Archive by Author | happinessweekly

How to align your self talk: the key to internal validation

150223-SelfTalkandIntuition

Like food is to the body, self-talk is to the mind. Don’t let any junk thoughts repeat in your head. Maddy Malhotra

Internal validation, the voice within, intuition – whatever you want to call it, it exists whether you feel you have control over it or not. Aligning our self talk and giving ourselves permission to seek internal validation before hearing the judgement of others is one key factors that could be vital for our happiness.

To learn more about self talk and internal validation, and how to tap into it and enhance the quality of positive thoughts, click here.

Self empowerment – using your gift to help others

Girl holding hands in heart shape at beachSelf empowerment is vital to your development and it works like a generator, in that when there’s nothing else left, this is the one thing that will keep you going. Over the years I have promoted the importance of happiness and finding happiness within, rather than depending on other people to do it for you. It wasn’t until I got out of a relationship with someone who abused me, that I realised the true worth and value of self love and the importance of self empowerment as a result of the love you have to offer yourself.

What is self empowerment?
According to dictionary.com self empowerment is an adjective that means “deriving the strength to do something through one’s own thoughts and based on the belief that one knows what is best for one self”.

You don’t know strength, until you know your own strength – commit to it, witness it and follow through. Self empowerment is an inner power that can offer you everything no one else can – and better yet, it recharges itself!

Why is self empowerment so awesome?
The best thing about self empowerment is that no one can give it to you and no one can take it away from you. And once you start generating you, it causes other positive ripple effects including enhancing your wellbeing through boosting your self esteem, self worth and self respect. It’s something you can offer yourself and while you can keep it to yourself, you may also make the decision to share it with other people which generates a whole never level of power with it.

How can I be self empowered?

  • Reflect on the lessons

Once you understand what’s going on, you’ll be in a better position to learn from it. A permanent change is entirely up to you – no one can do it for you. Make it happen!

  • Affirmations help

Repeat after me “I’ve got this!” “I’ve got this!” “I’ve got this!” Continually go over positive affirmations that make you feel good about yourself

  • Practice the two M’s: Meditation and Mindfulness

Free your mind from the daily clutter and practice meditation and mindfulness to enhance your self awareness and to help you refocus on the things that are really important to you.

  • Practice optimism

Consciously make an effort to be positive and optimistic. If you start feeling toxic or negative, do something to shift the state – go for a walk, eat something, listen to music, go to the beach, remind yourself what’s good about it etc.

  • Choose healthy alternatives

Whenever we’re trying to change patterns or create a shift, we’re also building our self esteem, self worth and above all: our self trust, so we won’t return to old patterns. If we do, then we break the self trust at the same time as returning to the cycle. Choose the best and healthiest alternatives for you – if it’s toxic, release it.

  • Forgive yourself

No one is perfect! Sure, there are people out there that parade around like they are and they will be the first to drag you down, but remember: to drag you down, they must already be beneath you. Maintain your dignity and always do your best.

  • Take ownership

Be accountable and own your change. Make the changes for you and make them in your own way. Love yourself, honour yourself and respect yourself at every opportunity.

  • Be true to your authentic self

Be true to your own values and beliefs, don’t adopt others or drop yours to fit in. Instead, be as kind to yourself as you are to others, be conscious of your physiology and how it affects you and always listen to your inner voice/intuition.

  • Focus on personal development

Learn, grow, achieve! If you feel stuck in a rut, the best and most empowering thing you can do is throw yourself into a course and learn a new skill. Think about any gaps you’d like to fill in and work to enhance that. Having trouble? Coaching could help – contact us!

  • Share the lessons

Once you have reflected and learned from any mistakes or recovered from a trauma, take the time to share any lessons you have taken with you with other people. It is one of the best ways to take control again, and use your experience empower yourself and others.

  • Have faith

Spirituality is so important, Oprah asks about it in interviews! Practice your beliefs everyday, know what you believe in, take time to exercise your faith and trust your journey.

How can I empower others?

  • Share information, lessons and experiences
  • Inspire people to achieve their dreams
  • Believe they are the key to positive change, and they will demonstrate it
  • Listen to others, sometimes simply listening is enough to make them feel better

How do you empower others? Share in the comments section below. Or if you’re looking for motivation, inspiration and to learn the tools for self empowerment, please contact us.

Celebrity exposing narcissistic abuse…

The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. Maya Angelou

This post refers to the relationship between celebrity couple Rihanna and Chris Brown. I am exposing some of their reported behaviours published across the internet to highlight and define narcissistic abuse and explain why a target of this form of abuse may return to their abuser and have difficulty forgetting them.

Before I begin, I want to put a disclaimer that I am not infering Rihanna is necessarily a target or that Chris Brown is necessarily narcissisitic, I am simply referring to the reported behaviours and highlighting what could be perceived as narcissistic warning signs. My only personal experience with either celebrity is detailed from Rihanna’s 2008 concert at Acer Arena in Sydney.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an extremely painful and isolating condition and generally people who have this disorder target people to suffer from their narcissistic abuse. These targets are also known as a “source of supply”.

It’s important to first explain that a relationship with someone who has NPD is not a love story, it’s abuse generally demonstrated through the target’s attachment, love addiction and confusion, combined with the abuser’s control…

Unfortunately, people who aren’t tied up in the abuse themselves, are often so busy trying to find out about the “latest” in the saga that they’re missing what actually may be being exposed in the story. I’m not just referring to celebrities, I’m also talking about friends and families of everyday targets.

Who is Rihanna – really? Oprah introduces us behind the scenes, and we meet someone who is naturally talented, down-to-earth and highly empathetic. At least that’s how she is portrayed.

Do you remember Rihanna’s relationship with Chris Brown? OK, who could forget!

At the end of the day, the public got as sucked in by his charm as Rihanna, the target, did. This is why I want to talk about a high profile case, because no one seems to have gone there yet. Having said that, so many judged Rihanna when she returned to him. Lucky for all the public judgers that they were removed enough from the situation to see what was happening and escape. If you are or have been a target of narcissistic abuse you’ll know that horrible feeling of being trapped and addicted at the same time. If you get sucked back in, you’ll understand the fear and that “sinking feeling” that comes with it, when you realise that you did just get manipulated and sucked back in to suffer from more abuse, lies, projection and manipulation.

For Rihanna much of the pain and suffering would have happened behind closed doors, however, if you look at what has been leaked and released through the media, we can actually piece together quite a common scenario between target and abuser.

Let’s take a look…

1345386897_rihanna-chris-brown_1How it began: the grooming phase
It began with extravagant dinners and parties and quickly escalated to matching tattoos, public displays of affection, all mixed with the fame game… Rihanna and Chris Brown “understood each other on a level no one could comprehend,” I remember one source saying in an interview about the pair.

In February 2008 Chris serenaded Rihanna at her birthday party, grabbing her and kissing her when the song was done. Their relationship escalated in May 2008 as Rihanna started talking publicly that they were becoming close.

In November 2008 I attended a Rihanna concert at Acer Arena in Sydney with work. Psychopaths take their time with the grooming phase, it can be like a honeymoon period that goes for six months to a year, until their really sure their target is hooked. So according to this timeframe, this could well have still been within this grooming period for the couple.

Chris Brown was her opening act.

Following the concert, a colleague approached me after and said “Wow, did you see Chris during Rihanna’s set?”

“No?” I asked.

“He danced non-stop on the side of the stage her entire set! I mean, right after he’d just done his own set – now that’s a supportive partner,” my colleague had said.

At the time I had shrugged it off. That’s nice for Rihanna…

However, was Chris’s behaviour entirely in support, or was he depending on people to see it?

The fact my colleague witnessed it makes me think it wasn’t coincidence. For example, in a relationship where narcissistic abuse is an issue, the narcissist would’ve depended on some fans seeing that. He was dancing in a way to publicly show his support to his new girlfriend, even though she wouldn’t have seen herself, yet he was exposed for people – like my colleague – to see and form judgement. This grew him a fan, because of his clear support and love for Rihanna.

