Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse projected by a narcissist on to another individual. Although narcissistic abuse is predominantly thought of in the context of emotional and psychological abuse, it also impacts individuals physically and neurologically. Unfortunately, narcissists are very adept at isolating, confusing, and creating addictive bonds with their victims, making it especially traumatizing and confusing to know where to start getting the right help to heal from this type of trauma.
To identify the top 5 ways to heal from narcissistic abuse, our author looked at her own personal recovery process from narcissistic abuse, the recommendations by experts in an 8 week recovery program specializing in narcissist abuse recovery, and the experiences the author has seen from people in the recovery groups that she is part of.
What is a narcissist?
Psychologically speaking, narcissists sit on the extreme end of the spectrum of a personality trait that we all have to varying degrees: narcissism. Some levels of narcissism in our personality are important as research shows that it contributes to us being able to build confidence, pursue ambitions and be resilient.
However, like with all personality traits, on the extreme end of the spectrum is where it becomes unhealthy, pathological and a diagnosable mental illness. People who have deep rooted patterns displaying highly in traits of narcissism are said to have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and are more commonly called ‘narcissists’.
To find out if someone you have had a relationship with may have high levels of narcissistic personality traits, take this quiz: https://www.thewomenco.com/quiz
Top 5 Ways To Heal From A Narcissist:
#5 – Find a therapist specializing in narcissistic abuse
Therapy is a go to for any type of recovery. What’s especially important for anyone looking to leave a relationship with a narcissist, or to recover from narcissistic abuse, is to find a therapist who specializes in this type of abuse, as they’ll understand how your mind may have become rewired to new beliefs that are keeping you stuck. What’s more, if you have children with a narcissist, it’s highly advisable to seek out a child therapist with similar familiarity on how to raise children when one of their parents has a high conflict personality disorder.
#4 – Lean on a divorce coach and lawyer who understand narcissistic personalities
If you have to divorce from a narcissist, it’s essential that the experts you seek understand what tactics the other party might invoke to pre-empt their reactions. It’s likely that the manipulation techniques that the narcissist used in your relationship will also be applied to your divorce proceedings or plans for co-parenting. A divorce coach is an incredible resource to support your mental and emotional journey, so you can keep the legal team focused on logistics, which can ultimately save on divorce costs.
#3 – Join or build a support system that understands narcissism
Narcissistic abuse is often an isolating experience, because the narcissist has likely aimed to remove you from friends, family and other support systems as a key tactic to multiply the effect of their abuse. Because of the plethora of emotions you may be experiencing, many victims don’t talk about what’s actually happening, even with the people they’re closest to. Some of these feelings include shame, fear, confusion, guilt and embarrassment.
For a victim of narcissistic abuse, finding a support system or community that will check in on you regularly and hold your faith when you’re feeling lost, and underscore that what you’re feeling is valid is paramount.If you can find people who have gone through narcissistic abuse themselves and demonstrate that a path of recovery is indeed possible is especially helpful.
#2 – Heal your mind and body
Narcissistic abuse may or may not include physical violence, yet the emotional and mental abuse can have significant detrimental impact on the function and health of your mind and body. It’s common for narcissistic abuse victims to have problems with sleep, digestion, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, self harm, suicidal thoughts, chronic pain, PTSD, and somatizations, among others.
Traditionally, therapy and medication have been the mainstay for narcissistic abuse recovery. More recently, the benefits of a holistic approach to healing have been demonstrated to also be of benefit. Mindfulness and meditation, breathwork, nutrition, energy and sound healing, and yoga are among the methods most frequently cited as the most impactful to victims healing.
#1 – Rewire your mind
The final piece to the puzzle of healing from a narcissist is to rewire your mind to reduce the possibility of triggers and trauma into a place of peace and success. Research has shown that repeated emotional abuse over time shrinks your brain’s hippocampus (responsible for memory and learning), and enlarges the amygdala (home to our ‘flight or fight’ emotions such as fear, grief, guilt, envy, and shame).
There are a range of techniques that have been shown to repair both the hippocampus and amygdala areas of the brain, and to reframe thoughts and behavior of narcissistic abuse victims away from the feelings of shame, grief and abuse, towards success, health and happiness. Neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis, neuro-leadership, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), aromatherapy, guided meditation, acts of altruism, and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are just a few of the ways that you can rewire your mind to health.