding. This video offers a glimpse into some of those narcissistic behaviors and how to deal with them.

3. Remove Those Who Support Your Abuser From Your Life

This is a hard one because it is hard to remove those who you thought were your friends. But they’ve become flying monkeys. The fact of the matter is that through times of difficulty, you will see the true colors of those in your life. And anyone who gives you a hard time for shutting your abuser out needs to go along with them. You need pure support, not those who don’t have your back. This video offers a brief overview of flying monkeys and how you can deal with them.

4. Don’t Ignore The Past

You might want to block the past out and want to start fresh. Yes, you will want to start fresh but not so fast! First, you need to spend time focusing on yourself and your self-care – but also reflecting on the past and letting your emotions flow (so you can release them).  And you need to examine how you got to where you are now from there. You will want to examine how you were able to find the courage to leave. Facing your past and examining it will help your healing process be so much more efficient and effective! So how do you know if you’re healing? Watch this video for a solid understanding of what healing looks like for survivors of narcissistic abuse.

5. Don’t Start New Relationships Right Away

If your ex was the one who is the narcissist who you had broken away from, the last thing you will want to do is start dating again immediately. You need time to heal and examine what you went through along with therapy and/or coaching. Dating again right away will only cause delays in recovery and you could end up sabotaging a relationship that has the potential to be a good one. You’ll intuitively know when the right time is to go back into the dating world. And when you’re ready, be sure you take the time to watch this video, which gives you a sharp overview of what to expect and how to know you’re ready to date again.

Remember that being abused by a narcissist is not your fault. Stay strong during the recovery. Here are some helpful free resources for you.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: How to Tell if You’re Dealing with Mind Control

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: How to Tell if You’re Dealing with Mind Control


Let’s talk about narcissists and mind control, shall we? Narcissists love to manipulate you and control you. Often, this looks like gaslighting and brainwashing – and it can be so subtle that you don’t even realize it’s happening!

What is mind control?

It involves the manipulative tactics narcissists use to subtly control and manipulate you. It could involve gaslighting, projection, lying, hiding and more – and narcissists are especially happy to use it to sort of “manage you” so that you will do, say and be exactly what they want in any given moment.

The worst part is that it could happen to literally anyone. Even the most intelligent people can be subjected to mind control, and that’s partially because of its subtle but highly-targeted nature.

So how can you tell if you’re dealing with a narcissist who is using these pervasive techniques on you? How do you know if you’re under mind control?

The fact is that you just don’t know, right?

Does the Narcissist Have a Secret Plan?

Let me play the devil’s advocate for a moment here. What if I told you that everything you are doing could be a response that fits perfectly into another person’s secret plan?

If you take that as a real possibility, then you could simply just give up and decide that NOTHING is truly within your control.

But wait a minute – you don’t have to do that. You are a thinking person, right? Then you can imagine that you can have control over much more than you might realize at this moment.

What are the Signs You’re Dealing With a Narcissist’s Mind Control?

How can you know for sure?

Start with a simple question: “Am I acting or am I reacting?”

If you are reacting, then you are almost automatically responding to something you see as outside of your control. You’re doing this in an attempt (consciously or otherwise) to gain some control back. And this is a potential sign of some form of mind control.

No one likes to feel powerless and out of control. And when we’re dealing with toxic people in our lives, we often find ourselves feeling just like that. We stop trusting ourselves, and we give into letting the narcissist run our lives, on some level or another.

How do you stop a narcissist from using mind control on you?

So what’s the solution? How do we stop letting toxic people control our lives, and stop them from telling us what we like, what to think, and who we are?

The answer is that we need to do something intentional and positive that is NOT a response to the external environment.

Let me emphasize the word “positive” here because an intentional negative/destructive act has to act on or destroy something pre-existing. It would be then something to which you are reacting.

Do you see what I mean? Let’s dig in a bit.

Choosing an intentional, positive action can be much harder than it might seem because it requires four qualities that most survivors of narcissistic abuse can find hard to implement. They are:

1) Intentionally Thinking

I like to joke that I “think too much,” and it’s true! This might be because of my toxic relationships in the past. Honestly, while some people just don’t want to have to think about stuff, us survivors are different – we often think TOO much.

We can sometimes live in our own heads, and this will leave us feeling a little out of touch, to say the least. In the throes of abuse, we can find ourselves completely checking out – dissociation comes calling. Thankfully, though, our unconscious (reactive) mind will do most of our actions for us.

