“Girls you’ve gotta know when it’s time to up the anchor and sail on.” ~ Unknown
How do you break away from a destructive relationship? It is so much easier said than done, but easy or not, you can do this. Begin by making a list of the reasons why you are anchored into this destructive relationship. What is preventing you from breaking free? Be real honest with yourself. The relationship is giving you something you are afraid of losing.
Next, write down what it would take to eliminate each reason on your list. What would need to change in your circumstances or partner? Do you need to make more money so you can buy health insurance, find childcare, or pay for schooling? Is there a home or life style you don’t want to lose? Are you scared of being alone? Are you holding on to hope? Look carefully at what you have not been willing to give up because herein lies why you won’t end the relationship and anchor up.
“When you’re true to who you are, amazing things happen.” ~ Deborah Norville
The very nature of a destructive relationship leaves you feeling bad about yourself. You act in ways you wouldn’t normally act, say things you wouldn’t normally say, and think in ways you wouldn't normally think. Overtime, you slowly become a weak and wounded version of yourself that leads to feeling powerless to change your circumstances. Not only do you lose sight of your true self, you lose sight of what you are capable of doing and who you are capable of becoming. You have been high jacked by these weak and wounded thoughts. It is only after you remove yourself from the relationship that you can begin to correct these false beliefs and perceptions.
“Change your perception of things and you will change your reality.” ~ Unknown
Write down the pros and cons to staying and leaving the relationship. What are the financial and professional costs? What are the emotional and physical costs? How are your choices affecting family members? Write down each member and how the relationship is affecting them. It is important to understand that it is NOT possible to remain in a destructive relationship and ever become your best self. And, it might even be more important for you to understand that no one else in the family will ever become their best self while living in a destructive environment. You will NOT be the best version of yourself, nor will they; not as a mother, daughter, son, sister, brother, friend, student, professional or human being. These are difficult truths to accept, but they can also act as an impelling force for change. And change...is only a choice away. The limitations you have put on yourself today, will not be the same limitations you face tomorrow. You've got to be willing to take that first step believing there is a brighter tomorrow.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” ~ Martin Luther King
Imagine right now living your best life! Start by closing your eyes and imagining everything you ever wanted in your life. What would your life look like, and how would you feel? What things would you surround yourself with? Where would you live, and what would you be doing? See yourself happy, laughing, dancing around the living room. Smile as you imagine being this woman and living this great life. Maybe you use to know her because you use to be her. Maybe she existed before you became entangled in this destructive relationship. The point is that you are not imagining a life you are settling for. You are imagining your absolute best life and best self. There is a difference here, and it is a big difference! There is no compromising in this exercise of imagery. For the next week you need to spend time thinking about this ideal life and woman. Meditate on her when you get up in the morning, in the middle of the day, and before you go to bed at night. At the end of the week go back and review the list of why you couldn’t break away from the relationship. Review only the costs of staying and the benefits to leaving. Do you see possibilities that you hadn’t seen before? Do you feel empowered to act? At this moment, you have the power to move towards those possibilities.
“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, they make them.” George Bernard Shaw
Put yourself on a timeline. How long are you willing to stay in the relationship? There has to be an end point, and it needs to be a hard stop! Two days, two weeks, two months, whatever your timeline is... it is. Just set it! Buy a pocket size calendar that you can write in and begin to set the dates that you will take specific actions. Put everything you do on a schedule. It may sound like a lot, but this action will immediately help you to feel more confident in your ability to create a new and better life. You are creating momentum, and this is paramount to your future success.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
While you are putting together your exit plan, fill your free time with learning something new. Engage in your favorite activities whether you feel like it or not. Push yourself. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did! When you go out and do exciting things, exercise, or accomplish a goal, dopamine is released, and this feel good hormone can help get you through painful experiences feeling less pain.
While you are still in the relationship, plan out your behavior. Train yourself to keep conversations short, use a calm voice and maintain your composure. When you are unable to do this, remove yourself from the negative environment. Leave your opinions out of conversations, do not criticize or critique him or anyone else in his presence. Seek third party intervention as necessary.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou
Focus on the good all around you and find at least ten things you can be grateful for everyday. Meditate on those things, especially when your mind begins to wander into the negative or the environment becomes negative. Be very strict on what you allow your mind to think about. It will want to drag you back into destructive thinking patterns. You will need to pay close attention to those patterns so you can quickly intercept them.
