Have you been in a relationship with a narcissist? Maybe, maybe not. Your relationship with a narcissist might have started a long time ago, such as with a parent, sibling, neighbor, classmate, coworker, and now a partner. You may have had to walk on eggshells during the relationship or ensure they’re doing well before taking care of your own wellbeing.
While a relationship with a narcissist can start well, the middle and the end can be pure hell. It can evolve into narcissistic abuse, which rarely ends easily or without a fight. Getting out of the tornado-like relationship and building yourself up can be confusing at the beginning. But it’s doable.
In this article, we will discuss tips on how you can put yourself back together again. You will learn how you can power up your self-esteem from the depths of hell.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder Explained
In recent years, the term narcissism has become popular and tossed around on social media, media, blogs, etc. It’s used to describe a person who seems excessively vain or someone full of themselves.
In psychology, an individual with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) has an idealized, grandiose image of herself or himself. Indeed the person is in love with their inflated self-image because it helps them avoid the deep feelings of insecurity.
This personality disorder has a pattern of arrogant thinking, self-centered behavior, and a lack of consideration and empathy for other people. The person also has an excessive need for admiration. Other people refer to individuals with this narcissistic personality disorder as patronizing, selfish, demanding, manipulative and cocky. Their way of thinking and behaving is noticeable when working, in love relationships, family, and friendships.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissism is defined by an unrealistic sense of superiority or grandiosity. Narcissists believe they’re “special” or unique, and only special people understand them. Additionally, they’re extremely good for anything or anyone, ordinary or average. In other words, they want to associate or be associated with people with high status, high-end places, and expensive things.
Because of that, a narcissist believes they’re better and expect recognition even when they have done nothing deserving it. They also have a tendency to tell outright lies or exaggerate their achievements and talents. They talk about relationships or work in terms of their contributions, how great they are and how fortunate people are for having them in their lives. They’re indeed an undisputed star.
Sense of Entitlement
Narcissists consider themselves special and expect favors or favorable treatment. They want to get whatever they want, so people around them should automatically comply. You’re useless when you fail to anticipate and meet their needs.
Narcissistic abuse results when you defy their will or ask for something in return for the favorable treatment you give them. Therefore, they will be annoyed, aggressive, or give you the cold shoulder.
Lives in Fantasy World
Narcissists live in a fantasy world filled with self-deception, distortion, and magical thinking. They’re driven by self-glorifying fantasies of unlimited power, success, attractiveness, brilliance, and ideal love. This makes them feel in control and special, while the fantasies protect them from shame and inner emptiness.
In view of that, they tend to rationalize and ignore opinions and facts that contradict them. They display rage and extreme defensiveness when someone threatens to burst their fantasy bubble. That is why those living with narcissists must learn how to tread carefully because they deny the reality.
Exploitation without Shame or Guilt
People with narcissistic personality disorder don’t identify other people’s feelings. They don’t put themselves in other people’s shoes because they lack empathy. Further, they move others as objects in their lives to serve their needs.
In fact, a narcissist will not feel ashamed of taking advantage of another person because all they want is to achieve their own needs. They don’t think about how they affect others with their behavior or actions. A narcissist will also not get it when you try to point it out because they only understand one language –their own needs.
Demand for Constant Admiration and Praise
Like a balloon, narcissists need a steady stream of recognition and applause to keep it inflated. Such an individual doesn’t get satisfied with an occasional compliment; instead, they need constant praise and admiration. That is why individuals with this personality disorder tend to surround themselves with admirers.
Therefore any relationship with a narcissist is one-sided because it’s all about themselves but not the other way. Narcissistic abuse comes whenever there is an interruption in the admirer’s attention or praise because they treat it as a betrayal.
Bullies, Belittles and demeans
Usually, narcissists are happy when no other person has better experiences, skills, education, career, etc. They also feel threatened when they encounter a talented, famous, hardworking, confident, or cheerful person. They don’t want to be challenged in any way, and those who dare go through narcissistic abuse. This is their way to neutralize the threat and power up their sagging ego.
They turn to demeaning, intimidating, bullying, or belittling others. The goal is to turn the other person back into the line through name-calling, insults, or threats.
10 Tips to Boost Your Self-esteem after a Narcissistic Abuse
A toxic relationship destroys the self-esteem and self-confidence that you might have. The abuse that a selfish, narcissistic person puts you through can change how you view yourself. This opinion shapes your behaviors, beliefs, and outcomes. Building your self-image takes time, but eventually, you’re able to live a life of happiness as well as accomplish great things.
The following tips will help boost your self-esteem when you part ways with a selfish, narcissistic person.
1. Acknowledge the Abuse
Accept that someone who is a family member, romantic partner, friend, or boss demeaned, belittled, bullied, or intimidated you. This is a primary step toward recovering from narcissistic abuse. Although the step can aid you in your recovery, it’s hard to set aside rationalizations and excuses for the toxic person’s behavior.
It can also cause you to blame yourself or start to compare yourself with others. This causes you not to admit that the person that you love hurt you intentionally. This denial is normal and understandable because you engage in it to protect yourself. However, it causes you a lot of pain and causes you to take back the narcissistic person or give them a second chance.
But their selfish behaviors will continue squeezing out your self-esteem. Instead, acknowledge and accept that you were hurt and work towards building yourself.
2. Practice Self-Compassion
Now that you have acknowledged and accepted your relationship was abusive, you might criticize yourself for that. But no one deserves any form of abuse, and the toxic behavior is totally not your fault.
Rather than blaming yourself for falling victim to their manipulation, you should offer yourself forgiveness. Remember, you can’t change your past or the narcissistic person’s behavior or action, but you have a lot of power over yourself.