Admittedly, we sometimes rely on it entirely too much or in the wrong way and allow it to dictate our every move by letting our emotions guide us.

Manipulative narcissists often know this and will use it to control you through fear, anger, threats, and frustration. If we’re going to make any significant change, we have to look outside of this and intentionally direct our thoughts to choose, intentionally, our emotional responses. This will give us more control of ourselves and our own lives.

2 ) Being Creative

Creativity can be difficult because it requires taking action that is not linked to some external stimulus. This, of course,e requires thought, but we have the ability to sort of train ourselves and our unconscious minds to be very creative. Consider Salvador Dali and what he was able to do. Nothing he did in the field of art could easily be compared to anything prior to him. The same was true with his life.

Dali was absolutely fascinated by the images he would see right as he was falling asleep or starting to wake up. For him, these seemed to be extremely vivid, colorful, and interestingly bizarre. In order to produce his amazing art, Dali ran various experiments where he would figure out the best way to sort of make these images happen and then capture them before they’d disappear out of his head. This would eventually lead to some of his best-known artwork.

Reportedly, the way he found that worked best was to put a tin plate on the floor and then sit by a chair beside it. He’d hold a spoon over the plate as he worked to relax his body – often, leading him to begin to fall asleep. At the very moment he’d doze off, the spoon would slip from his fingers, hitting the plate with a crash. This would wake him at the perfect moment and he could paint the surreal images before he forgot them.

3) Taking Inspired Action.

Action takes effort and motivation, and as survivors, we struggle with this sometimes. Maybe we don’t trust ourselves, or maybe we are so used to being told what to do (or how to act) that we just sort of let things happen. Or maybe we just sort of react to things and this makes us exhausted. So we think we need to conserve our energy.

But we have to remember that by taking creative action, we can actually create energy. Going back to Salvidor Dali as an example, his life was FULL of energy that he created intentionally. When his peers tried to control him, he would turn his response into a new form of performance art. This would totally bewilder the people trying to influence him – and absolutely entertain everyone else who was watching.

4) Having Courage.

I know, it’s cliche. But it’s a real thing – and a little bit will change your life. You have to have the courage to deal with feeling uncomfortable sometimes – it’s the only way we can push lives to the next level. To create change requires a little bit of discomfort – we have to find the space OUTSIDE of our comfort zones and we have to almost live there.

But why else is this important when we’re talking about mind control? Because when the narcissist sees that they cannot control you through fear and anger, they will sometimes escalate their attempts through threats, intimidation and worse, in many cases.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

 

19 Quick & Dirty Ways to Unapologetic Self-Love

19 Quick & Dirty Ways to Unapologetic Self-Love

Are you struggling to find self-love after narcissistic abuse? Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that can leave you feeling worthless and without self-confidence. This can be very difficult to move past, especially if you’re left trying to figure out how to build self-esteem from scratch – which many survivors of narcissistic abuse are, thanks to having grown up in toxic homes before finding themselves in toxic relationships with narcissists as adults.

Why does narcissistic abuse cause you to lose yourself?

You probably already know that pathological narcissists will do everything in their power to keep you under their thumb, including playing on your insecurities. They know exactly how to make you feel like you’re not good enough.

The truth is, you are good enough; you deserve love, respect, and admiration. But the first step to finding that love for yourself is recognizing that you’ve been manipulated into feeling like you aren’t. Once you realize that the negative things your partner said about you were false, it’s easier to set them aside and move forward with self-love. So what can you do to help yourself feel more confident? Stick with me and I’ll show you.

How do you find your self-confidence and self-esteem after narcissistic abuse?

What does it mean to be rock-solid in your self-love and self-image? How can you become the person you truly want and deserve to be, during or after narcissistic relationships? What actionable steps can you take to truly and unapologetically LOVE YOURSELF to the point that literally no one – and especially not a narcissist – can affect your ability to feel good – your ability to feel happy and to have an unbreakable sense of self-esteem?

That’s what we’re talking about today – finding the part of yourself that lets you create and grow an unbreakable, unapologetic sense of self that will release you of the need to be validated from outside yourself.

There’s no shortage of information on how to strengthen your relationship with your family, boss, or coworkers. However, you never hear about how to have a more productive relationship with yourself.

Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you have! Most of the trouble you have with yourself is that you don’t know yourself well, because narcissistic abuse has a knack for causing you to sort of lose yourself.

