“Sometimes, I like to overthink that much. I start to overthink my overthinking.”
Narcissistic abuse is one of the most dangerous and harmful psychological types of abuse.
The most common targets for narcissists are those who see different perceptions, who are kind, caring and compassionate, with a willingness to help others, empathetic people who trust and choose to see the best in everyone, even when people show them the worst, they believe they can help.
The narcissist will constantly try to reduce the self-confidence in you, as they Gaslight you into believing that you are going crazy. They will convince you things didn’t happen, that it wasn’t that bad, that it was all your fault, or that you made them do it. As narcissistic people have a natural ability to lie and most often end up believing their own lies, most are highly skilled at manipulating others into believing their lies. Especially when people have never experienced this kind of abuse or don’t have the knowledge or understanding. Leading to you being unable to think clearly, constantly under stress, adrenaline fatigue, often then leading to anxiety, CPTSD, and major depression, which are the things that often leave people trapped in the vicious cycle of abuse, the lowered state of self-confidence, living under constant pressure and stress most often leads to Adrenal fatigue, living in constant fear that they are doing something wrong, fear from the threatening behaviour, fear of what others will think of them, fear no one will believe them, a lot of targets become unable to function correctly. They most likely have already been isolated from others. If not, most will then begin to isolate themselves.
In this state is when major depression and anxiety can kick in, and with the constant gaslighting and manipulative reminders from the narcissist that you are Crazy. That it’s not them, that you need help, confirming in your already destroyed mental state and thinking abilities, that you are the one that is in need of help, which to an extent you are due to all the psychological abuse you’ve suffered at the hands of a narcissist, unfortunately, most of us end up trusting and turning to the narcissist for that help, slowly destroying ourselves more without even realising it.
There is rational anxiety, like when you’re walking across a road and out of nowhere, a big lorry is coming straight for you. This is designed to protect us and make us take action to help ourselves. Although sometimes our minds turn to Freeze mode where we stop dead, fawn where we give up, flight when we run, or flight mode where we stand up for ourselves.
Most often, in a narcissistic relationship, we might start with a fight and defend ourselves, then as time passes. We fear reactions this might turn to freeze, of fawn where we just give in and end up Walking On Eggshells. One day we have enough, not fully knowing what of, we take flight and run. Yet, because we’ve been conditioned to think and act certain ways, these modes are heightened In us as they were only designed to help us on a temporary basis, using our natural defence mechanisms over a prolonged period of time trains our minds to think certain ways, often leading to irrational anxiety.
Irrational anxiety is when we are safe at that moment yet fear the worst due to repeated bad past experiences.
So how do narcissistic people so subtly cause people to have major anxiety issues?
Self-doubt. They cause you to doubt yourself and your abilities. They invalidate who you are, chip away at your self-confidence, either by obvious or subtle remarks about how you look, what you wear, what others think of you, what you are not capable of, they gaslight you into believing something did happen that didn’t, of something didn’t happen that did, they give you the silent treatments, so you question yourself, the silent treatment can cause extreme psychological￼ pain, so when you beg and plead and do all you can to end the silent treatment end the suffering, the narcissist swoops in to offer that intermittent reinforcement by playing nice towards you, so you doubt what truly happened and blame yourself, yet at the same time doubt your own thoughts. They drive you into self-doubt in as many areas of your life that they can. Leaving you in a very confused state of mind.
One of the causes of anxiety is the persistent second-guessing of yourself and others’ actions, behaviour or words/ thoughts towards you or those around you, doubts in your own capabilities and doubts in the intentions of those around you, leading you to constantly question yourself and others, often leading to self-isolating and more fears and doubts. No longer seeing yourself for who you are, questioning your weight, how you act and dress, what others think of you, fearing judgment and constantly judging yourself.