However, what we didn’t see is important to. So what would’ve happened in the grooming phase of narcissistic abuse is the abuser would return backstage, charged after the set and said “You blew them away, baby! I was back there, dancing the whole entire set – didn’t miss a beat – did you see me dancing?”

The target would’ve felt special, even though what he said was actually all about him.

425-rihanna-brown-020809Their love grew before our eyes
As with any relationship, their love had ups and downs and fluctuations. But mainly, these two were the golden couple. They loved each other on a level that no other celebrity couple has demonstrated. They were exceptionally close and it was a connection and attachment that not many could identify with – which even reporters noted at the time. It became clear that Rihanna felt that no one understood her like Chris, because he was had similar struggles that came with having such great success at a young age.

Despite their international fame and their commitment to touring, they were never far from each other, and as with any normal relationship, they were there for each other and appeared to share in each others highs and lows.

But by July 2008 the sweetness of the relationship started to sour as it was reported that Chris demanded Rihanna stop wearing revealing clothing. People who are inclined to be abusive towards their targets will often start testing them by controlling small things, and then it very rapidly escalates from there. The fact he chose clothes, a visual item that is very much about identity could be linked to narcissistic behaviour. Now, for the target at the time, that may not have appeared that bad – they will generally brush off the comment, maybe adjust slightly and put it down to their partner watching out for them and showing their love. They’re just being protective, right?

By December 2008 things were not only continuing to unravel, but escalating, as the couple had a public fight in a nightclub. Despite the argument it was reported that they headed to Barbados for holidays in January where Rihanna introduced Chris to her family. Narcissistic abuse is very deceptive. Almost as quickly as an incident occurs, the narcissist will often respond as though nothing has happened and the reason they’re able to do this is because they don’t have an identity or a conscience. They mirror their target. Meanwhile, their target finds it easier to forgive them because the self doubt and cognitive dissonance has kicked in. “Maybe it wasn’t that bad”, “Maybe I got it wrong”, “He’s not normally like this” “If it happens again I’ll leave” etc. Unfortunately in the case of narcissistic abuse – not only will it happen again but generally it will happen a lot worse than the previous time and they continue to step up their abuse as their controlling grip grows on their target.

In February 2009 it was suspected that Chris Brown was getting close to a woman in Europe while Rihanna was nowhere to be seen. Narcissistic abuse often involves the controlling partner cheating on their target, which leaves the target feeling shame, guilt (for not being there, for example) and depressed from the disappointment of being cheated on. One of the most common tools used in narcissistic abuse is triangulation and the perpetrator will use this to appear more desirable than what they actually are and also to affect their target’s self esteem and self doubt more and further assert their control and dominance over the situation. The narcissist will quickly start playing each of their sources of supply off each other, to enhance their ego and purely for their sick entertainment pleasure. The more pain they cause, the more powerful they feel.

rihannaNarcissistic rage
On 8 February 2009 this police photo of Rihanna’s badly beaten face (released by TMZ) was leaked following the Grammy Awards. This is the same award ceremony where the photo above was taken, where they are all cuddled up at the table. It’s hard to believe and accept that this became the outcome of that same evening, where they appeared so in love.

The world stopped. Horrified.

Nothing appeared to be kept secret as the full police report was leaked shortly after, including the full details of the dispute. The world knew the intimate details of what and how it had occurred. In the case of a narcissist, again, because they don’t have a conscience, they don’t mind these details being leaked and the only reason they would is realising it affects their reputation.

Often narcissistic abuse moves quickly from emotional abuse (control, threats and cheating) into something physical as the target starts to question what is really happening and grows more consciously aware of the abuse.

More frequently than not, the police are used as pawns in the narcissist’s game. Nothing is coincidence in a narcissist’s world. It’s almost as though they have it mapped out from the start, and they will use whatever is released, said or done to their full advantage and are great at manipulating and twisting the facts. They’re certainly not afraid of being in a court room because they love the attention.

In an interview with Rihanna later she revealed that just looking at this photo makes her feel completely humiliated. This comment may be difficult for the healthy mind to comprehend, however the feelings it would raise for a target of this kind of abuse include the same: guilt (for their role in it, even if they didn’t actually have one), denial and self doubt that has already been playing through their mind (it could even be as extreme as: “I didn’t mean for this photo to get out”, “I’ve hurt his reputation”, “It was my fault – I shouldn’t have let them take it”), shame (because the world has seen this), fear (what will the abuser do next) etc. So actually the release of this image would impact the target a lot more than the person who abused them because the person who caused this kind of damage doesn’t feel empathy or have a conscience. If they did, they would at some point have gained some self control.

chris-brown-apologizesThe apology
Before we know it, on 21 July 2009 Chris made a very public apology for the incident, despite his legal representation urging him not to, but as he says in the tape: he was “really sorry”. Laws, police, rules and regulations … nothing applies to a narcissist who has an extraordinary sense of grandiosity beyond the healthy mind’s comprehension.

This timeframe and the fact Chris displayed it so publicly, raises suspicion about whether he realised within himself that his actions were wrong, or if he simply picked up on the vibrations of public outcry and felt he had to do something about it as his reputation shattered. You can watch Chris Brown’s full apology here.

The issue here is that a healthy mind would’ve felt genuine empathy and remorse, they also would be overwhelmed with shame and guilt, and while they may have privately apologised, it is likely they would’ve avoided the media attention as much as possible to try to deflect from the situation and give it time to cool down.

Instead, Chris chose to strike while the iron was hot and released a public clip apologising to Rihanna for the world to see – and he returned his Grammy. While a healthy mind would take other measures to apologise, a narcissist will generally ride the publicity associated with their act. They have the inability to feel genuine remorse because of their lack of empathy and find it difficult to take responsibility for their actions because of their sense of grandiosity.

This sense of grandiosity is a real giveaway. A narcissist makes note of things that appear unnecessary or that make them look like a “superhero”, they’re always a little above everything, including the law and everyone governed by it. For example, throughout the apology, there’s a very deliberate mention that he was apologising against legal advice. To the healthy mind this mention appears fairly innocent: they are so sincerely sorry they would take any chance and any risk to try to make everything ok – they’re so desperately sorry, they will sacrifice their own reputation by talking about it again.

The next notable thing is that a lot of his apology includes Chris talking about his pride in himself, the things he has done, and his ability to exercise self-control. The healthy mind would question if this positive focus is simply PR slant, however for an apology that’s meant to be for Rihanna and her fans – not a lot was said about Rihanna, the incident (possibly for legal reasons) and there was no mention or genuine demonstration that he was sorry. At the end of the day the best way you can tell the difference between a narcissist and a healthy mind is through their actions, because a narcissist can’t maintain the act long-term.

“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses,” Chris said.

A narcissist will generally glaze over anything that requires explanation because they depend on the theory that in time, people will forget. Other reasons a narcissist won’t explain include that they can’t explain: because they don’t know what is wrong and their mind automatically plays down the events that have happened; and the final reason they won’t explain is that it doesn’t align with the ideal of who they are – according to their grandiosity, they never need to explain.

Chris spoke about his upbringing and that he’s seen what abuse can do – an interesting revelation. Generally narcissists who abuse their targets are raised in a dysfunctional family, and have suffered or witnessed violence in their upbringing. The reason they may choose to share this kind of information is to gain sympathy, empathy and understanding from other people. Although they can’t feel it themselves, their the masters in knowing about it and how to evoke it in people. If the target is a highly sensitive person, an empath or co-dependent in any way, they will be drawn to this kind information and try to help the suffering person, which puts them at greater risk of the abuse. The target thought process goes something like this: “They can’t help it, they’re just a product of their upbringing – they’re just a target like me”, “They didn’t mean it, they’re sorry”, “How can I judge them when I also grew up in a dysfunctional family?”

