How to Identify and Align to Your Core Values

I love to talk about and work from core values in my coaching because so much of what we do in life is (and should be) based on our personal core values, such as the action steps that we take, decisions that we make, and how we react to certain situations.

Our beliefs, values, and ideas make up the foundation that we should be living mentally healthy lives by.

Identity vs. Core Values

You might be wondering what is the difference between identity and core values.

Identity is our qualities, beliefs, personality, and the overall mission that we follow in life (such as a Christian identity in Christ). Identity is also how we see ourselves.

Our core values are what we live life by. Our values reflect the things that matter most to us.

Why Core Values Matter

When we are aligned with our core values, we live our lives with clarity and direction.

When we are unsure of our core values we live our lives feeling as if something is just not right. In life situations, misaligned core values cause us to feel confused like something is missing, and this tends to bring on feelings of stress and unhappiness.

When we do not know our core values, or when we are not aligned with them, we may not live our lives with healthy mental boundaries. We end up with all sorts of mental discomfort because we allow circumstances in our lives that are not healthy for us, and this often happens before we are aware.

Guard Your Affections

“Above all else, guard your affections, for they influence everything else in your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Let’s talk about affections. Affections are the things that you care about deeply (from your heart). Affections are the things that you love and you guard with your life.

Affections are not personal property or material things.

This verse speaks to me that we must make sure that we are being led by the values that we hold in our hearts.

We can feel many things in our hearts. We can feel discontent, for example, and this may lead us to think, Whoa, wait a minute, this isn’t like me! Or, you might take notice, There’s something wrong with this picture.

We should base our foundation of how we live our lives, as well as our emotional health, on our core values. Every choice that we make in life should be based on our values.

When we look at Proverbs 4:23 again, we can also say that it teaches us to be true to ourselves—be true to our core values, and especially be true to who we are in Christ Jesus.

Discover Your Core Values

Coaching (question asking) is a wonderful tool for learning about ourselves, and for determining if we are (or are not) aligned with our core values. The number of questions that we can dive into is limitless, but today we are covering just a few. (Stay tuned for future PDF worksheets that you can subscribe to.)

If you consider yourself a Christian, answer the additional portions of the questions that reference God or Christ, etc. If you are not a Christian, no problem, you can skip that part of the questions, or answer the questions based on the higher power that you believe in or pray to.

  1. I want you to list the top things in your life that you would never stop doing regardless of what someone else says or believes. For example, if you love the Lord Jesus Christ, you may be dedicated to never stop growing for him, and you may believe that nobody can stand in the way of your faith. Additional examples: You might be devoted to life-long learning. You may be highly focused and dedicated to personal and professional development. These are the things that you will not give up to anyone or anything.
  2. Think about the past 20 years and list 5 to 10 characteristics of you when you were at your best…when you were living your best self out of your values. You weren’t feeling any confusion, discontent, or stress at this time. You may not have been living the same core values that you do today, but you were aligned with your values and this brought peace and a sense of personal soundness into your life. For example, you have been fully devoted to a ministry, to putting God first in your life, to a business that served people, or to a consistent balance between life and work or a business.
  3. List the top 10 values that you believe are required to lead a successful and full life. Write this as though you are leading future generations. Remember, success is subjective. What you value as success does not need to match what someone else considers a success (no need to mirror or compare here).
  4. Do you see any similarities in your answers so far? You may have pinpointed your core values already. We can learn a lot about ourselves at this point!
  5. What do you value? Try to choose at least 5 things that you value. You may value something that you do not see on this list, so go ahead and write it down! (The list of core values is included at the bottom of this blog.)
  6. Return to the values that you selected in step 5. Determine your top 5 values and list them. These are your core values. Are you still seeing similarities in your responses in this exercise? Most of us do, and this is so freeing (to know our core values). It helps us reaffirm who we are in our lives (or who we are in Christ Jesus).

As you answer the following questions, you should be able to literally use your list of core values as your guide. When you are aligned with your core values, your life focus hones right into place.

Would your friends or family members be able to guess what y our top values are based on your lifestyle? Do they reflect a Jesus-led life?

When you look at your daily or weekly activities, how do they reflect on your values? What changes can you make to align with your core values?

What do you want to achieve today to align with your core values? What do you want to achieve in the future (a month, or a year from now) to align with your core values?

I do not want you to live a life of confusion or discontent. I want you to align with your core values. Remember that small steps are just as important as those that are large…in fact, lasting change is often found when we engage in small steps!

Mission Statement

Consider writing a values-driven mission statement. Create a short statement that includes your top core values…nothing lengthy.

Example: Your top values are faithfulness, commitment, and peace.

To help women build strong foundations in faith and commitment so that they find and live in the true freedom found in God’s peace.

Your mission statement can be business or personal-based.

We Change All the Time

Keep your core values and your mission statement (if you should choose to create one) in a handy place. Review them months from now, or even a year or more from now.

As we learn, as we grow as women, our core values shift. It is okay to pivot or to reinvent yourself. With your most recent core values under your belt, and with God at your side, you will have the best compass to lead your life!

Have you worked with core values before? If yes, how did it help you?

Core Values List (see question 5)

  • Authenticity
  • Achievement
  • Adventure
  • Authority
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Boldness
  • Compassion
  • Challenge
  • Citizenship
  • Community
  • Competency
  • Contribution
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Determination
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Fame
  • Friendships
  • Fun
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Honesty
  • Humor
  • Influence
  • Inner Harmony
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Meaningful Work
  • Openness
  • Optimism
  • Peace
  • Pleasure
  • Poise
  • Popularity
  • Recognition
  • Religion
  • Reputation
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Security
  • Self-Respect
  • Service
  • Spirituality
  • Stability
  • Success
  • Status
  • Trustworthiness
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
Action Step - Prayer Time for Women:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

Heavenly Father, 

I try to live my life in a manner that reflects you, but I sometimes fall short. Please increase my faith to help me avoid distractions, such as the lies that the enemy whispers in my ear, or the busyness of life itself which acts as a distraction. 

You created me a unique person, and you gave me a destiny that is mine, and mine alone. I praise you, Father, for doing this for me. 

Please guide me to focus on the characteristics that you created for me to live my life by. I want to be the best that I can be as I serve you. Please unlock my heart and open my eyes so that I find my identity in you, and you alone. 

Please give me the wisdom to walk the path that aligns with the vision that you have for my future. 

