“No matter what you’re going through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it may seem hard to get to it but you can do it and just keep working towards it and you’ll find the positive side of things.” ~Demi Lovato
The Brick Wall in Narcissistic Abuse and Toxic Relationships
If you ask me, being in a relationship with a narcissist feels a lot like running your head into the same brick wall, over and over. And despite the fact that it gets bloody and beaten, you don’t stop. You just keep running your head into the wall, hoping to get through it (and make it happy) – and while you logically realize, eventually, that there’s no breaking that wall down, and that the wall is not capable of change, something in you makes you keep hitting the wall, bloodying your head and hoping for different results.
When you look at it that way, it seems literally insane, right? After all, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things but to expect different results. But in the case of a narcissist, it’s not as simple as a brick wall. It’s a convoluted mess! If you want to learn more about narcissistic abuse, you can do so here – check out these articles or this resource page. Or, start your narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
For now, let’s talk about recovery from narcissistic abuse.
How do you find hope when you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse?
So let’s talk about the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m about to wax philosophical on your ass, so get ready. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you can probably agree that eventually, you stop living for yourself and start living to avoid the next blow-up, drama, or manipulation.
Narcissistic abuse makes you forget who you are.
When you’re dealing with gaslighting and the other ways a narcissist will abuse you, you’re almost always just “existing,” and while you might not admit this to many people, you sort of forget who you really are.
So many people have come to me as they were beginning the process of recovering from an abusive narcissist asking me how I was able to redefine and rediscover myself after escaping my own narcissistic abuse situation. And this is what I tell them.
Life with a narcissist is life in the dark.
Living with a narcissist means living without real passion – not the kind that drives you to do great things, anyway.
As I see it, living without that kind of passion is sort of like living in the dark. Food doesn’t taste as good, the air doesn’t smell as nice, the colors don’t seem as bright.
Without passion in our lives, it’s as though there’s a barrier between our senses and the world around us, one which doesn’t allow us to fully experience our lives.
This barrier could present itself in the way of depression, anger, fear, or any number of debilitating emotions. Or maybe there’s a certain situation in our lives of which we’ve lost control. Maybe it’s simply that we’re bored, and that we’ve begun to take our blessings for granted.
This can lead to a very toxic state for our souls and even our bodies. But we can change our minds, and this can change our lives. Start now by trying this Bliss Mission.
Bliss Mission: Discover What Inspires You
Begin with figuring out what inspires you. Then, find a way to make it happen. This can help you to start living with passion, and living with passion is one of the first steps to becoming whole, to becoming truly happy.
Whatever your passion or inspiration, take some small step toward it today, and let the rest flow. If you’re not sure where to start, consider taking a walk to clear your head, or writing in a journal to work it out. You could draw or paint a picture, or cook your favorite meal. Take a bath or do a little yoga. Whatever works for you.
Tell yourself that today is the day that you begin living with passion and purpose. And then, my friends, do it. Your life will be richer and your heart will be happier.
Feel good! You ready? Let’s do this.
Resources to Help with Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse
If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.
More Help for Dealing with Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
- Think you’re dealing with gaslighting in narcissistic abuse? Take this self-assessment and find out.
- What is Gaslighting? A Comprehensive Definition
- Can Gaslighting Be Unintentional?
- Things Narcissists Say When Gaslighting
- Support Yourself in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
- Dissociation in Narcissistic Abuse
- Narcissistic Abuse Recovery FAQ Pages
- Free Support Groups
Travel deep inside yourself without the baggage of conditioning. Be an explorer, have patience and eventually your true nature will surface. You will return from your journey with fresh skin and you will approach each day with a wonderful sense of wonder and bliss. ~~Marco R. Capristo
Whether we recognize it or not, most everyone’s habits and behavior are a result of some form of conditioning – and for those who have experienced the painful and all-encompassing abuse that a narcissist is known for, the conditioning hasn’t always been in our best interest.
It begins when we’re small children–our parents’ opinions of us begin to help us form our own perceptions of ourselves. If we’re cursed with narcissistic parents, our perceptions are skewed, twisted…often, plain wrong.
That’s because children are sponges – they absorb everything in their environment, including and especially the opinions of their parents and other prominent people in their lives.
If they tell us we’re beautiful, we believe that we are–but if they tell us we’re horrible and sick, we’ll believe that too.
And it doesn’t end there–add in the opinions of your teachers, siblings and friends…and later those of your spouse, your bosses and coworkers, neighbors and don’t forget that lady at the dry cleaner’s last week.
All of this “conditioning,” left unchecked, can sometimes add up to a very negative self image–especially if you don’t know that you don’t have to accept it.
And, we become what we perceive–we are what we believe we are.
Here’s the thing, friend. I’ve been saying this for years, and I don’t mean to nag. But please, take just a second and really focus on this next sentence.
You don’t have to accept someone else’s judgment, perception or opinion of you.
You get to write your own story.
You feel me? But seriously, go back and read it one more time if you need to – it’s that important. And, while you’re at it – tweet it out to your friends.