One way to heal self-doubt is to start paying attention to how you are talking to yourself, your subconscious has been trained to think certain ways, and it’s time to make your conscience take over, writing down any negative thoughts. Who put them there? Are they true or false? Looking for things that contradict those thoughts of you, if you believe you are not capable of doing something, look for a time you have to give your mind the evidence you can. if you are not comfortable in what you wear, change it and be who you want to be, it’s for you and your prescriptions what you wear, not what others think of you. Those who judge have insecurities within. Doubting you are not good enough, why not? Everyone is good enough. Just because a toxic person tried to derail you doesn’t make you not good enough. It makes them not good enough for you, give responsibility back to the rightful owner.
Look for the things you have achieved, genuine people you’ve had in your life, or genuine people in the world, look at you and how much you tried to help others and know there are others just like you who want to help. Walk tall and smile more, find photos, find things to be grateful for and smile. Connect with those who’ve lived similar as they know how you feel, knowing your thoughts are rational after what you’ve been through, that others understand and want to help. Also, you help them. The connections you make by opening up to your vulnerabilities with those who have the same help you to both learn and grow. It’s a learning curve losing self-doubt. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Excessive worry. Narcissists cause you to worry about so many aspects of your life and your relationship, by being continually told you’re not good enough outright, or by always being punished for something, it might just be the simple things of them always telling you that you haven’t made their food right, the house isn’t clean enough, how could you be late? If you plan to go out fearing their reactions when you tell them, or when you get home, the silent treatments they give you, to Financial Abuse. where they either beg and plead for all your money, taking loans out for them, or they limit the money they give you causing financial stress, constantly worrying about what mood they’ll wake up in, to what mood they are in when you get home, or they arrive home, not daring to speak up for yourself for fear of reactions as they are never looking for compromise it’s always their way, or you get punished way, living in fear of what they might do, what they might say to others. Worrying about the actual relationship and what’s happening, worrying about your own mind and only getting reality checks from the very person who’s confusing you and doing their utmost to take you down. Worrying if they are cheating, never getting the answers you’re looking for. Worrying about what others think, worrying about what you can or can not do.
One cause of anxiety is excessive fear or worry. We all have normal concern’s in life, it becomes excessive when you’re living it nearly every moment of your life, and a narcissist will train you to worry about so much there’s rarely a moment when you’re not worried about one thing or another. Even when they play nice, you’re worried that the not so nice will come back out, treading on eggshells around them, trying your utmost not to upset them with anything you say or do as a narcissist doesn’t honestly know themselves that switch can get flicked at any moment. Even when you’ve done nothing and done your best to keep them happy, they will manipulate you by blame-shifting, provoking you or the silent treatment, so you look for what you did wrong and find ways to fix it. This excessive worry and negative thoughts most often continue after the relationship is over.
Ways to heal from excessive worry. Writing down all your worries, looking at the ones you can take action on, don’t spend all day every day on it, set a time and a time limit, then go about crossing off those normal worries you can not do anything about and focus on the ones you can, then take action, watch how you talk to yourself, pull you up on any negative remarks towards yourself, stop telling yourself you can not as your mind starts to believe it and start telling yourself you can, is one place to start, give yourself the time it’s a learning curve, when babies learn to walk it takes practice, yet they don’t give up. Do not give up on yourself; you can do this. Finding evidence of your thoughts, looking for times you have done something, or someone else has to prove to yourself that it is possible. Don’t predict bad things will happen that is not happening; look at the outcomes you want, focus on what you want and take action. Your mind will find a way. Talking with others who have felt the same can also help give outside perspectives on your worry’s that you might be taking out of context. They might also have solutions you’ve not thought of that helped them and can help you. Exercise, meditation and yoga can help massively.
Compulsive behaviour. Living or being around a narcissist causes so much uncertainty within our lives, not knowing what’s going to happen next, who they are going to be that day, if the bills will be paid, where you’ll live, triangulation from the narcissist about those around you, fearing that others don’t like you, uncertainty who genuinely cares.
