Self-Care After Breaking Up With a Narcissist

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The most important things we forget about during the aftermath of a narcissistic break-up is who we are, what we want and what we deserve. In a nutshell, we forget to take care of ourselves.  

This is where the art of self-care comes in.  

Self-care means actively choosing behaviors to balance (and not bury) the effects of the stresses that this relationship has caused you.

Self-care is a soothing and productive way to ease yourself out of the shackles of the relationship and truly find yourself again. The broken hearted and abused can end up becoming a much better version of themselves than they ever thought possible when they chose to learn some self-care techniques – this can be true for you, too. It was certainly true for me, and I was at a very, very low ebb after my relationship ended.

I recall saying to a friend at the time of the split, “I would just be happy to feel nothing, as long as I don’t feel like this anymore”. I look back and I’m astounded by the grit and determination that can be derived from such pain and heartache. I’m even more astounded by the resolve of our emotions as humans – we’re capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, and we’re certainly capable of more than our narcissistic partners would ever tell us we are. 

I’m proud of myself for really turning my ship around. You can look forward to your proud moments, too; there will be a few, but none as exhilarating as the time you finally look back on your emotional roller coaster and see just how well you’re doing now.

With some self-care and learning to be easy on yourself, you will be taking steps towards becoming the person you deserve to be.  

Self-care isn’t as big or as daunting as it may initially sound; in fact, when you’re practicing self-care, it may not feel like you’re doing much at all. Some days self-care may feel like a breeze, other days the smallest act of taking care of yourself will seem too difficult to comprehend.

I categorize each self-care technique under three umbrellas; mind, body and soul.

Mind

Respecting your mind is an important part of being. Unfortunately, it’s something most people tend to forget to focus on, let alone those who are experiencing the emotional carnage of the demise of a narcissistic relationship. Here are some techniques to help you recharge your mind – give a few of these ago this week, and you’ll subconsciously be giving your mind a bit of TLC.

#1 – Disconnect for an hour: Put your phone on airplane mode, unplug your telephone, shut down your laptop … completely let your mind unwind. Try listening to the birds outside, the rain on the windows, the sirens or traffic outside. Go where your mind takes you.

#2 – Switch up your route to  work: Even if it takes you a little longer to get there, or you need to set off a little earlier. This little technique is a subconscious way to keep your mind healthy. The neural pathways in your brain will have a good response to this unusual change in routine.

#3 – Be selfish: Make this one a priority – do one thing a day (at least) just for you, because it makes you happy.

#4 – Declutter: It could be your wardrobe, your ex’s things, your office table … it’s amazing what a physical declutter can do for your mind. I decluttered my spare room and turned it into a neat little office space and it became a passion project as well as much needed productive distraction.

#5 – Remove yourself from your comfort zone: Even if it’s striking up a conversation at the office with someone you’ve never chatted to or partaking in a meeting – get your mind out of its comfort zone! You’ll thank yourself later.

#6- Social media weed: Anything or anyone negative within your social media feeds, weed them out. It will only reinforce your mind that it needs to continue with its negative thought patterns. If you don’t want to delete someone, you can ‘mute’ them for now.

#7 – People watch: It’s amazing the inspiration you give your mind simply by sitting at a coffee shop and watching the world around you. Even if you are hesitant to go to a coffee shop alone, do it (see #5 about getting out of your comfort zone).

Body

#1 – Deep breaths: Inhale for six seconds, exhale for seven. Repeat this three times. Oxygenating your body really can take the edge of stress, anxiety and panic.  

#2 – Drink herbal / green teas: Not only are green and herbal teas a great way to flush toxins out of your body, you can inhale their upbeat scents. I enjoy peppermint tea and combining it with some light reading.

#3 – Change up your food choices: Pick just two healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners for your week. Stick to these and try and keep up with drinking two liters of water a day. It’s amazing how looking after your insides like this can have such a positive impact on your emotional well-being – but it really does.

#4 – Give your body a treat: A comforting, nourishing body moisturizer or a new shower wash can make you feel better. It can also help aid that all-important good nights sleep that is needed more than normal when you’re going through the trauma of a break-up. Indulge in yourself a little.