As with any abuser, a narcissist will make promises that it won’t happen again. Narcissistic abuse is the most silent form of domestic abuse because of the initial grooming phase. Targets will very rarely expose their abuser, because often they don’t realise they’re being abused (mostly because of their own denial) and also because of overwhelming fear their abuser instills in them. Targets are often so confused from all their emotions combined with the various tools of abuse used against them such as gas lighting, projection and trauma bonding, that they’re not sure to complain about the abuse or not. If they do try to leave or take action, often the narcissist will threaten their target and at this point their targets realise the narcissist has no concerns about creating great destruction, which keeps them stuck.

Targets of narcissistic abuse often don’t have anything to show for it because it’s so manipulative and under-handed. When it does show, in Rihanna’s case where photos were taken, the ultimate damage control is put in place and abusers will often try to get their target’s back in a bid to deflect what happened was as bad as it actually was. Because if their source of supply would take them back, then to the abusive person it is evidence that the abuse wasn’t as bad as they made it appear.

Unfortunately often targets get so blindsided by the new grooming act – known as hoovering, and what they believe is the return of the lover they first knew, that they do return to the abuser. Generally this is when police, magistrates and other people with healthy minds outside of the abuse, start to form judgement, give up on supporting the target and can’t comprehend why they made their decision.

The nightmare hasn’t even began for the target who returns. It’s never long until the abuse begins again and they quickly realise they were duped and the cycle continues. What also works in the narcissist’s favour is that by this stage they realise their source of supply is hooked and likely brainwashed – or available to be brainwashed by them, because they really want to believe the fantasy. It’s because of the brainwashing that it isn’t uncommon for a target, particularly of narcissistic abuse, will stand to defend the person who abused them rather than stand against them in court. Unfortunately, this final stage is where the target is in the greatest amount of danger, and usually they are so isolated by their decision to return to the abusive person and feeling so much more shame and guilt for their decision, and vigorously defending someone who wasn’t who they thought, that they don’t know where to start to get the help they need.

Above everything else in this clip, it’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t an apology to Rihanna (because he’d already apologised to her “countless times”), this is an apology to the public for his own reputation as he is starting to feel the consequences and he is, by this point, being slandered as a result of the images and the story coming to light. Despite the evidence and facts, a narcissist would still genuinely fear a smear campaign that would injure their reputation (even though in this case, Chris Brown’s reputation was already damaged as a result of the leaked image). The reason they fear their target will set up a smear campaign against them is because that is what they are capable of doing to their targets, even if they claimed to have loved them once upon a time.

rihanna-cryingTarget’s response
The target’s response to narcissistic abuse actually reveals a lot more than the abuser’s actions and stories. However, the target and everyone around them will often be looking at the abusive person for clues even though they know the person will continuously lie and manipulate, which makes it hard for the target – or a healthy mind – to see the truth. Whereas a target’s response is always an honest interpretation to what’s happened.

Rihanna’s response showed great empathy for Chris and his situation as a consequence to the leaked photos. A target of narcissistic abuse would have a very similar response because of the guilt, shame and self blame. They’ll have days where they reflect on the early love bombing phase and often be over-ruled with obsessive thoughts about the person who inflicted great pain on them. Targets can go months and even years discussing their narcissistic ex who appears to have moved on and well forgotten the source of supply – although this isn’t the case.

This interview with the ABC details Rihanna’s response to what happened and how she flew to be with him just three weeks after the photos were released. In an interview with Oprah, Rihanna immediately puts blame on herself: “I fell in love with that person, that’s embarrassing! So far in love, so unconditional that I went back.” This is consistent with a target of narcissistic abuse who has been manipulated, they will then manipulate events to make it their problem or fault and try to take the blame for what has happened as a way of regaining some form of control. That self-blame generally comes across as someone being extremely hard on themselves or someone who is not healthy and likely suffering from depression as they continually reflect on past events.

Rihanna talks about the humiliation of seeing the image of her beaten face and she starts telling the story of what really happened. She saw a text message on his phone from an ex-girlfriend and she confronted him – again, this is triangulation at its best: a narcissist makes cheating the world’s worst kept secret. While cheating is generally something people hide because they feel ashamed, a narcissist will find ways to leak it so both sources of supply are aware of each other and will fight for him.

“He wouldn’t tell the truth, so I wouldn’t drop it!” she goes on to say: “I wouldn’t take that he kept lying to me and he wouldn’t take that I wouldn’t drop it”. This story is the epitome of narcissistic abuse. A narcissist will always get uncontrollably angry if they are questioned, but particularly when it involves one source of supply questioning the narcissist over another source of supply – because they realise how close they are to being found out and then it’s game over, because one or other of the sources of supply will leave if the narcissist runs out of lies and excuses.

Again this comes down to their sense of grandiosity, because people who use narcissistic abuse are actually disgusted by their targets. You know when you step in dog poo and you feel disgusted? That’s how a narcissist feels about their target – particularly when they’re near them and this is what makes it easy for them to discard them at this stage. Because targets are so easy for a narcissist to discard, things can very quickly escalate into physical abuse and even result in homicide.

“He had no soul in his eyes. Just blank,” Rihanna described, almost as though she couldn’t comprehend it. “There was no person when I looked at him.” Someone suffering at the hands of narcissistic abuse will often use this extremely common description of their abusers, that’s because this description is fact. Narcissist’s have been referred to as “a soul without footprints”, “footprints without a soul” or a “psychological parasite”. All the target knows is the person they once knew has vanished and the person attacking them is just a hole. The narcissistic mask has been removed and the real monster revealed and there’s nothing in them. They’re empty. What’s scarier still is the target often thinks this side is the false self and the other side – the side that wooed them – is the true self, when in fact it’s very much the other way around.

“Domestic violence isn’t the sort of thing you want people to know,” Rihanna says before talking about her denial. “The minute those physical wounds go away, you start lying to yourself and you just want it to go away. You just want it to go away – it’s a memory you don’t want to have ever again,” she said.

Rihanna also talks about how she didn’t talk about it to anyone. Not friends, not family. A target of narcissistic abuse will rarely discuss what is happening to them openly (particularly when it becomes physical) as denial and emotions of guilt, shame, and fear, mixed with the genuine concern for their abuser and “what will happen to them”, will often override the desire to protect themselves from further abuse by talking about it. Furthermore, to talk about it means to admit it and acknowledge it to themselves. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, according to Dr Phil, and a target often doesn’t want to lose the person abusing them because they can’t believe the abusive person is really the person they fell in love with.

It is imperative that targets of all abuse start talking about it and are encouraged to tell their stories, not to shame their abusers, but to start saying “This is what happens and this is how it happens” to open the doors on abuse and educate people. Release the toxic shame and attachment and help the healthy mind understand.

“If I feel this depressed, then what is he going through?” Rihanna said. She then explains that she felt she had to protect him because the whole world hated him for what he did to her, and she says: “I just want him to know: don’t do anything stupid”. A narcissist will often threaten suicide in order to drive sympathy from their target and gain more control over them.

The interviewer made note that Chris was exuberant to have her back. A narcissist would have this response because in their mind, they “win” every time they suck a source of supply back in. Pushing and pulling their sources of supply and having them respond exactly as they predict is a game to them. A narcissist may also respond this way from relief that they no longer need to find a new source of supply.

For a target of narcissistic abuse to find themselves in this situation, it’s very confusing and conflicting because she hadn’t told him that he was forgiven, yet a narcissist will always assume and act as though they are, again to play down what happened and to deflect responsibility from the event. Targets will start to mirror this behaviour and generally return to their abuser because they also want everything to be ok and forgotten, they just want to be back with the person they originally fell in love with.

A target of narcissistic abuse will generally suffer a huge amount of attachment and love addiction towards their abuser. It can be very difficult to break away and it’s extremely difficult for the healthy mind to comprehend.

“Obviously he didn’t want us to be apart,” she said.

