Regaining trust in ourselves. Regaining trust in our decisions. The role of distorted thinking.

When we take on the words of the abuser as truth, and layer the blame and shame onto ourselves, we are further eroding our self-esteem, self-efficacy, and our ability to heal.

Case in point. For years, the abuser blames us, gas-lights us, and manipulates truth and reality. We are traumatized.

We may play and replay his/her words distorting and perpetuating this unhealthy cycle in our body, in our minds, and in our thinking.

This chips away at our very core. This may cause an unending fear, worry, and anxiety that feeds off itself. This may create more dire scenarios in our brains and further escalate our fear.

Generic Examples:

While in the marriage, the abuser is out and about with other women. He is constantly texting his/her other love interests. When the infidelities are discovered, he/she then attacks the victim for being a jealous controlling freak saying she is the one with issues. Name calling and gas lighting her more and more with each incident.

 “You are the flirt. You are over-sensitive and controlling. Why are you making such a mountain out of nothing! You are a mess. Maybe if you took better care of yourself and _______. I wouldn’t have to entertain myself with other women. Look at yourself!”

The list goes on and on. You question your sanity daily. After you leave, you torture yourself with lingering blame.

You reprimand yourself and think over and over again: I should have tried harder, acted better, been a better wife, mother, partner. The list goes on.

You may start forgetting. You may begin to distort your memories. “It really was pretty good sometimes. He/she has good qualities. We had some great family times together. We have a lot of memories and common interests”.

Think about this. A person has lied, manipulated, cheated, abused and subjected you to indescribable terror. These two parts cannot be teased apart. This is the mark of the person you were ensnared with. Do not forget that fact.

The whole cycle is toxic. We are torturing ourselves with our poisoned thoughts towards ourselves.

The victim then begins to chastise her or himself. “I am jealous. I am a nag. I am at fault. I should have been more supportive. I should have “respected” him more. “

Even after the victim leaves, the relentless self-criticisms are played and replayed in the mind of the victim.  We are taking on the words of the narcissistic abuser as if these were truths.

Our vision of who we are is completely distorted.

Visualize a clear pitcher of fresh, clean water. Each drop of venom, over the years, is added with a dropper into this clear water. This venom is dark. After a very short period, the entire pitcher is cloudy, murky, and completely changed from its original form. This is the same as our thinking.

Years of hyper-vigilance and abuse leave us with high levels of anxiety, worry, and fear in our minds and in our bodies. We feel alone. We feel isolated. No one understands right. How do we move out of stuck with some resolve in order to begin the process of healing?

When we lack trust and confidence in ourselves and our decisions and do not see and know who we are at our core anymore, we may begin to hold ourselves in our own prison; even after we are no longer with the narcissistic abuser.

Fear of taking decisive action to begin problem solving is one of the symptoms and lingering long-term effects of chronic stress and trauma. Consider the difference between being cautious with balance and being completely taken over by fear and anxiety. Can we make a choice today to bring some actionable steps to repetitive problem-solving thinking that leads nowhere?

  1. Draw a two-column chart on a piece of paper. Title one column “Problems”. Title the other column “Possible Solutions”.
  2. List only three problems in short statements. Make sure that the problems have been teased apart.
  3. List possible solutions to each problem. Possible solutions should include action steps.
  4. If you cannot solve, set a deadline or date to get further information. Commit to the deadline.
  5. This will allow the mind to tuck the problem away to a later date and reduce over-thinking and over-analyzing.
  6. If you start thinking about the problems again, stop yourself and tell your brain that you are working on a solution and that you have written down a plan. Shift your attention to another task or activity.

We can return to who we are at our core. We can re-envision. With determination and discernment, we can clear our own murky water.

Free Audio: 3 Sabotaging Beliefs After An Abusive Relationship With A Narcissist

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