#5 – Take a walk / go for a run: Apart from the well known endorphins that exercise releases in your brain, it’ll also be a positive for your physical health. Depending on where you are physically, run or walk – even just do laps of your stairs on really difficult days. It’s important that you do this technique as it’s important to your well-being, even if you need to lay your running gear out the night before or set an alarm before work. I would walk my dog miles from my city house to the country, so it also did him a world of good too!

#6 – Turn on some upbeat music: Until you find yourself having a bit of a dance. Even go full blown boogie if you can! Maybe you can have a declutter and accompany this with some music or the radio; you’ll be taking on two acts of self-care without even realizing. Uplifting your spirits and allowing your mind to think “okay, I’m gonna get myself through this” isn’t as painstaking as you may think – the hardest part is just getting started and taking action.

#7 – Go outside: Get some sun if you can. Go sit on a park bench or go somewhere green if possible. Just let the clouds above you pass you by and breathe in the fresh air around you, letting your mind wander where it wants.  

Soul

#1 – Help someone else: You may be thinking that you can barely help yourself right now, so how can you begin to help someone else? It only takes small gestures; helping someone carry their heavy shopping to their car or doing the milk run at work. Be kind, and you will be rewarded, even though it doesn’t feel that way now.

#2 – Date yourself: Yep, you did read that correctly. Have a date night with yourself. Light a few candles, put on some soothing music, cook yourself a nice dinner (or order takeout – it’s nice to indulge!) and watch a movie or settle down with a good book. Making yourself content doesn’t need to be as hard as you think – give this a go.

#3 – Seek out beauty everywhere: On your way home from work or whilst out shopping, take yourself on a beauty scavenger hunt. Look out for the intricacies and form of things and find the beauty in them. Make it your goal to find five things of beauty on your next outing.

#4 – Take a break: Alone. Even if it’s just a day out in your city or a nearby town, take yourself away for a day or two. Explore, indulge, be inquisitive and open to new experiences. It’s time alone like this that we can really get to know ourselves that much better, and taking a big step out of your comfort zone like this is a positive step for the mind. You don’t need to spend much money doing this, either.

#5 – If you need help, ask for it: Whether you’re at work or talking to your credit card company, it does wonders for your soul when you swallow your anxiety and ask for help. To push forward to positivity, you need to know that everyone needs help from time to time. You’ll feel so much better once your stresses are out in the open, and you’ll begin to feel like you can get on top of things.

#6 – Keep a thought diary: Writing your thoughts and feelings down is a very cathartic way of releasing negative emotions. At the end of every day, you should make note of how you’ve felt that day; any highs, lows or inbetweens. Then end your daily diary of how you wish to feel tomorrow and how you could achieve that.  

#7 – Reach out with small gestures: Things like engaging with the barista who serves you your coffee or smiling at someone fills up your soul with positive energy. Even if this doesn’t sound like you and you usually shy away from doing these kinds of little gestures, I urge you to give them a go – you’ll feel a little better after each one.

With each little bit of attention you give to you and your self-care is a leap in the right direction for where you want to be heading in life.  

After you have tended to yourself piece by piece, you’ll eventually feel the fog lifting from above you. You’ll have spent time and care nourishing yourself and the techniques above will help you feel more connected to yourself than ever.

With each small step being taking, things won’t seem as difficult as they did before. You can even create your own self-care routines; waking up early to have a run, eating a healthy breakfast and ensuring you take chances to step out of your comfort zone where possible – whatever works best for you and your situation.  

Take inspiration from the above and begin to practice small actions that will soon begin to resonate as healthy habits. These will enable you to begin rising from the black hole of heartbreak into a world of hopefulness, positivity and happiness.

The Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse

Warning signs that you are in an abusive relationship are often subtle. The abuser usually begins with smaller, more understated gestures that aren’t always seen for what they truly are, and can usually be taken as something much less sinister (for example, you may perceive their neediness and clinginess as cute, but in fact it’s the beginnings of possessive behavior).

Not all abusers show all of these warning signs, but they are a good indicator of what could lay ahead in the future.

Personally, during the emotionally abusive relationships I was in, I can look back and see the traits that I have laid out below run parallel to each relationship; the warning signs were there, I just buried my head in the sand.

#1 – Overly needy: The abuser will often require emotional support, in some form, from you. ‘Bleeding heart’ type behavior can be an early (and ongoing) indicator of emotional abuse.

