Last week we talked about the ways in which a Narcissist creates dependency. This week I wanted to finish off the segment by introducing ways to break out of that dependency.
Nepoleon Hill, author of Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, calls it, ‘removing the cobwebs from your thinking. Darlene Lancer, author of Conquering Fear and Codependency, calls it, ‘pulling the weeds from your garden.’ The bottom line is if you want to battle your way out of Codependency you’ve got to change how you think and feel about yourself .
There is no magic pill, no potion, no quick fix to changing the way a Codependent perceives their reality. Learning how to manage your Codependency is a process and it takes time. The goal is to change little unhealthy behaviors into healthy behaviors and we do that through repetition. Remember our subconscious mind learns through repetition so we want to practice these behaviors over and over again until they become automatic and we don’t even have to think about them.
Most codependents, as children, had to get very good at learning how to read a room. They learned that their safety was dependent upon how well they were able to pick up the clues to the feelings of their caregivers. If they guessed wrong it could mean physical punishment like a spanking, or a verbal assault, or it could mean their parents withheld love and attention. Codependents had to get very good at learning whether or not it was safe to approach or whether they needed to retreat or become invisible. Consequently, they became very good at learning how to ignore their own feelings. They learned that their wants and needs were not as important as other people’s, so they cultivated a way to shut them out and ignore them. Now they are adults that are disconnected to their feelings, with deep seeded beliefs that there is something wrong with them and that they are flawed and not good enough. The following is a list of behaviors that we can practice in order to reconnect to our feelings and diminish the role codependency plays in our lives.
Give your feelings a voice: Be mindful of what you are feeling throughout the day. Buy a journal and start paying attention to your thoughts and feelings as you go through your day. Write out what triggers your feelings and why you think it made you feel the way it did. This may sound silly, but when your feelings have been trivialized your whole life, by you, as well as everyone else, you stop giving them the attention they deserve and act as if they are not important. The first step to reengaging with our feelings is to acknowledge them. This is an exercise in doing just that, as well as honoring them and giving them an opportunity to be heard.
Feel you feelings: Sit comfortably, in a quiet space, close your eyes and allow yourself to just feel. Don’t force anything. Allow your feelings to flow in and through you. Don’t hold on to anything, just notice it and watch it pass. Esther Hicks tells us that our feelings are our compass, they tell us when we are on track or off track. What are the predominant feelings that you are experiencing? Are they good feelings or bad feelings? Don’t judge them or try to change them, just notice them and let them pass through you.
Challenge that damn voice: I talk a lot about the critical parent voice (CPV). It plays a huge role in codependency and it has an enormous influence on how we think and feel. As I’ve said many times we are not this voice. We are the observer of this voice. This voice is our disease and its agenda is to keep us stuck and hurting. Let’s say a thought comes into your head (I miss my ex that cheated on me). Your CPV will take that thought and pull things out to hurt you further (look how happy he is with her), (he’s right it’s all my fault, I’m the one with the problem), (no one will ever love you look at you), (if only I didn’t say X,Y,Z then he wouldn’t have left)… Notice how their goal is to make you feel worse, to make you confused, jealous, anxious and responsible.
They help us self-sabotage by encouraging us to find reasons to do things we know we shouldn’t (just text him and tell him to pick us his stuff, you’re not really breaking no contact, you’re just clearing out his stuff so you don’t have to look at it). What’s really going on here is it’s trying to help you find a reason to reengage. It wants you back in the toxic relationship and it’s trying to find a reason for you to make that happen. It’s the same voice that tells you to eat that piece of cake when you’re on a diet. Its goal is always to sabotage and interfere with your attempts to break the cycle and stop playing the tape. Thoughts that come from the CPV make you feel horrible and when you don’t know what they are and they’re allowed to run amok in your head it creates a really miserable existence, where you feel powerless and constantly hurt and in the fog.
When you know that you are not that voice, it takes away its power and it minimizes its impact. When you are confronted with these types of thoughts take a step back, label the thoughts and feelings (this is my disease), minimize it and throw it away, then turn your focus onto something positive like you and your future.
For my readers who like to swear, you can simply tell it to f### off. “F’ off voice. I’m not going there.”