“You can’t change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction.” ~ Jim Rohn
Don’t believe that who you are today is who you will always be, or that the circumstances of today will be the same in the future. That will only be true if you allow it to be. The power to change your circumstances is within you, you just have to imagine it. Start imaging now! Choose to move toward that ideal life and woman. Don’t wait; go create her and the life she was meant to live.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ~ C. S. Lewis
“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
- Pearl Strachan Hurd
Empath, discard and self-love deficient disorder are just a few descriptive terms used in psychology when addressing Narcissism. For the partner of a narcissist, these terms can invoke ideas and feelings beyond their literal or intended meanings. The negative connotations derived from these terms can act to reinforce self-limiting beliefs and behaviors for those under narcissistic siege. We often forget the power words can have over our wellbeing. The quality of our lives is directly related to, and affected by how we communicate our words and how we interpret the words that are communicated to us. Psychologists look closely at behavior and communication in an effort to improve the quality of our emotional lives, but while many are helped, many others spend years dredging through their emotional pasts. Is this really a healthy way to live? I would argue that for most of us, it is not. Although the field of Psychology aims to heal, self limiting terminology could be said to play a part in why some people stay stuck in self limiting patterns for so long.
"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." - Margaret Mead
As unique individuals, we perceive and experience life based on our personal interpretation of what we see, hear and feel. Our decisions are based on what we think is possible and what we think is not. The meaning we assign to words, labels and concepts affects our thought processes on both a conscious and subconscious level. It would certainly follow then that the use of descriptive words with negative connotations has the ability to keep people believing and seeing themselves as incapable and defeated. The following paragraphs explore a few of these psychological terms.
"Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck." - Dalai Lama
“Break up” is a term used throughout Western society to describe the ending of an intimate relationship. The terminology alone doesn’t place blame or shame on either party in the relationship. The context stays neutral. Even if the word "bad" is added to describe the break up, it still doesn't single out a particular individual. However, when a narcissist breaks up with their partner, the scientific community wants to call the act a “discard.” In this context, discard becomes a shame-based word that targets the individual. We discard trash and throw away things we have no use for, but never people. Shame is a painful emotion of failing to attain some ideal state, in this case it is the relationship. Shame goes straight to the heart and is highly destructive to ones’ self-esteem. The term discard should never be used to describe the ending of a narcissistic relationship. The truth of the matter is this, the narcissist doesn’t discard; he sets his partner free. Yes, he may not see it in those terms, but that is what he is doing, and every partner of the narcissist should also see it that way. They have been given their life back! They are now free to rebuild their self-esteem, to explore who they are, what they love, and ultimately, find a loving relationship and new life. That is a gift and every narcissist should be thanked when they have given someone their life back! In this context, there is no shame for the partner to bare, only hope for the future. Ending the relationship is not a shame-based experience any longer.
"The only limits you have are the limits you believe." - Wayne Dyer
An “Empath” can be described as a person who takes on the feelings of another person to the extent that they experience the feelings as their own. Empath doesn't have a nice sound to it which doesn't help with the connotations left when applied. The term empath is used to label people whose experience of empathy can be overwhelming or physically exhausting. In some cases, the emotional intensity can be debilitating. Psychologists commonly use this term when referring to the partners of those with personality disorders such as Narcissism. I consider this to be a grand presumption. The first time I was referred to as an Empath, it left me confused. I felt disempowered by the term. I am an empathetic person, most human beings are, but I am not an Empath. The act of being in a relationship with a narcissist does not qualify a person. Recently, I heard a well-meaning psychologist refer to the narcissist's partner as "self-love deficient prey." This assumption was based solely on their connection to the narcissist, and again does not qualify a person. He went on to say that these people have a self-love deficient disorder. Excuse me? This did not motivate me to brush myself off and go conquer the world! These self-limiting labels lead to self-limiting beliefs and those beliefs are what make it so incredibly hard to get out of destructive mindsets and relationship patterns.