#2 – Overreacting: Small comments and simple situations can make an abuser over-emotional, edgy and snappy. The abuser can also refuse to disclose what they are overreacting about, to further add to your confusion and upset.

#3 – Insecurity: Whilst we can all be insecure at times; the emotional abuser is often unjustifiably so – they question people’s motives and have unfounded suspicions.

#4 – Lies: Lies told by abusers can often be very small and seem very pointless and trivial. These lies can make you feel like you’ve been deceived for no apparent reason. Aside from being hurt by the lies, you would often be faced with anger or hostility when you confront the abuser about the lie(s).

#5 – Invasion of privacy: An emotional abuser will often appear ‘nosy’ about you and your life. In the beginning stages of a relationship, they may unexpectedly turn up at your home, ‘bump into’ you when you are out with friends or ‘accidentally’ read your mail. They can also often be invasive in their questioning which appears intrusive.

#6 – Possessiveness: Whether it’s not letting you out of their sight or becoming difficult and overbearing when you suggest you do something alone, possessiveness can soon turn from ‘cute’ to full blown abuse very quickly.

#7 – Pushy: Abusers will often show pushy behavior. It can be seen initially in conversations where they disagree with your opinion and feel the need to push theirs on you. They can also often take issue with others who don’t agree with them and be overly argumentative about things most people wouldn’t feel the need to delve into.

#8 – Past relationships: The best predictor of future behavior? That’s right, past behavior. If you have found out or gained knowledge of your partner’s past relationships and discovered that they have left them disgruntled, have been abusive or left them in a heated or drawn-out manner, these are signs that they have abusive tendencies.

#9 – Disregarding: Oftentimes the abusive partner will purposefully disregard your wants and needs and will push boundaries to deliberately do things to treat you in a disregarding / indifferent way.

Whilst some of the above warning signs may not be obvious at first sight, and some being cleverly disguised to make it seem as if you’re the one at fault, it can be tricky to unmask these characteristics.

What makes it more difficult, and if you are like I was, is the fact that you don’t want to accept the notion that the person you love can abuse you emotionally; at least not purposefully. Sure, they may hurt you sometimes, but it’s only because they care … right?

Take the above signs as red flags, and make sure that you don’t bury your head in the sand – it will only prolong the abusive relationship, and you deserve more than that.

