Narcissistic abuse, regardless of its form – whether it manifests as malignant, classic, covert, overt, somatic, cerebral, or vulnerable – is a devastating and insidious form of mental abuse that can take over an individual’s life. It often remains hidden behind manipulative tactics, leaving victims unaware of the harm being inflicted upon them. In some cases, narcissistic abuse extends beyond psychological violence and includes physical abuse, effectively trapping individuals in a perpetual cycle of spiritual warfare and subjecting them to what feels like death by psychological abuse. The scars of past traumas are ripped open, and dreams and goals are crushed by the very person who once appeared as a hero and the fulfilment of one’s dreams.
Narcissists operate with a relentless self-serving agenda, a parasite or a virus that infects every facet of a victim’s life. Many of their actions revolve around the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth. They exhibit excessive pride in their achievements and talents, possess an insatiable envy and jealousy towards others, display gluttonous tendencies in constantly craving more than what they need, and harbour a perpetual sense of anger as they are unable to accept genuine love. Moreover, their insatiable greed often drives them to seek material possessions, sometimes at the expense of exploiting others. Finally, their laziness leads them to exploit and manipulate others to meet their never-ending wants and needs.
Identifying a narcissistic personality disorder necessitates recognising the presence of at least five characteristic traits: a grandiose sense of self-importance, preoccupation with ultimate success, a belief in their own superiority, entitlement, excessive admiration, exploitation of others, a lack of empathy, envy and jealousy, and arrogance. Among these traits, the lack of genuine empathy, exploitative behaviour, entitlement, and envy are the most significant telltale signs of a narcissist.
A narcissist manipulates their victims in a vicious cycle that involves phases of idealisation, devaluation, discarding, and hoovering. They employ various tactics, such as pity plays, silent treatments, gaslighting, projection, and threats, to make their victims feel insecure, and inferior and question their own sanity. Their covert and often calculated games gradually erode the sense of self and make it difficult for caring and kind-hearted individuals to recognise the depth of the abuse. As victims endure the reality of the abuse, they also find themselves grappling with trauma bonding, anxiety, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), financial ruin, and often, mental and physical illnesses.
Narcissistic individuals are a destructive force that can infect every aspect of our lives. From our relationships to our emotional well-being, they have the ability to weave their toxic influence into every corner, leaving a trail of broken bonds and shattered dreams in their wake.
Taking over your relationships:
One of the most insidious ways narcissists negatively infect our lives is through their ability to take over our relationships. Initially, they come into our lives with charm and charisma, sweeping us off our feet and making us believe that they are the perfect partner. However, as time goes on, they begin to infiltrate not only our romantic relationships but also our relationships with friends and family. They slowly isolate us from our support network, picking off our loved ones one by one. With manipulation and triangulation, they shift the loyalty of our friends and family away from us and onto them. Eventually, we find ourselves alone, with no one to turn to for support, and completely under the narcissist’s control. This emotional isolation can leave us feeling lost, unhinged, and trapped in a toxic cycle.
Another way that narcissists infect our lives is through the invasion of our social media and personal inboxes. At the beginning of the relationship, they bombard us with loving and sentimental messages, creating an illusion of a perfect connection. However, as the relationship progresses, they slowly transition into devaluation, often through social media. They may stop leaving those sentimental remarks or suddenly go silent, leaving us confused and questioning our worth. When confronted, they blame us for being insecure, further manipulating our emotions and making us doubt ourselves. They play these social media games to keep us confused and under their control, leaving us further vulnerable to their manipulation.
Furthermore, narcissists drain us of our resources, both material and emotional. They have no qualms about taking from us without giving anything in return. They may manipulate us through pity plays, threats, or blame-shifting, making us feel guilty or sinking our mental health to the point where we become dependent on them. Many narcissists move into our homes without contributing to the bills or even invading our personal space. They consume our resources, eat our food, and never take responsibility for their actions. It is as if what is ours is automatically theirs, while what is theirs is off-limits to us. They drain our finances, try to claim our homes as their own, and some may even vandalize our property. Through manipulation and gaslighting, they slowly manipulate everything we once had away from us, leaving us feeling empty and devoid of both material and emotional support.
Heart, mind and soul:
Perhaps one of the most detrimental ways narcissists infect our lives is through the erosion of our hearts, mind, and souls. Their manipulation extends beyond our physical surroundings; it deeply penetrates our psychological well-being. Narcissists begin by idealising us, showering us with love and attention to create an intense bond. However, this quickly shifts to devaluation, where they criticise, threaten, and put us down. They cycle through these emotional states, playing with our minds and causing us to doubt our own worth. They gaslight us, making us question our own perceptions and memory of events. Slowly but surely, they plant seeds of self-doubt in our minds, eroding our self-worth and leaving us emotionally vulnerable.
Narcissists also infect our emotional health, slowly draining us of joy, happiness, and peace. At first, we lavish them with praise and love, doing anything to please and appease them. However, as the relationship progresses, they derive pleasure from our pain. They make us cry, watch us suffer, and blame us for our own emotions. Even the discard, when they finally leave, is done without any closure, leaving us hurt and confused. They may return in a hoovering attempt, promising to “rescue” us, only to once again subject us to emotional torture. This constant cycle of emotional turmoil and degradation leaves us feeling shattered and diminished.
