self care ideas

REAL Self-Care Ideas for New Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

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Self-care can mean different things to different people.  For someone like me, considering where I’m at in my own recovery from narcissistic abuse, I tend to be more self-reflective, spending time meditating, doing rituals, practicing gratitude, and figuring out more ways to be of service.  But, I’ve been out of my narcissistically abusive marriage for ten years now. 

If you’re trying to leave an emotionally abusive relationship or are a new survivor, you might be turned off by the light-and-love, ‘rainbow unicorn’ recommendations to “take time off” and “get a pedicure”.

When I was in the early stages of my own healing journey, these kinds of suggestions seemed completely pointless and even offensive…I mean, getting a pedicure and taking a bubble bath would have been a complete waste of time and energy, because they wouldn’t have addressed the areas that needed attention at that point in my recovery.

If you are trying to leave or have recently left a narcissistic relationship, then your self-care is going to look completely different than mine.  Like, night and day different. 

So, to help you out, I’ve put together some self care ideas for you so you can get a clearer picture of what self-care might look like for a new survivor of narcissistic abuse.

Self-Care Ideas for New Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

1 – Let yourself be angry

When we’re in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of its nature, we often suppress our feelings of anger.  Because most of us have compassionate and empathic hearts, we search for reasons why people act the way they do and then, based on our conclusions, we forgive narcissists for their transgressions and relationship crimes.  We try to appeal to their hurt inner child and vow to be the one person in their life whom they can depend on. 

Only, all of this is completely lost on the narcissist.

They truly feel entitled to this kind of devotion and don’t think you’re doing anything special.  Why?  This is the kind of devotion they have been getting from other people most of their adult life.  And if they don’t have any friends or family who are there for them during a particular phase of their lives, it’s for a reason. 

Self-care tip #1: Stop searching for justifications and loopholes for their horrible attitudes and allow yourself to be angry at the way you’ve been treated.  Stop feeling guilty for being angry and quit stuffing that anger down inside.  Allowing yourself to feel your anger can be incredibly liberating.  Not only that, if you continue to stuff your anger down, it will make you mentally and physically sick over time. 

If you’ve been emotionally, spiritually, physically, or financially abused, accept it for what it is…abuse. 

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2 – Protect your healing space

When it comes to healing from narcissistic abuse, most of us have made the mistake of leaving a window of opportunity open for the abusive individual.  We loosely say we’ve gone Grey Rock or in some way fail to block the narcissist from contacting us.  In cases of shared custody, we might throw up our hands in resignation, insisting we have no choice in the matter.

This is mostly due to attachment trauma and the biochemical addiction we form inside emotionally abusive relationships.  Frankly, we are addicted to the narcissist, addicted to the drama, as well as suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  As such, our minds will tell us all kinds of lies in hopes of getting another intense hit from the narcissist so we can experience that rush of euphoria.  Lies such as – they didn’t mean to be abusive, they had a bad childhood, they don’t know what they’re doing, they have a good heart underneath it all. 

We subconsciously focus on the seeming positive attributes of the narcissist.  Only, with narcissists, the seeming “good times” are an integrated part of the abuse.  The continued ‘sweet, then mean’ cycles create a strong foundation for trauma bonding.  As such, leaving a crack open for continued traumatic experiences will never offer you a path forward.  This is why you should protect your healing space with white-knuckled determination and grit. 

Self-care tip #2 – Accept the narcissist for who they are and protect your healing space.  When it comes to healing from the narcissist, you must use the ‘scorched earth’ approach.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking the narcissist has had a Divine Epiphany or has changed due to the passage of time.  

3 – Work on Strengthening Your Self-Trust

Too many of us, when we are in narcissistically abusive relationships, focus hard on trying to make the narcissist a trustworthy individual.  We don’t recognize that the narcissist doesn’t want to be trustworthy. For one, they want to be able to continue their lifestyle because it’s working out very well for them. Two, if they did turn into a trustworthy individual, then there would not be a foundation for a trauma bond. So, when you are trying to leave or have recently left a narcissistically abusive relationship, you need to learn to trust yourself.