One cause of anxiety is compulsive behaviour when you’re around negative toxic people. You have so much uncertainty your body and mind start to crave certainty. This can be down to the routines of cleaning. What and when you eat, developing patterns known as rituals that you have to do or you feel worse, now there is nothing wrong with routines, there is nothing wrong with exercising every day or having a clean home. It’s all about how you want to live your life and what suits you. OCD is a chronic behaviour that doesn’t actually serve you.
Cognitive behaviour therapy is one way to help overcome OCD. This treatment can take 6 to 12 months. Watching how you talk to yourself helps also. OCD if you can learn to self-manage, trying to break the pattern you’re in, so if you wash your hands ten times, tell yourself it now needs to be nine and keep going until you’re convinced them to go for eight etc. If it’s cleaning, see if you can tell yourself, no, not hoovering now, something else on, and find somewhere to go, especially out of the home, fill your time elsewhere, start slow as changing your routines too quick will not help you in the long run.
Panic and fear. Through their many manipulative punishments, narcissistic people train you to panic and fear their reactions. With some, it’s if you don’t message them straight away, answer the phone as soon as they call. Due to the questions you get from them if you don’t, or the silent treatments towards you. They are attitudes if you sever someone before them. If you are out and the waiting staff make you wait purely because they are busy and take time. Yet the narcissist makes a fuss, sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle they make for those people, threats they make towards you, even the subtle, ” I wouldn’t if I was you.” causes you to constantly live on edge from their reaction and start panicking about other people also.
One cause of anxiety is panic, and then you might end up with panic attacks through fear of past experiences. The overwhelming fear and helplessness don’t just disappear once out of the relationship. For some, it does for most there are scars to heal, you might even still be in fear of them also though you are free, receiving endless threats, smear campaigns, their flying monkeys and enables coming at you.
Taking a stand and calling the authorities, most don’t do this during the relationship through fear, and most don’t after through fear of not being understood, psychological abuse is getting more awareness now, you must call them and at that moment especially at the start before you start to think, you need to keep yourselves safe, you need a picture building up with the authorities of who they indeed are. This is taking a stand, creating boundaries and letting them know you’ll no longer accept their abusive behaviour.
Whatever triggers your fears and panic, learn to recognise them, see if it is rational if the phones ringing and that’s one that triggers you, tell yourself ” I am safe now.” learn to leave your phone in another room, find a good anchor, a photo to look at, something to hold. When you feel it coming, stop and focus on deep breaths, talk to yourself positively.
Sleep problems. Narcissists can play havoc with your sleep, from laying awake wondering where they are to them waking you up in the middle of the night. Some even put that much fear into you. You go to bed when they tell you to go to bed. Just living under constant stress can cause sleep problems. Even when you are asleep, your mind might not entirely shut off and rest.
Not getting enough sleep can cause you problems in other areas of your life. If you’ve got financial problems, stress, worry’s, the lack of sleep is only going to emphasise these things. Sometimes anxiety starts before sleep problems. Other sleep problems start before anxiety.
Trying to go to bed five minutes early each night, trying to nap during the day can help, just not late on if it affects you falling asleep at night, trying to get up five minutes early each day, which isn’t always easy, yet might help you fall to sleep better and night, getting your mind and body into a new sleep routine, so it works for you and a routine, so your mind gets trained by you when to switch off and fall to sleep, exercise regularly, making your bedroom comfortable, the lighting, the heat, putting some calming music on. Set a time as above to deal with any worries but don’t leave it until bedtime. When laid in bed, start dreaming new dreams, look for the good things to be grateful for, tune your imagination into to working for you and visioning what you would like life to look like six months from now, create your own happiness, positive script.
It takes time to heal. That time depends on who you are. It is possible, you can, and you will overcome anxiety. Keep working on yourself. Get extra help and support when needed. You are not alone in how you feel. Genuine people will help you.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
How narcissists invalidate you.