After all the destruction caused by the abuse, a narcissist will never want their targets far from them as they try to suck them back in and regain their control again. Generally at this point, they will pull out all stops and use whatever power they have to prevent their supply from leaving them. The more time a target spends with their abuser, the more likely it is that they will get sucked back in and return to them and this is because people who use narcissistic abuse are also known to use neuro-linguistic programming techniques to literally hypnotise and brainwash their targets.

Fortunately, despite the power of hypnosis, once a target has been hurt enough, they won’t want to hear the apology from the person abusing them and they’ll start to want to seek assistance to break apart from the person. The attachment they had, quickly becomes a distant memory as they put the pieces of the puzzle together themselves and although it still hurts, they no longer crave for them back. Once they realise they have suffered narcissistic abuse, it’s easier to accept the closure. Rihanna said she didn’t listen to the song Chris wrote for her, and this may have been because she wasn’t leaving any opportunity for him to get back in at the time. The only way to recover from narcissistic abuse is to have NO CONTACT with the abusive person.

Rihanna talks to Oprah in a little more detail about her experience: how quickly they fell in love with each other and that he understood her on a level that no one else did. A red flag of narcissistic abuse is the relationship will escalate very quickly and the love with always be euphoric, putting the target on a high – it is literally addictive. She spoke about how they “forgot about themselves as individuals”. A narcissist will always try to make his targets feel like they’re the same person, which forces the bond and attachment – before long the target doesn’t know where they end and the narcissist begins. Cutting them off literally feels like cutting a part of themselves off.

Rihanna also says she’s not at peace if he’s unhappy or still lonely. A target of narcissistic abuse will also experience these thoughts and emotions for their abuser.

Although angry after the attack, Rihanna still defended Chris, which can be seen here. This clip reveals how difficult she is finding it to comprehend the situation. A target of narcissistic abuse will often refer to their abuser as their “best friend” and suffer similar feelings of disbelief and denial over the events that happened. A highly sensitive person or empath who has been the target of narcissistic abuse will always put the abuse down to a loud cry for help, and subconsciously, they feel they’re the ones to provide that support to help the abusive person because they have that deep understanding of them that no one else does – another illusion created by the narcissist.

On 30 January 2013, Rihanna revealed her reason for returning to Chris to Rolling Stone:

“I decided it was more important for me to be happy, and I wasn’t going to let anybody’s opinion get in the way of that. Even if it’s a mistake, it’s my mistake. After being tormented for so many years, being angry and dark, I’d rather just live my truth and take the backlash. I can handle it.”

A target of narcissistic abuse will often be self-sacrificing as they return to their abuser, they realise what is on the line for them because they have spent time healing first, however they’re willing to risk it in the hope the person they first fell in love with may truly exist. This is why narcissists may return to sources of supply months or even years down the track.

A target of narcissistic abuse is always a source of supply to their abuser, which is why they need to take control as quickly as they can, in a healthy way. When a target returns back into the relationship with low self-esteem (they know what they’re setting themselves up for) and have this self-sacrificing mentality because they want to believe it will work and it will be different this time, so they literally look for evidence of the changes. The target will be extremely vigilant to ensure they don’t go through the same abuse again, however, a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will find another way to hurt their target and it will happen subtly and catch them completely off-guard despite the original abuse:

“When you add up the pieces from the outside, it’s not the cutest puzzle in the world. You see us walking somewhere, driving somewhere, in the studio, in the club, and you think you know. But it’s different now. We don’t have those types of arguments anymore. We talk about (stuff) … We value each other. We know exactly what we have now, and we don’t want to lose that,” Rihanna said.

A target of narcissistic abuse will often shelter their abuser from blame, vigorously defending them, and this is because their abuser has groomed them again and also because if they believed the excuses and reasons, they want you to believe it too. Although the target is blind to see it, someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder ensures they are always in control. Here Rihanna talks authentically about who Chris is to her:

“For a long time he was really angry, and he felt like he couldn’t get away from it, no matter what he did. But there’s so many reasons why I ever reconsidered having him in my life. He’s not the monster everybody thinks. He’s a good person. He has a fantastic heart. He’s giving and loving. And he’s fun to be around. That’s what I love about him — he always makes me laugh. All I want to do is laugh, really, and I do that with him.”

When a target of narcissistic abuse returns to their abuser they promise themselves it will be for the last time and if they get hurt again, it will be for the last time. That promise is rarely the target’s choice because a narcissist is always in control.

Very rarely are targets able to leave this kind of relationship unscathed. Here’s what Rihanna said about returning to Chris:

“Listen, I’ll tell you right now: I don’t have to take it. If he gives me that again, here’s what I give him: nothing. I just walk away. He doesn’t have that luxury of fuck up again. That’s just not an option. I can’t say that nothing else will go wrong. But I’m pretty solid in knowing that he’s disgusted by that. And I wouldn’t have gone this far if I ever thought that was a possibility.”

1360695258eFinal thoughts – before you judge Rihanna
Rihanna may or may not be with Chris Brown at the moment – according to the media, their relationship has continued on and off over the years.

While many people shun Rihanna for returning to Chris and people added to her guilt by forcefully noting the message she was sending others: I disagree.

I think in speaking publicly about her relationship with Chris, in doing everything exactly as she has – including returning to him and publicly admitting it, Rihanna has revealed who she is and what her experience has been and in doing it she has exposed narcissistic abuse and domestic violence for the healthy mind.

Narcissistic abuse is something a target will struggle to comprehend for quite some time, but they can feel it. It leaves anyone who hasn’t experienced it in judgement of the target and their response to the abuse, whether they return to the abuser or not.

A target of narcissistic abuse will always turn to their passions during recovery and they won’t stop talking about what they experienced … and that’s partly because they can’t fully comprehend it, but it’s also because of the overwhelming fear that if they forget – even for a second – the perpetrator will return and suck them back in.

Don’t stop a target from talking about the abuse, by letting them go over the details, you are helping them to process their experience.

Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will choose to use a target’s passion to display their feelings as a way of making their target hear what they have to say – for example, Chris tried to apologise by writing a song for Rihanna. Meanwhile, a target recovering from narcissistic abuse will use their passion to relieve the pressure caused by the pain from their abuse – for example, Rihanna continues publicly sharing her feelings through the songs she’s releasing such as her duets, which have held the most powerful messages: “Love the way you lie” with Eminem and “Can’t remember to forget you” with Shakira – both these songs centre around two issues targets of narcissistic abuse grapple with: lies/manipulation and addiction/attachment.

Tough-love and threats to cease offering support will rarely work for targets of narcissistic abuse, it often just pushes them straight back to their abuser. The only way to help a target of narcissistic abuse is to offer continual, ongoing support with zero judgement. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know: you don’t know what an abuser has told their target or the lengths they will go to, you don’t know what behaviours are being demonstrated and promises are being made, you don’t know exactly how it was and how it is now for the target. It is essential that instead of judging someone in this situation that you concentrate on what you can do to support the person without enabling the abuse.

For more information about how you can assist someone in a relationship with narcissistic abuse, where there is a strong bond, without enabling the abuse, look at our resource Is someone you love being abused? under Tips for Freedom.

More reading related to the Rihanna/Chris Brown saga:
Domestic Violence is everyone’s business by Michelle Bernard
Chris Brown on how he won back Rihanna after viciously beating her by Jade Watkins
Rihanna breaks down as she opens up to Oprah about Chris Brown assault by Emily Sheridan and Iona Kirby
Timeline of Rihanna and Chris Brown’s relationship by Annika Harris

Looking for support? Visit my new website: www.relationshipfree.com

BIG news – launching Relationship Free

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If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. Gail Sheehy

Just like that…
Like a flick of a switch.
In just a brief moment in time.
Everything went back to how it was.

It was like…

A tidal wave cleansing a desert.
A burnt out forest, turning green.
A wilted flower coming to life again.
Every fractured bone – repaired.
In an instant the spell broke.

It was as I looked into his eyes that I realised… I felt something.
And it wasn’t exciting like it usually would be. It wasn’t like: “Oh my god, this is it: I’m in love … again!”
It was: “Oh my god, I actually FEEL something!”
And in that moment, looking into his eyes, I realised just how numb I’d been for the past year.

