3 Habits to Avoid During Your Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse

By Kim Saeed | Initiating No Contact

Feb 19

Recovery from narcissistic abuse often seems impossible at the outset. There are many elements involved in healing from this kind of abuse and I’ve often joked with my coaching clients that it takes a village to help a person heal from it.

While that is true, and while healing is different for everyone, there are particular things we do that hinder healing, and can even reverse any progress we may have made. Ironically, these are activities that every person coming out of a toxic relationship does, and further, ones which we are innately wired to do!

Having gone through these experiences myself, I do not come from a place of judgment, but rather, I hope to save you time (and more heartbreak).  In this article I share the top three behaviors that hinder recovery and often keep survivors from ultimately making it over the threshold to the peace that awaits on the other side.

1. Reading an inordinate amount of material relating to narcissism.

When you first began researching reasons why your partner behaves the way they do, the discovery that they may be narcissistic probably felt validating. It helped bring clarity to their behaviors, as well as your reactions to those behaviors.

However, there comes a point where further reading on the topic of narcissism becomes moot and even destructive. Moot because having a PhD in narcissism won’t change the outcome of the relationship. Destructive because it keeps your focus on the narcissist, the abuse, the trauma, and, more importantly, it keeps you from focusing on healing your own core wounds.

I’ve worked with clients who have been out of the relationship for years and still read about narcissism hours a day. I can say with confidence that this is a substantial reason why they haven’t moved on.

A healing alternative: True healing begins with looking inside to your own inner, wounded core. Nothing outside of you will help you heal because your emotional injuries are within. Instead of researching how your partner became a narcissist, the type of narcissist they might be, and where they lie on the narcissistic continuum, turn your focus onto healing your damaged self-image and healing the toxic shame that the narcissist cultivated inside you in order to keep you dependent upon them.

What fires together, wires together. Meaning, whatever you feed your mind on a daily basis is what determines your baseline thought patterns.

“A person in pain is being spoken to by that part of himself that knows only how to communicate this way.”
~ Malidoma Patrice Some

2. Believing that time heals all wounds.

Aside from my own discovery that time alone most certainly does not heal all wounds, there are thousands of examples all over the internet that disprove this myth. If time healed wounds, there wouldn’t be people who are still suffering five and ten years after their relationship ended (sometimes longer!)

Time doesn’t heal, it simply passes. Whether you heal during the passage of time has everything to do with what you do within that time.

The key to recovery is action, not time.

The subconscious mind is impersonal. It will work to achieve whatever goals you set before it, whether good or bad. Present it with goals of healing and recovery, and it will work to help you achieve those goals. The same goes for presenting it with goals for figuring out the narcissist. It may aid you in gaining knowledge about your disordered partner’s condition, but that only leads you back to the inevitable outcome, which ultimately leaves you with nothing to show for all the hours invested in such an undertaking.

A healing alternative: If you’ve just discovered your partner may be a narcissist, it’s only natural to want to analyze their motives, actions, and behaviors. That’s what our brains are designed to do. However, to expand on topic #1, when you get to the point where you are consistently reading information that you already know, that’s a good point at which to end your research on Narcissism and turn your focus onto your healing.

When you do begin your healing work, keep in mind that in order for your subconscious mind to heal, it must experience healing events. Specifically, you may find some very good books or other written material on the subject of healing, but acquiring information through reading is passive. In other words, you must actively engage in the suggested healing activities in order for new neural patterns to form in your brain…a good rule of thumb is to choose a healing habit and practice it every day for at least 21 days. It won’t do much good, for example, if you do a guided meditation once a week for three weeks and then give up altogether.  Discipline and consistency are key.

“People are healed by different kinds of healers and systems because the real healer is within.”
~ George Goodheart

3. Piece-mealing information together from hundreds of different websites and forums.

I learned the hard way that more information is not always better. There is an inherent risk involved in taking to heart everything one reads on the internet, especially when it involves healing from narcissistic abuse.