Some therapists suggest giving the voice a name and its own personality so that you will recognize it when it comes and you will know that it’s not you. The act of consistently challenging this voice weakens its hold on you and you will start to hear it less and less. It still pops up in my head occasionally, but I’m at a place where I instantly know what it is and I toss it away and I don’t pay it any mind. If you practice these techniques you will get to a place where it barely rears its ugly head and when it does you’ll just be able to dismiss it and go about your day.
Conquer the need for perfection: Acceptance is how we conquer our belief that we have to be perfect. This belief keeps us from living and from trying all of the things that makes life worth living. How many times have you heard yourself say, “I can’t do that. I’m to…..” Acceptance doesn’t mean that we like something and aren’t willing to change it if we can. It simply means that we are living in reality and it is what it is in this moment and it’s okay. Just being who we are is okay.
Pump up your self-esteem: There are a few techniques I’d recommend that will help you feel better about you. Try the following:
Write down 3 things you like about yourself every day. This puts your focus on the positive aspects of yourself, so that you’re paying more attention to the good things and less on the bad.
Write down 3 things you are grateful for every day. This raises your vibrational frequency. You always want to be in a joyful and grateful state of mind. The more positive your state of mind the more positive people and positive circumstances will be drawn to you.
Try the Mirror Technique. Louise Hay is a big proponent of this exercise. Sit in front of a mirror and start to say positive things to yourself – I love you, you’re beautiful, you have pretty eyes, you are a kind soul, you are a really good person. For a codependent this is going to feel really uncomfortable at first but keep doing it.
Notice when a person gives you a complement how do you behave? Do you shrug it off, downplay it? Notice how little attention you give to your accomplishments or anything good about you. You’re uncomfortable in the spotlight and you’re quick to downplay your positive traits. Get in the habit of saying and accepting positive things about yourself. When someone gives you a compliment just say thank you.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping: Like acupuncture, EFT allows you to release the negative beliefs and energy by gently tapping on meridian points throughout your body. It’s a lot easier to show than it is to describe, so take a look at this video and give it a try:
Let me know in the comments section if you found these helpful or what techniques you’ve had success with.
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“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
Set me free, why don’t you, baby?
Get out my life, why don’t you, baby?
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on
You don’t really need me
But you keep me hangin’ on
Why do you keep a-coming around
Playing with my heart?
Why don’t you get out of my life
And let me make a new start?
Let me get over you
The way you’ve gotten over me, hey
Set me free, why don’t you, baby?
Let me be, why don’t you, baby? (Ooh-ooh-ooh)
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on (Ooh-ooh-ooh)
Now you don’t really want me
You just keep me hangin’ on
You say although we broke up
You still wanna be just friends
But how can we still be friends
When seeing you only breaks my heart again?
And there ain’t nothing I can do about it
Set me free, why don’t you, baby?
Get out my life, why don’t you, baby? (Ooh-ooh-ooh)
Set me free, why don’t you, baby?
Get out my life, why don’t you, baby?
You claim you still care for me
But your heart and soul needs to be free
Now that you’ve got your freedom
You wanna still hold on to me
You don’t want me for yourself
So let me find somebody else, hey
Why don’t you be a man about it
And set me free? (Ooh-ooh-ooh)
Now, you don’t care a thing about me
You’re just using me (Ooh-ooh-ooh)
Go on, get out, get out of my life
And let me sleep at night (Ooh-ooh-ooh)
‘Cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on
Writer(s): DOZIER LAMONT HERBERT, HOLLAND BRIAN
AZLyrics S The Supremes Lyrics
album: “The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland” (1967)
You Keep Me Hangin’ On
You’re Gone, But Always In My Heart
Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone
I Wanna Mother You, Smother You With Love
I’ll Guess I’ll Always Love You
I’ll Turn To Stone
It’s The Same Old Song
Going Down For The Third Time
Love Is In Our Hearts
Remove This Doubt
There’s No Stopping Us Now
(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave
First time visitor. Thank you for using this platform to encourage others. I really needed this today.
These past few years have been challenging as I come to terms with my childhood trauma as a result of having N father and CD Mother.
