The Quality of Our Lives is Determined by the Quality of Our Choices: Learning How to Make Healthy Relationship Choices
I read a quote from Anthony Robbins a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I suppose when you hear something and it rings true for you, your entire being stops and takes notice. The quote was:
“It’s not what we do once in a while that counts, but our consistent actions. What ultimately determines who we become and where we go in life? The answer is, our decisions. It’s in these moments that our destiny is shaped. More than anything else, our decisions, not the conditions of our lives determine our destiny.”
This says basically that the quality of our lives is determined by our choices – our consistent choices – not the family we’re born into, not the body we have, or even how much money is in our bank accounts. It’s the tiny little decisions we make each and every moment, throughout our day that is responsible for the state of our lives.
Even something as simple as what am I going to have for breakfast can cause a ripple effect on our behavior for the rest of the day, week, or even month. Do I choose the yogurt and fresh fruit, or do I opt for the yummy pancakes with some of Aunt Jamima’s finest? If I chose the latter, I can then justify having that muffin for a snack, since I’ve already declared today a “cheat” day. If I consistently make choices like that, my body and my health will reflect those choices.
As well as our health, the day to day choices we make also shape the state of our finances and even our relationships. Take for example, someone like actress Lindsay Lohan. She has looks, money, talent and all the opportunity in the world. The reason she lives her life on a consistent roller coaster, never knowing what will come at her next, are the choices she makes. Her life is unstable because she consistently makes poor choices.
Troy Polamalu is a professional football player for the Pittsburg Steelers – but to most, he is the guy with the long, dark curly locks in the Head and Shoulders commercials. He is also a devout Orthodox Christian and a happily married man. In an interview he did with 60 Minutes, he spoke of his approach to all of the temptation that surrounds professional athletes. In the interview he said, “I’m not going to sleep with the first girl I see.” He explained that you don’t usually go into something with bad intentions, that it’s all about the little decisions you make along the way.
For instance, someone’s husband may start out saying hello to the cute neighbor down the street, then next thing you know they’re having a conversation. That conversation leads to a few more conversations, which leads to a divulging of personal information. A trust builds, suddenly you’re having coffee to discuss something your wife did that pissed you off. Now that neighbor is your friend and confident. She then gives you sympathy and a warm shoulder …. We all know where this is going – no one intended to have an affair out of the gate, when they first said hello. It’s these little choices that seem innocent enough that need to be treaded the most delicately.
The same rule of thumb applies with a toxic relationship that you’re trying to extricate yourself from. Suddenly, we get a little text message that says, “I miss you,” and it’s at this point that we have a choice to make. You may have been doing great, going no contact for weeks and suddenly you feel a pang of weakness and your mind starts going where you know it shouldn’t. It’s at this point where you have to stop yourself and think about the consequences of each of your decisions. If you respond, you’ve let them back in the door, your Narcissist has confirmed that you still want them and step by step they are back in your life again, and you’re back in the same position you were in before you had the courage to walk away.
When we make a choice, we open ourselves up to the consequences of that choice and we find ourselves swimming in the ripple effect of those decisions. We all make small decisions and big decisions every day. The key is that when you find yourself in the midst of making an important decision that will have a significant effect on your life you have to pause and ask yourself a few questions?
Is this decision good for me? Your mind, body and soul know when you are making healthy choices. Remember that when you are dealing with a highly charged emotional decision the question isn’t: What do I want to do? Or, what does my heart want? Because we know that if you’re involved with a Narcissist what you’re hoping for isn’t possible and that you can’t trust your heart in this situation. With toxic people we have to revert to logic and by stopping and taking a moment to reflect on the consequences of your next action, you can make a better healthier decision, by making choices that are in your best interest and not just acting on emotion.
How does this benefit me long term? Develop the ability to see the bigger picture. When that text message comes in, or we think about responding to the voice message, pause and reflect on the idea that any contact on your part always has the possibility of sucking you back into to an unhealthy and abusive situation.
When we really want to, we can justify just about anything. We can come up with every excuse in the book to break no contact, or run into someone accidentally-on-purpose. Remember what you feed grows, so anytime you keep adding water to a justification it gets bigger and bigger, until we can’t see anything but our justification.