It’s one thing to try different modalities as they relate to healing, but it’s important to remember that not everyone who writes about narcissism has good intentions or is coming from a good place. In fact, some people who branch out into narcissism do so only to feed their own egos in the process of gaining followers and hashing out advice.  One such person I know of had their Facebook page shut down because they were constantly plagiarizing other people’s work.

Further, I used to refer some of my clients to an online licensed therapist who, as it turned out, used their position to make inappropriate gestures towards patients of the opposite sex. I stopped doing that immediately, of course, once I was given this very shocking information, but I can only wonder how many of the people I referred to this person were targeted by someone who was supposed to help them!

Aside from the above scenarios, it’s tempting to get into the habit of collecting information from numerous sites, and then become so overwhelmed with the gargantuan mountain of data that you simply stall, unable to form an actionable plan.

Healing alternatives: Try to stick to a handful of authors whom you have grown to trust. Stop simply collecting information and, instead, begin the programs that are suggested and/or written about by the writers whom you admire the most.

It’s also prudent to stay away from sites that only bathe in trauma, going on and on about narcissists and their dirty,evil deeds and post photos that traumatize the subconscious mind. Instead, follow ones that offer perspectives from the target’s point of view, as well as suggest different healing modalities.

Do you have any good healing suggestions? What’s worked for you? Share in the comments section below!

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(14) comments

Moira August 18, 2017

Needed to hear this as I am one of those folk that search all the time to get clarity and confirmation that it wasnt me…….everything listed he is…No Contact now for 5 months and so hard as I am 66 and he 69…we were together only three years on and off but just couldnt explain the ‘hot and Cold’…tagreeing everything with him so as not to upset him …his fantasies…unaporooriate behaviour to service folk….constant interupting…blaming me for everything and never apologising….the list goes on and on…..I really now have to stop googling Narcissim….thank you thank you….try and get my self worth back at this age….not easy….

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Sarah Jane August 2, 2017

The ONLY way is to go NO CONTACT. Yes it is painful. It is traumatic. It is sickening. But do you really want to be the “carrot/stick” forever? On the floor, traumatised by what you can’t ever make sense of? Wishing for that man that swept you off your feet? That you fell in love with and gave everything for? Took those risks for? Jumped off that rock for? Gave up your home, career, even children for? NO. NO. NO. You really don’t! You trusted him. Loved him. Would go to the end of the earth for him and further…….but where were you? Really? ……???? Smaller. So small you lost yourself. Lost who you were. Drip fed. For years. Until you couldn’t even function. Finally……you were drowning. Surfacing every so often in your depression and anxiety to see glimpses of the person you once were. Take it from me ladies. NO CONTACT is THE ONLY WAY. it’s a real nightmare. Yes you will be weak. Yes you will hurt and suffer anxiety and pain. But bear with it. Just a short while. Whatever it takes. Then slowly, very slowly, momentum will gather, from nowhere things will start to happen. Momentum will be in place.trust me it works!! It may not be what you HAD in terms of lifestyle, possessions, money etc but guess what?? You find YOU again. The real YOU. The lovely, fun loving, happy, compassionate, free you. Get to it…..DO NO CONTACT…and mean it. You will breathe easier and you will be finally in control. Xx

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Michelle December 17, 2016

It takes a lot to admit that our weaknesses need our self help to the greater place of self love!!

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Diana October 4, 2016

No contact is impossible for me right now and it is MISERABLE. If I had somewhere to go I would. Have started divorce proceedings. My husband of 30 yrs. will not leave the home and I have been advised by my lawyer to stay put if I want the house. I feel victimized by ‘the system’ as well. This could drag out for two years!!! Apparently there is alot of this going on in the ever growing ‘gray divorce’ movment. I wish these unique circumstances would be addressed more often. This is the reality of a 57yr. young prisoner of circumstances!!!