Use your power to make choices that honor your needs, such as healthy love, happiness, and respect. Praise yourself for ending the toxic relationship and for sticking to your decision. Eventually, this will boost your self-esteem and help you establish a healthy relationship in the future.
3. Put Yourself First Again
Coming back to yourself can help you heal from this toxic relationship. You can do that when you engage in things that gave you pleasure before meeting the narcissistic partner. Listening to your feelings and meeting your needs can reinforce your identity too.
Remember, your needs were not your priority when you were with the narcissist because the person was selfish and lacked empathy. In fact, the relationship was one-sided, which was extremely draining. Now that you’re away from them, the first thing you should do is prioritize your needs. This can help power up your self-esteem and strong future relationships.
4. Surround Yourself with Friends Who support Your Happiness
A selfish person can be a member of your family, a partner, a friend, or a colleague. You can limit your association with such a person until they learn to be kind. Instead, replace them with those who support your happiness. A few good friends can make your life worthwhile. Therefore start trimming your social circle and only retain those that routinely treat you with respect and love.
Further, talking to supportive friends and members of your family can cheer you up and make you not feel alone. People you surround yourself with should be those who validate the pain you’re experiencing, offer compassion, constantly remind you that the abuse wasn’t your fault, and help distract you.
But remember that not everyone will be really supportive. Instead, some may take sides with the narcissistic partner or choose to support them. To avoid confusion or further hurt, you should set boundaries around the time you spend with these people.
5. Set and State Your Boundaries Clearly
The first thing therapists tell victims of any form of abuse is to cut off all contact with the abuser. So if the narcissist is an ex-partner, you should avoid any communication or physical contact after you end the relationship whenever possible.
You should avoid responding to their calls and messages, especially when they try to promise to change or apologize sincerely. Begin by blocking them in different channels that they can reach you through. Also, try to limit your interactions with them, especially if it’s an ex-partner and you have children together or a family member whom you occasionally see at the gatherings.
Create a boundary by telling people that you are only willing to talk with them when they don’t swear, shout or call you names, and if they do, you will leave immediately. Further, you can create personal boundaries by not sharing any personal information and restricting communication to a single platform that you don’t use for something else.
These initiatives show them that you deserve to be treated with respect, which can help power up your self-esteem.
6. Reclaim Your Identity
Narcissists expect others to behave in a specific way. Otherwise, they criticize or belittle those who fail to meet their standards. For instance, a romantic partner expects you to change your hair look when they say it’s ugly and stupid. A parent who doesn’t like your hobby of playing the piano might say that you’re wasting time on music.
Changing your hairstyle or dropping your hobby due to manipulation can destroy your self-esteem. However, part of boosting your self-confidence and recovering from narcissistic abuse is getting reacquainted with yourself. It involves spending time doing what you love and with those who make you happy.
Additionally, you can avoid forming new relationships or dating during recovery. Rebuild your relationship with yourself and your self-esteem will prevent you from being vulnerable in the future.
7. Don’t Compare Yourself with Others
People who compare themselves with others end up hating themselves, and this can be worse when they enter into a narcissistic relationship. So do mind a cousin that earns a lot of money, a neighbor that wears designer clothes, or a colleague that drives a better car. In life, it’s possible to find a person doing better than you. So don’t compare yourself or allow others to show you how inferior you’re.
Rather than compare yourself with others the way a narcissist does, compare yourself with yourself. Check whether you have gained or lost some pounds, how much your bank account has grown in the last 4 months or so, and what you can do to become better. Focusing on your personal progress and forgetting what others think of you can give you a strong sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. It can make it easier to heal from narcissistic abuse.
8. Take Care of Yourself
Self-care can make a huge difference in your pursuit of powering your self-esteem and recovering from narcissistic abuse. Meeting your physical and emotional needs is crucial during your recovery process.
Some of the best self-care practices include:
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Relaxing whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed by emotions
- Engaging your hobbies and passion
- Eating a balanced meals
Since your body and mind are connected and support each other, taking care of your emotional and physical needs can help build your self-esteem. They can help you feel more equipped and stronger to handle your emotional distress.
9. Pursue Authentic Dreams
A narcissistic parent or romantic partner may pressure you to stop pursuing what you’re passionate about and instead consider more noteworthy accomplishments like an impressive career, academic honors, and successful partners. These individuals want to set unrealistic expectations to show off to their friends.
They don’t want to celebrate you for who you truly are or your accomplishments; instead, they want to force you to meet their arbitrary, ever-shifting, and worse still, impossible goals. This instills in you a pervasive sense of worthlessness.
But you can isolate the dreams that are yours and that belong to the narcissists. Then find a way to pursue your authentic desires. You can do this on the side, especially if you depend on this toxic person. In the end, you have strong self-esteem, and you will be able to defend yourself.
10. Get Professional Support
Talking to your close friends and members of your family can be helpful. However, as mentioned above, they might choose to support the narcissist person. Getting professional support can help you recover quickly, boost your self-esteem faster and improve your emotional wellbeing.
A therapist can help you when leaving the selfish narcissist seems difficult or when you’re just about to give them another chance. They can help you identify why you feel that way and develop a plan to avoid unhealthy choices in the future.
Working with a therapist can help you:
- Build your coping skills
- Know what to tell others about the toxic relationship
- Control the urges to respond to the abusive person’s messages
- Deal with your self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc
- Overcoming thoughts of self-harm or suicide
The goal is to help you explore and understand the emotions you’re struggling with. Indeed a therapist supports you as you begin the journey to recovery from narcissistic abuse and power up your esteem.