It’s all about nipping these early innocent looking decisions right in the bud. It’s all so easy, too easy to say, “well I’ll just text them to let them know their gloves are still here,” It always seems innocent enough, but if you are really being honest with yourself what you are really doing is looking for a reason to stay invested. You’re looking for any shred of interest, hope or tid-bit. When something is over and it’s been really hard to get you to that place of acceptance, for the love of God don’t blow all your hard work on a moment of weakness and a poor choice. Win the small battles in your mind before you’ve got Godzilla walking around in there creating all kinds of havoc.
Weaning yourself off of a Narcissist is akin to a recovering drug addict. So you’ve got to take your recovery in the same vein. You’ve got to take it minute by minute. Just make the right choice this minute – then make the right choice in the next minute, then the next hour, then the next day.
There are biological components to our choices, there are emotional components to our choices, but the beauty of choice – is that despite all of these things we can make it one way or the other regardless of our physiological leanings. We can crave sugar, but choose not to eat it, in the exact same way that we can crave affection from a Narcissist, but choose not to make contact.
It’s in the most difficult moments when our discipline and our resolve is tested. We all have free will, we all have the ability to justify our behavior, but when you find yourself in the midst of making a crucial decision pause, ask yourself the important questions, reflect on the possible consequences and make the right choice.
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It’s nice to know I’m in good company, and that Savannah always knows what to say, and when to say it. I ruined a perfectly good 2 months of NC, and like an addict feel hurt, ashamed and angry at myself for being so stupid. Despite saying all the right things to him — stay away, I don’t want you in my life, you’ll never change… I saw through his empty promises of THIS TIME IT WILL BE DIFFERENT… but he got me to crack and a month later it was all right back to the usual: him being the big ball of angry, cruel, vindictive, womanizing, hate he always has been and blaming me for his actions. And me feeling like a complete moron for being so stupidly, blindly hopeful. Having the ability to feel empathy for someone really sucks sometimes…
@2behappy First, when you have company that can relate and understand, you do feel better. Finding this blog has been a relief!!!! Savannah and others here, have helped me understand what I’ve been feeling and Understand this NPD. We do fall thru the cracks and get caught up, it’s messy, but if you stay focused, and commit to SELF LOVE and RESPECT, we, you, and me can survive the Narcs and pain in our hearts. My Narc did some ugly things to me, in the womanizing arena. Since the official break up, he has been thru atleast 3 victims, that he has put in my face. He is working on one now, so I have not heard a peep from him. I’m guilty of peeking at his FB, he’s posting his new victim life all over the fb page, how he is having such a beautiful life with her, lol! It made me so hurt and angry at one point, but @NarcRepellent helped me think about some important things concerning me. And Savannah’s articles just hit home!!!! Listen, you have support from this circle. We will stand strong and help get these Narcs off our backs!!!! \../
@2BHappy — You are NOT alone. Everyone in this circle has done it. We have all broken the No Contact rule at some point in the breakup with an N, especially in the beginning.
You have no idea how many times I left my N and took him back before I finally ended it for good. Him taking my car without my permission, and driving it while black-out drunk was not enough. Him trashing my apartment was not enough. Him disappearing after saying he was going over to a friend’s house to have “two glasses of wine” was not enough.
I went so far as to let him back into my apartment, after I kicked him out! My N was able to rope me in by starting fights with me and making ridiculous accusations, which led me to “defend” myself and “attack” back. He knew this was the way to get me to react and respond to him.
Savannah is right — getting rid of a Narc IS like being addicted to a substance.
Please do not beat yourself up for breaking No Contact right now. Your self-esteem cannot afford any unkind thoughts from you. I believe that will make you even MORE susceptible to his abuse and staying — you beating yourself up over it. What happens when a person who quits smoking or drinking slips up and has a puff or a sip? If they beat themselves up about it, then instead of sticking with the plan of not staying away from their vice, they give up, say “eff it” and go buy a pack or a bottle.
You CAN do it. You CAN make the decision to not contact and respond to him.
@Eileen mentioned an analogy with food that I also agree with it, and will it share again, because it may help: I gave up fast food many years ago, and also try not to eat processed foods. A few months ago, I ate some fast food on a road trip when I was out in the middle of no where and had no other options.
Know what happened? The smell of the french fries in the drive-thru window made me sick. I felt gross after eating what I ordered. That night AND the next morning my stomach hated me. After not eating this stuff for years, my body had such a bad reaction from eating this fattening poison.
