Narcissism is an easy thing to get obsessed with if you’ve been a victim of it. It’s something which happens quietly, encroaching all around you gradually; victims can be blind to it at first – often for a long time. The push-pull of a narcissistic regime can have a person addicted and confused, often even protective of their abuser, simply not recognizing it for what it is. Probably you had no idea he or she was a narcissist, and they certainly don’t know it – infact they will vehemently deny it.
Narcissists are clever; their behaviours are compulsive, to extract what they need from those around them to feed the hole within themselves, sadly for them, a hole which will never be filled by anyone. They will criticize and belittle you, and then appear to love and adore you, before knocking you from the pedestal once again and deriding you afresh, and all the while making it feel like it’s your fault, and you’re the one who’s being
difficult, eating away at your feelings of self-worth.
Noticed feeling drained and depressed when you once felt buoyant?
You’ll see the wealth of information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), just on social media; it’s widespread and well-studied. There are articles, support groups, endless lists of narcissistic traits, which indignant victims nod their way through as they angrily check off each.
Typical venting of narc victims on social media is easily recognized...Like the image to the right!
Narcissists vary enormously; they display differing traits; they can be obvious and extrovert or covert and introverted. They can bounce about between types as it suits them, and they can be charismatic, charming their peer groups.
But this isn’t supposed to be an article about the characteristics of narcissists or the damage they do to their victims – there are numerous experts who can talk in detail about that, and plenty of support groups offering help and wisdom out there.
What this article is more interested in is the question; Do I want to feel better? And, how can I feel better?
So How Do I Get Over The Abuse of a Narc?
The rage and indignation often has victims of a narcissist reliving events and insults again and again, as they research the malignant traits of their particular narc, online. But why do we do this to ourselves? Why bother to dissect every twisted detail, reliving all the hurt and wrongs repeatedly? We all know we should focus on what we want and not obsess over what’s passed, right? Well, perhaps the rage actually helps...
Narcissists break their victims; they gaslight them, ridicule them, devalue them, and leave them drained, depressed and feeling worthless. This is the lowest vibration a person can be at; depression is hopelessness and dis-empowerment.
Anger, however, is a gauge up the scale of emotional vibration. It represents action, fighting back, taking a stand against what ails. This is a far stronger place to be, and is a step closer to moving on and happiness.
(Some will suggest regression therapy, or discussing the relationship, analyzing every last detail, however this simply revisits the anger and depression, spiraling around and around it, reliving the emotions again and again – emotions which have negative mental and physical effects on you).
The last thing a narc should do is to taint your life for any longer than they already have, so embrace the anger and use it as a spring-board! Allow it to propel you to the next stage.
Another thing to remember is that forgiveness is a healing step. Forgiveness does not mean condoning the behavior of someone who has caused suffering. However it can be useful to recognize that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is just that; a disorder. It is not normal functioning, and narcissists have a secret, sub-conscious self-loathing. Their behavior is a constant automatic and desperate way to gain attention, energy, and to self-soothe. It’s one of the reasons they are addictive in nature – alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, to a greater or lesser extent. Their behavior has nothing to do with you, and has no bearing on your worth as a person. Recognize it – it’s a personality dysfunction; and one which creates depression, resentment and loathing in those it hurts.
Bear in mind you may also need to forgive yourself - Many narc victims blame themselves for not seeing it earlier, and sometimes feel they repeatedly get involved in negative relationships and blame themselves. Negative self-talk is adding more damage, so let go of it and be kind to yourself. Replace it with self-encouragement and positive affirmations – even if you don’t believe them at first. One of my friends found her negative thinking was so habitual that she took action to catch herself; she put a thick elastic band round her wrist, and every time she became conscious of self-reproach…SMACK!...she pinged the band. I’m not suggested you do the same thing (I didn’t appeal to me as a method) but she found it a useful way – short-term – to interrupt her pattern in a very literal way. So if you’re having trouble shifting old patterns of self-criticism, find a way of identifying it and stopping the habitual damaging behavior. The more you spotlight it and immediately replace it with an expression of self-love instead, the better you will feel and correspondingly, the better your life will go. Any work you do on yourself is always for the good.
I turn to another friend story for an example of self-love and acceptance turning around relationship fortunes;
“I met the most amazing guy!” my friend Emily said one lunchtime. (I should point out that Emily - despite being a wonderful, kind, interesting, beautiful, adventurous, all-round wonderful woman - has historically pulled in abusers in varying degrees over the years, ranging from Mr Not-Very-Kind, to Mr Full-Blown-Narcissist).
“Uh huh?” I grunted cynically.
“Honestly, I know I’ve only been with him a few months, but I cannot find a single thing wrong with him!”
She continued to talk about the wonderful traits of this man, and he did indeed sound marvelous. It sounded like a transformation in the sort of people she had been attracting.
“What happened? What did you do?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well something happened with you, because a person doesn’t go from reliably attracting steady stream of bastards to suddenly attracting a guy like the one you’re describing,” I asserted, admittedly rather brutishly.
“I spent a lot of time alone. I did a lot of yoga, and pampering of myself, and I also decided I wasn’t going to try and be someone else when I did date again. I was just me - I made a positive decision to not stress about my appearance; I went as I am. I didn’t hide my opinions; I just talked freely. I also put what I wanted on the table upfront, and we talked about honesty very early on…”
The conversation confirmed what I suspected and what many relationship gurus (along with spiritual teachers and mindfulness advocates) will tell you. Be yourself, and be upfront and honest.
My friend had decided that she would no longer put up with deal-breaking behaviours just so she could be in a relationship – she no longer ‘needed’ someone else to fulfill her happiness.
It leads me on to the best formula I have found (from talking to many, many people) for getting over the devastation caused by a negative relationship (narc or otherwise) is to shower yourself with love. Forgive yourself anything you are holding against yourself, release self-criticism, accept yourself, focus on what you want (and cease referring to what you don’t want or criticizing yourself). Nourish yourself holistically. Because when you love and accept yourself, you project it so strongly, and draw others who will love you for you.
Apart from all the significantly wonderful ways self-love will affect your life, you will cease to appear on a narcissist’s radar; they have a feel for those who will be more easily manipulated and dominated, those lower on self-esteem and self-acceptance.
So if you’re fleeing from a negative relationship from any degree of narcissist, do yourself the favour of taking some time out to be alone and practice self-adoration. Accept yourself; acknowledge you and no-one else is perfect and extend the same understanding and kindness to yourself as you do to your friends and loved ones. Interrupt negative thought patterns, replacing immediately with a positive affirmation, and from time to time drop the need for constant action or duty and allow yourself to rest or enjoy what you want to do.
All the best to you, and I’ll be back again, on another topic from The Japson Club - Which, incidentally, is now available online for purchase as an e-book or paperback :)