In Jesus' name, 

Amen

How to Overcome a Victim Mentality

Photo of open door. How to overcome a victim mentality. www.maryhumphreycoaching.com

What is victim mentality? It is an acquired personality trait in which a person resides in a continual state of belief that they are a victim of the negative actions of others. People with a victim mentality believe that this is their reality even if evidence exists that is contrary to their beliefs.

What victim mentality can look like in day to day to life is a person that is engrossed in blaming other people for the way that they behave or feel, rather than taking responsibility for their actions. The ‘victim’ fails to realize that they should have a mindset of being in control of their thoughts and emotions, and have a personal dialogue that resembles this: I can only be who I am. _______’s behavior cannot force me into feeling distraught (upset, angry, frustrated, etc.). Regardless of what they are doing, feeling, or saying, I have control of my reactions. I am not the victim…I am fully in charge of ME!

Victim Mentality Erodes Emotional Well-Being

Having a victim mentality can erode our emotional well-being. Those that possess a victim mentality are often frustrated and angry. They trudge through life mentally stomping and dragging their feet. They often verbalize that they are having a horrible day (or life) because someone has mistreated them so badly, yet, they typically do not stop and realize that they are the one that can live in the moment and have a mindset that permeates with contentment and joy regardless of the thoughts or words of others. They fail to take ownership of their own emotions.

My Own Story

My personal story about victim mentality took place in the corporate world. The owner of the business where I was employed worked offsite. He often got upset with those of us that managed his in-person offices.

Frequently, we started our mornings in receipt of “big red-letter emails.” It got to the point that I hated to turn my computer on. I constantly thought that my world was going to end, right there in that office. This was an extreme exaggeration on my part, of course, but I felt every inch of it.

I allowed the huge capitalized red letter emails to ruin my day(s) and my nights. I constantly waited for the ball of doom to drop even though I was a good worker. I operated that back-office totally in charge, and I did my very best. I never received any threat or indication that my job was on the line. It was a perceived threat, not a real one that I could validate.

At that time, I was meeting with a life coach (outside of my job). In one of our sessions, she asked me if she could tell me what she was thinking, and of course, I said yes. She said, “You have got to drop this victim mentality! You are not a victim of your boss. You are a victim of yourself!” Say what (?!), I thought. Indeed, I had allowed myself to believe that I was a victim of my boss’s irrational rantings!

That moment changed the trajectory of my thoughts. I realized that I was giving control of my mind, my mood, my reactions, and my thoughts, over to my boss. He didn’t possess any of that! Instead, I was giving that to him by claiming a bad mood, anger, frustration, and sometimes fear, by allowing his behavior to permeate my truth. The truth was that he was the one that was angry and paranoid, but that did not mean that he could force me into feeling the same.

I am a conqueror and NOT a victim. This is my mindset. You can also shirk your victim mentality and own your feelings and reactions.

Ask yourself these questions (To Identify Victim Mentality)

Do you dramatize your problems?

Are you always the one that gets the bad deal, or the short end of the stick?

Are you always the one that has bad things happen in your life?

Do you fail to see the good that happens in your life?

Do you engage in a lot of negative self-talk?

Do you see your life as one big catastrophe because of someone else’s words, thoughts, or behavior?

Do you engage in a lot of negative self-talk?

Do you feel mentally powerless to your circumstances?

Do you have a victim mentality?

You are not powerless

If you were to step up to the plate today and drop all of your feelings that are associated with another person’s behavior, what is the worst thing that could happen to you right now? What is the likelihood of that one thing happening?

In most situations, you can do one or several small things to make life better right now. It may take one hundred steps to make everything completely better, but you can always find one minuscule thing that you can change. Focus on the things that you can change, and that typically means a change in yourself.

We cannot change other people. That is a fact. Our role in life is not to change other people, but we take our power back when we implement change in ourselves. You have control over your emotions, your thoughts, and your beliefs. Nobody can regulate that but you.

You are blessed with the ability to choose who you want to be and how you process the actions of others.

How To Stop feeling Like a Victim

To stop feeling like a victim, develop a mindset that you are not limited to how you feel when a person chooses to act in a manner that might upset you. You do not have to be that victim. You do not have to exist in that negative mentality.

See yourself as a strong person that lives in your own reality. You choose to live with joy and thankfulness regardless of what others choose to live by.

By taking responsibility for your thoughts and reactions, you conquer the victim mentality. The moment we stop blaming other people and things in the world for our feelings and emotions, we adopt a winning role. Suddenly, the world looks much better.

It requires work to control our mindset but changing our thought pattern results in much more than a mental alternation. When we think positive thoughts, the stress hormone cortisol decreases. In turn, the brain creates serotonin, a hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness, in response to our positive emotions.

You aren’t what you think (you are what you believe and how you live your life), but what you think continuously can eventually change who you are. You can choose to be a victim in this world, or you can choose victory. Once you make the winning choice, you will find positive things drifting back into your life. They were always there, but you have now shifted your mindset and removed the blinders.

Final Notes: Abuse is a real thing. Abuse is never okay. If you are in an abusive situation, seek help. Take care of youself! Nobody deserves abuse.

Action Step - Prayer Time for Women:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

do not sway this way or that...and always wear your full set of armor...check the spirits...only things that are of God 

Heavenly Father, 

You teach us to not sway this way or that so that we remain upright and focused on your word. You teach us to always wear the full armor of God so that we are protected from the enemy, for he knows how we are weak. You teach us to check the spirits so that we do not absorb the messages and words of this world...instead we compare them to your word, and we ensure that we only give our attention to things that are noble, right, pure, and praiseworthy. 

Thank you, Father, for your love and instruction. 

Please increase the Holy Spirit in me so that I may continue to guard my heart and focus on the things in life that you desire, and not on things (of this world) that are unworthy of praise. 

Today, I do not claim to be the victim of the evil one or his followers. I claim victory over any of their schemes! I cannot do this alone...not without you. 

In Jesus' Name,

Amen

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about coaching, aromatherapy, and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.

Forgiveness | Forgiving a Narcissist

Forgiveness is a tough subject for many people. It is frequently misunderstood.

What is the definition of the word forgive? Per Mirriam-Webster, the definition of forgive is 1) to cease to feel resentment against (an offender), 2a) to give up resentment of or claim to requital, b) to grant relief from payment of.

Requital is giving something in return, or in compensation of. This means that when we are in complete forgiveness, we release the person we are forgiving from owing us anything.