I now try to think of my N this way. He is something I shouldn’t have, that makes me feel gross and bad about myself. As a food snob, I equate him with the grossest, lowest-grade food that I don’t like and know is not good for me — and something that I don’t want!
@Lynn, Omg! Same shit, different Narc.right now, the narc in my world is working on a new victim, he’s a long term kinds narc, I guess! He will keep you around and be messy! And I was so fooled, I didn’t know. I thought I had a shy committed asshole, only to Now realize he is a Master manipulator. Well I guess when things get boring, he will be texting and emailing too! I will be stronger and will not fold. It is so easy to slip back into the charm, and intimacy, but we must be committed to no contact and not let these jerks keep hurting us conviently.
@Narcrepellent, I’m staying strong! I feel like I have no other choice, Really! I, too pray hard for the day when I absolutely have no thought of this jerk Narc!!!! I wake up sometimes and my chest feels like a ton of stones are there and I’m thinking about him! I am torturing myself looking at his FB. He is now posting his new love life, how life is so beautiful with the new victim! It makes me sad and angry!!!!! I have to keep surrounding myself with this circle of information and experience, it helps me understand what I was dealing with, and that he is a creature of habit!!! And that he hurts women, not just me! I hate him! (I hate loving his ass)
@Shay Shay — is there any way you can take a vacation soon? I’m wondering if maybe getting out of town for a while or being in a different social circle will help.
I’m planning on doing that soon just to treat myself. Also, this may sound a bit distract, but would you consider taking a break from social media? I disabled my Facebook account after I left my N. That way, I am not tempted to look at his profile and see what he is doing, and he can’t look at mine. I also set my Instagram account (which I have to have for work) private.
Honestly, life without Facebook and Twitter for the past month has been much more serene.
I did a lot of work on myself; I encourage each of you to go to a good therapist if you possibly can because it may be that after you understand yourself it will be much easier to leave the narcissist. I reached the point where it was no longer willpower nor anger that keeps me away from him: I don’t need him; I let him be him; I choose to do what I want to (never putting his needs above mine); I choose not to be married to him, and I love myself and am taking care of myself. This is such a good change for me and I am in a totally different place than I was 3 years ago. It takes a while, and certainly “no contact” can get you through crises, but willpower is not the ultimate solution; changing yourself is.
Best comment ever. Thank you.
@NarcRepellent thanks for the feedback! It becomes such a struggle, my heart is my issue. I will not fold! I will admit that I’m a bit curious about what he is up too. Of course he’s involved again, with some female who is totally clue less! I had no idea I was a victim of this sick human being. I’m getting encouraged by the articles and comments. Keep them coming! @exharemgal it hurts! Just hold on, keep reading these articles and comments. I find emotional comfort and support from Savannah and followers. Just know that we are not alone. The Narcs we have and are experiencing in our lives have no idea the hurt and pain our hearts feel. No contact is the only course of action.
@Shay Shay — Great to hear that you’re staying strong. I think it’s only normal to wonder what an ex is up to — healthy, normal people do it too. I’m convinced the inventors of Facebook partially invented the site to be able to see a woman’s relationship status and to spy on exes, lol.
I do it, too, wondering about my N. I found out he had a profile up on a dating site just six days after I kicked him out. We were together for two years and lived together for half of that time.
There is one thing that is a guarantee — the next women our Ns date will have it worse than us, because our Ns will escalate their behavior with their next victims. Sooner or later, like Savannah said, they too will lose everything and will be crying reading blogs at night.
I try to remind myself of that when I wonder what he is up to. I feel like thinking about him is a waste of my energy and brain synapses. I look forward to the day where I wake up and he doesn’t enter my thoughts. Stay strong!
Another good post Savannah…just what I needed to hear. I do miss my N at times….but I know that he not thinking diddly squat about me. I have chosen not to get into another relationship yet as I still have love in my heart for him and I don’t want to hurt someone else by not being able to commit.
It’s been a little over a month since I last had contact. It’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be. Of course, he’s tried to contact me, at first with sweet emails and then by sending messages filled with rude comments, accusations and trying to start fights in them.
I have not responded.
A bizarre thing happened last weekend that I wanted to share:
I went out on a Friday night with a man I had recently met and one of my best female friends. We had a great time. I cannot express how amazing and freeing it felt to go have drinks at a nice, trendy bar and not have to look at my phone, worry about what my N was going to say when I came home, or deal with his controlling accusations and wrath for hanging out with my best friend (he had tried to isolate me from her).