What that would look like is making sure you block the narcissist from being able to contact you.  Block all forms of communication.  This would include your cell phone, your email, your work phone, your work email, and if you have shared things with them such as a gym membership or being on their phone plan, you’ll need to remove yourself from all of those different environments.

If you share custody with a narcissist, you’ll need to incorporate something called Extreme Modified Contact. I have been using this method for years and it has worked like a charm. Working on your self-trust means being able to trust yourself when you have made that commitment that you are going to leave your abusive relationship behind.

I realize this is extremely hard because I struggled with this so much when I left my narcissistically abusive marriage. I would often wonder, what if he shows up at the door?  What if he sends someone over here to talk to me about the situation?  I was so afraid that if he did show up at my door that I would let him in. Therefore, you’ll want to come up with a scenario – maybe a few different ones  – of how you’re going to prepare yourself in these situations.

Self-care tip #3:  As long as you can trust yourself and stick to the boundaries you have implemented for your new life, then you don’t really have to worry so much about what the narcissist is up to.

4 – Stop convincing yourself that the narcissist is remorseful or that they miss you and the relationship

You’ve probably read material that describes how narcissists project their toxic qualities onto their targets of abuse, but in the same way, we project our empathic feelings and emotions onto the narcissist.

While we are feeling remorseful that the relationship is over and torturing ourselves with self-defeating thoughts, we are often very skilled in convincing ourselves that the narcissist misses us and that they are remorseful for how they’ve treated us.  During these times you need to ask yourself, Were their relationship crimes a pattern? Because that’s really what you need to pay attention to.  Inside of narcissistically abusive relationships, you want to stop listening to what the narcissist says and pay attention to their patterns.

If you look back and recognize that there was a pattern of lying, infidelity, financial abuse, spiritual abuse, and these things were ongoing for a long period of time, that is who the narcissist is. They showed you who they are and they also showed you that they’re not capable of change.  But, in your state of melancholy, you might be convincing yourself that they miss you and feel the same way you do.  Only this is not accurate.

Narcissists don’t miss people. They miss the benefit they received from being in the relationship.  And that can mean different things for different narcissists.  It could also mean different things for one narcissist, depending on the day.

Self-care tip #4: Stop convincing yourself that the narcissist misses you and is remorseful. Owing to the fact that narcissists are emotionally unavailable and have an avoidant attachment style, they’re not going to feel the loss of the relationship the same way you do.  What they really miss is using you and having power and control over you. So, if that’s something you want to avoid, you’ll want to stop convincing yourself otherwise.

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5 – Don’t believe that you were being punished or somehow deserved the abuse you received from the narcissist

As I’ve recently discussed, we’re led to believe that we attract narcissists into our lives because of our core wounding, when really what is happening is something called Repetition Compulsion.

What this means is that on a subconscious level, we choose narcissistic individuals to be in relationships with so that we can overcome the trauma that we experienced earlier in life.  Most of the time this happens during childhood, but it could also be during your teenage years or even your young adulthood.  

This does not necessarily mean that you had parents who were verbally or physically abusive.  Sometimes trauma can form through completely innocent actions.  For example, if you were very young, maybe two or three years old, and you had a serious illness and had to stay in the hospital for a while.   While you were lying there in the hospital, if your parents had to leave for any reason, you probably felt abandoned.  And because you were so young, your psyche could not process why your parents were not there and so you felt abandoned. You simply didn’t know any better. 

Alternatively, feelings of low self-worth might arise from being bullied in the schoolyard at your elementary school.

There are many ways we can develop traumatic memories, which can lead to going into our adult lives and choosing relationships, mostly romantic relationships, that will help us reenact those traumatic events so that we can reconcile them.  This doesn’t mean that we want or choose to feel like a helpless child.  We subconsciously choose these relationships so that we can reconcile the trauma. Only, a lot of people get stuck here. They don’t recognize that this is what’s happening.

It’s important to know when you are engaging in behaviors that are indicative of repetition compulsion. For example, if you keep having the same kinds of toxic relationships over and over again, that is repetition compulsion, as well as other things like trauma bonding and biochemical addiction. That’s why a lot of times, when we come out of these relationships, we end up right back in another one.  It’s these three things: Repetition compulsion, biochemical addiction, and trauma bonding.

