When we are on the path to healing from narcissistic abuse, we often overreact to situations without even knowing it. How does this happen? Well, for one, we allow our emotions to take over. But more than that, we are so used to being on the defensive that our baseline reaction is protect and preserve.
Overreacting in the aftermath of narcissistic abuse is also indicative of having formed PTSD and C-PTSD, both of which require dedicated commitment in order to heal from.
Although healing from narcissistic abuse includes the process of learning new behaviors, for a while, we continue to experience an automatic, overwhelming urge to justify ourselves, defend ourselves, and attempt to get others to see where we are coming from because we’re so used to explaining everything down to the smallest minutiae.
Once you gain control over your emotions you’ll be able to choose better reactions, which leads to better solutions.
It’s important to remember that no one is perfect. Everyone overreacts from time to time. It’s when your overreactions become the norm that you should seek a better way.
Consider the following action strategies to help you stop overreacting while you heal from narcissistic abuse:
- The art of not reacting. In order to stop overreacting, you can try using the art of not This means that when you’re presented with a certain situation, your goal will be to not react at all. Instead, you’ll take the time to think about the situation and then formulate your action, which won’t necessarily require interaction with your toxic ex (or coworker, friend, parent, sibling, etc.) This is especially important if you are co-parenting with a narcissistic ex. Remember, you have more control over your new life than you think you do. You may still feel trapped and that you’ll never get away from your toxic ex, but much of that is your perception (because you’ve been conditioned to feel that way).
- Let out your emotions. Let yourself feel your emotions as they come to you and find positive ways to express them. When you allow your emotions to build up, they become stronger inside of you. It’s difficult to stop yourself from overreacting when you’re full of pent up emotion.
- Take a time out. If you tend to overreact with anger, it’s vital to allow yourself some cool down time. If you feel strong emotions building inside you, instead of bursting out, go somewhere where you know you can be alone. Cooling down will help you to react with a clear head.
If you have children, taking a time out is critical if you find yourself overreacting with anger towards them on a regular basis. Children who consistently feel unloved often grow up to develop either narcissistic or codependent traits.
- Write it down. Instead of reacting to a situation at all, go write it down. Writing it down is another way of giving yourself time to think over the situation. Later on, once you read what you wrote, you may be able to see whether your reaction was an overreaction or not.
- Practice relaxation techniques. When you adopt relaxation techniques, you’ll find that you’re automatically more in control of your emotions. Try deep breathing or attend a yoga or meditation class. Relaxation will reduce your stress and you’ll be less likely to lash out with negative emotion.
- Avoid judging. Make it a point to stop judging yourself and others. Judgments can give you strong opinions that may be unwarranted, which can lead you to overreactions. In the same vein, when you judge yourself for overreacting, you aren’t allowing yourself to make mistakes, which is a self-defeating attitude.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
If you find that you’re overreacting to most of life’s situations, it’s time to start with the small things. Ask yourself why you’re reacting to small situations with such negative passion.
This is a sign that there is an underlying issue you need to deal with. Are you overly stressed? Is your mind obsessing about your past? Answer these questions and solve these problems first. It’s likely you need to implement self-care into your daily routine, which would include healthy ways of processing your emotions. Hire a therapist or a coach. Plan regular movie nights instead of wearing yourself out after work. Just take it one thing at a time.
Change for The Better
Once you’ve discovered a method that works well for you, incorporate that change into your life permanently.
It’s important to expect that you will make mistakes along the way – but that’s okay! You may still overreact from time to time, but we are only human and it happens. Don’t let mistakes discourage you from jumping right back into the methods that work for you.
If you’re having trouble changing, remember to take small steps. It’s quite difficult to become a different person overnight. Try to bring an overall awareness to your life so you no longer feel the pull to overreact. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself regaining control over your emotions!
Copyright 2017 Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach
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