Stolen hopes and dreams:
Additionally, narcissists infect our hopes and dreams. They come into our lives promising to support and fulfil our desires, pretending to be our soulmates. However, as the relationship deteriorates, they slowly strip away our dreams, passions, and hobbies. They belittle and invalidate our aspirations, leaving us empty and devoid of purpose. After the discard, we are often left as empty shells, filled with fear and anxiety about starting over and pursuing our dreams once again.
Finally, narcissists infect our trust. Their manipulative and deceitful behaviour erodes our ability to trust not only them but also others in our lives. We become hyper-vigilant, questioning the motives of everyone around us, including ourselves. The constant mind games and manipulation they subject us to leave us in a state of perpetual doubt and uncertainty, further damaging our ability to trust and form healthy relationships.
In conclusion, narcissistic individuals infect our lives in numerous ways, leaving a devastating impact on our relationships, emotional well-being, and sense of self. Their ability to isolate us, manipulate us, drain us of our resources, and undermine our trust results in a toxic cycle that can be nearly impossible to escape. Recognising these negative influences is crucial in breaking free from their toxic grasp and rebuilding our lives on a foundation of self-worth and authenticity.
How can you recover from a painful experience? Specifically, how can you recover from being in a relationship with a narcissist?
The road to recovery may seem daunting, but by following a few key steps, you can regain control of your life and find healing.
The first and perhaps most crucial step in the recovery process is to safely get away from the narcissist. This means removing the source of pain and confusion from your life. Establishing no contact or adopting a gray-rock approach, where you become emotionally unresponsive, can be effective strategies. Additionally, it is important to set up clear boundaries and firmly maintain them. Block the narcissist and any flying monkeys, individuals who support and enable the narcissist’s behaviour. Learn to say “no” and stick to your decision, as this will protect your mental well-being and establish healthy relationships moving forward. It
To rebuild your sense of self and regain your emotional stability, it is vital to educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder. Understanding the characteristics, manipulative tactics, and predictable patterns of narcissists can help you put your reality back together. Additionally, forgive yourself for not knowing what you were dealing with and for any reactions you may have had. It is crucial to learn to trust your instincts that your mind and heart may have ignored in the past.
Narcissistic relationships often leave individuals feeling isolated and devoid of love and connection. To overcome the trauma bond created by the narcissist, it is important to fulfil your basic human needs. Seek out opportunities for love, connection, growth, uncertainty, and contribution. This can involve learning new things, making new friends, and connecting with people who genuinely understand and support you. Furthermore, focusing on healing any childhood trauma or unresolved issues will contribute to your overall recovery process.
Finding your focus and creating new dreams for yourself is an essential part of the recovery journey. Identify new hobbies or revive old ones that bring you joy and fulfilment. By engaging in activities that resonate with your personal interests, you can rediscover your passions and develop a newfound sense of purpose.
While on your recovery journey, it is crucial to practice observing and not absorbing the toxic behaviours and attitudes of others, including the narcissist and their flying monkeys. Pay attention to people’s actions rather than solely relying on their words. This will help you identify genuine support and protect yourself from further manipulation.
Throughout this recovery process, it is important to be patient and kind to yourself. It is natural to experience setbacks, and most individuals slip up on the road to recovery. Remember to take baby steps towards your healing and consistently move forward, even if progress feels slow at times.
Smiling at others may seem like a small gesture, but it can have a profound impact on your recovery journey and the people around you. Don’t fear the reaction; rather, focus on the potential to brighten someone’s day. A simple smile has the power to infect the world with positivity and promote a more compassionate and empathetic society.
Developing a positive mindset is also key to recovering from a narcissistic relationship. Teach your brain to consciously reject negative thoughts and actively search for the positive aspects in each day. Embrace the opportunity to learn new things and acquire knowledge and wisdom that will contribute to your personal growth. Adopting a constructive and creative mindset will empower you to dream big and take small steps towards achieving your goals.
Giving compliments to others is not only a way to uplift their spirits but also to develop your own people skills and self-confidence. Genuine compliments create a ripple effect of positivity, and the act of giving praise will bring about a sense of fulfilment and enhance your interpersonal interactions. If it is initially challenging to give compliments verbally, start by practicing in your mind until you feel ready to express them openly.
Finally, remember to nurture your sense of humour. Laughter is indeed the best medicine and can significantly elevate your mood. Find what brings you joy and allows you to laugh, whether it’s funny movies, jokes, or spending time with humorous friends. Cultivate a lighthearted attitude that will help you navigate the challenges of recovery with resilience and optimism.
In summary, recovering from a traumatic experience, particularly a relationship with a narcissist, requires dedication and self-compassion. Safely removing yourself from the toxic environment is crucial, as is establishing boundaries and prioritising your well-being. Educating yourself about narcissistic personality disorder and rebuilding your sense of self are vital steps. Additionally, fulfilling your human needs, focusing on new dreams and hobbies, and practising observation without absorption will assist in your healing. Be patient and kind to yourself, smile at others, and develop a positive mindset. Paying compliments, embracing humour, and nurturing your own well-being will ultimately lead to a successful recovery.
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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.