Fact is, you can be whomever and whatever you choose. All you have to do is believe that you can–really believe it. I mean, feel it down to your bones. And then, believe that you’re receiving it, that you’ve already received it. Own it–because it’s yours if you want it.
Bliss Mission: Choose Your Own Story
Today, I challenge you to take a look at the people around you–those you love, those you like and even those who present certain struggles. Remember your childhood, and the people you spent time with during that time.
Now, think of all the perceptions they had about you. Your parents? Your friends? Others?
Then, think about you. Have you adopted someone else’s opinion of who you are? Or have you constantly struggled against it? Do you feel guilty for being who you are, because you haven’t become what someone else wanted you to become?
Most of us can identify with this feeling on some level, I suspect, but most especially those who have been negatively affected by a narcissist’s gaslighting and abuse in relationships.
This next part is the hardest part of all, so I hope you’re sitting down.
It’s time to begin to release the negative self-perceptions you’ve held on to for years.
Related: Do you believe what you think you believe? Rediscover yourself after narcissistic abuse.
BREATHE! This is going to FEEL very difficult, but once you realize how much better your life is going to be, you’re going to wonder why you’ve waited so long. Are you ready for this?
It’s finally time to let go of every disapproving look, veiled insult and rude comment.
I know what you’re thinking. Probably something along the lines of “Yeah, sure, and how would you propose I go about THAT?” Well, you know me – I’ve got an answer.
And, if you know me well, you know that it works – because it’s how I survived my own narcissistic abuse situation.
Today, every time you have a negative thought about yourself, take notice and change your mind.
Cancel the thought, and intentionally replace it with an affirmation of your true desires. So, if you think to yourself, “I am always late,” notice it. Then, mentally cancel the thought and affirm, “I am always on time.”
Perception is everything, people. And you can change yours at will. 🙂 Good stuff, yes? I think so. I’ll leave you with a final thought to get your wheels turning as you begin to release any negative perceptions you’ve held about yourself.
“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”~ Carlos Castaneda
Do not allow the simplicity of this tip make you doubt its power – this is one of those things that WORKS – changing your perception intentionally, and with a little practice, not only will you see results fast, but you’ll soon realize how much control you really DO have over your own life.
Are you ready to rewrite your story? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below! Let’s talk about this.
I have always felt a little annoyed when strangers call me things like “babe” or “hon.” It doesn’t much matter if the stranger is male or female, or whether they’re older or younger than me.
One day a few years ago, after once again being called “hon,” by a virtual stranger, I took note of my reaction–I instantly bristled at the word. Not so much that I had any sort of external reaction–just a brief, negative bit of energy that buzzed through me. It launched a bit of an existential crisis, but in a good way.
An Existential Crisis After Going No Contact With a Narcissist
I began to wonder, “Why Do I Feel This Way, Anyway?” It made no sense. I mean, it’s not like I sat around stressing about it. But later, during a rare quiet moment in the day, I thought about why I reacted that way.
I remembered that growing up, a female narcissist in my life had once told me that she felt insulted when almost anyone except her husband used terms of endearment such as “hon” or “babe” with her. She said it made her feel like they thought she was somehow less than them, or like they were being “fake” nice.
Accepting a Narcissist’s Opinion As Fact
Since I was probably ten years old when I heard this, I took it as a fact, rather than an opinion. It stuck with me, this woman’s perception, and I carried it with me through my own life. Subconsciously, I accepted and lived someone else’s perception rather than forming my own about this little tiny thing. In fact, this tiny little issue has clouded other areas of my life too.
I have often believed that people around me had ulterior motives or weren’t genuine, and suddenly when I took just a moment to question my long-held beliefs, I realized that they existed primarily because of perceptions that were taught to me by other people.
Do You Believe What You Think You Believe?
I don’t know about you, but I can think of a LOT of different perceptions that I’ve carried through my life without even realizing it.
And when we’ve been in relationships with narcissists, our perceptions are more likely to be twisted than not. So ask yourself: Do I really believe what I think I believe?
How do we decide what we believe?
As kids, we form our opinions of the world almost subliminally. We gather up the information that’s fed to us from our parents, our teachers, our friends–the television–and we decide what we believe about ourselves, the world around us, the people in it…life in general.
Have you ever really thought about it? Can you honestly say that you know why you believe what you think you believe? Or are you carrying around other people’s baggage without even realizing it?
Why do we need to let go of old, limiting perceptions to heal after narcissistic abuse?
As it turns out, I don’t mind if strangers use terms of endearment with me. It’s not that I love it, but I don’t think it’s anything to get upset about–that’s just some people’s way of being friendly, I think. It doesn’t mean that they think less of me. And if it does, do I really care? Not so much.
So, for probably 25 years, I have held this unnecessary bit of negativity just because I accepted someone else’s perception without question.
And that, for me, was a big shocker.
How Going No Contact with a Narcissist Opened My Eyes
After my childhood narcissist took the tiny betrayals too far and I was snapped into reality with an almost literal slap in the face, I finally had enough and cut off all contact with her.