In simple language, forgiveness is an act of letting it go, and the ‘it’ in this is anger, hate, malice, and the desire to be compensated for whatever behavior or act we are forgiving.

Forgiveness Initiates Healing

In this blog, we are focusing on the forgiveness of narcissistic and/or emotional abuse that we have been subjected to, which is typically difficult to forgive. Healing, however, becomes obtainable once we release and forgive toxicity.

Non-Forgiveness is Destructive

Non-forgiveness can be harmful. When we do not forgive, we harbor certain feelings and emotions, such as hurt, shock, anger, and frustration, all of which can eat away at our mental and physical well-being.

When we forgive, we release toxicity from our minds. When we forgive, we choose peace.

Forgiveness is a Choice (to Release)

Forgiveness is a choice. It requires thought and action.

Forgiveness does not validate abusive or manipulative behavior. When we forgive, we are not saying that narcissistic behavior is okay, instead, we pardon any or all maltreatments that we may have experienced and we no longer expect anything in return from the narcissist.

Giving Grace

Forgiveness may sound like we are giving grace, and in many ways, I feel that is a chunk of it. I believe, both humanely and biblically, that we must love regardless of behavior.

Loving does not mean that we subject ourselves to more abuse, quite the opposite. We give grace, release any hate or malice that we may have held in our heart, which gets us into position to pray for the person, and to be who we need to be as we walk in life (without any bitterness, or spreading of toxicity to others).

We pray because everyone is worthy of healing. Whether or not an abuser heals is not our decision to make. We pray that our response reflects love, but that does not mean that we subject ourselves to harm and/or additional abusive emotional or physical situations.

We give grace because God gives us grace, and we honor each other as human beings regardless of any choices that we have made in life. We give grace out of courteous goodwill.

Notice how grace looks nothing like hate or malice?

Anger and Frustration is Okay for a Time

It is okay to feel anger for a time, and short-term feelings of frustration can be healthy. It is okay to experience these emotions and feelings as long as we do not let them destroy us.

We learn much from feelings of anger and frustration. Both etch into our awareness the need for change in our lives. For example, it could be time to instill physical or mental boundaries. When we recognize anger and frustration in ourselves, we become grounded in reality.

Saying I Forgive You to a Narcissist

If you tell a narcissist that you have forgiven them, they may lash out in anger. They may gaslight you, i.e., “You are crazy!” “You are out of your mind!” “You are the one that needs to be forgiven.” “You are the abuser!”

Narcissists typically do not take responsibility for their behavior, and if they do acknowledge their behavior, they will justify it. So, they do not easily accept offers of forgiveness, and they respond with, “What do you mean you forgive me? I have not done anything wrong.”

If a narcissistic or emotionally abusive person in your life pushes back at your forgiveness, continue to forgive. This means you will continue to heal, and you are one step closer to a sense of peace. It may not happen today, but it will happen. Remember, you must take care of yourself. You have to release toxicity. You must let it go.

Self-Care and Kindness

Another aspect of forgiveness is to allow yourself self-care. You allow kindness towards both yourself and others. But how does this look different than grace?

Self-care is much different than grace in the respect that we must not give so much of ourselves that we run dry. We must remember that we cannot fix another person ourselves. Only that person (and God) can set healing in place if the narcissist confesses to and accept that their behavior is wrong and that they also seek and agree to professional help.

Remember, professional treatment seldom helps a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read more on this topic here.

If you are codependent, you may lack healthy boundaries. You may fail to recognize that you are not responsible for the happiness of others in your life. This may often lead you to want, or feel responsible for the fixing of others in your life. When you cannot help, it can feel like your vital air supply is cut off. This may lead you to forgo self-care, to completely give everything that you have to a relationship or a person that emotionally is unable to give back, leaving you high and dry with nothing.

Read more about codependency here.

This is a tough situation, but you must let it go. You must forgive. You must take care of yourself. Feel whatever you are feeling for a short time, recognize when you are healing, and peace will follow.

One last, but most important thing — abuse is never right, and abuse is never okay.

Action Step - Prayer Time for Women:


"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14 NIV)

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Psalm 32:1 NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? UP to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV)

Heavenly Father, 

Sometimes, the abuse that I experienced rears up and bites back. I work hard to look upwards and not bend as I feel myself starting to sway here and there in the emotional winds. 

There is nothing more important in my life than you, Father. I praise you for forgiving me even when I sin. I praise you for loving me unconditionally. 

Please check my heart for any hidden malice or unforgiveness that may hold me back from healing, and may lead me to sin. Please guard my heart so my response to others is pure and reflects you despite any onslaught or abusive nature. 

Today, I pray specifically for _____________ . You are the healer, Father, I am only your daughter. It is not my job to fix or heal anyone...this comes from only you. 

In Jesus' Name,

Amen


Pray for forgiveness of sins. Pray for strength. Pray for the healing of others. Pray for those that strike against you. Pray for wisdom. Pray for God to clean your heart of any unforgiveness or malice that you may hold towards others. Remember, prayer — seek, knock, believe, and you will find. 

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about coaching, aromatherapy, and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.

What is an Empath? | The Dynamics of an Empath/Narcissistic Relationship

What exactly is an empath? Mirrian Webster defines an empath as one who experiences the emotions of others, and a person who has empathy for others.

Some descriptions of empaths mention paranormal abilities, but an empath is not a mind reader. An empath cannot pick up on what someone else is thinking.

Empaths Feel the Emotions of Others

In my own position (I am an empath), an empath feels the emotions and feelings of others, and they can feel this emotion as if it were part of their own experience. Someone’s pain becomes an empaths pain. Someone’s joy because an empaths joy.

The danger in picking up on the emotions of others is that these feelings can easily be absorbed. Unless an empath has matured, i.e., they have developed an awareness of their ability to sense the emotions of others, and has developed mindfulness to block what they are picking up on, they can end up feeling tossed around due to whatever is going on in other’s feelings and emotions.

This awareness takes work, and what it equates to is feeling the emotions of others only momentarily, without letting it sink in under the skin. In other words, the empath develops the ability and mindset to say, “They own that (feeling/emotion). It is theirs, not mine.”

Empaths Can Appear Sensitive

Empaths can appear to be sensitive people if they allow the feelings of others to change their trajectory in day-to-day life.

The question that I like to present to empaths is, do you use this ability maturely, or do you allow it to wreck your life?

Empaths Have Strong Intuition

Empaths have intense intuition. They have gut feelings about people that others may not have.