You may have spent most of your life avoiding yourself. It can be difficult to address our shortcomings or deal with uncomfortable thoughts, especially when we’ve spent so long being torn down, manipulated, and abused by the narcissist in our lives. But as much as you’d love to some days, you can’t escape yourself, so you might as well make friends.

How can you develop a stronger relationship with yourself after narcissistic abuse?

After an intimate relationship with a narcissist, the sense of self can be totally lost. Discard, hate, and disregard from the abuser leave the victim with almost no sense of worth. It’s important to find your sense of self, as you move forward as a survivor who has lived through an abusive relationship.

Self-love after narcissistic abuse is possible, but it’s not easy. You’ve been manipulated by the narcissist. You’ve been abused mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It’s hard to believe you’re worthy of love, or that you have the power to give yourself love.

Forgive yourself first.

The truth is that you cannot love yourself if you do not forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself will allow you to move forward without holding on to the past.

Remember you’re allowed to be angry.

You must also realize that it’s okay to be angry at the narcissist. You do not need to pretend that you are over it or that you have forgiven them. You can be angry and still love yourself. It’s okay to even hate someone for what they did and still love yourself at the same time.

Go no contact if you can.

Let go of your ex-partner and cut off all contact with them completely. This is very important since they will try their best to get back into your life so you can continue taking care of them and putting their needs before your own.

Express yourself creatively!

Express your feelings through art, music, poetry, or any other form of expression that makes you feel better. This will help you release some of the negative emotions that are inside of you and will make it easier for you to let go of the past.

Plan for your new future.

Take back control of your life by setting goals for yourself, make plans for what you want in life, decide how much money you want to make and work on a roadmap to get you where you want to be, one step at a time. And while you’re at it, work on developing a stronger relationship with your Self.

How do you build your self-confidence after narcissistic abuse?

Start your day with gratitude and positive thoughts.

Instead of reaching over for your cell phone to check the weather or to see if your Clash of Clans village was raided overnight, spend the time on yourself. Mentally list a few things that make you grateful to be alive. Tell yourself something positive.

  • Give yourself the intention of having a good day.
  • List your positive qualities.
  • Get your day off to a good start with yourself.

Write in a journal.

Your thoughts and life are worth recording. Take time each evening to write for a few minutes. You’ll gain a lot of insight and appreciation for your life. Show yourself that your life matters.

Let go of your avoidance behaviors.

What do you do when you’re feeling emotionally under the weather? Shop? Eat? Get online? Instead of avoiding yourself, sit with yourself.

Just breathe and notice your feelings and body sensations.

Avoiding them just prolongs the cycle. In time, your negative emotions will dissipate without your attempts to hide from them.

Think of meditation as spending quality time with yourself.

Begin with just a few minutes and extend the time as you feel more comfortable. You’ll learn how your mind works by meditating.

Spend time on your personal development.

What do you feel the need to learn?

  • Social skills?
  • Relaxation skills?
  • Networking?
  • Spiritual development?

You spend so much time doing things for your boss, home, and family. Take a break and spend some time dealing with your own needs.

Have some fun.

Plan some fun in your life. Get a monthly massage or meet a friend for ballroom dance lessons. It’s your life. Enjoy it.

Forgive yourself.

You’ve made a few mistakes and missed out on a few sure-fire opportunities. That’s no reason to beat yourself up for the rest of your life. It’s time to let go of your past and forge ahead.

Groom yourself to a high standard.

Take the time to shower each day and pay a regular visit to the barber or salon. Keep your grooming at a higher standard than others in your environment. Take good care of yourself and show the world how much you mean to yourself.

Spend some time each day being good to yourself.

Have some fun and spend some time on your personal development. Strengthen the most important relationship of all – the one with yourself.

Understand that you are relevant.

You matter to the world. Your opinions matter. Your work matters. Your mere presence matters. You’ve already touched numerous lives in a positive way.

Understand that your greatest mistakes don’t define you.

Your mistakes may have influenced your life, but they’ve only changed who you are if you’ve permitted it. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you’ve made. Tomorrow is a new day.

Forgive someone that has wronged you.

Forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to let them back into your life or give them another chance. It just means that you’re not going to spend any more time or mental energy holding onto your anger. Be good to yourself and let it go. You’ll impress yourself with your inner strength and enjoy the relief that forgiveness brings.

Think about the best compliments you’ve ever received.

Bask in them. The most meaningful compliments are those that ring true in the depth of your soul. It’s exciting when someone else recognizes the best that we have to offer the world.