Self-Empowerment – Three Little Tips to Encourage Self-Empowerment

empowerment
ɛmˈpaʊəm(ə)nt/
noun
The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
When life happens, sometimes it can knock us for six. From grieving the loss of a loved one, a harsh break up or being ‘let go’ by your employer; life can often throw us curve balls that can tangle up our emotional wiring.
Often when these devastating things happen, we are left spiraling into despair, self-neglect and begin to adopt negative thoughts towards ourselves.
Even if there has been no ‘big’ life event, circumstances in our lives can mount up and begin chipping away at our resolve and self-worth. Money troubles, hurtful comments from a loved one, being in a job you hate, feeling like you are stuck in a worthless life … the list goes on and on.
Whatever your circumstances, you can turn things around. It all begins with you and empowerment.
There was a time I had no connection with empowerment and was at a very, very low ebb.
I was in a very volatile and narcissistic relationship that was ripping shreds from my esteem, worth and independence.
Time would pass and with each passing year, I drifted further and further away from any grasp of confidence, control and rights.
The relationship I was in seemed inescapable; I lived in fear, anxiety and despair that this would be my life forever. I doubt I could have been much lower. There came a point where it was down to two options; escape this life permanently, or fight back and take back my right to empowerment.
Where to begin?
Empowerment will require you to take a little time and reflect on yourself. You will need to be willing to think about and confront the following:
  • Where do you feel your self-worth is? Do you have any sense of it?
  • How much access do you feel you have to opportunity? How is this controlled?
  • How much control do you have in your life? And why?
  • Can you see yourself being able to influence yourself for the better?
I’d recommend going down the above list and delving a little deeper into each question. Face things head on; confront why you feel the way you do and really come to terms with where you are in terms of the above questions.
Once you have a better understanding of where you are with your connection to empowerment, you’ll be better armed to tackle the following three ways of gaining your empowerment. And deservingly so!
Empowerment Tip 1 – Say ‘no’ more often
It’s one of the hardest things to do, especially when your self-worth is in the gutter. It’s at times like those it can be easy for people to take advantage of your pleasing nature. Saying no, especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable, is one of the first big steps towards self-empowerment you can take.
If you’re already thinking “but I can’t say ‘no’ – I’ll seem rude/mean/difficult”, let me give you some things to consider:
  • Question what is making you say ‘no’. Is it fear, a pattern you can’t get out of, are you such a people pleaser you can’t stop saying ‘no’? Think of your reasoning and then ask yourself if it is serving you to maintain this way of living?
  • Are you afraid of hurting other people’s feelings? It’s a good idea to remember that you’re not responsible for disappointing anybody else. By focusing too much on what other people are feeling, you’re neglecting yourself.
  • The most successful people know how to say ‘no’. They honour their truth, and say no to things they know their heart and head isn’t in.
Stop being the people pleaser; it’s to your own detriment. Saying no to the things you would usually have agreed to in the past is a great builder of empowerment – you are taking back control and making it easier for yourself to say ‘no’ in the future.
Empowerment Tip 2 – Stand Up for Yourself
But if you’re serious about really achieving self-empowerment, you’ll know that standing up for yourself is something you need to master.
It can be especially hard to stand up for yourself when you’ve spent years keeping your opinions to yourself and not say anything when you’re being spoken to or about in a derogatory, nasty or patronizing way.
I first used this method when standing up to my mother. For years, I’d let her be mean, harsh and disrespectful towards me. She would belittle me, even as a young child in front of people. What would be worse for me when I was younger was when people who had witnessed this telling me I didn’t deserve it or trying to console me; even her friends.
It was embarrassing at its best, downright soul destroying and self-worth crushing at its worst.
Even in my teens, there were only two ways she would act towards me: indifferent or downright nasty.
When I finally did stand up for myself, and got things off my chest, It was very decompressing for me, and cathartic. I had kept all her horrible words and sayings in my head for so long, and had thought a million times of what I ought to have said when she was treating me so badly.
The sooner you start standing up for yourself, the better. It’s worth mentioning that standing up for yourself doesn’t mean be aggressive or mean or lash out because it’s the last straw. It simply means you are teaching yourself to become more assertive, not allow yourself to be suppressed and to offer your newfound assertiveness in a way that shows you won’t back down.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you transition from wallflower to empowered:
  • When offering your thoughts, feelings and possible solutions to problems, I recommend you use “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements where possible. This will avoid the other person become defensive and aim for conflict. An example of this could be instead of saying “you never talk to me about things”, you would phrase it “I feel like you ignore my feelings when you don’t discuss things with me”.
  • Remember that people aren’t usually born with the ability to naturally and easily stand up for themselves. This is mostly a learned trait, and people need to go through the suppressed walkover stage to finally learn how to become assertive. Don’t worry if you think you’re unable to do this – you can.
  • Polite clarification may be a good place to start. For example, if you’re forever getting people jump in front of you in the queue, next time practice saying: “Excuse me, I was next in line and I’m in a hurry just like you”. It’s polite but firm.
  • Don’t become aggressive – you’re much more likely to achieve a positive outcome if you are calm and firm.
Empowerment Tip 3 – Set Goals
Think about the most empowered people you know. Do you have celebrity idols or friends’ personality traits you admire, because they are successful?
You can bet that those people have set goals for themselves.
Setting goals and working hard to achieve them is a great way to realize self-empowerment – not only are you being productive and challenging yourself, you are unknowingly instilling control, ambition and focus into your emotional itinerary.
Your goals will be personal to you. You can have lots of mini goals, or you can take the rifle approach and really hone in on one big goal. It could be something like save ‘X’ amount of money per month, or something big like working towards your own business.
Whatever your goals are, be sure to write them down. Telling someone else your goals makes it more likely that you’ll work towards hitting that goal. Be sure to be easy on yourself and break big goals down into smaller, doable chunks.
It’s not just the achieving of goals that will promote a great sense of self-empowerment, it’s taking the action to do so as well. Each little hurdle you overcome will build your grit and each problem you encounter will make your resolve tougher each time.
I keep my goals in a journal. Even though I am thankfully self-empowered these days, I still vouch for goal setting as an integral part of a healthy life and mind.
Practice those three little tips more in your everyday life and I can tell you from experience that you will begin to feel more empowered and more in control of your life.