An empath can sense danger or a dark side in a person. An empath can sense when someone is not being genuine. Empaths can see right through a fake persona. This can feel frustrating, alarming, and sometimes, depending upon the situation, hurtful to an empath.

Empaths are Often Introverted

Empaths and introversion are personality characteristics that frequently go hand in hand.

This means that most empaths love people. They are huggers. They adore seeing people that they have not seen for a while. Empaths cherish hearing that life is not only okay for others, but excellent, but after a period of small talk, it becomes tiring. The empath feels fatigued and is ready to head home, shut the door, and recharge.

This is quite the opposite of an extrovert—a person that feels drained or feels as if they hit bottom when they are running on a deficit of social interactions.

Empaths are Frequently Targets of Narcissists

Narcissists are drawn to empaths because they seek a person with a big sensitive heart which enables them to initially love bomb/manipulate/groom the target.

The big question is, how in the world can an empath NOT pick up on the narcissist’s dark side? The answer is remarkably simple. A vulnerable empath may feel starved for a trusting connective relationship, which leads them to absorb the narcissist’s early attempts in the relationship. In other words, they are blind-sided due to their vulnerabilities and craving for love.

An empath may not pick up on the intensity of the initial relationship with the narcissist until they are drawn completely in, and then they experience overwhelm. The overwhelm fogs the empaths perception at that point.

Once the empath picks up on the stark cold reality from the emotions and feelings of the narcissist, it can be particularly heartbreaking, shocking, and confusing.

What an Empath Can Do To Heal from, or Navigate, a Narcissistic Relationship

Therapy, Counseling, or Coaching. I always recommend therapy and/or professional counseling when a client needs deep healing. Coaching is also an option, to help the client get back on their feet…but coaching does not involve therapy. We are not therapists or counselors.

Mindset and Mindfulness. The development of mindset and mindfulness is key to healing from a manipulative or emotionally abusive relationship. If the empath chooses to remain in the relationship, both of these areas will help the empath to set boundaries that will help to protect their own emotional and mental well-being.

What do mindset and mindfulness look like in dealing with a relationship with a narcissist?

  • Recognize when the narcissist’s emotions and feelings are invading your space and your thoughts. Recognize when your heart feels as if it is breaking, or when you feel completely drained, that your emotions may be multiplied not because of your own thoughts, but because of the intensity of the narcissist’s feelings and emotions.
  • Remember that YOU must spiritually and mentally take care of yourself. Narcissists believe that their interests hold the most importance in life.
  • Recognize and believe that you are worthy of being loved and respected in a relationship, and learn to call any/all abuse by its name a.b.u.s.e.!
  • Develop an awareness. Look deep into yourself. What feelings of your own are you sweeping under the rug? What are you not allowing in your life that you, as a human, deserve and need?
  • Be honest with yourself. Are you trying to fulfill your need for a loving relationship with a narcissist who may be more interested in controlling you, or in fulfilling his own needs?
  • Are you looking for approval? Are you trying to do ‘everything right’ in the relationship to gain respect and love from your emotionally unavailable partner?

Ask Yourself These Important Questions

Are you honoring your needs today? Are you taking care of yourself? (You may have a big heart, but your needs matter!)

Are you allowing yourself time to think? (Time to be alone, to think and recharge your ‘batteries.’)

If you are in a relationship with a person who displays narcissistic behavior, are you setting limits and boundaries that help protect you from the weight and onslaught of any manipulative attempts?

Have you developed a boundary system that projects, “These are their feelings and emotions, not mine.”?

Action Step: Prayer Time for Women:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Heavenly Father,

You have given me this incredible ability to love and to sense the emotions of others. I am so grateful for this ability, but today I ask you to help me guard my heart. I ask you to grow my wisdom and strength so that I do not turn to the left, nor the right, and that I only keep my heart and intentions on you, and not on the thoughts and opinions of people. 

Help me to focus on spiritual things that are of you, and not of this world. 

In Jesus' Name,

Amen

Pray for strength. Pray for wisdom. Pray for discernment. Remember that prayer is comprised of 4 parts  — seek, knock, believe, and you will find. 

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about coaching, aromatherapy, and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.

Codependency | Codependent in a Narcissistic Relationship

helping hands (codependent in a narcissistic relationship)

In this blog we are focusing on codependency, or a codependent in a narcissist relationship, but not so much codependent relationships. We will talk about that in a future blog.

What is Codependency (Codependent)?

The definition of codependency (via Oxford Languages): Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.

In my experience, this ‘illness or addiction’ that a codependent may support in others, includes the bolstering of narcissistic behaviors.

Codependency in a relationship often affects a person’s innate ability to have a healthy relationship. These relationships can look good from the outside looking in, while the codependent typically silently struggles to maintain the relationship that is one-sided (i.e., with a narcissist), manipulative, and frequently is emotionally toxic and/or abusive.

If you are codependent you may feel as if you must keep others happy, and this comes at a price, a risk, and most often a sacrifice to your own needs and peace in life.

Codependents Lack Healthy Boundaries

If you are codependent, you may lack healthy boundaries.

You may fail to recognize that you are not responsible for the happiness of others in your life.

If you are codependent you may have poor self-esteem, and this may lead you to feel that your sole purpose is to please others. Your self-esteem dips if or when you cannot help others. This typically happens when the codependent is rejected (i.e., someone refuses their help), or when the codependent cannot help a person or a situation for whatever reason (life happens). To a codependent, the inability to step in and fix or help is like cutting off a vital air supply.

Codependent Caretaker Role

If you are codependent, your lack of self-esteem may lead you to feel miserable when someone you care for is not happy. This typically initiates feelings of guilt, or a sense of personal responsibility, and it can stir up an overwhelming desire for you to caretake.

Codependency and caretaking is a mentally and emotionally unhealthy mix.

In a narcissistic relationship, codependents feed the narcissist’s need for attention, admiration, and control. The codependent loses out in life as their needs are buried and ignored in this relationship…a relationship that does not contain a healthy and loving dose of give and take. In a codependent/narcissistic relationship, one constantly battles and seeks being fed from the other.

Do you know someone that you resist sharing your life challenges with? You avoid because you do not want them (the codependent) to jump in with unsolicited advice, or to get in their car and be on your doorstep immediately? Or to research your problem (online) and come up with various diagnoses, or multiple ways to ‘fix’ you? It is as if this codependent person doesn’t believe you have a mind of your own. As an adult, you more than likely want to take care of yourself, but as a human, you are social, and you want to share how you feel, however, you avoid sharing your problems with someone with codependent traits.