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    Teri Donohue June 25, 2017

    I know how you feel, my story is the same but I have been NO CONTACT for 11 months.. divorce is final but so many loose ends, no one has any Idea how hard it is to divorce a Narc… its a nightmare.. they use the smear Champaign, do anything and everything to continue the abuse. I too was told to get back to house… flying Monkeys, friends and fsmily believe the lies the Narc is telling, I was shocked at the people he was able to draw in and use, its mind blowing how low they will go!! Hang in there! You are not alone! These narcs have NO soul.. evil people with no ABILITY to be accountable, have empathy, they lack emotions ect… they are soul sucking vampires. Ruthless . I too have been with my narc for 34 years, wasted good years of my life, ssme age as you but I’m sick, which makes this even harder… we can do this!! You got this!!! Best wishes to you!!

    Reply
IreneDesign2011 February 25, 2016

When I ended the relationship 9 years ago, I knew only very little about narcissisme and first years later, I found out, why this abuser was acting like he did.
In the beginning I just needed peace and took one year off just to try to find myself. Read books about self-healing and great books about how to go on after a difficult life. In same time I did my best to avoid any contact, which was not always possible, because he stalked me, also in my new house, new town and to people there. But by time he found out, that I didn’t want him in my life.

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Lynette d'Arty-Cross February 21, 2016

I agree with what you have said here. After a while, the quest for information can become obsessive and the single-minded focus on re-hashing the “relationship”detrimenal to getting one’s life back. Good post. 🙂

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Kimmy February 19, 2016

I am less than a year out of my abusive marriage and still struggling, but it has greatly helped me to swear off all attempts at knowing anything about his current life with the new victim. No more Facebook, where he was deliberately posting trophy pictures and updates, and no Google searching. I battle daily with the temptation to check again, to see if she’s gotten wise to him and ended it. But I also realize that even were this to happen, he would have yet another victim in a matter of weeks. His being dumped would change nothing about my pain – the anger, the betrayal, financial ruin, the isolation. This site has been a lifesaver, and I’m grateful for the reminder to move past analyzation and into healing what made me susceptible to his cruelty in the first place.

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    Michelle December 17, 2016

    Well said!!

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Anonymous February 19, 2016

I push my ex out of my mind. I stay busy with work, friends, functions an hobbies. Im happy now, I’m at peace. The best advice is to MOVE ON, GO FORWARD, DONT LOOK BACK, DISMISS UR EX COMPLETELY, BLOCK ALL COMMUNICATION!!!Get off Facebook too

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Amy Marie February 19, 2016

I think taking ownership over your own actions can be the most liberating and powerful action that anyone can take. My husband suffered from depression and was later diagnosed with bipolar. My therapist was convinced that he was narcissistic, I too feel that there was more going on with him and I am somewhat convinced that he has borderline personality disorder. Nonetheless, I spent many years being controlled and manipulated by him. He took his own life 5 years ago.
Looking back on my life with him and even during the grieving process, I never wanted to be seen as a victim, of any kind. I was there. I had both mental and physical capabilities. I chose to listen to him. I followed what he said, and at the end of the day, I decided to listen to him. The reasons don’s seem as convincing to me know as they did in those moments, but that is what comes with knowledge and the reassurance that I will never find myself in a situation like that again. I agree with your “Don’t Do” list, but once you can accept yourself and the active role that you played in your own life, as hard as it is, it makes it much easier to move on and in a healthy way. Atleast that is true for me.