If you start dating too soon after leaving an abusive relationship, your trauma bond is going to transfer over to the new person. That’s why I recommend that you wait at least six months to a year to date. I realize that some other teachers and gurus may advise you to do otherwise, but that’s really the worst thing you can do for yourself. You want to get to a place where you are reliant upon yourself for acceptance and worth.

Self -care tip #5:  Don’t believe that you are being punished by God or the Universe for something you did earlier in life. It’s simply repetition compulsion. Once you’re aware of that, then you have the opportunity to heal from those earlier traumatic events.

Healing from Narcissistic Abuse Through Effective Self-Care

I hope these self-care ideas have been helpful to you. These are the same tips that I used in my own journey from narcissistic abuse. Once I incorporated these self-care ideas into my own recovery, that’s when I really started making progress. Go back through, take some notes, and try to incorporate them into your own life.

If you’re ready to take control of your life now, download the free Beginner’s Healing Roadmap. You’ll get a 14-day series of emails with emotional support and encouragement and a list of 16 empowering beliefs to live by. Plus, you get complimentary seating to the masterclass, 7 Proven Steps to Break the Narcissistic Spell.

Recovering from narcissistic abuse is hard, and it’s okay to admit you need help. If you’re ready to go deeper, check out the #1 therapist-approved online program for narcissistic abuse recovery. Thousands of people have benefited from this program that’s practical, proven, and reliable.  It’s the best place to begin a journey toward renewed self-worth and an end to feeling worthless.

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11 comments
Mel says May 20, 2020

Thank you Kim for this helpful information. It has brought some more clarity and hope.

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Mike Johnston says March 29, 2020

I have been robbed of my time with my Dad when he was on his death bed all because of accidentally sharing a memory of when I was ten years old and my mother brought me to visit with a uncle I thought and I was watching a show called Canadian Pickers and they were visiting with a man who had a big gun collection from the war and I remembered that I was there so I called my dad and said turn on the TV and he said that he was a old boyfriend of my mothers and it didn’t seem to bother him and I would never have said anything to him on his death bed by telling him that he was a great person to have in my life and unfortunately I lost my Dad died and he was a big help to me after I got into a car accident and I needed his help to manage my finances and it was a lot of money and since he pasted away and I have been trying to make peace with my mother and she said it was not my fault I knew that but she is a narcissist so she can not take responsibility for the things that she is responsible for, she tricked me into signing papers that gave her power of attorney over my life and has turned my brothers against me and tells them that I am so terrible to her, and I’m not perfect and I have made a number of mistakes and she would use my past mistakes to justify why she is doing what she is doing. My dad told me that I have a lot of money that he put into a GIC and for me to take my daughter to Disneyland and I would be able to have a great life and unfortunately my mother has robbed me of the money that was mine and she has been living in comfort and my daughter and I have been scraping by I have to go without things to be able to make sure my daughter has a good time with me and has what she wants or needs. My brothers are good people but she has turned them against me and they’re her flying monkeys.
I love my mother, brothers but my daughter is my priority and I have been trying to get my life back but she is not going to let that happen. Also my daughters mother is a narcissist so is her stepdad so I might be a magnet to the narcissist as that it’s not the first time I have been with a woman who is a narcissist and she is a very good liar and thief.
I could wria book on the things that are going on in my life and my note is getting long so in short I am able to take care of myself and my daughter and she will probably never let me live in peace and my daughter is going through a similar situation as mine and I can’t do anything but wait to get together with her.
I wish that I had never seen that episode of Canadian Pickers lol
Thanks for your help and have a great day

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Victoria says February 26, 2020