Unhealthy Emotional Responses

A codependent’s emotional response to everyday situations is often more intense compared to others. This typically results in feelings of hurt, rejection, and defensiveness. This is exasperated as others push away from the codependent in the light that they are ‘not dependent upon his/her help.’

Codependents lose touch with their own wants and needs as they maintain a focus to please others. This is not the normal ‘I have your back, my friend,’ retainage of a relationship, instead, the codependent’s mental well-being takes last place in life with no healthy boundaries.

Woven into a codependent’s lack of healthy boundaries (i.e., ‘I must take care of others, or I do not exist) is a craving for closeness with others, as well as an interesting holding back and hiding of their own emotions and feelings to avoid rejection and conflict, which leaves major holes in the building of healthy relationships.

Dependency vs Codependency

As humans, we all need each other. We are social beings. This is a shared need. We need people, a support system who listens and is here for us.

We are all mentally ‘dependent,’ to a degree. Some of us are introverts (needing a lesser amount of interaction), and some are extroverts (needing a greater amount of interaction), but our mental health is boosted by human involvement despite our personality traits.

Self-worth for a codependent is often dependent upon hearing about other’s needs, which can (consciously or not) deliver a boost to the codependent’s ego, or their sense of mental well-being, as the empty spot (needing to help others) is filled.

Fear of abandonment frequently plays into mental dependency. This particular fear often stems from traumatic childhood events like divorce, death, and abuse. (If this describes you, please seek professional mental health care. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. There is NO shame in taking care of YOU!)

Do you know the difference between dependent and codependent? I love this description (from MedicalNewsToday) – Dependent: Both people can express their emotions and needs and find ways to make the relationship beneficial for both of them. Codependent: One person feels that their desires and needs are unimportant and will not express them. They may have difficulty recognizing their own feelings or needs at all.

A dependent can be one or both partners in a relationship, and both partners can express their emotions and needs. A codependent is one person in a relationship who will not express their emotions and needs, and may not recognize that they have their own feelings or needs at all.

Help for a Codependent

How do you help yourself with traits of codependency?

You can seek counseling or therapy. Bear with me as I repeat myself, there is nothing wrong with seeking help. There is NO shame in taking care of YOU! Know that coaches have wonderful listening ears, and we are trained an experienced at helping you get from point A to point B, but if that involves helping you fix something therapeutically from your past, we stick with our code of ethics and send you to someone licensed to provide treatment.

Beyond counseling or therapy, what can you do for your codependency traits?

Openly talk with others in your support system. Your support system should be people that you can trust. People that listen without judging. People that unconditionally care for you and will be honest with you. People that do not release your confidential personal business.

The biggest gain you will receive through talking with others is that you release your emotions and your needs, desires, and wants. You are not burying your emotions and needs as you might (often do) when you only tend to the needs of others. You take care of yourself when you do this!

Develop a mindset of awareness. Know when you are putting the needs of others in front of your own emotions and needs. Develop an awareness of when you are neglecting your own mental and physical health.

Set boundaries. Set healthy boundaries that will ensure you avoid pleasing others when you are at the point of ignoring and sacrificing yourself.

Set boundaries that ensure you are aware of when you are over-responding emotionally (feeling hurt, rejected, or defensive). Note, you have to develop an awareness of these things before you can set boundaries.

The boundaries sound like this: I can do what I can do for her/him, but if I cannot help, I will not feel (hurt, rejected, defensive), because I know that I do the best that I can do in life! I am worthy of taking care of myself!

Your boundaries (to avoid codependency trails) look like an internal alarm system. When the door opens (I feel hurt, I feel compelled to help, or compelled to run and ‘fix’ someone else’s situation), the internal alarm goes off. The boundary involves shutting the door when your need to help others is greater than taking care of yourself. When the door shuts, you are left to take care of your mental and physical health (and that is more than OKAY).

Take Care of You

Love yourself. Sometimes we experience abuse or toxic relationships, and we don’t understand what is mentally happening to us until much later. So, give yourself grace, patience, and again, love yourself.

One last, but most important thing — abuse is never right, and abuse is never okay.

I would love for you to share your story in the comments. The more we share, the more we can help others. Have you had experiences in life a codependent, or have you personally dealt with traits of codependency? What steps did you take to heal?

Action Step: Prayer Time for Women:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Heavenly Father, 

Please forgive the sinful times I have put others before you. I have been weak in taking care of myself. This vessel and mind that you have given me in life have been neglected. I seek increased wisdom so that I will know when to help others, and when to simply love through listening. I realize my entry into heaven is not dependent upon my 'good works,' but it is dependent upon my faith, my belief and acceptance of you, as well as my sheer obedience. Help me to strengthen as a saint...to be obedient to you, and not to the worldly ways of man. 

In Jesus' Name, 

Amen

Pray for healing. Pray for help. Pray for forgiveness of sins. Pray for wisdom. Remember, prayer seek, knock, believe, and you will find. 

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about coaching, aromatherapy, and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.

You Want to Explain Yourself (In Your Defense) to a Narcissist?

www.maryhumphreycoaching.com dealing with a narcisssist

Life with an emotionally abusive partner, or a narcissist, is more than difficult to manage. It can sap our energy, and it can be unbelievably frustrating when we try to ‘right’ the heavy situations when our partner either makes his/her side of the story up, or they accuse us of saying or doing something that they have fabricated.

The scenario often looks like this: The narcissist in your life accused you of something you KNOW you did not say or do. You want to defend yourself because 1) the accusation is false, 2) you aren’t crazy, 3) you are not the person the narcissist made you out to be, 3) you feel as if you have been locked into a prison cell with ‘guilty as charged’ stamped on your forehead. The judge and the jury (the narcissist), however, did not give you a fair trial in which you were able to prove your innocence. You have been signed, stamped, and delivered (locked up, and the key has been thrown away). What do you do now?

You want to explain yourself in your own defense (to the narcissist)? I ended my sentence purposely with a question mark. You may want to explain yourself until your innocence is proven, but is that feasible? Typically, not when you are dealing with a narcissist.

