Narcissistic abuse recovery 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!