My life was turned upside down just after my 30th birthday. I left my husband, resigned from the stable high paying, 10 year career and went NC with (most of the) Narcs I had unwittingly surrounded myself with. Its in this time that I’ve been able to develop my own sense of self. I’m not quite there yet and I still struggle with addiction.
I’m very avoidant and have isolated myself from my toxic family but I can’t shake my N father as I am dealing with guilt for my CD Mother.
Having next expressed emotion growing up, I am happy to say that I have ‘flipped out’ at my Parents for the first time in my life. It sounds strange but I am proud of myself for those couple of meltdowns.
Our relationship remains turbulent and just yesterday, I came across a Facebook comment posted by my Dad’s brother, mocking me and my journey to heal, information that he’d have only known because my Dad told him and no clearly making a mockery of me. The pain was, overwhelming but in what is another first, I felt the emotions and directed them at my Dad.
I spent a couple of hours writing & rewriting a long winded message to my Uncle, outlining the betrayal & pain but it eventually dawned on me.. He don’t deserve it. I will no longer waste my energy trying to educate people on how to act with common decency. I blocked my father, my uncle and I blacklisted phone numbers after sending one, last message:
Fxxk off, sh!t stirrer”
..and that was that.
The answer to your “why” and “what” questions is tha he’s a nasty control freak with an issue. But that doesn’t really matter. Quite correctly, you want him out of your life. You’re doing great at the non contact and what you describe is harassment so you could report him to the police. I know it!s a real pain especially when work is involved but you could change your number or temporarily get a sim only deal in a cheap phone and give that number to your agency, work places and close friends.I don’t answer unidentified calls. If it’s important enough, they will leave a message. If he stops getting any response, he will probably stop trying. Hang on in there. We all have down days, especially early on.
I have been No contact with my N now for 5 months, however he continues to call me. He blocks his number when he calls, I know it’s him so sometimes I don’t answer. Other times I answer only when I think it’s work, but there’s been a few times it’s him. I don’t engage in conversation with him I immediately han up.
It has been so so hard for me, right when I feel I’m getting ahead he shows up again. All those baby steps I’ve been taking he ruins it for me. he takes me back to all the miserable Memories and humiliation! Supposedly he’s moved on married and have a child. WHY does he keep popping into my life, if he’s so damn happy?!! I have been depressed these past few days, not eating and not sleeping, reliving all the horrendous moments I experienced at his side. He has humiliated me in so many ways. His name calling, belittling, throwing my job in my face, threatened to call my family to tell them how much of a “whore” Iam. He has gotten physical aggressive. He spit in my face, has thrown food at me and the unimaginable that to this day has left me so disturbed and that I still can not believe is that he urinated on my face while I was sleeping. This has traumatized in a way that I cannot explain.
Why does he continue to bother me?
And how do I get over this? What type of person is capable of these type of actions?
This is a great post. Thank you. It’s the first one I’ve been moved to print although there are others I frequently look at. I’ve started a journal and have a new affirmation: “I will remove the cobwebs from my thinking and the weeds from my mental garden.”
The real garden is looking good and I’ve been growing and eating trays of salad.
I will read the books. I will revisit the mirror technique and try the tapping.
Feelings have been an issue for me all my life. In my childhood, no-one ever talked to me about them, much less showed interest in how I was feeling or engaged with me emotionally. So I will journal them and continue to try to feel them in a quiet space. Yesterday morning, when I read the blog I was feeling uplifted from a choir rehearsal the day before. The music was great and someone invited me to their birthday party; not just randomly, a real invitation with my name on it.
Last summer, I spent a period of time on my own, pursuing my hobby in wide open spaces. I didn’t have to name the CPV, it spoke in the voices of my mother, the narc and a negative (now ex) friend. I challenged it hard. This summer I will spend some time on my own again and I think the effing voice will be much less prevalent. I will also pursue the hobby with friends both before and after I go off by myself. Both sets have thought about it and chosen to invite me because they enjoy and want my company.
Twenty months on from final discard, things are so much brighter. I have more energy and drive. I feel for my co-readers who are still battling through the earlier stages, were involved for longer and have more to sort out in the way of money, a home and, above all, children. I still dream and occasionally a figure appears but now with a blank face. I’m often still in labyrinthine places but instead of a house stuffed with rubbish, last time it was my school science labs, orderly places where I could learn new things.