What I experienced in 2013 was so painful I had shut down.
Not just romantically, but from everything.
Although I have obviously laughed, I don’t remember feeling a thing. Even as I laughed.
I don’t remember joy. I don’t remember sadness.
I’d numbed out.
All I remember feeling over the past year was fear, and looking behind my back to see if he (or someone he sent – I know how he works) was watching.

My experience in 2013 made 2014 feel as though I was putting my foot into freezing water
I was so hurt, I actually didn’t want to move.
At all.
Everything that I’d ever known, changed.
It was like I started experiencing everything differently. I still do.

Not like a second chance at life though… Although he did try to kill me three times.
It was like in the movies, the bomb goes off, the person goes deaf and there’s just a high pitch noise?
Life has been like that … but no noise and no feeling.
An emptiness.
An uncertainty.
Apathy like I’d never experienced before.
A shattered innocence – because I now know I can never be completely safe or protected.

Some of you have only just joined me and are probably wondering what I’m talking about.
Domestic violence.
His crimes left me in such a state that if anyone approached me: I was looking to see if they would attack me.
Before I spoke: I asked myself a hundred times how it could be used against me.
I watched my back where ever I went – even walking in my apartment complex.
I hardly made it to the grocery store out of fear.
Whenever I drove, I’d pull over and let any car that looked like his: pass.
Every night I slept with a pillow against my door.
I vomited violently every single morning for the first six months after I left.
I have never experienced anything as painful as what my abuser put me through. Ever.

And the worst part?
Even at the time he committed the ultimate crime against me: I was completely and blindly in love a man who abused me.
I still find it difficult to process how someone I loved, so much, would want to hurt me so badly?
But he did.
The same man who once would have moved mountains to protect me.

Once I got out, I tried to take my own life.
Because I’d had enough. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I’d never get him out of my life. He would always have control over me and everything else.
This thick, black, evil power.
That’s what I thought at the time.
I was wrong.

I am still alive.
And now that I can feel again, I realise it more.
Of course feeling again comes fraught with fear “I don’t want to go numb again, I don’t want that to happen again…”
I’m terrified.
What’s strange is not feeling wasn’t so bad – because I didn’t know I couldn’t feel anything until I felt again…
If that makes sense…

Now that I do feel again, I guess I don’t want to lose this.
This healthy sense of self, the healthy relationship, my healthy life.
And with those three elements aligned, I look at the people I have allowed in my life and they are are very supportive, patient and loving.
They’re not going to allow me to “numb out” again.
It’s difficult, and what I find most challenging as I look into his eyes is stopping myself from thinking: “Will you abuse me one day too?”

The deception linked to domestic violence is what makes it so complex and adds to a target’s fear.
If I had known my ex-boyfriend was going to be abusive at the beginning, I never would’ve gone there.
During my recovery, every time I met someone – I would picture them really angry: “Would they hurt me?”
I couldn’t help it – and it’s become habit.
I read this book called Way of the wound about trauma recovery by Robert Grant and in it he says: “A single perpetrator has the potential to taint or implicate all humanity. If one person can abuse then all others become potential abusers” (Grant, 1996, p13).
It was the first thing I could identify with throughout my recovery.

So I started acknowledging that anyone could hurt me – in any profession. A police officer, a magistrate, a lawyer, a doctor…
I now accept that I will never truly be safe and protected solely based on the person I choose to be with.
BUT! The person I am with, always and forever, will protect me.
And that person is me.
I know every red flag to look for.
I know every feeling that could lead to long-term damage and trauma.
I’ve been there and that means I know exactly what to look out for.
I’m aware of the high intensity relationship I’ve been in. And I know better than to try to match it.

So what I’m saying is, if I make the same mistake – maybe I’d understand judgement.
But for people to judge someone in a domestic violence situation who hasn’t been in one before: it’s not your place.
The deception transforms your relationship into a hall of mirrors.
You can’t see where you end and they begin anymore.
How can you know to protect yourself when you have this deceptive grooming phase, with a love so passionate and amazing!
Unfortunately we’re all easy targets to a psychopath, particularly empaths like myself.
We like to be liked, we love to be loved and when someone makes us feel special: we want to be with them no matter what.
That is why, the biggest red flag in a relationship is being wooed.

My current wonderful and fabulous boyfriend said to me early on: “I don’t text!”
I stared at him. We’d been texting for days.
“When I’m at home, back in the States, I don’t text,” he clarified.
He was true to his word. Not one text message since he returned home.
And once he left Sydney, I let him go. I didn’t go to Melbourne with him like I maybe once would have.
Already we are maintaining healthy boundaries and a healthy relationship.
And we’re still communicating – even without texting.
Why is this so important and defining for me?
My abusive ex “love bombed” me.
We dated for about a year and lived together.
In that time we exchanged more than 1500 text messages and that’s not an exaggeration.
Needless to say: I don’t like texting much…

We don’t get to see each other much and my boyfriend misses me.
But it’s different this time.
He doesn’t miss me all the time and not in a way that he’s asking where I am, who I’m with, what I’m doing…
At first I volunteered the information – out of habit.
I could tell it made him uncomfortable.
In exposing it to me, it’s become another habit linked to the trauma that I have broken.

Love bombing is unhealthy.

In fact, it’s probably called bombing for a reason: take cover, let me tell you!

When he kissed me, for the first time, I left: almost immediately.
I couldn’t handle it.
The place where we were. The sound of joggers louder than ever.
I panicked.
It took me days to process.
And you know what he did?
He gave me space.
Meanwhile my mind whirring “what if, what if, what if…”

It was his gentle persistence, his certainty over what he saw that changed me.
That’s when I realised he would never hurt me.
His kindness when I was still so numb, broken and fragile helped me.
And of course a lot of other friends influenced that and helped me on the way, it wasn’t just him … but he made me feel again.
It was only as I realised that I was feeling something that I acknowledged it was a positive feeling.
Imagine being paraplegic for a year … then all of a sudden feeling the sensation of a feather on your foot.
That’s what it was like!

It was almost shock at feeling something I’d gone so long without that I’d almost forgotten it entirely.
And in acknowledging feeling something positive, I searched deeper.
It was the first time I’d felt something positive towards a human being in over a year!
The best part was there was no fear of “what will happen next”. It was just, exactly as it was.
It was the foundation of a healthy and lasting relationship.

So things I looked at that matter following domestic violence:
> He was raised similarly to me – in a caring family.
> He’s ambitious yet shares my values and beliefs.
> He’s so proud I’m his girl, and I’m so proud he’s my man.
> We’ve both let each other into our worlds: I’ve met his parents, and he’s met mine.
> Our friends both know about us. And like the idea.
> We demonstrate our commitment to each other every single day in healthy ways.
> We share, we listen, we respect, we appreciate…

And it comes with perfect timing. Because now I’m really walking the talk.
Happiness Weekly was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.
I started this blog as a way to give back to the community.
I spent a lot of time on it, just wanting to help others.
And it helped me too!

Without Happiness Weekly, I’m not sure I would’ve survived domestic violence.
I may not have maintained a healthy mind, and for a moment – I lost that too.
Perhaps my abuser knew that I could handle what he did to me.
Even before I did.
Maybe it was his test.

Throughout my recovery, I learned to love myself. To respect myself. To value my self and my journey.
I thought I was healthy and happy before, but I’m even better now and I have another half that is equally as healthy.
I say that because he doesn’t take anything away from me. He just builds on the new foundation I’ve made.
And fortunately, I didn’t build walls. Instead, I used my experience to build a business!

Relationship Free is the foundation of a new venture. And today I’m launching the website.

WWW.RELATIONSHIPFREE.COM

The business has been operating since January 2015 as I combine my experience, knowledge and qualifications to work in an area I’m most passionate about.
Relationship Free isn’t about breaking up or helping people out of relationships – unless that’s the path they choose.
It’s about releasing attachment and reclaiming your life!