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    Susan May 18, 2016

    I have been married to a narc for 23 years and apart for the last four. I chose to have no contact and did so through a RO. After we separated or should I say I separated myself from him I began to see a clearer picture of him and the life I lived with him. I began to write every day what I was feeling and how he made me feel and eventually I found myself repeating the same things about who I believed him to be . I decided then to look into what is it about me that who he was be ok for me and I discovered he was a narc. I couldn’t believe what I was reading he was textbook case . I did feel validated and chose to accept some responsibility for dealing with him all those years feeling I should of known better and began to focus on forgoing myself for all I didn’t know. A part of me even felt sorry for him as I discovered there really is no cure and how terrible it would be to not know your true self. However once I read up on it daily almost became an obsession and I decided to take what I could from it and move on with my life and all the things in it that I was truly grateful for. The best advice in all the information was to have NO CONTACT ! I learned that it is impossible to deal with a true narc you will never get from them the apology or the closure you thought you needed move on. I accepted that and I chose to let silence be my voice and last word.

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      julie May 6, 2017

      I love that, your silence being your last word. And I agree with all of this except… I must be at a different level of hurt or have been hurt by a really really sneaky manipulator. My researching period is pretty much over (let the healing begin) but I am still in such shock! With him for 19 yrs, all along witnessing things that just weren’t right/normal but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. My kids and I moved out 4 yrs ago and it’s still been so on and off again as my brain is in utter disbelief still plus I do very much need him financially and he makes sure to still have that control. He uses it to hurt and disappoint our kids and then make it my fault. He refuses to pay for any of the kids necessities (sports fees, shoes, uniforms) but has no problem paying for them a $2000 cruise, or buying them a car at only 15, or agreeing to get tattoos together at only 14! Say what?! He loves to involve our family in his made up, middle of the night drama/concern for me and my mental state of mind and ability to parent. But the next day, it’s as if nothing ever happened and I’m all of a sudden a fine parent so he’s dropping the kids back off with me. All the while he continues to make horrible judgement calls with our lives and kids. Saying he might go kill himself then while pointing at them says and it’ll be ALL YOUR FAULT! He held a gun to my head, smothered my nose and mouth, broke my nose, several electronics, tapped and eventually broke my car, phones and laptops. He knows that I’m aware of it and yet completely denies it all! As if it never happened. I can’t tell if he’s that crazy and has blocked it out or if he’s a really good liar because he thinks I’m recording it somehow. His lies are out of control now and his views of reality have become more far-fetched. But his voice is comforting and in control and rational when needed that people always fall victim to his lies. He either truly has no recollection of the abusive events or he has twisted them so carefully and ever so slightly in his mind that he really believes in this new reality. Any wrong doing on his part is always minimized cuz if he didn’t use his actual fist then it’s not really hitting me right? And the rules never really apply to him. He accepts blame he says. But if you let him talk long enough you’ll see it always ends up being my fault. But by me wanting to put full trust and 110% effort into our doomed relationship have been misled and let down the very most. Literally, left as a dumbfounded mere fiber of the successful, confident person I used to be. I’m not sure if he even realized or if there was ulterior motive while he slowly made me need him. His horribly uncomfortable and strenuous attempts to save our relationship was by simply tolerating my DREADFUL self and his only efforts consisted of buying off my pain and need for human touch, basically telling me I wasn’t worth his time spent, attention or affection and then accuse me of being a gold digger and a fat cunt lazy pile of shit, failure of a mother. I never needed his money until now. Every day I’m punched in the face with the realization of what was actually happening in said situation years ago, an answer to the silent wondering. And I’ve welcomed it. It does feel like progress at that moment. I’m no longer searching for answers of my fairy-tale never-come true life. Praying for direction, mental clarity, drive and answers about where to find my passion again, my will power, self-love, concept of time, confidence and good decision making skills again. I feel robbed. But the daily distraction of these epiphanys take up time and are now hindering my progress