The book “Children of the Self-Absorbed” (a grown up’s guide to getting over Narcissistic Parents**) by Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, has a wonderful chapter on How to Stop Hurting. Use these as a beginning, six of the eight key points she discusses are referenced below: (**also applies to spouse, ex-spouse, significant other, etc.)
- Give up the Fantasy – the narcissist admits their errors; the narcissist suffers because of what he/she has done to you; you are vindicated; the narcissist will change because they recognize what was done to you.
Strategies to reduce fantasies and become more realistic:
- It is unrealistic to expect them to change, and wishing won’t make it happen.
- Realize you can’t change another person.
- I’ll love and accept myself.
- I’ve got more constructive and satisfying things to do than this.
- Using self-talk and self-affirmations. –Examples of this might be – I have many strengths and talents and the narcissist’s criticism of me is not correct. I can value and cherish myself without requiring external validation.
- Reach out to others – listen to another person more than you talk about yourself; don’t rush to solve another person’s problems or concerns, acknowledge and respect differences of opinions, values and thoughts.
When you learn to reach out to others without being overwhelmed, or fearing abandonment, or being destroyed you are making progress in building yourself. You need positive, healthy, and emotionally supportive relationships.
- Find Beauty and Wonder – scenery, children at play, music; try new things.
- Wonder is all around us, it could be humor, curiosity and interest in learning new things.
- Ask yourself ‘what’ and ‘why’ questions.
- Changing the pace – do things differently – if you watch TV or listen to the radio first thing in the morning, instead try planning your day and/or watching the sunrise; if you wait until the last minute to think about meals try some meal planning and do your shopping in advance; do not leave clutter around, try picking up after yourself; drive a different route to work.
- Bring Mindfulness to your life – Mindfulness is done with conscious thought and intention. You expand your awareness in the moment and notice, appreciate, and even sometimes savor what you are experiencing. This awareness allows you to notice things you didn’t notice before, perhaps, bringing something into clearer focus.
Is there anything on the list you would be willing to try? They all seem easy to do. However, implementing change, after abuse, can be overwhelming. Perhaps, pick and try one thing from above, add more over time. Some might be harder to do than others, taking a first step is the key.
Keep in mind that to ‘give up the fantasy’ you will need to take time to identify and understand what those fantasies (wishes/hopes) are. A posture of continued wishful thinking will keep you trapped and the narcissist’s power over you will remain. Like a diet, a mind shift (change in behavior) is necessary to overcome those fantasies. Without a change in behavior, like a diet, you will never lose the weight or you will gain it back – the fantasy(ies) will continue or come back. (#1)
Quiet thought and self-introspection are required for some aspects of the healing process. Write your self-affirmation’s on an index card and keep it handy. Keep it on your night stand or on the bathroom mirror. (#1, #2 & #6)
Do you have a hobby, sport, dream or activity you gave up? Something you desire to do or really enjoyed doing? Put it or, if more than one, them back on the calendar to try or do again. (#3 & #4)
Take a different route home, notice the sunset, the clouds, and take the time to look outside yourself. (#4 & #5)
Easier said than done, however, move forward and take care of yourself, you deserve it!