Explaining yourself to a narcissist in an attempt to defend your own innocence is usually a futile endeavor. Why is it ineffectual? Because narcissists:

  1. are wired to be on the defense
  2. are grandiose in their view of self
  3. see no wrong in their behaviors
  4. do not listen
  5. are determined to make themselves look right
  6. make you out to be the abuser
  7. project blame onto you
  8. manipulate, gaslight, and drum up anxiety and doubt in you (i.e., dismantle your self-confidence and self-esteem)
  9. intend to be the ‘top dog,’ getting want they want in life, and typically because they feel that they deserve it

Narcissists are invested in their own lies and manipulative and deceptive practices. The profit that they intend to glean from their investment is complete control of you (their victim). 

I understand the feeling of whole-heartedly wanting to prove your innocence, or to ensure the story that the narcissist conveys to others does not falsely drag you down into the dirt, so how do you stop the narcissist? How do you defend yourself? You don’t, but you can try several methods (boundary setting and going gray rock) that involve changing yourself to protect your mental well-being.

Boundary Setting

Boundaries include both mental and physical barriers and dividing lines.

Create a mental boundary that involves awareness. You are aware that the narcissist is trying to manipulate you, and you are fully aware that you cannot change their behavior.

What the narcissist does not realize is that you are aware of their emotional abuse, and in setting this mental boundary, they cannot touch your sanity, your self-esteem, nor your personal beliefs. You own who you are, how you think, your core values, and how you operate your life accordingly. You are calm. You respond ‘to the point,’ but always in a calm manner. You make no attempt to prove your story or innocence.

Is this easy to do? No, it takes practice. It is like weight lifting. You cannot hold a heavy object up in the air for long periods of time until you have built up the muscles to do so. With a narcissist, you must build your mental muscles up in order to cope.

Create a ‘civil treatment’ boundary that may help to deter verbal abuse. It sounds like this…with calm and to-the-point conviction, “When you are ready to discuss this in a civil and reasonable manner, we can return to talking about this.”

Leave out any acknowledgment of the narcissist’s jabbing words or manipulative attempts. Your attempt is to ignore all of that. You are the calm one in this scenario, and you are taking care of yourself!

Some narcissists rely on passive-aggressive behaviors to deal with their own insecurities, and for the same reason, they are critical and suspicious of others. You can face this type of behavior with calm, and set your own pace in life (having the friends and family that YOU deserve and want), and you can remain mentally collected as you do so.

Calm Conversation From the Battleground

Here is an example of a narcissist that frequently criticizes others, procrastinates in an attempt to keep his wife away from her family, and often utters criticism towards his wife’s family, friends, and people in general. His attempt(s) did not work in this example, and my client illustrated herself as calm, cool, collected, and to the point.

Amber’s sister invited her and her husband, Tom, to a Christmas gathering.

After several weeks had passed, Amber decided to no longer quietly wait for Tom’s response to the invitation. She calmly got straight to the point and asked Tom, “Christmas is coming up. Are we going to my sister’s house?” (Amber had mentally prepared so *she didn’t feel as if she were walking on eggshells as she approached Tom.* She was aware that Tom might react in a negative manner regardless of how she approached the subject.)

Tom sneered, “You know how your sister thinks her **** does not stink. I guess you prefer her and her family over me. You want to be just like the Joneses.” (Notice, Tom’s criticism and words that denote his lack of confidence. His words felt like a sting from a whip momentarily to Amber, but Amber turned it around and processed his words as a deep insecurity.)

Amber ignored the cutting words. She did not jab back. “I need to respond to my sister with a yes or a no. Are you going with me?” (That changed the tide. She was going to the family gathering, and this was her way to practice self-care, and to support her family despite her husband’s biting words. Tom could now make the choice to go, or not to go, but it was not his place to stop Amber from going.)

Gray Rock

Gray rock is a behavior strategy you can use to appear unresponsive and uninteresting to the narcissist. When you gray rock, you do not feed into the narcissist’s twisted needs. You go neutral. You do not show any feelings (no hurt reaction, no trying to defend yourself, no facial expressions that reflect sadness, anger, or frustration)…nothing.

Respond to the narcissist’s prods with a shrug, utter a “meh,” or a short non-committed response, such as “yes,” “no,” or, “I don’t know.”

Note, the narcissist may use your gray rock attempts against you. I use the word ‘may’ loosely, because, in my experience, they will use it against you. They typically will throw you under the bus as they feel they have lost control. They fight back with accusations that you are cold and non-supportive, just to validate that you are the problem and that they are innocent.

When a narcissist no longer feels they have to defend themselves from you (when you step back and let them live with their own behavior and thoughts), they are left to deal with their own feelings. Some narcissists will go into a rage. Some will look for other love interests. Some will start a smear campaign. Be prepared, flex your awareness muscles, and be safe!

Gray rock is used for several purposes, one is that you remain calm and that you do not feed into the narcissist’s fire, but gray rock is also a strategy with the objective being that the narcissist loses interest in you, and eventually, you are off the ’emotional abuse’ hook.

Take Care of You

Sadly, you may have wanted your relationship to look different than it does (or did) with a narcissist. I understand. We all understand.

Just remember, you have to take care of yourself. You own who you are, and nobody can steal that away from you.

Abuse is never right, and abuse is never okay.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about coaching, aromatherapy, and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.

Have Patience

Have patience. When it feels like it is taking forever for your goals and passions to take on a semblance of motion, it may feel like it is ‘all wrong’. Do not quit. It may not be the ‘right time’, and when the time is right, you will know it. You will then receive all of the tools that you need to move forward. #godsplans #holyspiritled #patience

Elements of Healing (From Narcissistic Abuse) Part 2

www.maryhumphreycoaching.com elements of healing from narcissismHealing from narcissistic abuse is a process, and it looks different for everyone because every relationship is unique, and the same goes for emotionally abusive relationships.

You may be wondering where am I with my healing?

It is impossible to determine the number of steps or elements involved with healing from emotionally abusive relationships, but I am covering 8 main components. I discussed the first 3 of these pieces in Elements of Healing (From Narcissistic Abuse) Part 1 (here).

4. Reclaim Identity

You may not be the same person you were prior to entering a relationship with a narcissist, and then, you may not want to be that same person.

When you reclaim your identity you know who you are. You know your beliefs, core values, and which direction you want and need your life to take to maintain your mental well-being. You also know how you want, and should, be treated in a relationship.

You may not want to be the same person you were prior to the emotionally draining relationship because you are now stronger, more aware of what a narcissist looks like (their tactics and behavior), and you know what you might have lacked when you locked elbows with the narcissist. As you reclaim your identity, you are either working on regaining what you (then) missed, or you solidly have it under your belt today.

