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 relationships for many 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 children and vow to be the one person in their lives whom they can depend on.
Only, all of this is completely lost on narcissists.
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 lives. 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.
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 our hands up 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 magically changed due to the passage of time.
3 – Work on Strengthening Your Self-Trust
When we are in narcissistically abusive relationships, too many of us 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 worked 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.
Make 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 the 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 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
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 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.
5 – Don’t believe that you 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 what’s 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 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 influence our adult lives, leading us to choose 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 helpless children. 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 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.
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.