How to Cope When No Contact is Not Possible

More and more of us are finding ourselves in situations in which we are unable to escape a narcissist. We can keep our distance from disordered individuals as much as possible, while also knowing we have strategies to fall back on when we encounter someone who does not have our best interests at heart. In this video I give a brief outline of some key tips to help you cope.

If you would like more personalised support, please email me at [email protected] for availability for coaching sessions.

What to do When it Seems as Though the Narcissist is Winning

So we have discovered that the narcissist is no good for us and we have made the difficult decision to leave.  It would make logical sense that our lives should be better from now on, right?

When we leave a narcissist, it can be a shock for many of us when we find that the narcissist appears to be thriving without us. We may compare ourselves to them and wonder why we are feeling so bad. This can lead to despair and low self-esteem.

In this video, I want to provide you with reassurance that this phenomenon is normal. In no way does it mean that you are a failure. As the video explains, after time the tide will start to change. We have some work to do to get there, but the rewards will come.

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Have you experienced the phenomenon described in the video? How did it turn out in the end? How are you doing now? Please let us know in the comments section below.

How to Deal With Flying Monkeys

The betrayal that occurs as a result of narcissistic abuse can be devastating. However, on top of that many people find that the abuser has recruited a number of “flying monkeys” to carry out evil deeds on their behalf. This can be really difficult to deal with and come to terms with. Having a group of people, who you once believed cared about you, turn against you and enable someone who is hurting you, can be crazy making. The most important thing to remember is that their behaviour is a reflection of them. It is not a sign of any weakness in you – quite the opposite, in fact. On the plus side, experiencing abuse by flying monkeys can be an invitation for you to uplevel the standards of what you know you deserve in relationships. This can help you to move on to healthier relationships in the future.

As always, I would love to hear any suggestions that you have for future topics. Feel free to leave your comments below.

The ACE Study and Shame

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study helped us to understand the significance of shame and how it affects our health.

How did the ACE Study come about?

In the 1990s, the healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente recruited Dr. Vincent Felitti in San Diego to help them to uncover why they were experiencing an epidemic of obesity.

It was found that 55% of the people in the clinic who were experiencing severe obesity had experienced childhood sexual abuse. The excess weight served a positive protective factor for the people that we are unable to see. The study was then expanded to look at the correlation between other types of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and adverse situations in adulthood.

This study was initially conducted with 286 people. To make these findings into an epidemiological study, questionnaires were handed to each person who came into Kaiser Permanente (akin to a visit to your GP). In total over 17,000 people took part in the study.

ACEs studiesPatients were asked to complete two questionnaires. The first questionnaire asked them to say whether they experienced each of 10 categories of childhood adversity, such as neglect, violence between parents and substance abuse in parents. They were also asked to select which conditions they were now experiencing in adulthood, such as addiction, depression, diabetes, smoking, heart disease, stroke and suicide attempts.

The patients were given the time to complete the questionnaires. When they subsequently saw their doctor or nurse practitioner, the practitioner would say, “I notice that you experienced x when you were a child. I am so sorry that happened to you. You should not have had to go through that. Would you like to talk about it?” In response, 60% of people chose to talk about it and explore how it had affected them in adult life and 40% declined.

The really interesting point is that by asking these questions, there was a 35% decrease in outpatient visits and an 11% decrease in hospital admissions. Symptoms of depression decreased significantly in the patients who were listened to with compassion. This amounted to savings of $billions in healthcare costs!

So what was happening?

shame and healthWe know that confession has been used as a means to bring relief to people’s circumstances for over 1800 years.  It appears that something similar was going on here. By someone listening to what had happened to a person and by receiving them warmly, with acceptance and giving them validation, the person was able to release their shame surrounding the event.

So this showed what an impact unresolved shame has on our bodies and minds. It shows the importance of having a supportive community to overcome this.

How to Stop Playing Small After Narcissistic Abuse

Why would someone play small in the first place?

When we are involved with a narcissist, we are conditioned to play small. The narcissist needs to feel powerful and superior in order to assure his or her false self that their grandiose self image is correct. The narcissist is likely to fly into a rage or to punish us if we say or do the slightest thing that could threaten this false self image. As a result, we end up living our lives as though we are treading on eggshells. 

Playing small comes from an underlying, subconscious need to keep ourselves safe. This is a very strong and powerful instinctive human need. When the narcissist had power over us, we had to play small in order to be safe.

If we dared to ever feel good about ourselves or do something for our own good, it is likely that the narcissist would have lashed out and punished or hurt us in some way. As a result, we become conditioned to play small to prevent this from happening. This process is mainly playing out in the subconscious.

Breaking Away From the Abuser’s Conditioning

Playing small may serve us when we are involved with an abuser. However upon leaving the relationship, we may discover that this conditioning is hindering us, rather than helping. The steps below and the accompanying video, explain how we can learn how to feel safe to take up space in the world and to be our authentic selves.

How do we Overcome the Conditioning to Play Small?

1. The first step to overcoming this conditioning is to be aware that we are playing small.

2.  I would then encourage you to take small steps or risks that involve breaking the pattern of playing small, however that may look to you. When you do this, some inevitable blocks and fears (possibly even terror) will arise inside you.

3 I would encourage you to really focus on how your body feels when this happens and to notice the sensations in your body. Take a moment to acknowledge and honour how you are feeling. I normally journal about it, as I find this helps to bring the emotions and feelings to the surface and to be expressed in a safe way.

4. The sensations and feelings are crying out to be heard. They will be stuck in our bodies and will keep coming up until we really feel them and listen to the message that they have for us.

The change comes from the inside. When we can compassionately and lovingly come home to ourselves then we can heal the blocks that are stopping us from living full lives. Then we will find that we are increasingly free to gain traction in our lives, without having to constantly battle against the conditioning that the abuser has instilled into us.

It is an ongoing and gradual process that takes time. We need to train our bodies to realise that it is safe to take up space in the world.

I would love to hear your comments. Please feel free to get in touch and let me know of any topics that you would like me to cover or any questions you may have.