Take a stand for something you believe in.

Be bold in your opinion of what’s right and wrong. Be willing to share your interests and hobbies with others. When you love yourself, you can do what interests you without the need for approval from others. Be proud of what’s most important to you.

Be kind to yourself.

The world will be harsh enough on you. Make an effort to be kind to yourself. Remember your good qualities and your strengths.

Be of service to others.

We admire those that give of themselves. You can admire yourself by spending some time each week helping to make someone else’s life a little easier or more pleasant. Find a charity or social organization that addresses a cause that’s near and dear to your heart.

Take care of yourself.

See the doctor and dentist. Pay for a good haircut. Avoid dressing like a slob. Avoid being obsessed with your appearance, but give it the attention it deserves. Make an effort to look your best because you’re worth the time and effort.

Do something nice for yourself.

Take the trip you’ve been putting off. Buy yourself a book. Take a class on a topic that interests you. Buy those expensive sheets for the bed. Don’t do it as a reward. Do it just because you’re wonderful.

Get help if you need it.

No one can handle everything all of the time, and narcissistic abuse recovery isn’t something you want to go alone. Sooner or later, we all need help. That help may come in the form of a trusted friend or professional help. Get the help you need. Remember, you’re worth it.

How well do you know yourself? How well do you manage yourself? Both could always use a little enhancement. It’s not always easy to live with yourself, but remember that you have a lot to offer yourself!

Remember your greatest successes. Remember how amazing you are. You’ve done lots of great things. Remind yourself of them.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

Related articles

How to Use the Grey Rock Method to Deal with a Narcissist (Narcissistic Abuse Recovery)

How to Use the Grey Rock Method to Deal with a Narcissist (Narcissistic Abuse Recovery)

We all know narcissists can be obnoxious. Their over-inflated egos, excessive need for attention (aka drama), and arrogant attitude make it difficult to deal with them sometimes. It’s enough to drive any normal person crazy.

To put it mildly, communicating with a narcissist can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it matters that they comprehend what you’re saying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt exasperated when trying to have simple conversations with narcissists who have become agitated and who are actively gaslighting.

Gray Rock method explained

Using the Grey Rock Method Safely

So a while back, I wrote this post about the only way to effectively communicate with a narcissist, and in my experience, it’s the truth. In the post, I mentioned the Grey Rock Method, so I thought I’d offer a bit of background and explanation on where it came from. The Grey Rock Method is an ideal way to respond to a narcissist who is actively gaslighting you.

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a pervasive and highly effective manipulation tactic used by most narcissists, a form of psychological abuse meant to manipulate you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity. It is pure brainwashing. In addition to toxic narcissists, many abusers and cult leaders use this tactic, not to mention dictators. They do it slowly and subtly – so it kind of sneaks up on you before you realize it’s happening.

This is where your abuser causes you to doubt your own memory, perception, and sanity. The term comes from the 1938 stage play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she is insane by making small adjustments to their home and then convincing her that she is imagining the changes.

How do you recognize when a narcissist is gaslighting?

So, how do you know when to use the grey rock method? It’s going to be most effective when the narcissist is gaslighting you. They will be thicker than concrete walls, intentionally trying to misunderstand you and assume the worst of you, in every single word. You find yourself feeling hopeless like you’re unable to make your point – and if you’re like me, it’s especially frustrating because you probably have no problem communicating with literally everyone else in your life.

I mean – honestly, this has happened to me more times than I  can count during conversations with narcissists – and I am a writer who communicates for a living.

Gaslighting behaviors include: 

  • Withholding: refusing or failing to acknowledge actions or events
  • Blocking: refusing or failing to listen to, acknowledge, or validate ideas, feelings, or opinions
  • Trivializing: dismissing concerns as inconsequential or overly sensitive
  • Forgetting: claiming not to remember what actually happened
  • Countering: claiming that others’ perceptions are wrong
  • Projecting: blaming others for their actions
  • See more signs of gaslighting here. 

Gaslighting is abusive because it is used to subvert honest communication. The abuser doesn’t want to talk about whatever problem there is; they want to persuade you that you are mistaken about what’s happening. They want you to doubt your own perceptions, your own memory; they want you to feel confused and off-balance, so that the only reasonable response is to do whatever they say.

What is the “Grey Rock” Method?