For those who don’t know, I’m a qualified life coach accredited through the International Coaching Federation.

I am an NLP practitioner. I’ve studied trauma, counselling, psychotherapy techniques and journalism.
I’m passionate about helping people – my first job was as a weight loss consultant.

Relationship Free focuses on self love and finding the freedom within to be your best self.
Release attachment, overcome love and people addiction, empower yourself to leave abusive and toxic relationships.
I offer a series of FREE resources under the Tips to Freedom section.
My priority is to work to enhance my client’s self esteem, self worth and self respect.
Learning to love myself was the most precious lesson I could ever learn.
And I learned to help others.
I decided not only would I help people understand, but I would help people heal.

I have worked really hard to get to where I am today.

But finding this relationship and launching my website made me realise: I did it!

This – right here, right now – this was my reason for leaving my abusive ex partner.
I wanted to leave and after telling him in as many words and demonstrating it: I was punished.
The danger was in not acknowledging that I was being abused. And I’d been abused for long before then.
My ex-partner has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and is an opportunistic psychopath.
My experience strengthened me, but didn’t harden me. I pride myself on that.
A healthy relationship gives you space to grow and develop. It encourages you to chase your dreams.
It’s an outlet to share mutual compassion, values, beliefs, desires, empathy, honesty and love.

This is an advertisement I’ve made for Relationship Free:

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I also want to thank my best friends: Kat and Lara for standing by me unconditionally xx

All about narcissistic abuse and how to escape

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Narcissism is an evil that masquerades as good. Like a Pied Piper this master illusionist can lead you to Hell all while making you feel flattered to be chosen to go there. Only when you wake up in Hell do you realize the real evil that existed in his fluted song. By then it’s too late; not only have you fallen victim, but most likely you have paid for the flute, as well. Tigress Luv

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: one of the few conditions where the patient is left alone and everyone else is treated. Anonymous

Have you been the target of narcissistic abuse and despite trying everything, you’re still finding it difficult to move forward with your life? Are you in a relationship with someone that has you doubting yourself and you’re never sure if you’re coming or going and even though it’s painful, you can’t let go? Was your relationship once Hollywood-perfect but now you feel stuck and trapped by threats of retribution? I bet you’re riddled with paranoid thoughts about the next thing you’re about to say or do – things you never questioned before… It’s time to wake up and BE YOUR OWN HERO!

Generally you won’t be in the position you are by choice, but more because you don’t know what the next move should be in order to safely get out of this relationship. Narcissistic abuse is not a toxic relationship and it’s not necessarily connected to domestic violence, but it falls somewhere between the two. It presents like a toxic relationship: because it’s got strong undercurrents of emotional abuse although they won’t necessarily physically hurt you (although it often escalates to this when narcissistic injury is caused, such as the threat of leaving them) and it is like domestic violence situation because of the threats, stalking and harassment and it’s likely to leave you traumatised for a long time to come. Narcissistic abuse is very, very serious.

Thankfully narcissistic abuse is becoming more spoken about, however still not many people comprehend it and the healthy mind will always have difficulty accepting it whether it happened to them directly or not. Particularly if it’s about someone they think they know, because of the mask a narcissist wears to hide their true self and present a false self which is almost perfect. If you know someone who doesn’t understand, hopefully this helps piece it together.

Meanwhile the target of this abuse will hold onto the confusion that their perfect sickly-sweet relationship where arguments were about who would take the bin out or have the latest bite of dinner and you were a tight unit and team, rapidly declined to become something so toxic, evil, destructive and dangerous. It can be difficult to get help because targets quickly realise that people struggle to comprehend it and they blame and judge themselves for omitting their abusive partner’s behaviours, while intensely fearing the judgement of others adding to their pain.

As a wounded healer – my own experiences with a man who had Narcissistic Personality Disorder inspired me to start my business Relationship Free and assist others to get clear of these relationships safely. Without police intervention. Without judgement. Without any support at all. I did it – and you can too!

Abandonment, loneliness and craving are all things targets of narcissistic abuse experience as they leave their relationship. And it’s overwhelming! Many of these people are desperately seeking closure and the truth and in doing so, are actually putting themselves in greater danger. What they rapidly learn if they are fortunate to hear about narcissistic abuse is that the person they thought they knew and loved actually doesn’t exist – they were just a fantasy, and this evil, destructive person who is now threatening them with even the most bizarre threats is their loved one’s true, authentic self. If you have found yourself in this situation and you’re wondering if your partner is a love avoidant and you’re a love addict and that’s the reason for the clash – this blog is for you. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can escape the hell of narcissistic abuse and find your happiness again – even if it means being alone.

What is narcissistic abuse?

According to expert Jeni Mawter, narcissistic abuse is carried out by someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): where a person has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, and a strong sense of self entitlement. It’s a condition that is often not medically diagnosed.

Psychology Today says someone with NPD displays arrogant behaviour, a lack of empathy for others and a need for admiration.

Jeni Mawter very aptly describes the narcissist as “a soul without footprints”. If you experience a turbulent ending to a relationship with someone who has NPD, this may be one of the first things you can identify with. They are the original hallow man – and to fill their voice, they literally try to get their lifeblood from destroying the souls of their targets.

Still not sure if this is something you’re experiencing?

Narcissists use tools and just like any form of abuse, there is a very distinct cycle that keeps their sources of supply hooked in the turbulent and high-intensity relationship.

Roberta Cone defines a narcissist as “a person who deprives their partners of the ability to feel joy and love as a separate person in relationships. They deliberately attempt to destroy or compromise the separate identity of another. The longer the relationship continues, the narcissist not only becomes less considerate, but more actively cruel.”

How it looks on paper:

  • Idealisation: they try really hard to get your attention – also known as love bombing or more commonly “grooming”
    • Repetitive text messages, emails, phone calls and Facebook posts, Tweets etc. that highlight their care and interest in you
    • Public displays of affection: they’re not afraid to show their love for you, something you won’t have experienced because health people don’t do it – it’s part of their attraction and fantasy creation
    • They will turn up at your home or workplace unannounced and bring gifts they know you’ll love
    • Intense seduction and sexual chemistry
    • Swift-pacing of the relationship, they will want to move in with you immediately: and generally they find a way to make it happen a lot faster than a healthy relationship
    • Dosing: they actually start pushing the boundaries early on to force the relationship into something toxic with their requests. As soon as the target does as they’re asked, they normalise it
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target at the start of the relationship to make the love appear mutual
    • Excessive romancing: fine dining, flowers, elaborate gifts

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: narcissistic behaviours parallel the behaviours of psychopaths, in that they are a Cluster B personality – everything at the beginning is done to prepare their targets for abuse in the future.

This is followed by a small transition as it moves from the idealisation phase and this includes things like:

  • Isolation: “We only need each other”
  • Social isolation and artificially inflated self-esteem “I feel like a better person when I am with you”
  • Creation of feeling dependent on you “I couldn’t do it without you”, “You give the best advice of anyone I know”

Isolation doesn’t happen overnight or the target will catch on, it is extremely subtle and it escalates as they move through each phase of abuse. People on the outside will notice a target withdrawing, often well before the target notices themselves. Inside the situation, it looks like this: it may start with the narcissist removing themselves off social media, and then asking you do the same (it’s likely they still have a profile and have changed their name or blocked you), it then moves to you cancelling plans with other people because you need to prioritise them over anyone else and before you know it you find yourself watching your phone ring out as concerned loved ones call but you’re not allowed to take the call because you’ll disturb them or whatever other reason they have given or inferred. These calls eventually stop. And then it’s just silence. Day in and day out, just you walking on egg shells in the same accommodation as this narcissistic person. This is generally where the seed is planted for isolation.