Normal people will not understand how much of a victory this is, but it was a big deal for me to have drinks with a man who is NOT an N. It was jarring to sit next to someone who was genuinely interested in what I had to say and respects me as a person. Who was paying for MY drinks. Who didn’t interrupt others when they spoke. Who didn’t judge my best friend and was able to sit there with her and have a conversation.
My N had me in such a fog that he reshaped was normal was, and I’m working to get back to “normal.”
At the end of the night, my new male friend went home and my best friend went home to her boyfriend. Tipsy, I took a cab home.
The next morning, while hungover and absent-mindedly going through my phone, I found a few pictures of my N and one of us together taken a while back. I forgot that I had them, they were in some weird sub-folder in my photo album.
The feeling hit me like a freight train and the tears followed with no warning. I cried SO hard. To the point where I had to collapse on the floor and just let it out.
I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was coming home to an empty apartment, alone, from a bar. That I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m single. Or, it could be the fact that I’ve refused to cry this whole time during the break up, because I spent SO much time in my relationship crying over someone who didn’t deserve my tears.
Whatever it was, in that sad, vulnerable moment, I suddenly wanted to be held by my N so badly. I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted the crappy feeling to stop.
At that moment, I tried something different. Instead of trying to make myself stop crying, trying to alleviate the pain, I just allowed myself to feel these feelings. I let them flow through me and pass. The sadness and the irrational craving for him. Missing him. The hurt and anger I’m still dealing with. I just cried and didn’t feel dumb or guilty about it.
When I was done, I got up, I felt better. I let the feeling of missing him — an a$$ who is not good for me — just simply pass.
And it did.
I was able to get through that moment — and NOT make a bad decision and NOT contact him — by just accepting the feeling, letting it out and letting it pass.
I’m sure this will continue to happen, when we don’t expect it — the craving for our Ns. People who have quit smoking will crave a cigarette even years later, perhaps when they’re watching a show like “Mad Men” or are in a certain social situation. We all have our triggers.
I think the advice that leaving an N is like kicking an addiction substance is so true. And cold turkey is the only way to go.
BTW, I LOVE the Godzilla analogy. That is EXACTLY what happened to me, after I took my ex back for the umpteenth time, before I finally left him for good.
In reply to Narc repellant. I have had contact with my ex narc throughout the 3 years we have been divorced. He only cuts off all contact when he is newly attached again, he breaks up normally after a year and contacts me again. I know all his patterns now but saying this I have still succumbed to his bull shit. I do not feel very good about it so I have decided to put my phone on silent during the evening now as this is when he is most likely to text me. I have to break free from this madness as there is nothing in it for me other than feeling I have let myself down again.
This is right on time for me after yet again falling off the wagon. Same old story, he breaks up with the latest girlfriend and comes onto me. I have been so strong but after 3 years on my own I gave in and met up with him and of course he only wanted one thing. I felt so bad about myself afterwards that I could not get out quick enough. I just want to be free of this cycle. Your advice is so spot on and I am going to re-read it every day until it has sunk in. Thank you.
@Lynn — You had three years of no contact at all? May I ask what happened? How did he suck you back in after all that time? I’m curious as to what your thought process was, why you agreed to see him.
Wow, this proves that they will stop at nothing. That they can let something drag on for years, and they will just expect us to embrace them.
God I wish we could banish Ns to an island out in the middle of no where.
@Lynn — Check with your wireless carrier if you can block his number.
I know for a fact that AT&T has this feature. You enter his number online, and he cannot call or text you, and you cannot call or text him, as well. It costs $5 a month, but to me, that is the best $5 I have ever spent. The person cannot leave you any voicemails, the calls just will not go through. The person you blocked will think that you either changed your number or didn’t pay your bill. Text messages will also go into the ether, and they will never know these messages cannot and will never be read.
If you do not have AT&T, many phones have the blocking feature, the iPhone and some Droid models have it. The only caveat with this system is that the blocked person can still leave you voicemail messages (your phone will not ring and you will not get a voicemail alert). Also, if they try to text you, they will get a notification that their message cannot be sent.
The phone is the main way that our Ns keep us, or anyone else in their harem, tethered to them. My N tortured me with constant calling and text messages when I left him.
Seriously, don’t let your N have control over you through an inanimate electronic device. Once I finally realized that I was allowing a man from miles way control me through a freaking PHONE I finally blocked the number.
