How to Help Yourself When Dealing with a Narcissist
If you are waiting for the Narcissist in your life to take care of you, you will wait for a VERY long time. They will not, they cannot, and they never will. Not only will the wait be long, it will be painful, frustrating, exhausting, and agonizing. This wait will take its toll on you in many ways, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, socially, and physically. During this time of still trying to make peace and find resolution, I hear many people express despair. They say they sleep a lot and can’t ever seem to feel rested. They talk about a lack of motivation with work, relationships, and life in general. They lose their creativity and drive. They find themselves getting sick often, sometimes with some severe illnesses, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. If you think that you are stronger than all that and have the strength to fight through, I pray that you are. But I also caution you to pay extremely close attention to your mind, heart, body and soul.
Working on your Mind
Journaling – I cannot say enough about journaling! I didn’t really understand the full value of it until I started doing it. The number one benefit of journaling for me was that once something was recorded, my mind finally had permission to quit replaying it over and over again. I no longer felt like I had to remember everything in order to build my side of the story. My mind finally, after many years, started to relax. This was an amazing transition for me, and I am so happy that I found it. So start writing things down as they happen, or typing them into your computer. Write down what was said by both of you. Write down how you felt and what you thought. Find a safe place to keep it and stay faithful to this. If you do it on the computer, you can password protect the file. Also put an extra copy on a flashdrive or email it to a trusted friend. Another big advantage of this is that when you start to question yourself, and you will, you can go back and read your own words. This will bring clarity to how you feel, reminding you of why you feel the way you do in your current situation. We all have our doubts. Having your journal to look back through will help you through those phases of doubting.
Start reading and researching everything you can get your hands on regarding narcissism. I could not absorb the information fast enough when I first learned about narcissism. It was extremely validating to me to finally have something to call this and to realize that others out there understood what I was going through. It made me feel like I wasn’t crazy! There were reasons why I was so frustrated and felt so disconnected from my husband. Narcissism has a broad spectrum and so not everything you read will apply to your current situation. While the degree of abuse may vary from relationship to relationship, the tendencies of narcissistic people seem to have very common threads. We can learn a lot from the experiences of others. For suggested reading on narcissism, check out my Resources page.
Mindfulness – Get yourself on a mindfulness path. I am not talking about anything religious here. I’m not referring to a specific belief system or lack thereof. Mindfulness is simply knowing and controlling what the mind is doing right now. It is being completely conscious and completely aware. I have already mentioned how the mind has a way of replaying things over and over. Not only that, but it will also start creating a million arguments ready to be voiced to your narcissist. Many of these will never actually get voiced, but yet they will echo in your mind for years. You will find yourself in a state of mental exhaustion. This is where the value of mindfulness comes in. All of this replaying is such a depletion of energy and it is within your capabilities to stop it. As you put a halt to the useless activity of your mind, you will find so much more space for the wonderful abilities of your mind. Suddenly and without effort, you will experience a burst of creativity, clear-headed thinking, improvement in memory, and alertness. Wonderful books exist on the topic of mindfulness. For suggestions to get you started, check out my Resources page. Start reading and follow your heart.
Meet with a divorce attorney and start asking questions. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to file for divorce, and it doesn’t mean you won’t. You just need some answers, and it is okay to ask questions. You do not have to decide today what you will do for the rest of your life.
Working on your Heart
Support group – If you are going to survive a narcissistic relationship, you are going to need a support system of some sort. You cannot do this alone. You might think you are strong enough. I always thought of myself as a strong individual. But the human spirit can only take so much. I reached my max! There is no way I would have survived all this without the support I received from friends and family. And with their help, I not only survived, but I even thrived while still tied to a narcissistic relationship. So start talking to them. Share with them how you feel. Now, I realize that not everyone has a support system. Maybe your friends and family are siding with your partner, or maybe they just aren’t supportive. Find one! Surely you have one person you can reach out to. Make it a priority to find that one and start talking. I realize it is risky opening your heart, but I assure you it is absolutely worth the risk. You cannot do this alone!
Join my closed Facebook group on Covert Narcissism. This group is full of people who get it. No one can possibly understand this abuse unless they have lived it themselves. You will realize that you are not alone and that you are not crazy!
Therapist, counselor – Find a therapist. Narcissism is growing rapidly. It is powerful and extremely debilitating to the victims. In looking for a therapist, search for someone who has experience with narcissism. If possible, get a referral from a friend or family member. If that isn’t possible, then start searching for a therapist online. If you have done the reading and researching like I have recommended above, then you will have a working knowledge of what you are looking for in a therapist. Many therapist will even offer you an opportunity to meet them before committing money to them. Take advantage of that. Spend 10 minutes with very specific questions regarding narcissism. Even if this is on the phone, you should be able to get a good feel for their personal experience with narcissism. I firmly believe that no one can really understand it unless they have experienced it for themselves. Ask the therapist if they have. You will know from their answers if they truly get it.
Accept your own reactions. You are having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Stop denying yourself the right to be frustrated and angry. Start listening to your heart. Don’t judge it and analyze it. Simply listen. This goes along with mindfulness and could easily be called heartfulness. Be aware of your heart. Feel your own feelings fully. You feel this way for a reason. If you don’t allow yourself to feel your own feelings, those feelings will burrow down inside you. Once inside, they will keep you feeling unsettled. You will feel like something is wrong and not really know what or why. Instead, feel your feelings. Experience them and allow them to move on.
Help your kids! This is one of the best ways to re-strengthen your own heart. Put some of your energy into your children. They need your help and support. More and more resources are becoming available for this. Read all that you can, not only for you, but for your kids too.
Be patient with yourself. You do not have to decide today what you are going to do. You do not have to fix everything today. This is not a short and easy process. Give yourself time and understanding. Some days will be better than others. You will do some things right and other things wrong. No one ever decided that you have to be the one person who does everything perfect in life. Give yourself some breathing room.
Working on your Body
Our bodies take a toll from our own stress level. You must be purposeful about taking care of your body. Here are some ideas:
- Relaxation techniques. such as yoga or taichi
- Walks outside in nature
- Stress awareness
- Eating healthy
- Sleeping well and taking naps
- Laughing a lot
Working on your Soul
Read for your soul. During my time of trying to grasp what was going on in my marriage, I reached a point where all I was reading was the myriad of information out there on narcissism. I became absorbed by it, reading day and night. However that was not healthy for my soul. My therapist said to me one day, “You have quit reading for your soul, haven’t you?” I knew exactly what he was referring to. I had stopped reading uplifting texts and inspirational things, literature that fed my soul. This includes, but is not limited to, religious texts, The Bible, the Tao te Ching, books and blogs on mindfulness. For more ideas, be sure to check out my Resources page. These are texts that take you away from the daily stress of life and to a higher level of consciousness. Make your own path of growth a major priority in your life! You might even ask yourself, what type of things would I be reading if this narcissist wasn’t ever in my life? where would you be on your own path to spiritual health? Once you have pondered that, put yourself on that path. Whether this person is in your life or not, doesn’t matter. Your spiritual life is your spiritual life. No one else’s! Take time every day for your soul.