Then you enter the next phase, and if you get to this phase, strap in tight because it’s a hell of a ride that a narcissist will not let you get off. At this point they start giving flickers behind their mask and the target starts seeing their true character rather than the delusion they portray:

  • Devaluation: the narcissist tests their abuse and targets often mistake this phase for a toxic relationship
    • Sudden rejection, silent treatment, snide remarks
    • They disappear – stop texting, stop calling, stop dropping in to visit you
    • The deception becomes more apparent: you may find out they’re cheating on you. If this is the case, it’ll be the world’s worst kept secret, they’re almost proud of it. And they start using their favourite tool: triangulation. At this stage, it’s no longer just the two of you in the relationship – get set to be played off another person as they try to make themselves appear desirable to many and create triangles to stimulate rivalry in an attempt to raise their perceived value
    • They start using tools such as projection (saying you are doing things they are doing to you – for example, they tend to blame you for cheating or get upset over unfaithful behaviours, when they’re cheating on you) and trauma bonding (deliberately setting up high intensity situations and causing distress before playing the hero and hoovering you back in)
    • They also stop validating your feelings, so what they once appeared to care about – such as you being upset or heartbroken over anything – no longer seems to matter to them
    • Generally they will evoke sympathy to distract from blame ie. working long hours and your expectations are too high – they’re doing it all for you
    • They make it feel like you’re on an eternal honeymoon – meaning, after they cheat, abuse, insult, harass and stalk you they will then tell you they showed people your photo and how beautiful you are, you look amazing (it will often be image-focussed comments)
    • You’ll hear them say things like: “I have a photo of you in my phone and can’t stop looking at it”, “You’re stunning now – the guys can’t believe my luck! You’ve changed a lot since being with me”, “I’ve never felt this way in my life”, “You’re the most special person I’ve ever met”, “I’d risk it all for you” and no matter what turmoil is going down you’ll still hear them say “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this happy, if I ever have”
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target at this stage to make it look as though they are the ones who should be confused and it’s all the target’s fault. At this point their projection works to reduce anxiety of the unacceptable impulses or feelings by allowing their expression in a way that the conscious mind can’t recognise

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: in devaluing targets, hoovering them back in and devaluing them again, the narcissist sets the target up for long term trauma and self doubt and once they realise the reality of the situation it’s also a lot harder to forgive themselves and move forward.

Generally at some point after this stage the target may try to leave or consider leaving. This is when a narcissist will use a tool called “hoovering” which sucks the target right back in again – no matter how bad things get. They’ll use their knowledge of the things you like, they’ll tell you elaborate stories for why they did things and they’ll convince you that they are a better person with you (giving the illusion that they have given you the power back) and beg you not to take it away and to give them a second chance. Ultimately they will make you believe that they’re scared to lose the relationship.

So let’s say you can’t break it off at the devaluation phase. What happens is, like any abuse cycle it will temporarily start over. You’ll get love bombed again – only this time it will be more intense, more possessive and shorter lived (a month or two) – “Where are you?” “When can I see you?” They’ll start forcing the soul mate ideal – so, for example, in my case I got a lovelock: a padlock with our names on it, locked for all eternity. The devaluation phase quickly comes around again though – within days or up to a couple of weeks, the honeymoon wasn’t made to last. Now targets start experiencing what’s known as “baiting and bashing”. So they called you “beautiful”, “incredible”, “intelligent” and then it transforms to “ugly”, “crazy”, “jealous”, “stupid”. They will often build you up just to dump you right back down again and they keep repeating this phase to affect your self esteem, self worth and cause exhaustion and confusion. It will also affect your perception and ability to function overall.

Reality becomes distorted as the narcissist starts using gaslighting as a technique to cause the target confusion by presenting false information to their target, making them doubt their own memory, perception and often their sanity. In creating this confusion the target starts to doubt their own thoughts. It’s by using this tool that the abuser can verify that they have the target hooked through their disgraceful pathological lies and can carry out the next phase and cause mass destruction to their target’s life.

  • Discard: this is where the narcissist discards their targets and drops their source of supply in the most brutal way
    • Control by threats and fear
    • Increased emotional and psychological dependence
    • Punishment through anger, verbal and physical abuse, isolation
    • Character assassination (also known as narcissistic smear campaigns)
    • They will start scouting new supply, and the source may know this (particularly if the narcissist uses triangulation, this will be a threat in the relationship and it can be something like – if you go to work, I’ll cheat on you – and as crazy as that sounds, that can sometimes be enough to make targets quit their jobs and end their career in the hope of keeping the person who is abusing them without them realising it)
    • The target starts to experience cognitive dissonance – discomfort caused by holding two conflicting beliefs or ideas at the same time. Often the target then convinces themselves to stay because they may be able to make it better and they start exhibiting codependent behaviours
    • The narcissist will fly into rages and then act as though nothing happened, before raging again
    • The target becomes exhausted and generally starts to realise the abuse
    • Narcissist will move on without giving closure, admitting the truth or taking any responsibility for the chaos and trauma they created. In fact: they’re proud of it
    • Mirroring and projection: They mirror their target, who is now exhausted from ongoing abuse and doesn’t actually know where their abuser ends and they begin – flooded by confusion and brainwashed, they remain in agony as they defend the narcissist for their actions throughout the relationship, appear “crazy” and “obsessive” while drowning in a wake of destruction left behind by the abusive person who has no conscience
    • Stalking, harassment which could lead to homicides and suicides.

Why these behaviours are BIG red flags: many people believe once a target leaves the relationship that they are safe, even if an order is in place to prevent contact. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The trauma these high-intensity relationships create actually leave targets at greater risk of separation abuse (homicides) and can lead to suicide from exhaustion and fear that they may never get out of their situation and away from their abuser.

A target’s symptoms
The symptoms that targets experience are excruciatingly painful. They are emotional but they are so strong they can lead the person to experience physical pain. For almost six months I suffered severe chest pains no one could assist me with or diagnose anything for because there was no medical explanation for it.
– Torn and unable to comprehend what has happened
– Violated: many targets recover similar to rape victims
– Depressed
– Suicidal thoughts and even attempts
– Feeling an overwhelming sense of loneliness – friendships slip away as narcissist’s isolate their victims
– Self mutilation: Self harm/Self injury
– Emotionally exhausted
– Panic (and frequently suffer panic attacks)– Hopelessness
– Highly strung/nervous
– Extreme anxiety
– Fearful
– Feeling obligated
– Completely trapped
– Low self-esteem
– May present with obsessive compulsive behaviours and/or phobias
– Insomnia
– Overwhelming sense of guilt
– Significant weight loss (generally they will be underweight as a means of gaining some control)
– Or overweight (as a result of comfort eating)
– Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: flashbacks, hallucinations and nightmares; avoiding (people, places, thoughts, loss of interest etc) and increased arousal (excessive emotions, problems relating, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, outbursts of anger, anxiousness, panic attacks etc.)
– Emotions include: shock, anger, fear and guilt
– Dissociate (the victim may compartmentalise their experience and appear detached from their emotions, body or immediate surroundings)
– Chronic pain
– Somatizations/psychosomatic illnesses
– Nausea/vomiting caused by distress
– Hypervigilance
– Avoidance behaviour, feeling detached, sense of a limited future etc.
– Sleeping or eating difficulties
– Irritability
– Easily startled
– Flashbacks
– Stockholm Syndrome/Trauma bonding (continue to defend their abuser)
– Cognitive Dissonance
– Very uncertain of themselves/constantly second guessing themselves
– Difficulty making decisions
– Not trusting their own memory, perception or judgement
– Irritability
– Humiliation, shame, self-blame.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, proper care is essential. It is particularly important that you receive real-time support from someone who understands and preferably who has experienced narcissistic abuse to help you through the first few months of your recovery journey. I can’t highlight enough how essential it is that you receive the proper care and support if you’ve identified that this is you.

How can I move forward?

