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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wengreen

How to Move Forward: 10 Steps Toward Healing From a Narcissist

The journey of ending a relationship with a narcissist can be long, painful, and confusing. Here
are some steps to aid you in getting to the other side, and building yourself back.

1. Recognize and Accept:

The first step is to recognize that you were/are in a relationship with a narcissist. Many “excuse away” “water down” and “rationalize” the behaviors of their partner, painting the red flags white. This minimizes or ignores the reality of the abusive behaviors. Accept that the relationship was/is unhealthy and that you are not to blame for their behavior. Removing the denial is a big step. They are who they are and will most likely continue the same patterns of behavior with others.

2. Educate Yourself:

Learn about narcissistic personality traits and the tactics associated with it. There is a diagnosable personality disorder listed in the DSM-5, (NPD) and then there are selfish behaviors. Either may be called “narcissistic.” The personality disorder requires certain criteria is met. Understanding the dynamics of narcissistic relationships can help you make sense of your experience and help you avoid such personality styles in the future.

3. Seek Support:

It is very difficult to articulate the experiences with the narcissistic style. Others may or may not believe or understand you. Feeling confused is common. Surround yourself with supportive friends, family members, and a therapist who understands narcissistic abuse. Talking about your experiences and emotions and finding understanding and validation aids in healing. Depending on your experiences and symptoms, you may want to be assessed for trauma.

4. Set Boundaries:

Learn what a healthy boundary is and establish clear boundaries with the narcissist. Holding these boundaries can be difficult so seek help and guidance. Boundaries are meant to create protection for you. Healthy boundaries are not mean or selfish.

5. Practice Self-Care:

Focus on self-care activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. This could include exercise, meditation, dance, spending time in nature, pursuing hobbies, or seeking professional help.

6. Challenge Negative Beliefs:

Address any negative beliefs, self-doubt and shame that may have developed during the relationship. Replace these beliefs with positive affirmations and self-compassion.

7. Process Your Emotions:

Allow yourself to feel and process a range of emotions, including anger, sadness, anxiety, grief, and betrayal. Loss comes in many forms. Journaling, art therapy, or talking with a therapist can be helpful in this process.

8. Work on Forgiveness:

Forgiving both yourself and the narcissist. Once you understand your reality, you may feel a deep sense of self betrayal for allowing the abuse. Pulling forgiveness towards you is vital for self-care. Eventually work towards forgiving the narcissist, not for their benefit, but for your own peace of mind. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or condoning their behavior but releasing yourself from the emotional burden of resentment.

9. Focus on Strengthening Your Identity:

Use this experience as an opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. Explore likes and dislikes, build back the self you lost or have never developed. Set goals for yourself, explore new interests, and work on building healthy relationships.

10. Practice Patience and Persistence:

Healing from narcissistic abuse is a journey that takes time. You are a survivor! Be patient with yourself and trust the healing process. Celebrate your progress along the way, no matter how small.

Remember, healing is a unique and individual process. What works for one person may not work for another. These stages may not come in the order presented but ebb and flow back and forth. Be gentle with yourself, seek professional guidance and education, and prioritize your well-being as you navigate this journey toward healing.

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