In part 1, we dived into the first 3 tips to develop and strengthen your sense of self and trust in yourself. In order to develop an intimate relationship with yourself, you must get to know your inner world, your body, and how it connects with the outer world.
Adult children of narcissists or emotionally immature parents sometimes struggle with trusting their own ability to navigate the world. When parents are impaired at mirroring, validating, and helping their children regulate their emotional experience, children may struggle to trust or even listen to their own inner wisdom. Instead, energy is diverted to anticipating the parent’s emotional needs to keep the peace.
With focus inward and practice of the following important life skills, you can tap into your inner wisdom and strengthen your self trust.
4. Establish your boundaries
Establishing your boundaries is about considering what is ok for you and what is not ok for you. Knowing yourself and your preferences can really help in establishing what is and is not okay for you. Listening to your body will allow you to get the first inklings that your boundaries are being crossed. Typically feelings like resentment, anger, and regret give us clues that a situation was not ok for us. Boundaries can include if it is ok to stop by unannounced, how someone speaks to you, or when you can be emotionally available for another person. Knowing what does and doesn’t work for you is the first step in establishing healthy boundaries that are not overly rigid or excessively flexible.
The next step is understanding that boundaries are about how you manage yourself, not about changing another person’s behavior. You cannot make another person treat you a particular way. What you can do is establish what you are willing and able to tolerate and what you will do to protect yourself and your boundaries if they are crossed. You may or may not choose to share with another person your particular boundary. With someone who speaks with you in a disrespectful manner you may let them know, “if you continue to raise your voice at me, I will leave the conversation.” The person may choose to do as they please.
The important piece is that if they continue to cross your boundary you follow through on maintaining the boundary by walking away. It is not always necessary to announce a boundary. You may decide that if a loved one calls and begins to drain you emotionally, you will politely let them know it’s not a good time to talk and that you will have to speak with them later. What’s most important is that you honor the boundaries your body needs.
5. Saying No
Knowing when and how to say no or decline an offer is a skill that goes hand and hand with good boundaries. Saying no can relieve you of days, weeks, months, and even years of regret. Many times we say yes to something we later wish we said no to as a way to manage the immediate discomfort of disappointing the other person. However, the long-term discomfort of living with the yes and then following through on the commitment can actually cause way more distress. Saying no is a kindness you give to yourself when the request was not truly a match for you.
Another important fact to remember is that saying yes to a situation inherently means saying no to something else that you would have used that time and energy for. Time and energy are finite. As already established, your preferences are important, too. Children of emotionally immature or narcissistic parents tend to be people pleasers setting aside their needs for the wants of others. Having a clear understanding of your values, needs, preferences, and priorities can help you measure if a particular commitment is for you. Finally, when you are considering saying yes to something visualize the things you will have to say no to. Time with children, peace of mind, Netflix. Make sure it’s worth it.
Practice lots of ways to say no:
- It’s so kind of you to think of me but I can’t.
- I really appreciate the invite, but I won’t be able to come.
- No thanks, but that sounds great.
- I am super busy this week, so I can’t.
- I don’t think I am the best fit for that.
- I’m afraid I can’t.
- I am not going to be able to make it this time.
- I’m not taking on anything else right now.
Remember free time and available time are not the same thing.
6. Have your own back and be your own best friend
Have you heard of remothering? Mother energy is not just contained within mothers. We can all tap into the energy of parental nurturing. This means developing the part of yourself that not only contains self-compassion but also self-empathy. You are an adult now. You are responsible for providing yourself with all the support, empathy, and protection that a parent would. This may feel like a burden, or be intertwined with grief about what your parents are not able to provide you. But the good news is that you have more power than you may think.
Start by identifying any supportive parental figures in your life or even characters you have come across. Let them be your examples. You can learn to be your own protector, best friend, and nurturer. The next time you feel overwhelmed, hold yourself and imagine what they might say. It may go something like, “I am so sorry you are having a hard time right now. It is all very overwhelming. I am here for you. It’s ok to cry.” Then let yourself release any emotions that need to come out.
7. Trust your gut
Foster trust in your gut instinct aka your nervous system. If it’s telling you something doesn’t feel right, trust it. This could be feeling disregarded by a partner, snubbed by a friend, or overwhelmed by a parent. It might take time to put your finger on what is being stirred up inside of you but it’s your job not to disregard your own feelings and instincts. Honoring these feelings doesn’t mean that you will know exactly what to do next. What it does mean is that if something doesn’t feel good you will acknowledge it, and determine the best next steps for you!
Self-trust takes time to foster. Especially when you have spent years receiving the message that you don’t know what is best. Or the message that you should put others’ needs before your own. As you move through the steps noted above, you will begin to strengthen your sense of self. I hope that you are able to establish an internal quiet, where you can connect with your core self. The development of this self-trust can take many years. But, it’s worth the journey and freedom it provides.
Overcome Abuse from A Narcissist With A Trauma Therapist in Scotch Plains or Branchburg, NJ
Processing emotional trauma caused by a narcissistic family member(s) can be difficult. That’s why the skilled therapists at our Scotch Plains and Branchburg, NJ offices offer EMDR therapy for children, teens, and adults. With EMDR therapy or telehealth counseling, we can help you process your own trauma. If you want to stop the cycle of the narcissistic family and heal your trauma follow these simple steps:
- Reach out to Brave Minds Psychological Services
- Meet with an understanding counselor
- Break the cycle and heal from your emotional trauma
Brave Minds Psychological Services Other Counseling Options in New Jersey
EMDR Therapy isn’t the only service that our skilled therapists offer at Brave Minds Psychological Services. For adults, we provide trauma therapy, food allergy therapy, and couples counseling. We offer counseling for parents along with postpartum counseling, and birth trauma therapy. Supporting teens and children is also important to us. This is why we offer teen anxiety treatment, social phobia therapy for teens, child sexual abuse therapy, child anxiety treatment, and more. If you are wanting to connect with peers going through similar struggles we offer several options for group therapy. Our services are offered in person at our Scotch Plains and Branchburg, NJ offices and through telehealth counseling in New Jersey.