While I went through the standard stages of grief during the initial separation period, I found myself growing as a person and my whole world sort of opened up – suddenly, everything I believed to be true (especially about myself) could be reconsidered.
And I realized that I was in control; that I could decide how it was going to go from here on out – and most of all, that I got to choose my own story – I was the one who got to define me. And guess what, pal?
YOU are the only one who gets to decide who YOU are. Do you feel me? ONLY you. Not some abusive narcissist. Okay, moving on.
Letting Go Of Limiting Beliefs Opens the Door to Unlimited Potential.
I think that every single one of us is carrying around some limiting beliefs that we’ve picked up from others along the way.
I say it’s time to shake things up. Imagine the freedom you could feel if you could eliminate all of the negative perceptions you’ve picked up over the years. Think about how positive your days could be–and as we all know, we bring about what we think about!
The more positive energy, gratitude and general peace you can find, the more amazing your life will get.
Bliss Mission: Change Your Negative and Limiting Self-Perceptions
My challenge to you today is to identify and challenge at least one belief or perception that you have always had, whether it’s about yourself or something or someone outside of yourself.
You can start small. Maybe you believe that your paperboy intentionally throws your paper in the mud puddle every time it rains.
Or you can start bigger. Maybe you believe that you don’t really deserve to be happy. In either case, ask yourself WHY you feel that way, and whether it’s logical. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Are you in a relationship with a narcissist? Check out this special resource page, filled with free tools to help you recover.
Are you ready to challenge your negative perceptions and beliefs?
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources
- The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. 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, as well as 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.
- Where Are You in Recovery? You might not be sure exactly where you fit in and what level of recovery you’ve achieved. If that’s the case, you’ll want to check out this self-assessment to help you determine exactly where you fall in the stages of recovery from narcissistic abuse. Once you finish and submit the assessment, you will be given resources for your own situation, along with recommendations of which groups to join.
- Which Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program is Right for You? If you aren’t sure which program you want to utilize to facilitate your recovery from narcissistic abuse, this self-assessment will help you decide.
When I work with patients, I always ask them whether they’re doing their life’s work, because I truly believe that how we spend most of our day, and whether it’s in line with our life’s work, affects our health. When I ask a woman if she’s doing her life’s work, way too often, she stares at me blankly.
So how can you tell? How do you know if you’re doing your life’s work? There’s no easy answer to that question other than “You just know.” But to give you a sense of what it feels like to discover and then commit to fulfilling your life’s work. I’ve created this list of signs for you.
33 Signs You’ve Found Your Life’s Work
1. You’re scared shitless.
2. You notice that the pieces of the puzzle of your life’s work all line up, and you can tell that The Universe has got your back.
3. You feel like you’re on a rollercoaster (simultaneously exhilarated and nauseous).
4. There’s a “plunk” sort of feeling in your gut that affirms that you’ve found your life’s work.
5. Your whole life – the triumphs and the setbacks – suddenly makes sense.
6. Magical things start happening, and although you feel a sense of wonder, you’re not surprised.
7. None of your choices feel safe.
8. Everybody suspects you’ve officially lost it.
9. You’ve quit listening to what everybody thinks.
10. You feel guided.
11. You’ve got butterflies in your tummy.
12. You feel like you’ve risked everything but it’s all okay.
13. You feel a wee bit lonely, because nobody has ever blazed this trail exactly the same way you have.
14. The nightmares are replaced by dreams that affirm your direction.
15. You feel spiritually in tune.
16. There’s a good chance you have no employer matching your 401K contribution.
17. You naturally attract those that help further your life’s work.
18. You’re pushed to the very edge – and just as you start to question your life’s work, everything falls into place.
19. The money shows up right when you need it.
20. You sometimes wonder if you’re totally nuts.
21. You feel giddy for no apparent reason.
22. You have a sense that you’re on the right path, even if you don’t know where you’re going.
23. You’re life’s work might seem hard to others, but for you, it’s a piece of cake.
24. Others are better off because you’re doing your life’s work.
25. You feel a perfect mix of total panic and inner peace beyond comprehension.
26. You can’t wait to do your life’s work every morning. In fact, it’s hard to drag you away from it, even on vacation.
27. You’d do your life’s work even if nobody ever paid you for it.
28. You find yourself turning down other work, even if it’s more stable and more lucrative.
29. You’re on a mission, and you know it.
30. You don’t notice aches and pains the way you used to.
31. Your health improves.
32. Abundance just appears in your life in unexpected ways.
33. You smile more than you ever have in your life.
Keep in mind that your life’s work doesn’t have to be a job. Your life’s work could be raising 21 children. Or volunteering in Africa or at your local soup kitchen.
As someone who has found her life’s work, I can say with absolute certainty that you know it when you’ve found it.
Have You Found Your Life’s Work?
Tell us if you’re one of the blessed who knows what you’re here on this earth to do.
Living my life’s work,
About the Author
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
*Reprinted with permission from OwningPink.com.