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A Simple Remedy For Feeling Better After Narcissistic Abuse

by | August 31, 2016


If you’re struggling to heal from and move on after narcissistic abuse, you’re probably frustrated that it’s taking so long. Healing from narcissistic abuse is so much more complicated than healing from a regular break up. This is why the typical breakup advice and tips not only don’t work but often leave you feeling even worse off, and wondering if something is wrong with you. The popular breakup wisdom that advises you, that you will feel better if you find a new hobby, and change up your hairstyle, doesn’t help you to get over it any faster. The common remedies for a broken heart fall short because they don’t address the broken spirit, mind-bending confusion, cognitive dissonance, unanswered questions, lack of closure, and the callous, post-discard behavior characteristic of breakups with narcissists.

What if I told you it’s okay not to be okay?

You might agree with that statement in theory, but when it comes to the pain of heartbreak, no one wants to be okay with not being okay. We want to fast forward to feeling good again, and the sooner, the better! There is a famous idiom that says: “The only way out, is through,” but when our hearts are broken, and we’re feeling the gut-wrenching pain of despair, going through it is the last thing we want to do. We don’t want to wait that long. We would rather go around it. Over it. Under it. We would rather just avoid it all together. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be prescribed an amnesia pill that could wipe away the memories, erase the pain, and get rid of the obsessive thoughts, so we could just get on with the rest of our lives? So often in our desperate attempts to side skirt the inevitable pain of the loss of a relationship, we unintentionally end up prolonging it.

Our natural instincts to avoid pain are then reinforced by the unspoken cultural pressure, of the dogma of perpetual positivity, that shames us for any hiatuses in optimism.

If you take a quick scroll down your social media news feed, you will recall the super rosy, uber positive, feel-good memes and messages I’m talking about.

I am in charge of how I feel today, and today I am choosing happiness.

Put your positive pants on.

Think like a proton and stay positive.

Positive minds live positive lives.

I’m not knocking these messages. They are empowering, and the practice of identifying, and erasing our limiting beliefs, and substituting them for positive ones, is essential to our emotional well-being, but not at the expense of denying our true feelings. We need not rush to the positivity finish line because we are experiencing the discomfort of negative emotions.

We are not weak, or wrong for having painful, and tough feelings. They are as natural to the human experience, as having happy, and joyful feelings.

Facing our pain and accepting it, and being in the present moment, is a much healthier alternative, than trying to ignore and dodge our pain, with chants of positivity. When we learn to be present with our feelings, we become better equipped at managing them. When we suppress our pain, get frustrated by its presence, and don’t process our hurt, then it unconsciously rears its ugly head in our lives in a variety of horribly destructive ways.

Many people mask their pain with drugs and alcohol, work, exercise, sex, and so on as a method to avoid their pain. Some people suppress their emotions through comfort foods, and overeating and some people displace their pain and take it out on others. And guess what? All that emotional numbing only stalls our healing, and worse, it stirs up a whole slew of new problems we have to confront.

There’s another famous idiom that cautions us about unresolved pain: “Hurt people hurt people.” If we don’t practice being compassionate with ourselves, then we definitely can’t be compassionate with others.

There is nothing dangerous, or weak about being okay with having negative emotions. Although, I know it may seem like sitting with our feelings is similar to, and can be potentially as destructive, or useless as dwelling on them, and may even make them last longer, and weigh heavier. But actually, the opposite is true. The danger lies when we sit with our feelings and allow the way we feel about something to morph into beliefs.

For example, There’s a monumental difference between feeling sad and broken and believing you’re broken, and it will last forever. There’s a huge difference between feeling devastated, and believing your life is over. And there’s a big difference in feeling rejected, and believing you’re unworthy, or something is wrong with you. This is where, if we’re not careful, we can start down a very slippery slope. When we can identify how we’re feeling, and then add the words, “and it’s okay” afterward, we immediately neutralize the feeling from snowballing from a feeling to a belief.

Every time we’re able to contain our feelings, and not let the cognitive process of emotional reasoning (a process by which a person concludes that his/her emotional reaction proves something is true regardless of observed evidence) get the best of us, we gain mastery over our emotions, and we begin to heal.

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A LITTLE ABOUT ME

Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert.
She is a dedicated advocate, educator and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.

GET THE BOOK “I AM FREE”

Healing stories about surviving toxic relationships with narcissists and sociopaths.