The grey rock method is a form of emotional self-defense used to cope with people who attack your emotions. It is a powerful strategy to shut down any kind of narcissistic abuse, behavior, or attack by anyone, without violating your boundaries. It allows you to disengage from the narcissist and refrain from making him or her wrong. It’s all about appearing to be somewhat indifferent to narcissists’ behavior.

How do you use the “Grey Rock” Method?

When someone is acting out of emotion, trying to manipulate you, they are not being rational. So your goal is not to think of a clever response – it’s to avoid being pulled into responding emotionally yourself. To do that, it helps to remember that most of our communication happens non-verbally. So respond non-verbally.

In other words, do your best to avoid feeling sorry for them if they’re feeling sorry for themselves, don’t get mad at them if they’re mad at you, don’t take it personally if they’re taking it personally.

The best way to deal with an emotionally manipulative person is not to react emotionally yourself at all — which is what the grey rock method aims to make easy for you. Think of it as practice in learning not to care about things that don’t matter.

When you’re using the grey rock method, you’re supposed to act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. Essentially, you don’t give them any of your energy or emotion; you literally act like you’re as boring as a grey rock. This helps you to become less attractive to manipulative people such as narcissists.

While the grey rock method will not fix the situation in the long term,  it can help you regain some control and keep things calm when you do need to deal with a narcissist. The grey rock method is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience.

Who invented the “Grey Rock” Method?

As far as I can tell in my research, the “Grey Rock” method was so named by a person named Skylar in this post, written in 2012.

In part, Skylar says the grey rock method is, “primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or another emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.”

How does the Grey Rock Method differ from the No-Contact rule?

Skylar says that the difference is “you don’t blatantly try to avoid contact with the disordered individual.”

Instead, she advises, “you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the mentally unwell person must go elsewhere to get their need for drama gratified.”

Skylar adds: “One might say that Grey Rock is a way of breaking up with a psychopath by using the old, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the psychopath comes to that conclusion on his own.”

Why does the Grey Rock Method work?

According to Skylar: “There are gray rocks and pebbles everywhere you go, but you never notice them. None of them attract your attention. You don’t remember any specific rock you saw today because they blend with the scenery. That is the type of boring that you want to channel when you are dealing with a psychopath. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the psychopath won’t even notice you were there.  This method strikes at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation:  to avoid boredom.”

What are the most important components of successfully using the Grey Rock Method?

  • Rule number one when it comes to practicing the Grey Rock Method is to never tell the narcissist you’re doing so. If you do, he’ll definitely figure out a way to use it against you.
  • Never ask questions of the narcissist and don’t offer any “committal” responses – just say things like “hmm” or “mhmm” – keep it casual.
  • If possible, discuss only “safe” topics, such as the news, social media – fashion, cooking, etc. Nothing that would be personal – even if the narcissist begs you for it. Drama-free is the way to be!
  • Try to be distracted during the conversation so that you don’t have to directly look the narcissist in the eye the whole time. Make it something simple like doodling in a notebook or checking your text messages, or something more complicated such as knitting a scarf or working on a document for work. If you focus a bit more on your activity, you won’t be as directly affected by the narcissist’s attempts to manipulate you during the conversation.
  • Most importantly during this practice, keep your head in the game and don’t allow the narcissist to get inside your head. Narcissists are expert “guilt-trippers” and have no qualms about making you “feel bad” so that you’ll try to justify or defend your intentions – don’t fall into the trap.

What else should I consider before I try the Grey Rock Method?

One important thing to know about the Grey Rock  Method is that there is a level at which it can become unsafe for you psychologically – and that’s when you begin to experience symptoms of dissociation.

A lot of people don’t realize that these two are connected, but here’s what happens.

When you learn to use this method and you find out how effective it can be when it comes to dealing with your narcissist, you may find that it is a great way to deal with EVERYTHING that is an issue in your life.

The problem with this is that you begin to truly stop caring – and your ability to feel your own emotions diminishes. This is a major issue because you don’t just stop feeling pain and anxiety – you stop feeling the good stuff too.

If you think you’re dissociating, it’s time to take further action to deal with your narcissist – you can start here, with this resource page.

This video playlist offers additional insight into the grey rock method, how to use it safely, and what to do if it fails. 

Do you think you’re being gaslighted?

Take this gaslighting self-assessment and find out right now.

Now it’s your turn – have you ever used the Grey Rock Method? How did it work for you, and what tips would you offer for someone who’s trying it for the first time? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

how to control a narcissist

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Did you know? Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Related articles

Pin It on Pinterest