I left my narracisst, emotionally abusive husband of 9 years a few months ago. The heartbreak and pain has been unbearable but Ive pushed through and am determined to keep going! Your article’s/blog’s etc have absolutely kept me going when I’ve been in very dark places, reassuring me I am not alone and to keep going! Some things I’d like to add if I can that have personally really helped me with self care and breaking the trauma bond;
* I complete a CBD diary everyday, I assess my mood and emotions and when I’m really down or really happy I log how i am feeling and why. I chose goals and affirmations and try to be ‘inspired and grateful’ every day.
* Walking. Walking is amazing! I do soul searching, I ring friends, I organise my thoughts and it keeps me fit! If I feel down I walk it out!
* Get up! Evenings and mornings are hard, i really suffered from lack of sleep or just wanting to stay in bed – you HAVE to get up, even if it’s the only thing you do in your day- I get up and make sure I do mirror talk – which has to be positive and I smile!
* BLOCK – from everywhere, he still manages to get in touch as much as he can but I shut everything down ASAP. This is really hard when you feel like you need validation that they hurt too…they don’t. Even if they say they do i promise it isn’t real. It’s just manipulation and mind games.

Thank you Kim for helping people understand what has happened to them (honestly 9 years and I couldn’t see it till the very end!) And for supporting us in our healing.
Much love xx

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MyNewLife says February 25, 2020

Exactly what I need right now in my healing journey.
Fantastic. Thank you!0

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Becky says February 23, 2020

Also, if you belong to the same church, stop going! He will slander you to everyone in the congregation. Spiritual, social and emotional abuse, by dozens of flying monkeys. It is traumatic. I thought since he had moved away it would get better. I was unaware he was making frequent trips back and keeping in close contact with his supporters. Ten years, nothing improved. Ten years, not a single invitation to a gathering, anniversary, baby shower, nothing. Don’t waste your time. People love nasty gossip, and narcissists can provide that in great quantities, and they appear to be credible victims. Always victims.

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John says February 3, 2020

Kim….great to read and attempt to absorb your words….thoughts….and
plans to regain ME! It appears that to excuse the N from their wrong doings WAS easy…..to make ME accept this and do something for
myself is (at this moment) just the opposite.
For me …..it’s diffucult to do for me….follow thru….AND appreciate the effort to change my life.
All you’ve discussed is TRUE,,,LEGIT…and hurtful to see.
The “false” positive view of this relationship is overwhelming…
STILL feel a “warmth” r/e this person despite the 40yrs of drama.

Will continue the efforts and know that there will be a day….week….and month…and so on where I WILL get stronger.

Thanks for your sharing.

John

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Bernadette says January 29, 2020

Hi Kim, thanks for the article it really helps. I am in the process of leaving, but I feel an almost overwhelming sense of guilt. After almost 37 years of every kind of abuse I decided enough is enough. I have not worked, wasn’t allowed to so the financial side of things terrifies me. We had 6 kids together, all grown now. It’s a long story of infidelity with prostitutes and who ever was willing, physical, mental, financial and verbal abuse. He says he has changed and I am the only one for him and that he loves me, but I have finally stopped believing him. So why do I feel so guilty and miss him? But when he is here I feel as if I can’t breathe and want to run? I don’t love him anymore, he destroyed that long ago. These emotions are confusing and I am not sure if they are a sort of detoxification? My friends say I must be mad to feel guilty after everything he did to me. Please tell me if this is normal or am I going insane. Thanks.

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Monkey says January 17, 2020

My emotional damage is so extensive that I can’t date anyone anymore! I loathe guys and I’m disgusted by any potential intimate interaction! What’s happening to me??!

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Warrior 7 says January 15, 2020

This is very helpful. Especially since it’s been 2 months since I have seen my husband. I had no idea that I was in an emotionally abusive marriage until I came across the topic of Narcissists. I have enrolled in your bootcamp and it’s been extremly helpful. Is it normal to feel like you just can’t cut contact? That’s how I’m feeeling. Also, when you said, “We subconsciously choose these relationships so that we can reconcile the trauma.” Does that mean that we enter into relationships with narcissists (unknowingly) and try to undo what we grew up in? Hence the reason why I continued to go above and beyond for this person, but it was never enough.

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Christy Davis says January 14, 2020

Loved this advice. Thank you so much. It simplified things an gave me a new perspective.

Reply
    Kim Saeed says January 15, 2020

    I’m so happy to know that, Christy 🙂

    Reply
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