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.
Let’s begin today by briefly defining narcissistic abuse. In a nutshell, narcissistic abuse is officially defined as the intentional construction of a false perception of someone else’s reality by an abuser for the purposes of controlling them. It involves a sort of constructed reality in which the narcissist manipulates you emotionally and psychologically over a long period of time.
It can be difficult to figure out that you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse because it can be very subtle and pervasive. It took me personally 35 years to recognize it. So how do you know if it’s happening to you? Well, I’m here to help you with that. Please grab a pen and a piece of paper, or open up a note on your phone. As you read through the signs that you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse, go ahead and make a tick mark for each one that resonates with you.
Editor’s note: Trigger Warning: This powerful true story of surviving narcissistic abuse and sexual abuse may trigger negative emotions and other issues for you. Please don’t read it unless you feel strong enough to do so.
This is my story of how I survived narcissistic abuse and sexual abuse. Usually, I feel like no one can relate to my life, everything that happened is just way too “extreme.” That was until I discovered the SPANily. Now, I’m sharing my story because I want other survivors to know they aren’t alone.
I grew up in a very sheltered environment. On the outside, my family looked great, and was very respected in our small community.
It’s only now, years after I left them and moved across the country, that I was finally able to open up the huge can of worms that was my past, and face the reality of what happened to me.
My father molested and raped me regularly. My grandfather also did. I was punished if I reacted in any way to their abuse.
Once, I threw up after my father abused me with oral sex. He got so angry because maybe my mother would realize something from seeing or smelling the vomit. I’ll spare you the gory details and just say that he punished me by trying to rape me until I bled. I was 6 years old. This is just one example.
But it wasn’t uncommon: everything my father did, he always blamed on me.
Either it was a punishment, or he would somehow imply that I owed it to him to “cooperate.”
Or he would say, “I know you want this. I know who you REALLY are. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”
He would slyly imply that this was the only way to “be good,” or to appreciate him. Often he would do something good for me, and then it was “expected” of me to at least listen to him, no?
Even now it is hard for me to say what it was he was doing to my mind. All I know is that he was smart and sly, and he had my entire being wrapped around his finger. He played with my feelings, my physical sensations, and private things I told him.
Everything was twisted around and used against me.
Being sad in our house was never allowed. He would make us dance and sing even when we didn’t want to. He had this unspoken rule that you are never allowed to be sad, and definitely never allowed to be angry. I lived in terror of anyone finding out my secret, and I learned to dissociate and forget it all myself, in order to survive.
After I moved away, I slowly started realizing how controlling and manipulative my father was. I could not place what it was he was doing! I started feeling awful every time I spoke to him or to my mother.
I started realizing that he was a tricky slippery person. I wished I could just break off contact, I dreamed of it because I was finally realizing how low and horrible he always made me feel.
I reached a point where I finally had the support I needed to remember the stories of abuse. As it started coming back to me, I was filled with such a strong fury. It was like a huge tsunami, powerful and uncontrollable.
It was at this point that I finally broke off all contact with my toxic family. It was hard, but that anger of realizing what he did to me gave me the strength I never could have had otherwise. I was remembering extremely graphic and horrible things, and as I did, I finally gave myself permission to trust my own inner voice and follow my heart.
I started getting rid of everything I owned that was from my former life or my former family. This clean slate enabled me to go further into my past.
Step by step.
I uncovered my mother’s role in it, then the fact that my father would bring other people to abuse me… I realized that my brain has this amazing ability to heal, even the most horrfic and deep wounds.
I saw that my mind knew how to do this, and that my heart was able to guide me as to what step to take next on my healing journey, if only I would be courageous enough to listen to it.
Finally, I was in control of my life, I was free from my family’s toxic hold on me. As I started healing I grew more confident in my own body and mind, and now I am continuing to build myself anew, one step at a time. I feel better than I ever did. I am learning what it means to live a normal healthy life and I am loving every new part of it that I uncover.
When you survive hell, and come out, you are strong and also you’re able to appreciate and enjoy life in a deep and meaningful way that I think only a survivor can enjoy. Sometimes when I do something for myself, I feel as excited as a six year old, like I am experiencing the joys I missed out on as a child.
Life is so bright on the other side and it IS POSSIBLE TO GET THERE! YES FOR YOU also! Don’t take my word for it – don’t give up and you will see for yourself.
Finding Angie’s videos, and this site was exciting for me, because I was finally able to have some sort of place to put my father. He checks off every box on the list of narcissistic characteristics. I connected to everything about what Angie calls Narcissistic Abuse Rehab.
To those of you out there who are here, like me, with the courage to face your pasts and heal, my message to you is: please take a good deep look inside of yourself. Don’t be scared to listen to that niggling deep down voice in your heart. Follow what you know is true, with courage. Don’t let anyone stop you. It is SO WORTH THE FIGHT!
What is Narcissistic Abuse? Why Should You Care? With #WNAAD Founder Bree Bonchay – Talking World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day with Founder Bree Bonchay – As one of the featured speakers this year, I am so excited about WNAAD! Meet Bree Bonchay, the founder, and find out why this day matters so much.
World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day (WNAAD) occurs on June 1st every year. Established in 2016, WNAAD is a growing global movement dedicated to raising the profile of narcissistic abuse, providing public pathology education, resources for survivors, and effect policy change. WNAAD is an international event that is recognized worldwide.
According to Bree Bonchay, the founder, Many of the people who suffer from narcissistic abuse (a form of psychological and emotional abuse) aren’t even aware that what they are experiencing is a legitimate form of abuse, and when they become aware they are being abused, they have a difficult time describing it because it’s so hard to put the finger on.
We came up with the hashtag, #IfMyWoundsWereVisible, because unlike physical abuse where a single strike or blow, often leaves marks or bruises and qualifies an act of domestic violence, narcissistic abuse is invisible. Narcissistic abuse is the sum of many unseen injuries.