If you’re struggling to heal from and move on after narcissistic abuse, you’re probably frustrated that it’s taking so long. Healing from narcissistic abuse is so much more complicated than healing from a regular break up. This is why the typical breakup advice and tips not only don’t work but often leave you feeling even worse off, and wondering if something is wrong with you. The popular breakup wisdom that advises you, that you will feel better if you find a new hobby, and change up your hairstyle, doesn’t help you to get over it any faster. The common remedies for a broken heart fall short because they don’t address the broken spirit, mind-bending confusion, cognitive dissonance, unanswered questions, lack of closure, and the callous, post-discard behavior characteristic of breakups with narcissists.

What if I told you it’s okay not to be okay?

You might agree with that statement in theory, but when it comes to the pain of heartbreak, no one wants to be okay with not being okay. We want to fast forward to feeling good again, and the sooner, the better! There is a famous idiom that says: “The only way out, is through,” but when our hearts are broken, and we’re feeling the gut-wrenching pain of despair, going through it is the last thing we want to do. We don’t want to wait that long. We would rather go around it. Over it. Under it. We would rather just avoid it all together. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be prescribed an amnesia pill that could wipe away the memories, erase the pain, and get rid of the obsessive thoughts, so we could just get on with the rest of our lives? So often in our desperate attempts to side skirt the inevitable pain of the loss of a relationship, we unintentionally end up prolonging it.

Our natural instincts to avoid pain are then reinforced by the unspoken cultural pressure, of the dogma of perpetual positivity, that shames us for any hiatuses in optimism.

If you take a quick scroll down your social media news feed, you will recall the super rosy, uber positive, feel-good memes and messages I’m talking about.

I am in charge of how I feel today, and today I am choosing happiness.

Put your positive pants on.

Think like a proton and stay positive.

Positive minds live positive lives.

I’m not knocking these messages. They are empowering, and the practice of identifying, and erasing our limiting beliefs, and substituting them for positive ones, is essential to our emotional well-being, but not at the expense of denying our true feelings. We need not rush to the positivity finish line because we are experiencing the discomfort of negative emotions.

We are not weak, or wrong for having painful, and tough feelings. They are as natural to the human experience, as having happy, and joyful feelings.

Facing our pain and accepting it, and being in the present moment, is a much healthier alternative, than trying to ignore and dodge our pain, with chants of positivity. When we learn to be present with our feelings, we become better equipped at managing them. When we suppress our pain, get frustrated by its presence, and don’t process our hurt, then it unconsciously rears its ugly head in our lives in a variety of horribly destructive ways.

Many people mask their pain with drugs and alcohol, work, exercise, sex, and so on as a method to avoid their pain. Some people suppress their emotions through comfort foods, and overeating and some people displace their pain and take it out on others. And guess what? All that emotional numbing only stalls our healing, and worse, it stirs up a whole slew of new problems we have to confront.

There’s another famous idiom that cautions us about unresolved pain: “Hurt people hurt people.” If we don’t practice being compassionate with ourselves, then we definitely can’t be compassionate with others.

There is nothing dangerous, or weak about being okay with having negative emotions. Although, I know it may seem like sitting with our feelings is similar to, and can be potentially as destructive, or useless as dwelling on them, and may even make them last longer, and weigh heavier. But actually, the opposite is true. The danger lies when we sit with our feelings and allow the way we feel about something to morph into beliefs.

For example, There’s a monumental difference between feeling sad and broken and believing you’re broken, and it will last forever. There’s a huge difference between feeling devastated, and believing your life is over. And there’s a big difference in feeling rejected, and believing you’re unworthy, or something is wrong with you. This is where, if we’re not careful, we can start down a very slippery slope. When we can identify how we’re feeling, and then add the words, “and it’s okay” afterward, we immediately neutralize the feeling from snowballing from a feeling to a belief.

Every time we’re able to contain our feelings, and not let the cognitive process of emotional reasoning (a process by which a person concludes that his/her emotional reaction proves something is true regardless of observed evidence) get the best of us, we gain mastery over our emotions, and we begin to heal.

Suffering from Narcissistic Abuse?