"If you lose someone, but find yourself, you've won." - Unknown
Here is my truth, I am a woman living the human experience, and I will overcome the narcissistic relationship and terminology despite those who would otherwise, put me in a box and stick a label on my forehead. And you, should consider the same. Pay attention to what others are saying about you and to you. Are their words inspiring or are they discouraging? Do their terms empower you or disarm you? Do their labels encourage all the wonderful possibilities or the array of limitations? Begin to acknowledge the power of suggestion and challenge limiting terminology. You’ll be glad you did!
"Challenge your assumptions and identify your limiting beliefs. Every time you find yourself thinking that you can't do something, ask yourself, "Why not?" ~ Domonique Bertolucci
" Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something." ~ Plato
When you are entangled with a narcissist, communication becomes an important concept in making safe passage. Everything you say becomes critical if you want to avoid becoming emotionally ship wrecked. The strategies for maneuvering through narcissistic conversations are difficult to execute. In order to be successful you must have clear goals or a vision for the future. In the midst of leaving a narcissist, the idea of goal setting can be a little much, but it will be the goals that act to protect you from the verbal tidal waves that lie ahead. The narcissist is going to push your buttons. He will bait you to get a response. A clear vision of your future will keep you from responding to his call. It will be this vision of the future that helps to keep you calm when the tide suddenly turns against you.
"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible." ~ Tony Robbins
Under stressful conditions, changing from traditional goal setting techniques to visualization techniques will make things easier. Instead of writing out a list of the things you want to achieve, visualize yourself leaving the narcissist and creating your ideal life. What would this amazing life look like? How happy would you feel in this new life? Where would you live, and who would be at the door waiting to tenderly wrap their arms around you? Create the most vivid picture possible and really try to feel the excitement of living free from all the emotional abuse. Think of the women who you admire most. What are their special qualities? Can you imagine taking on these qualities? The power to overcome begins when you are able to really see yourself as that strong and confident woman. So start now!
"It is the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." ~ John Wooden
Once you have this ideal life and self in your heart, you have actually created a series of short-term and long-term goals. Congratulations! Now, you only need the actions steps to get you there. Start to envision just how you will navigate the waters. After you have visualized the process, break it down into smaller pieces. For example, if you visualized yourself living apart from the Narcissist, how did you get there? Did you have to pack up and leave, or did he leave? The process of packing up becomes the steps which make up a series of short-term goals. As you begin to focus on the action steps and accomplish each goal, you will gain momentum. From this point, everything in your life will begin to change. These long-term and short-term goals become a life preserver as you navigate the dangerous waters of communication. You will no longer be easily drawn into destructive conversations. You will better resist the urge to prove your point or remind him of all his dirty deeds. You now have great reason to steer clear, it is no longer about the narcissist, it is about you.
"The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away." ~ Alysia Harris
Below are six common character traits of the narcissist and the conversation strategies for each.
The Narcissist is always right.
Conversation Strategy– Never argue your position. End high conflict conversations before they begin. You will not win an argument. Give only the necessary information in a calm, monotone voice. Defer high conflict topics. State your willingness to have these conversations at a later date. Quietly leave the room, leave the house if necessary, but do not engage. Plan when you will resume the conversation and where the conversation will take place. If you must have conversations around emotionally charged topics, they should been done with a support team. This could be a lawyer, an arbitrator, a mutually respected therapist, family member or friend. A third party presence is imperative if you are to reach a civil agreement surrounding high conflict subjects.
"Speak only if it improves upon the silence." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
The Narcissist will always play to your weaknesses.
Conversation Strategy- Identify your vulnerable subjects, and plan how you will respond. Understand that intimate conversations you shared with the narcissist will be turned against you. Do not engage in his attempts to bait you into hysteria. Remain indifferent to his remarks. Politely tell him you will not take part in the conversation and leave his presence.
"Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken." ~ Orson S. Card
The Narcissist will retaliate when called out for his inappropriate behavior.
Conversation Strategy –You must keep your opinions to yourself and never criticize his actions. Do not allow yourself to be caught up in conversations when you are angry or upset by something he has said or done. Remove yourself from the situation and refocus on your goals. Remember, he is an emotional wrecking ball in waiting. Seek professional guidance for conflicts that cannot be resolved. Ideally, guidance should be taken from someone who understands personality disorders such as narcissism.
"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." ~ Ambrose Bierce
The Narcissist will not take responsibility for his behavior.
