Self-Love After Narcissistic Abuse: 5 Key Tips

When you leave a narcissistic abuser, you take an important step towards improving your life. You can experience a more healthy, fulfilling, and joyful life.

Enlarging your capacity for self-love is a key aspect of healing after narcissistic abuse. During the abuse, you were degraded and mistreated. The ability to treat yourself with care and love is an important part of reclaiming yourself.

The following are five ways to love yourself more after narcissistic abuse.

1. Avoid Setting Unrealistic Expectations

When people leave an abusive relationship, they naturally want to heal as quickly as possible. They want to imagine everything will be fine in a few months or a year.

They may feel intensified self-hatred when they continue to struggle with psychological trauma, financial difficulties, and other issues.

They may berate themselves for being weak or for being a failure in some sense.

The reality is that healing takes a good long while. It’s also uneven. Some areas of your life may improve dramatically and quickly. In other areas, you may face lingering issues. This is normal.

Try not to hold yourself to a rigid schedule or to a harsh and perfectionistic standard. Even after working on your healing, you may have periods in your life when you slip into older patterns of behavior.

Instead of beating yourself up, it’s best to recognize what’s happening and develop strategies for getting yourself back to where you want to be.

It’s also important to avoid comparing yourself to other people. You may look at someone who has survived abuse and think they’re doing much better than you.

You may wonder why you haven’t yet reached the point where you’ve started dating again, found a job you like, or done other things you see as a reflection of success.

Consider that people differ in a multitude of ways. These include their general life circumstances, the details of their abuse, and the kind of support available to them.

Also, you can’t always know how someone else is doing. People struggle with different things and in ways that aren’t always obvious.

Your narcissistic abuser may have frequently compared you to other people. They did so as a way of pitting you against people and putting you down. Refusing to dwell on comparisons is a good way to reject the narcissist’s mentality.

Instead, focus on the progress you’re making. Praise yourself for things you’re doing well. Come up with practical solutions for things you want to improve.

Accept that you’re imperfect and that you also have potential and excellent qualities. You’re on a path that’s uniquely yours, and you’re not worth less than other people.

2. Mute the Narcissist’s Voice

Narcissistic abuse typically involves deeply hurtful speech. The narcissist’s words have shaped your self-perception. You may still be hearing their abusive messages in your mind.

You may be thinking that you won’t succeed at anything or that you won’t be loved by anyone. Are you accepting what the narcissist wants you to believe?

An important part of loving yourself is learning how to talk to yourself with love. Even if you aren’t currently feeling much love for yourself, you can build a habit of muting the viciously critical voice in your mind.

You can gradually replace that voice with something more reasonable and compassionate.

Pay attention to what you say, and find replacements for each harsh statement. For example, pause to think about things you’ve done well if you’re telling yourself that you can’t do anything right.

Remind yourself about your strengths, and focus on practical solutions to any mistakes.

Narcissists encourage distorted thinking, such as perfectionism and an all-or-nothing mentality.

Calmly counteracting your thoughts will make the distortions less powerful. Instead of thinking of yourself as either perfect or worthless, you’ll increasingly see yourself as a decent human with normal imperfections.

3. Reconnect With Your Feelings

There was no safe way to express your feelings in a relationship with a narcissist. If you felt sad or angry, the narcissist responded with mockery, dismissiveness, or other forms of cruelty, including violence.

If you expressed happiness, the narcissist said or did something to crush your joy.

Anything you felt strongly about left you vulnerable to attacks. Narcissists interfered with your other relationships. They often undermine your goals and ruin activities that you like.

To defend yourself against the narcissist, you may have gotten into the habit of shutting down. You may have become disconnected from your feelings and less able to identify and express them.

Healing from narcissistic abuse calls for connecting with your feelings. You need to find safe ways to release anger and to grieve what you’ve lost because of this relationship. You can also start connecting more with emotions that feel good.

This means being able to laugh freely during a funny movie. It means stopping and appreciating something lovely, such as the view of a sunset from a window.

You can also allow yourself to feel more hope and love, including self-love.

What can help you connect with your emotions? Reading books about the aftermath of abuse may help you identify what you’re feeling.

Talking to yourself and to trusted people, such as a therapist or a reliably good friend, is an important step. Journaling, creative writing, and different forms of art may also prove invaluable.

As your emotions revive and you become more sensitive to what you’re feeling, you’ll be in an even stronger position to treat yourself lovingly. Life will have more richness.

You’ll develop a better sense of what heals you and what doesn’t. You’ll seek what’s beautiful and nourishing while avoiding harmful people and self-destructive activities.

4. Focus on Taking Care of Yourself

In a relationship with a narcissist, their needs take precedence. Their opinions, feelings, and demands always get prioritized. You think about how to make them happy or how to avoid their anger and hatefulness.

When the relationship ends, you have more time to focus on yourself. At first, it may seem strange. You aren’t used to thinking about your well-being, hopes, or goals.

Because the narcissist has spent so much time directing your energy to them, you may even feel guilty about placing importance on your own needs.

Taking care of yourself involves many kinds of activities. Some examples are eating nutritious food, committing to an exercise program you enjoy, and catching up on sleep.

Think about classes you’ve always wanted to take or hobbies you’ve wanted to pursue.

Because the narcissist interfered with your free time or gutted your confidence, you may have given up on an activity you once enjoyed, such as playing sports or music. You now have the opportunity to return to what you love.

Another form of caring for yourself involves setting boundaries. The narcissist may still be trying to contact you as much as possible.

Or they may use other people to hurt or obtain information about you. It’s essential to set boundaries involving who you’ll talk to, when and where you’ll talk to them, and what information you’ll share.

High-quality therapy and support groups are other ways to help yourself heal after narcissistic abuse. You may also have other possibilities, such as moving to a new city, switching jobs, and meeting new people.

Even if you don’t always feel that you love yourself, you can express self-love by how you care for yourself. When you keep doing good things for yourself, your capacity for self-love also becomes stronger.

5. Be More Forgiving of Yourself

When emerging from a narcissistic relationship, people often ask why they didn’t leave sooner. They’re ashamed of themselves for not noticing patterns of abuse or for not protecting their mental and emotional well-being.

Remember that narcissists often fool people. They also use powerful tactics to mess with people’s minds, damage their confidence, and keep them trapped in a relationship.

You aren’t alone in overlooking red flags or in struggling to leave.

You can acknowledge your vulnerabilities and work on protecting yourself without engaging in harsh self-criticism. For example, you can read about narcissistic tactics and learn to identify them.

You can recognize that maybe you’re more susceptible to a narcissist’s influence when feeling lonely or insecure.

Focus on what you can do now and the changes you want to make to your life at this moment. Work on your healing and developing your strengths with courage and love.

You can gain wisdom from your experience with a narcissist and bring what you’ve learned to future relationships.

Brooding over what could have been different doesn’t change anything. And you don’t know what would have happened if you’d made different choices at various times.

It’s important not to get sucked into a swamp of self-blame. The narcissist is responsible for committing abuse. You didn’t deserve it.

Can a gifted therapist help you too?

If you struggle with anxiety, depression, high-stress levels, relationship issues, or other specific challenges, one-on-one support from a therapist can help a lot.

You don’t need to go through this alone. There’s no shame in getting help!

Thousands of people get tailor-made support from a kind, empathetic, helpful therapist when faced with difficult life situations.

I recommend BetterHelp, which is a sponsor of Personality Unleashed.

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