I’m very lucky to be independent. Nobody ever mentions it but there is a place on this page where you can give money to support the site and the brilliant work it does. Every little must help so please send some if you can.
And, oh yes. Three things I liked about myself yesterday: my smile, my generosity, my free spirit. Three things I was grateful for: my independence, my good physical health, my sense of humour.
Now for today ….
I have not tried the mirror technique, that is great!!! Meditation felt weird at first too, but oh so balancing. Thank you for sharing. I never saw myself as a Codependent, I believe you can be trained to react as such if you are empathic at all. I read your articles on empaths, yes it can be learned, but some is just knowing, it’s deeper than a learned behavior that can be overcome. I hope you are open to that, because it’s real. I’m not discounting, cause I worked through childhood stuff as well. In fact my ex use to say he picked me because he knew I was strong and could take care of myself and the kids if something happened to him………trigger, red flag……..all his decision to pick me????
Love all the articles, going to incorporate the mirror affirmations. You are truly a life saver Savannah!!!!!
Hey Savannah, Cowboy, Lola and the other regulars. I have not been on this blog for some time. Glad to see that everyone is doing well and making huge strides. Hope everyone is having a great 2017 so far.
I had a bit of a proud moment that I’d like to share, that is aligned with this and last week’s topic:
Last night, an associate of mine (who I have re-evaluated as to why I’m talking to him), called me at the last minute to invite me to hang out. At 9 p.m. on a Sunday night (a work night for majority of us). This might sound like no big deal, or may even make me sound like a stick in the mud. I declined and said no. Why is this such a big victory and proud moment for me? Because the old, former co-dependent me would have ran to him.
This associate is not a narc, but I sense he’s selfish. I know that not all selfish people are narcs. But last night, after dealing with this situation, I realized that my narc ex, other narcs I’ve dated, and the toxic friends that I’ve had in my life shared this similar trait: They NEVER respected my time. They expected me to be available for them, whenever they wanted me to be, and at their beck and call. From the friend that would call at 4 a.m. on a worknight just because she was having minor or dumb relationship problems and couldn’t deal with it on her own, to my ex-narc who would call me at the last minute to hang out and get upset when I wasn’t available because I was working, exercising or had other plans. The old me would often cave and go do what these people wanted most of the time, even if it inconvenienced me or I wasn’t up for it.
Now back to this associate: He is unnecessarily hard to make plans with. If you invite him to an event with a normal amount of considerate notice, he’ll give you an extremely non-committal answer. It doesn’t matter HOW amazing the event is, he’ll give you a “maybe.” If he expresses interest in coming out, once you follow up with him, he’ll come up with some excuse and decline. But when he wants YOU to come out, he will call you at the last minute and just expects you to be available.
His behavior hasn’t been sitting right with me. It reminded me of how men who are players act: They refuse to make plans with you because they’re waiting to see if something better comes along that night, but they have no problem about calling and waking you up at 2 a.m. I was also offended that he called me well after he arrived at the bar. This means he had the time to think about going there, get ready to leave the house, and drive there—but he didn’t “think” about calling me until well after he got there. He TOTALLY had enough time that day to invite me out for dinner or give notice to hang out for an after-dinner drink. It made me feel like he only called me because either a date or another friend stood him up, or because he wanted to see if I had little boundaries and would just show up.
I really have no time for this kind of power play or rudeness anymore. I actually asked him if he just happened to walk into that bar randomly and thought it was so great and unique that he wanted me to see it, or the owner invited him in at the last minute. He gave me some half-assed answer (which I knew he would). I then simply told him that he needs to be considerate and give me more notice. Especially on a work night!
Here is another reason why this behavior is no longer cute to me: He and I are both 38 years old. When you’re 25, it’s fine to go out on a worknight and start the night at 10 p.m. because you can easily bounce back the next morning after drinking, and your responsibilities at that age are not the responsibilities you have when you’re almost 40. One of the great things about your 20s, and the friendships you have at that time, is the constant spontaneity—randomly calling around and seeing what people are up to, then hanging out with no purpose or just to do something fun. But things are different now at this age. Really different!