Join Narcissistic Abuse & Toxic Relationship Recovery & Support Forum on Facebook

My blood pressure rises every time I see quotes or memes like the one below, especially when they are written by individuals who provide relationship advice like the writer of the one included in this post.There are so many horrendous inaccuracies and faulty assumptions in the meme/statement below.And, sadly it’s these types of memes/beliefs that contribute to keeping narcissistic abuse victims stuck in and returning to abusive relationships. Statements like these echo the very WORDS of abusers. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you know.Words that are deliberately delivered to distract the attention away from the abuser’s behavior and keep the victim focused on his/her alleged flaws. Also, if the statement was true, why is it that manipulative and controlling people are often not fooled or easily controlled by other manipulators?Is it because manipulative people have healthy self-love?Is it because they’re emotionally healthy and sovereign?Of course not. It’s because they can easily spot the tactics that they themselves use. Simple.When dangerous advice and memes like this are so negligently tossed around, it’s no wonder why there are so many victims of manipulators.This type of advice offers the wrong diagnosis, the wrong solution, and gives individuals a false sense of protection.Let’s remember that manipulation by its nature means that manipulation is invisible and occurs just below the level of consciousness. If manipulation could be easily detected, then it wouldn’t be manipulation. It would be obvious.I’m not knocking self-love. It’s critical to well-being, but if you’ve been in an abusive relationship for any length of time, your self-confidence and self-esteem has surely been attacked and insidiously diminished, meaning it’s inevitable that your self-love will suffer.If you know anything about manipulators and controllers, then you know that many of their victims are targeted for what they have, not for what they lack. And, according to research from The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction, many narcissistic abuse survivors have the same cluster of trait elevations- agreeableness, conscienceness and openness/empathy.So, if you’ve been the victim of someone who is highly manipulative, controlling, and/or has a personality disorder that impairs their empathy or conscience, don’t assume it’s because you’re lacking anything. Instead, consider what you have in abundance.Even the leading expert in psychopathy, Dr. Robert Hare, has said that he can still be fooled and conned.We need to get the correct information and helpful advice out there. That’s why I’m including a book plug in this post.If you are stuck in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, check out Kristen Milstead’s book, “Why Can't I Just Leave: A Guide to Waking Up and Walking Out of a Pathological Love Relationship”.Kristen asked me if I would review her book and here’s what I had to say:"Kristen Milstead provides a social psychological analysis of narcissistic abuse using the empathetic voice of a survivor. Survivors who read this book will be able to trust the "lightbulb" moments this rare perspective offers." Kristen has a doctorate in sociology and uses the stories of survivors and social psychological research on compliance, cognitive dissonance, and thought control.Here’s what the description on Amazon says, “Why Can’t I Just Leave? explains how relationships with pathological partners can create impossible dilemmas that trap you in a distorted dream-state and hijack your thoughts and emotions. Learn what those who are conscience-impaired don’t want you to know and find out how to wake up and walk out of your partner’s invisible prison forever.”Let’s empower ourselves and others and make 2022 the best year yet! XO ... See MoreSee Less
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Thank you, Grow Theraoy, for my #livelyroot Money Tree plant. 🌱 I think it looks great in my office. ... See MoreSee Less
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💯 🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯🎯💯And, it’s equally not helpful to say “it takes two to tango”. #narcissisticabuseawareness #wnaad #ifmywoundswerevisible #narcissisticabuserecovery #narcissisticabuse #coercivecontrol ... See MoreSee Less
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“Have you been in a relationship with someone you think had narcissistic and/or psychopathic traits? If you are 21 years old and over and reside in the United States, you are eligible to participate in a research study investigating the impact of romantic relationships with narcissists and psychopaths. You can use the link: tinyurl.com/narcissist-survey to take the survey. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of the psychological well-being and trauma-related symptoms of those who have been involved in romantic relationships with individuals with narcissistic and psychopathic traits. You will take an anonymous survey which will request basic demographic information, ask you to self-report on scales concerning information about your past relationship experiences, trauma and abuse experiences, the personality characteristics of an ex-partner or current partner you believe had narcissistic, and/or psychopathic traits, and trauma-related symptoms.Please note: this is a study conducted by Shahida Arabi, a graduate student at Harvard University. I am not affiliated in any way with the research being conducted nor am I part of the research study team. You are not obligated to take part in this study and should do so only out of your own interest in contributing to this research. You will not be paid for your participation or receive any benefits from me for taking part in the survey. All questions and concerns regarding the study can be directed to the principal investigator.”Thank you so much! ... See MoreSee Less
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Get the book

‘I Am Free” is both a cautionary warning and illuminating light. It empowers readers dealing with the aftermath of a toxic relationship and serves as a wake-up call to those who are in-or think they may be in- an abusive relationship with a narcissists or sociopath.