5. Self-Compassion and Celebrate You

As you heal, you have compassion for yourself. You no longer blame yourself for the narcissist’s behavior. You no longer believe that if you do the right thing, or say the right thing your relationship will upright itself and the narcissist will get better. You stop laying a guilt trip on yourself for getting into the relationship.

You learn to celebrate yourself.

You do even the smallest of things for yourself. You get out and do what you love. Sometimes, when we are in the healing process, it is accompanied by financial difficulties. Go out and spend little. Go to a bargain movie, the library, a thrift store, or, buy yourself something within a small budget. Start a journal (so very therapeutic)! The point is, celebrate YOU, celebrate your accomplishments…celebrate your life!

(Celebrate Your Accomplishments. Read more here.)

(Does therapy help a person diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Read more here.)

6. Feelings May Stick Around

Know that the feelings and emotions that you have—hurt, pain, frustration, confusion, grief, shock, etc., may stick with you for a while.

Think of it as what it is, a grieving process. You have lost yourself to a relationship that you thought was ideal. You have lost the relationship with the partner that you thought was the love of your life.

When we grieve, it takes time to heal. Today, we may feel the hand of healing upon us, and then tomorrow something may trigger us to feel emotions that we thought were buried and long gone. Allow yourself to feel what you feel at the moment.

Allow yourself to acknowledge the where and the why of your feelings, but, I want you to pat yourself on the back at the same time. You are in the healing process and what you feel today is not permanent. You own your good feelings, and you own your uncomfortable feelings (they come and they go).

7. Seeking New Love Relationships

While you are healing, one of the last things that you should do is seek a new love relationship.

Give yourself time to heal. Give yourself time to recognize the milestones that you have reached in your healing. Give yourself time to understand who you are. You do not want to take the hurt, pain, or doubts, with you into a new relationship.

You may feel starved for love after any period of time with a narcissist, but love comes in many forms. The best form for you until you have healed is a friendship and not a romance.

When you give yourself time to heal, you will learn to expect what you need in life. You will expect respect in a mutually give and take relationship. You will know what is healthy for you.

8. Your Support System

You may have been in a narcissistic relationship, or in one, where you were led into isolation and for a time, you didn’t recognize it. It may have separated you from any sort of support system, leaving you to feel alone, as if you were on an island with your enormous struggles.

Especially when you are in the healing process, and this is always a human ‘need’ in life, ensure you have a support system that is made up of at least several people that you can trust and rely on.

Your support system can be friends, loved ones, or professionals that have your back. They listen with a non-judging ear. Your well-being is a priority to the people in your support system, and you are confident in your trust in them.

With a support system, you should find an honest mirroring back to you when you either thrive or slide back.

9. Speak as a Survivor

What you verbalize in life speaks volumes of how you view yourself. Are you a victim? Remember, you own who you are internally, and nobody can claim your thoughts, actions, beliefs, or core values. Are you a survivor? You may be a survivor. I hope you are! But, are you a thriver? Do you emanate a strong person that has the ability to, and/or, made your way beyond the hurdles of narcissistic abuse?

My own story (about being a victim): I was in a session with my life coach. I mentioned how angry and downgraded my boss led me to feel. He made me feel belittled, frustrated, and hurt. My life coach didn’t go easy on me, she let me know that I had adopted a victim mentality.

Victim mentality is defined by Merriam-Webster as the belief that one is always a victimthe idea that bad things will always happen to one.

I compared this definition to my (what felt like abusive) boss and how I related to his behavior. I then asked myself some questions, and these are the questions that you can ask yourself (in relation to how you feel about the emotional abuse that you have/are experiencing):

  • Am I always a victim?
  • Will bad things always happen to me?
  • Am I allowing his/her thoughts to victimize me, or am I setting mental boundaries and not claiming his/her thoughts/ideas/abusive words as the truth?
  • Am I living my life (mentally and physically) based on my own beliefs, thoughts, and core values? Or, am I mirroring a victim mentality?

My wake-up call/answer: I am NOT a victim! I have this!

Summing the Healing Process Up

The healing process is like a three-part book.

  • Part 1, the first section, you will not either understand or know what you need to heal from.
  • Part 2, page by page, your needs, wants, and well-being, as well as how to heal, arrives (gradually) from each page that you turn.
  • Part 3, you recognize your healing milestones. You recognize that you have closed one door and you have opened another. You recognize that you are breathing (an image of) fresh, clean, non-abusive air. You now feel free to enjoy your life. You trust yourself with renewed compassion. You stand on solid ground.

I hope you enjoyed this two-part series. We would love for you to share your own healing experience(s) in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about coaching, aromatherapy, and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.

Elements of Healing (From Narcissistic Abuse) Part 1

elements of healing from narcissistic abuse www.maryhumphreycoaching.comHealing from narcissistic abuse is a process, and it looks different for everyone because every relationship is unique, and the same goes for emotionally abusive relationships.

You may be wondering where am I with my healing?

It is impossible to determine the number of steps or elements involved with healing from emotionally abusive relationships, it may be limitless, but in this blog, I have identified 8 main components.

1. Acknowledgement and Acceptance

To acknowledge abuse, you give it a name. You call it what it is. It is not “it might be abuse.” It is not “abuse, but he/she is good to me.” It is not “Abuse, but he/she does not mean it.” It is abuse, emotional abuse. Period.

Acceptance mirrors acknowledgment. You do not make excuses for the narcissist. You do not deny that you have been abused. You accept, and you do not fight the fact that you have been abused. Abuse is never okay.

2. Set Boundaries

Boundary setting is also limitless, but when healing from narcissistic abuse, there are three main constituents important to the process.

Physical boundary. You go no contact. You put physical distance between you and the narcissist. You change your phone number. You change your social media profiles or accounts. Or, you may block the narcissist from finding you, calling you, or commenting on your social media accounts and online platforms.

Not everyone must take measures to go no contact (some narcissists will walk away without any further contact).

You may not be able to go no contact. You may be a parent with under-age children. You may share custody of your children with a narcissist. It is impossible to manage joint custody of younger children without some form of communication.

Conversational boundary. This boundary includes communicating with the narcissist, but this can be a tool to keep abusive behavior out of it. This involves making a statement to the narcissist, such as, “When you can talk in a calm and non-abusive manner, we can have a conversation about this.” Then, stick to it.

