Two Simple and Effective Tools for Healing the Pain of Narcissistic Abuse
Do you feel that narcissism is everywhere? The red flags of narcissistic abuse are all around us. Even the very word “narcissism” is plastered all over the internet. We are seeing the effects of the abuse in ourselves, our kids, other family members, our friends, and so on. Even our pets feel the power of the negativity in the home.
Okay, so now we see the abuse. We feel the pain. Now what? I am often asked, “How do we heal?” If we cannot heal, there is a strong chance that we will walk right back into another abusive relationship. The cycle is incredibly powerful and has so very many people trapped. I hear so many victims say, “How could I have let it happen to me again?!?”
The key is in our healing. Without healing, we remain victims, and victims continue to get caught and trapped.
In my own personal healing process, I have found two very effective tools for processing the deep emotions and generating the power of healing. I call the two tools Emotional Burn and Imagination Burst. They go hand-in-hand and work extremely well with each other.
It is very important that you do this step in a safe and peaceful environment. I do this in my own bedroom. I turn on some calm and quiet music. I turn on my salt lamp and essential oils diffuser. Lavender oil is amazing for a peaceful environment. I sit with my favorite meditation pillow. I create a safe space, a sanctuary.
If you prefer to use an outdoor safe space, that works great as well. I like to sit amongst our magnolia trees in our backyard, listening to the cardinals sing, and feeling the warmth of the sunshine. Do not underestimate the power of your surroundings. Use them to help soothe your emotions.
Once you have created a safe environment for yourself, take a specific memory that is weighing heavy on your heart. One that still causes your stomach to drop. One that causes all of your insides to scream. I found it helpful to have previously created a list of these suffocating memories. Allow yourself to feel the intense and horrible feelings that go with that memory. Give yourself permission to feel the pain, the anger, the hurt, the anxiety, the despair. These are NORMAL reactions to what you have experienced, to the way you were treated. Tell yourself that it is okay that you felt, and perhaps still feel, this way. Allow those feelings to burn.
Picture a candle. Some candles are bigger than others. But no matter how big the candle is, someday it will run out of wick and no longer have the ability to burn. Your pain from these stubborn memories is the same way. Some have longer wicks than others. But over time, they all will burn out. If you never light a candle though, it will not burn out. If you don’t light your own internal candle, these feelings will never burn away. They will remain locked inside you, and I promise they will affect you and your future relationships. You have to allow them to burn in order for them to fade away.
I want to re-emphasize that you should do this exercise in a safe environment where you have the space needed to let the feelings out. It is best for me to do this alone in my own home, where I can feel safe with intense emotions. If embracing those memories alone is too overwhelming for you, that’s okay. Do this exercise with a trusted loved one or a therapist. Even a loving pet can be the therapeutic support you need. Over time, you will get emotionally stronger.
Knowing the Purpose of the Pain
When we place our hand on a hot burner, a seething pain shoots through our body. That pain serves a very important purpose. If we ignore it, we will be badly injured. Pain protects us and keeps us safe. It is not a bad thing, but is rather extremely useful to us. It causes us to quickly remove our hand, before thought even happens. Without that pain, we would leave our hand there not realizing that it was burning.
The same is true with emotional pain. It is not a bad thing. Without it, we lose ourselves, our soul, our identity, our genuineness. The pain is what tells us that something is truly wrong. It tells us that we need to pay attention and remove ourselves from the situation. Embrace that pain and allow it to communicate with you. It is in that pain that you will find yourself again.
The other extremely useful tool is Imagination Burst. Your own imagination is very effective in dealing with all the pain. The approach of this tool may seem contradictory to the Emotional Burn. It definitely is not though! You see, if you stay with those intense emotions burning all the time, you will exhaust yourself and go crazy. You simply cannot maintain that emotional burn for long-term. You need to purposefully take a break from it. This is that break!
I want you to use your imagination and imagine what it would be like if none of that abuse actually happened to you. Imagine who you would be right now if you had not gone through all of this. What would you be doing? What would you be thinking? Who would you be? How would you be spending your time and energy?
Do not confuse this with trying to live in denial. You are not trying to convince yourself that none of the abuse happened. You know without a doubt all the abuse that you have suffered. This is using your imagination to your advantage, to push you to better places. It is consciously taking a break from all the hard work of processing the emotions and looking at your life outside of them. Yes do the work, but you must allow your heart and mind to rest and enjoy who you are.
Create a Cycle
Both the Emotional Burn and the Imagination Burst are needed in the healing process. Get into a cycle of using both tools. There is no one right way to use these. So experiment with them. I will share my favorite way to use them.
The two tools complement each other extremely well. As you do the work of the Emotional Burn, the Imagination Burst will give you more of a picture of who you want to be as the hard work pays off. Rather than doing the Emotional Burn with no direction, this gives you a target, a goal, inspiration, and hope. It helps you to see that you will make it through this, and there is life and happiness after emotional abuse!
A Night-time Routine
Every night before I go to bed, I use both of these tools. I create the environment I mentioned earlier with peaceful music, a salt lamp, essential oils and a meditation pillow. Sometimes I even light a candle. Get creative with your environment and find what works for you.
After creating your safe space, start with the Emotional Burn. Take one of the memories that weighs heavy on your heart. Bring it fully to mind, remembering what happened, what was said, what you thought, and how you felt. As you stay with this memory, notice how you feel. Some of these feelings are crazy powerful and overwhelming. That’s okay. Remind yourself that you are in this safe environment. When you feel overwhelmed, take a moment and notice what you hear, see and smell. Listen to the music or the birds, see the peaceful salt lamp or the warm sunshine, smell the essential oils or fresh air. Remember you are safe.
Continue with the Emotional Burn. Remind yourself often that these are normal emotional reactions to a horrible situation. Give yourself permission to feel this way. If you need to cry, then cry. If you need to scream, then scream. If you need to just sit and shake, then sit and shake. Remember that it is okay and that you are safe. Allow this process to continue until you feel some of the power of those emotions die away. Watch them go up in smoke and simply let them go.
When you feel it is time, shift to Imagination Burst. Imagine what life would be like if this particular event had not happened. Remember you are not trying to convince yourself that it did not happen. You are just imagining the what-if. Embrace the feelings that come from the relief. Give yourself permission to enjoy these feelings. Allow these feelings to replace the painful feelings that just went up in smoke. The peacefulness is very welcome and appreciated. Think of it as a reward for the hard work of the Emotional Burn. Enjoy the reward!
Experiment with these two tools and find some ways to make them work for you. The Emotional Burn can be quite intense, so I think it is best to follow it with an activity that brings you back to a happier place. This is why I found it useful to go straight into Imagination Burst, but you can space them out more if you want.
Other things you could use to follow the Emotional Burn are cuddling with a pet, going for a walk, spending time with a good friend, reading a good book, gardening, a bubble bath, other forms of meditation. Purposefully plan to follow it up with something that is healing to your soul.
The Imagination Burst can be used anytime and does not need to be only in a safe environment. I have found it to be very effective when I also use it for a few minutes in the morning. It is an extremely inspiring way to start the day!
This is Your Healing
True healing can only come from within you. NO ONE can do it for you. Those close to you can love you and support you, but they cannot do any of this for you. This is your journey! Embrace it. Allow it to make you stronger, freer, and happier. Remember, you are stronger than you think you are!
Know that you are not alone. Thousands and more are making this same journey with you. Too many endure the pain alone. They hide in fear. Slowly our world is becoming a safer place for our voices to be heard. Our world is waking up to the suffering we have endured. Yes you have to do the work for yourself, but you no longer have to suffer alone!