Get the book

‘I Am Free” is both a cautionary warning and illuminating light. It empowers readers dealing with the aftermath of a toxic relationship and serves as a wake-up call to those who are in-or think they may be in- an abusive relationship with a narcissists or sociopath.

About me

Bree Bonchay, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with two decades of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy in her blog, FreeFromToxic. She is the author of the book, “I Am Free” and has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a board member of the Association for NPD/Psychopathy Educators & Survivor Treatment, a member of the International Association of Trauma Specialists, and is also the founder of WNAAD.

About me

Bree Bonchay, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist with two decades of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy in her blog, FreeFromToxic. She is the author of the book, “I Am Free” and has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a board member of the Association for NPD/Psychopathy Educators & Survivor Treatment, a member of the International Association of Trauma Specialists, and is also the founder of WNAAD.

9 Comments

  1. Rosie

    Thank you so much for this spot-on article! I have been numb, bewildered and hurting for 9 months now, and none of my friends understand why, they think I should have been over this 6 months ago. They don’t realize that going through a relationship, and the very painful discard from a narcissistic, is nothing like a normal breakup. Once again one of your articles has made me feel less insane, and I will follow the wise advice it contains.

    Reply
  2. sunnychapman

    It’s been 8 months and I’m still angry. I don’t have any positive feelings toward him, don’t miss him, and SO happy to have him out of my life but I still have angry thoughts about him and it’s really annoying. I don’t want to have ANY feelings about him at all and don’t want to think about him, it’s a waste of my brain cells to dwell on him. What can you do to process the anger, dissipate it and get the narcopath out of your head?

    Reply
    • Rosie

      It’s been 9 months for me, and I feel the same way as you do. When does it end??

      Reply
    • Bree Bonchay, LCSW

      It may feel frustrating that you still hold so much anger but anger is usually the final step and signals the end of the healing process. It’s actually a sign that you have worked through the fog of the cognitive dissonance and are able to see things clearly now. With that clarity brings anger at the awareness of how you were treated. Be patient. The anger is positive if channeled in healthy ways and it will fade into apathy in time.

      Reply
      • sunnychapman

        Thank you, I so look forward to that day I’m not very patient with the process but I know I have to go through this in order to heal.

        Reply
  3. JupiterMom

    It’s been over two years since I’ve communicated with my narc friend. I thought I was finally over the extremely painful, one-sided, tortuous, soul-sucking relationship. Recently, we communicated (after getting the silent treatment from him for 2 1/2 years). Having moved on with my life, I felt apathetic in communicating with him; I thought it may even bring some additional closure and healing. While I was being heartfelt and sincere in sharing my feelings, he so callously reflected back to me that I was toxic and the abuser in the relationship. During our conversation, while denying any abuse whatsoever to me (he then copied another girl (a stranger) on the email while portraying that I had imagined things the same as his Mom who has Alzheimer’s and required too much attention. This had me over the top shaking in anger. It caused me to relieve the trauma and torture he subjected me to for 3 years. Triangulation, gaslighting, one-sided energy exchange, disregard for me or my feelings etc. All in one email. My advice is for anyone who thinks their is ever a chance of redemption or healing in a relationship with a narc, spare yourself the unnecessary pain, unequivocally, there is not.

    Reply
    • Ann64

      this sounds so familiar. very one-sided friendship, toxic, I was dumping ground for so much negativity and my sympathies were played for financial gain. now she is posting about only wanting to be around positive people, lol. so I think the script is being flipped and I am being discarded for being negative. will definitely heed this advice about closure. I know deep down I will never get any closure and I was just used. once I stopped being as giving, her true colors came out. I think one of the hardest parts is never knowing if any of it was real.

      Reply
    • Deborah A Taggart

      Jupiter mom, your post gives me hope. my ex Narc has done every single thing youve mentioned above, My narc of 7 years lived in florida part of the year. He has used me the entire time. i finally had the courage to break free and it has left me in pieces, in therapy and crying for four months. I feel stronger now, but he has an apartment full of belongings to get and threatened me not to touch them until he returns, all the while, he has never skipped a beat, he is off in Europe for 2 months. I feel confident with the nocontact at this point, as ive experienced what you talked about above when contacting him but i fear the day he comes for his belongings.

      Reply

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Copyright © 2021 - Bree Bonchay/ Free From Toxic ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No material on this website may be reproduced in any format without prior written permission of Bree Bonchay.