and healing. I’m unclear of what steps to take next so I wait patiently. I know it’s a process and that I personally have things I need to go through or realize before my own personality types needs are fulfilled enough to move forward. I know God gives me information as he sees me ready for it in my life. It’s just moving so slowly. We are not divorced, haven’t even filed as we are tied up with back taxes being owed us, sale of property, me being self employed, filing jointly, me waiting for it to resolve amicably (I am resolute now that’s it’s not possible). But he hasn’t given me a dime of this tax/property money that’s been coming in. The only child support given has to be asked for or just taken by way of him allowing me to use the joint debit card for groceries. Then later he accuses me of stealing it if I’m not on my best behavior according to him. He even tried to turn me in for fraud a while back when I took out enough money to re-buy myself the phone he had just broken . The bank laughed at him saying her name is on the account and card. Anyway, so I have no money for a lawyer or the means to ever pay back a loan so I can’t ask. I haven’t filed for anything as I’m afraid I’m not quite ready for the wrath that making the first move will surely bring on. He comes from money and will have the best attorney in a flash. Also in the back of my mind I hear his words when he promised me he’d drag me through the mud so bad that I’ll wish I’d killed him if we ever went to court. Once while thumb wrestling about 16 yrs ago he warned me that he was the master of all games (he was kidding when he said that, but didn’t know himself how true it would become). Needless to say, I’m frozen. Can’t move. Can barely breathe. Complete alienation as I can’t even go to dinner with coworkers without him accusing me of being a bad parent. I can’t afford to take my kids out so at home I stay, under his control yet not even living in the same house. He’s even passively had me sign his name on docs before only to admit later that it was intentional as I’m now a felon. What?! I feel very decieved, let down (I guess due to my own lovestory expectations) and so unsure of myself that I’m afraid to make any decisions or take any action. Me, I am moot. A hamster just turning the wheels until a miracle winning lottery ticket just falls into my lap so I can afford a good lawyer. He is definitely not your typical narcissist. Is he one at all? Or just manipulative? He doesn’t give a hoot what people think and doesn’t typically need direct attention or so he says. But he’s 44 and constantly has 21 yr olds to 30 yr olds desperately pining to be a part of his life. He claims to not have a big ego (he’s not a bragger or one upper) or need attention but he refuses to let the 21s go completely saying he doesn’t want to be rude and feels sorry for them. But he orders all these pills aimed at keeping his youth and eats avacados every day as they supposedly increase your man juice. He’s completely aware of the power he has over people. He once admitted he knew that he could make his dad do or believe anything he says. Believes the world is full of idiots, all but him, and if you’re an idiot then you should be told so. Who the or what the eff is this Jekyll and Hyde? I found myself wondering how I was still with this guy? Didn’t I deserve to be treated better? Or is this all love really is or will ever be? I just kept waiting for him to become my soul mate. Cuz he was up on this pedestal in my eyes, I couldn’t fail at my life’s whole purpose….. Him. Challenge accepted. So that’s how life went on for so many years and I didn’t even know of his seperate secret life. I was too worried about fixing myself cuz it had to be my fault that he wouldn’t sleep in the bed with me or that I could never make him happy. Constantly trying a different approach, changing myself into what I thought he needed. Yes, goal posts constantly moving. Making me try harder and for longer. Emotionally and physically exhausted as his job (only to provide financially) is over once he leaves the office. And the kids and I walking on eggshells so much that we were happy to see him ignore us and go down to his shop for hours. I can’t wait for the day I no longer care if he’s with someone else or that I’ll never sleep with him again. But he’s so completely giving in that department if I’m on good behavior and not being tortured with weeks long silent treatments. But I live in a small town, I’m 40, short and chubby, with 2 kids and live in a subsidized ghetto apartment complex. Let’s face it, I’m not exactly beating them off with a stick. Options = zero. It’s so hard to be positive when the light at the end of my tunnel is so very dim. I truly need a miracle as my zest for life is gone. My kids, they are why I keep the hamster wheel spinning.

      Reply
        Elaine May 8, 2017

        You just relived it all again! And so did I, reading your story, relived my own abusive marriage. Let it go! Stop abusing yourself. No one wants to hear the craziness, they don’t understand cuz its crazy and not understandable. I pray for you.

        Reply
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