Mental boundary. There isn’t a soul on this earth that can change how you feel/think/believe. You know your own core values. You guide your life based on your beliefs and values. When/if you are being emotionally abused (and I hope never), or perhaps when something has triggered a memory of emotional abuse, let your mind go to the truth of who you are. You are not who or what the abuser says you are (see Gaslighting Narcissistic Manipulation). You are also not your thoughts. You are your beliefs and values…this is your TRUTH. You own this, and nobody can touch it!

It can be challenging to mentally put yourself in your place of truth, especially when you are in the midst of turmoil with a narcissist. It will become a habit once you practice it a number of times. It can be difficult to remain calm and to maintain a stoic facial expression, but the less emotion you display, the less you will tangle with the narcissist. The worst thing you can do is to fight back with your own defensive words. When you are defensive, it feeds the narcissistic. It validates, in the narcissist’s mind, that you are the problem and that their behavior/words/abuse is okay. Remember this, you will continue to heal as you practice this mental boundary. There will be a day in your life when you obtain and recognize healing milestones!

3. Myriad of Emotions

When healing from narcissistic emotional abuse, you feel a myriad of “normal” emotions.

Confusion sets in early in the healing process, and typically it occurs before a victim understands what they are dealing with (narcissism). Confusion sounds like, “What is going on with my relationship?”, “Why is he/she so mean and uncaring?”, “Is he/she mentally sick or unstable?”, “How did my relationship go from being a perfect love match (i.e. love bombing) to what it is today?”, “What is this? I do not understand what is going on!”

Once you work your way through the muck of confusion, the wheels of healing begin to move.

Grief (sadness, depression) is an early part of the healing process. Even though some levels of depression can be dangerous (please seek professional help if you are thinking of harming yourself, or if depression stops you from functioning in your day-to-day life), know that sporadic and brief periods of grief and sadness are normal to the healing process.

Grief comes and it goes. When it comes early in the process, it hurts because it is a loss, and it hurts ‘big.’

A client shared her story of healing and grief: She was out with her husband (a narcissist) at a shopping mall. She knew that her marriage was deeply troubled (mental abuse and adultery that the narcissist felt no shame for). The reality that her marriage might be unfixable had begun to hit her. She was walking along in the mall, in the middle of a non-stressful conversation with her husband, when a round of grief took her by surprise. She dashed into a store where she saw shelving that she could hide behind and she cried…she bent over in sheer emotional pain. When she was able to gather herself together, she returned to where the narcissist was waiting. His words were, “What is wrong with you? People are going to think you are an idiot.” Did she feel a sting from that comment? Yes, but it also validated that even though he knew that she was grieving, and why, he still chastised her for her behavior. This became one of many turning points for her to do something to regain control of her life. Devastation eventually transformed into a sense of surety.

Shock appears early in the healing process, and this where acknowledgment and acceptance are important. Shock diminishes once the abuse is called what it is. A victim may feel a sense of shock before they feel confusion, but just as often, the sense of shock, to a lesser degree, can return throughout the many stages of healing.

(As a life coach, this is my main goal, to educate others so that they recognize what they are dealing with—narcissistic emotional abuse. A person doesn’t know what they don’t know!)

Shock can take on different looks, depending upon circumstances. In the very beginning, when the victim starts to recognize the narcissist’s behavior, it can sound like this, “I am shocked. He/she acts like they do not care about my feelings. What happened?!” Later in the healing process, the victim might feel momentary shock, “How did I spend 20 years of my life with this person?”, and then the healing continues on from there.

Anger is healthy when it doesn’t get in the way of our healing. With healing, anger must be turned into forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean that we believe the abuse is okay. Forgiveness means that we have released feelings of vengeance, hate, and hurt towards a person that we feel has harmed us. If we harbor these feelings it becomes toxic. We create anxiety and pain within ourselves, and this can lead to mental and physical unwellness.

Fear is healthy as long as it is a momentary feeling. Fear is a mechanism that can keep us from physical harm. Fear alerts us that something is wrong, that we are facing ‘real’ danger! Fear is not healthy when prolonged.

You may trust the narcissist, but you may find yourself suddenly fearing them or their behavior. This is a healthy ‘warning signal’ of proposed danger. Fear speaks to us, it tells us to take action to ensure our safety.

Anxiety is never healthy. It can lead to mental and physical health problems when prolonged. Anxiety is similar to fear, except anxiety can become chronic. Anxiety is often a manifestation of perceived fear, or fear of a poorly defined threat.

Anxiety might keep a victim awake at night. Anxiety might become a barrier in the healing process. An example of how our fear-related anxious thoughts can become a barrier to healing, “I just might not ever get out of this situation with (the narcissist), what if they turn the tables on me?” These words speak of fear, doubt, and anxiety.

Paranoia is common, especially for victims that have been involved with a covert narcissist.

Covert narcissists lack self-esteem, which makes it difficult for victims to live their lives. The covert narcissist often believes that people have hidden agendas. This can manifest into stalking the victim, and it can lead to the victim developing paranoia for some time to come. The victim may continue to feel the narcissist is watching their every step, even though it might no longer ring true. Paranoia, especially when it includes distrust, can eventually dissolve as the victim heals.

(Fear, anxiety, and paranoia are OKAY for temporary periods of time. Seek professional help if you chronically experience either/or, and if it interferes with normal functioning in your daily life.)

Shame is one of the more painful aspects of healing from emotional abuse.

Shame can prevent you from opening up to others about the abuse.

Shame can prevent victims from leaving the abuser, or from acknowledging that they are a victim of abuse.

Shame keeps people in abusive relationships for years, sometimes lifetimes. Shame can lead the victim to feel that they somehow deserve the abuse, or that if they were ‘better’ the abuse would not happen.

Always remember this: You cannot change or heal the narcissist by being better…by saying the right thing, or by doing the right thing. Clinical therapeutic treatment typically does not help a person diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD (read more here). You did not cause narcissism in the abuser. Do not validate the narcissist’s behavior through your sense of shame!

I will discuss co-dependency and enabling the narcissist in future blog posts. Both of these personality types (victims) fail to recognize that abuse is wrong, and that abuse is never deserved, and each can type can blame themselves for the abuse.

Continued reading, part 2 of this blog series will be published soon. In part 2, I discuss reclaiming identity, self-compassion, celebrating you, length of healing (it may take time, and give yourself time), talk with people in your support system, and speak as a survivor, scratch that, a thriver, and NOT a victim.

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