Conversation Strategy - Do not try and hold him accountable in any type of conversation. Deep breathe and let it go. You are leaving the relationship, nothing he has said matters any longer. Stay calm and say nothing, otherwise, he will put you in a verbal chokehold and quickly have your self-esteem lying on the floor. Remember, the narcissist loves to see you emotionally distraught over him. It feeds his insatiable ego. Leave his presence if you can’t remain silent.
"There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go." ~ Tennessee Williams
The Narcissist will not tolerate rejection.
Conversation Strategy – Never tell him you are leaving because of whom he is or something he has done. Rejection can equal revenge. Use benign concepts such as your “changing interests.” Be respectful and thank him for the qualities of the relationship that enriched your life. Keep the conversation short.
"Gratitude changes everything." ~ Anonymous
The Narcissist can easily and irrevocably leave a romantic relationship. Yes, even yours!
Conversation Strategy - Do not become upset or plead for another chance if he has ended the relationship. He may well take you back, but only temporarily, as he increases the devastation you feel. Respectfully agree with him, and tell him thank you for setting you free. Nothing more. Do not become emotional in his presence. Remember, this will only act to reinforce his grandiose self-image.
He has no empathy for you. Seek out your closest friends for support. It is there you will find the empathy and compassion to help you through the pain.
"Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny." ~ Steven Maraboli
In order to navigate through the inevitable storms, it will be necessary to visualize your ideal life every day, and sometimes, multiple times a day. If you do get caught up in a strong current, and say something you shouldn’t, just let it go. Reset your course and head back towards calmer waters. These communication techniques are designed to disempower the narcissist and empower you, and they will, but they can take practice. The more you use them, the greater the force will be upon your sails, and the sooner you will arrive at your new destination. You can do this!
"To establish true self-esteem we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives." ~ Denis Waitley
Narcissists live behind a grandiose, inflated sense of self importance, with a self esteem so fragile they are unable to handle even the slightest criticism. And, if critiqued, they may react with extreme anger, belittling the other person while making it very clear who is the superior one. Behind this mask of superiority, narcissists live with continual feelings of shame and humiliation.
Narcissists have an insatiable need for attention and admiration. This never ending need has lead them down a long road of troubled and broken relationships. Their arrogant and haughty behavior is most notable around certain groups of the “less superior,” as they only associate with those of a particular class. They never tire from exaggerating their achievements and talents, or monopolizing conversations. They can easily feel slighted by others and have significant problems getting along. Considered blow hards by the majority, they are never admired to the extent they think they are.
Narcissists have one concern and that is the concern for self. A distorted sense of entitlement makes it very easy for them to take advantage of people to get what you want. They are not concerned with the feelings or well being of others. This makes the narcissist extremely dangerous to the psychological welfare of family members and those involved in an intimate relationship. They experience extreme difficulty adapting to any type of change in their surroundings. Unmanaged emotions are ever present in their private lives with intense outbursts of anger that can be unpredictable and down right frightening at times. Their skills in public deception appear well thought out one minute and inappropriate in the next.
Narcissists do not change. Narcissist can temporarily change a behavior if there is something in it for them. However, when they have gotten all they can from the situation, they will quickly retreat back to their destructive behavior. Those who become intimately involved with a narcissist will greatly suffer. The narcissist places little value on the moral character of others, but rather values only how important the intimate partner can make them appear. After capturing their intimate victims with love bombing, they will exploit them without guilt! They express little to no empathy for the plight of others, and can become enraged when they are challenged. Their intimate parters have no voice or sense of self in the relationship. The narcissist will not tolerate it. They will withhold intimacy for the power surge and intended heart break. And, without notice, they will push their partner from the pedestal, while they pursue another. These passing relationships are never missed because they were never able to connect on an emotional level. Their destructive wake leaves no regrets.
Narcissists are not thought to be born but rather made, although exactly why or how the personality traits develop is unknown. A complex combination of genetics and social factors may be to blame. It is thought that traumatic childhood events and certain unhealthy parenting styles have also played a role in the making of a narcissist. For these reasons, I am truly sorry.
I am also sorry for those whose lives have been shattered by the narcissist, and I plead with all of you not to give up hope. Thousands of people have survived the narcissist, and you can too!
“ The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway. Be one of the strong and navigate away today!
The dating plan