Thank you for this! I have been feeling sad after a short NC. I know it is for the best but the part of me that doesn’t believe it will come or that I ultimately deserve it are encouraging me to be weak. Thank you for sending this right on time!!!
Savannah, this article is so fitting. I needed to read. I have continued to answer calls, texts, and emails. I feel up one minute, down after wards. I look at Facebook page, he is doing what he does!!! Womanizing. I want so bad to not be apart of this charade, I hate him!!!! He currently doesn’t contact me now, he stopped all communication. I know its good for me. Maybe he knows his messy behavior!!!!! Help me heal, please?
@ Shay Shay — I am also going through a break up with a narcissist.
Please, please, PLEASE do not torture yourself by looking at his Facebook. His behavior is textbook. He is looking for a new victim/new source of supply. They will stop contacting us once they find a new person to become preoccupied with. Then, they will reappear once again when that new relationship doesn’t work out or they get bored of it.
Don’t look this gift horse in the mouth — him not contacting you is truly a blessing.
I know how much it hurts. Just remember his behavior has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with you and your worth.
Savannah, you did it again! My Narcissist showed up at my work with flowers and a card with his handwritten note “I miss you!” It’s almost as if you knew he did this. And I fell for it again, damnit! I am so weak. I need to be strong and set boundaries. He is my ultimate addiction. He is looking for yet another place to live, has the same old story: trying to get a job, enrolled back in college. He’s 53 years old and has nothing except my heart. I need to run fast! Keep posting and pray for me!
@Marcy — he is 53 years old and has no stable place to live?! Dang.
My ex was also an inverted narcissist. Didn’t want any responsibility, couldn’t keep a job, doesn’t have a pot to piss in. He’s 34 and definitely going down the same path – he’ll be like this when turns 53, as well.
You’re so very right, and perfect timing as always. It feels so good to stay strong, yet a moment of weakness and it all comes crumbling down. After 2 months I cracked a little, and he dug at that until it was a crater… It didn’t take long for things to end up right back where they were when I left– all the blame on me and me feeling like an idiot. Despite KNOWING this would happen, I did it anyway. At least the results are consistent, even when I can’t be…
Brilliant advice as always, Savannah. Thank you very much. 🙂
Something that occurred to me whilst reading is that another consequence of ‘falling off the wagon’, is the damage it can do to the psyche. Allowing the toxic person back into our lives means giving them control over you once more, which is a terrible blow for our self-esteem I’ve found. What’s more, once contact has been made, there is no satisfaction from it at all, so there wasn’t any point to it in the first place. Far better to stick to principles, because that is what makes us much more stronger.
An interesting anology with food. As it happens, I’ve been eating really healthy, fresh grown food for several years now, and the very rare time that I have the odd treat it’s extremely unsatisfying because things like that are too sweet or leave a bad aftertaste or make me feel sick, so there’s no point in eating that kind of stuff. Better to enjoy the good things in life I reckon, than allowing the bad stuff back in.
@Eileen — You are so right. The last time I gave into my N, I immediately felt so much worse about myself afterward, even though it initially felt nice to touch and be near him again. I berated myself, calling myself weak. It was a huge blow to my self-esteem, and I’m just now starting to get it back because I finally left and meant it and have adhered to No Contact.
I have never had a drug or drinking problem, but I imagine this is how an addict must feel when they relapse and take a hit or drink after staying sober for a while. They must beat themselves up and then hit the bottle even harder.
I like your comparison to food. I stopped eating fast food many, many years ago also try to avoid as much processed food as possible. I’m really selected when I eat out (OK, truth is I’m a food snob in that regard lol). Just 6 months ago, I was on a road trip and didn’t pack enough healthy foods ahead of time. I was literally out in the middle of no where and had no other options other than to go to a drive-thru before I got to my destination, since that’s all there was in this area.
When I pulled up and I smelled the food through the drive-thru window, that distinct scent of this specific chain was nauseating. Even though I ordered a lower-calorie item, that night when I went to bed my stomach HATED me for eating it, and I was hurting the next day, as well. All I wanted was a carrot!
Thanks to your advice, I will now compare my ex to a fast food or chain restaurant that is epically gross and that I really despise — not one of the semi-decent ones like IN-Out Burger lol
Bravo to this article! Just say NO. Thank YOU A message to keep close.