Nowadays, I only call friends at the last minute to invite them out, even on weekends, if some rare opportunity came my way: I scored free concert/event tickets to something they’d love, a longtime mutual friend just arrived in town, or they live far away and I happen to be in the neighborhood. These last-minute calls are also the kind that I welcome. I’m over being “spontaneous” on someone else’s terms and at my expense!
Kudos to you NR and thanks for the shout out. I’ve made some strides myself involving a coworker. I might have mentioned I used to have a male coworker who not only was very selfish but I’ve come to believe he’s a covert narc. (He gave me lots of attention in the beginning but then the devaluing and silent treatments came on.)
Since he quit in Jan, on his last day of work I deleted his # from my phone and have not heard from him since. I believe he emotionally played me a little–very covertly, that is, since he went from being attentive, flirty and kind to ignoring and devaluing me for no reason at all. He’d also do little jabs and attempts at triangulation.
Anyhow, earlier this week a friend of mine emailed me a pic of this coworker where he looked great in it (he’s an obsessive workout freak) and I have to admit my heart hurt a tiny moment.
The old me would have tried to have gotten in touch with him eventually, reach out to him just to say hi and see how he was doing. But I refuse to ever do that b/c he has no right to have disrespected me the way he did and behave like a manipulative douchebag the last 2 months we worked together.
Now I am like, ‘Screw that guy.’ I think the lesson here is that I no longer idealize situations as I once did. I tended to recall the ‘good times’ and wanted what was best, etc. But now I have the attitude that if this person shits on me, then they don’t deserve to have me in their life and I’ll just shit right back.
Glad things are going well for you, NR.
Hey NR, good to see you are not just surviving but really thriving. I like your approach to the person you describe, that’s what it looks like when we take the hard-earned lessons from a narc relationship and apply them to the rest of our lives. It seems you applied a simple standard: does this behavior feel ok to me? Do I feel respected? It’s taking that moment to pause, check in with yourself, check on how you’re feeling, that really shows “recovery in action.” I like how you pushed back against the voice that would make excuses for his behavior. How you applied in effect a simple test: would I treat someone this way? By comparing the times when you have made an unexpected and unplanned social call with this situation (where there was plenty of time and opportunity to plan ahead), you were able to put your finger on what was not right about it. All of us who have been in relationships with narcs know how it feels to be “put on the shelf,” to be taken down and put into play only when the narc feels like it (usually, when nothing more exciting or novel comes along). I support you in your commitment *never* under any circumstances to accept that type of behavior again. And to prefer your own company to that of someone who does not truly value you as much as you (and we all) deserve. Bravissimo!
Thank you for this article. I love the part on the Critical Parent Voice. I know this is something that I need to get over. I like the strategy to identify it and to then move my focus onto myself and my future.
Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!
All of your posts are excellent but some of them are brilliant and I print them off or save them in my personal e-document folder for easy to read any time and many times. Some of them I pretty much memorized by now.
There is no instant fix. And I don’t think it matters how old you are. It is just, as you pointed out, this negative brain wiring which we all come to this world equipped with: codependent or not.
I read it somewhere but I forget how many positive experiences do you have to have to erase the effect of a negative one. It is this old survival instinct that allowed our species to survive. If it was bad and could’ve killed you the brain took more notice of it so the pre-historic men could survive.
The brain is such a powerful thing. Most of the time we associate it with intellect and forget that it’s hour emotional compass as well.
I have had a relapse in my recovery from narcissist abuse . I have no energy to do anything for myself because I have so much anxiety. I know it is a lesson to learn and i will never get answers to why I was treated in such a horrendous way. But I am hopeful, one step at a time. Each day I shall look for gratitude in the smallest of ways. Thankyou , it gives me comfort reading on this site and just knowing that I am not alone.
I have been reading this blog now for a year and find it incredibly enlightening but until I put these points into practice, it will not make a change. My Narc is very devious but I know I have empowered her to be this way.I now believe she has come into my life to help me see the error of my ways and this blog is my tutorial on how to manage my rebirth into health.