There are steps you can take to move forward and although really challenging in the beginning, if you stick to it properly, you will move on. Sometimes you hit rock bottom before you can push off and everyone recovers at their own pace but these suggestions may speed things up. First you need to make the decision to leave this narcissist, these steps will not work if you remain in the cycle of abuse by staying with them. If you’re looking for the truth or waiting for closure, save yourself the hassle and empower yourself to put as much space between yourself and this abusive person as you possibly can. Here’s how you can become your own hero from today forward:

  1. Implement NO CONTACT
    Narcissist’s will still try to break down your boundaries even after you implement NO CONTACT, but this is where you can take your power back. NO CONTACT is difficult and not everyone is able to do it properly. It’s not just about not taking their calls – here’s the steps:
  • Change your number
  • Block their emails (if this isn’t enough, open a new account)
  • Avoid mutual friends, where possible end friendships
  • Emotionally block anyone who contacts you on your abusers behalf or appears to defend them or their behaviour (think of them as being tarnished with their toxins)
  • Move house and change jobs (if necessary)

Great – you’re half way there! Now you also need to avoid:

  • Checking up on them
  • Reacting to anything they say or do
  • Answering the door if they come over
  • Family time spent together – if you have children together, minimise time spent together
  • Accepting new friends on Social Media (particularly if you don’t know them)
  • Thinking of them
  • Allowing information to filter back to you
  • Register information about them ie. a car sale, house sale etc.
  • Waiting to implement contact – there’s no good time, embrace the present moment!
  1. Avoid listening to soppy songs and the radio
    This isn’t your typical break up. Right now you need to focus on positive, healthy, happy music that will inspire you to move forward. Make a playlist of music that makes you happy, but has nothing to do with romantic love. For example songs may include: Happy by Pharrell Williams, You Gotta Be by Des’ree, Good Feeling – Flo Rida, It’s my life – Bon Jovi … you get the idea!
  1. Find a buddy
    There are plenty of narcissistic forums and Facebook groups you can join online and get support – however I find a lot of these toxic places to sit for too long. A lot of people look back which holds you back rather than encouraging each other to move forward and some people don’t want to get better so they unintentionally bring their toxic energy to other people in what is meant to be a safe space: try not to let this affect you. I don’t condone people doing this, use your experience to empower yourself and others and become more self aware, if you don’t want to put the work in to recovery that needs to be done, then at least give space to those who do and are on the right path. On that note I wanted to share that during my recovery I was fortunate to find a buddy from over the other side of the world and we’ve been friends ever since. The bond we have formed is as strong as if we had survived a hostage situation together. Highly recommend it!
  1. Watch movies that inspire you
    Make a list of movies that you can watch that centre around the themes of bravery and courage and particularly where there’s a bit of a journey and change involved. My choice was The Hunger Games and the character I chose to keep me strong and brave was Katniss Everdeen. I haven’t looked back! (Thank you Jennifer Lawrence for doing such an awesome job portraying this character!) You could also choose The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy), The Lord of the Rings (Frodo), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Buffy), Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones), Star Wars (Luke Skywalker). When in doubt over the next few weeks and months, as yourself what the leading character would do in your situation.
  1. Create your own support group
    Friends and family are essential at this moment, or even just a colleague. Pick just one person you can count on to talk to about what’s going on, day or night. They may already know your story. It’s great if you have someone who knows and can just check in on you each day and assist you with your progress. Even if it’s for nothing more than to tell you how far you’ve come only months down the track.
  1. Create and action a Self Care Plan
    Self nurturing is essential once you get out of this relationship and your top priority should be regaining self trust and self forgiveness. Learn what makes you feel good, what you can do to make yourself feel special and fill the void the narcissist created and left behind and discover the things you really like again – right down to your favourite food and colour. It is also recommended that you get back to nature and exercise regularly. There are Self Care Plans available online that you could use to develop your own, or if you would like to work with me to create one, get in touch: sarah@relationshipfree.com.
  1. Accept and maintain a forward focus
    If you have dated a narcissist, everything good you came to know about that person was a lie, and unfortunately the only way to move on is to look ahead and look after yourself for a while. Accept that it was a lie and a fantasy created by a bad person. It is a cruel form of abuse, but accept they never loved you and it was just words to them. A narcissist doesn’t have the ability to love at all. I highly recommend you don’t date (and resist the temptation of dating) for at least six months to a year following one of these relationships and I explain why in more detail here. The easiest way to think of it is a person wearing a beautiful mask, and they have now taken it off to reveal their ugly true self which they’ve hidden from you for months or even years. Accept who they really are and focus on what you want from life now – because this person can’t offer it to you. Not sure what step to take next? Get in touch sarah@relationshipfree.com.
  1. Ask for help

Make an appointment with someone who will understand and not judge your situation and least of all would say something that would cause trouble or trigger you. There are specialist psychologists in Domestic Violence that you can find by a simple Google search, or – after my own experience with narcissistic abuse which led to domestic violence, I have become a wounded healer and now work in this field as a life coach. I have a positive and forward moving approach and am passionate about taking a holistic approach and natural therapy. I’ll even help you find the best way to embrace your pain! Get in touch: sarah@relationshipfree.com. I am currently developing a program for targets of narcissistic abuse and domestic violence which will be released later this year.

I’ve walked away – now what?
It’s important you take these steps as soon as you can following the moment you acknowledge that you are in a relationship with someone who hurts you with narcissistic abuse or domestic violence. Dr Phil says you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so the second you identify with this post and acknowledge your experience is the breakthrough moment that this is your opportunity to change and transform from this situation that’s kept you stuck and trapped.

It does take time and you may not get it perfect the first time you try to move forward, be patient with yourself. Talk to people – you’ll be surprised how many people have had similar experiences or can relate or identify. Always remember that no matter how much they hurt you once you escape the relationship – it will never be as painful as what you suffered while you were in the relationship: keep looking forward. Consider your situation the lucky escape – if you’ve made it out of one of these relationships, you’ve dodged a bullet – well done!

Are you recovering from narcissistic abuse? Please share your experience below.

Need more help? I’m a qualified life coach who specialises in recovering from failed, toxic and abusive relationships, whether they’re career-related, family-related or romantic. For personalised assistance, contact me via email for my rates: sarah@relationshipfree.com

Other Resources
The After Narcissistic Abuse website is a fantastic resource of information as well. Despite encountering a lot of these signs during the relationship, there was nothing anyone could do to change my mind about my abuser – I loved him and I thought he needed my help. I was brainwashed and trapped by the tools he used to enhance my addiction. Looking back, I trusted him – even though I knew he was lying – I couldn’t prove it so I continued to doubt myself because of the ongoing abuse and the way he abused me … I just kept trusting him over my own instincts.

Congratulations Australian of the year! Here’s what I want to say to Rosie Batty…

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My friends, family and followers know that I was the target of domestic violence in 2013 which left me traumatised until I reached the point of frustration: this shouldn’t happen to people!

From there I became a powerful machine, driven to start campaigning on my own … but no one died and no one knows about the trauma experienced – therefore it’s just another case forgotten. No headlines, no news. So I want to contact Rosie Batty and ask her for support in my quest to change AVO laws – nationally, and build in mandatory support to stop the abuse cycle and change the statistic that one target of domestic abuse is murdered each week.

I have a solution and I want it to be heard. So here goes…:

Dear Rosie,

Congratulations on becoming Australian of the Year! I can’t express how much it means, even to someone like me who was also a target of domestic abuse – you have demonstrated a shining example that trauma can lead to growth – and that can start immediately.

Your strength is inspiring beyond words. I don’t think anyone could comprehend your experience and in that isolation you’ve found this amazing light that you are now radiating out to others. The education you’ve raised about domestic violence and why women don’t leave is also inspiring. You have done some amazing work.

As you know, there’s more to be done. And it’s so important this is implemented as soon as possible, because as long as it’s not – people are at risk. You know it, I know it and anyone who has been the target of domestic violence will know it.

One of the reasons people are dying in these situations is our Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (AVO) laws are not breaking the abuse cycle, and therefore they’re not forming the protection they should. In fact, there’s two issues that are very apparent: first – no one thinks it will happen to them. Second: everyone thinks an AVO means people automatically have to stay a certain distance away from each other. That was ALL I wanted! Yet to get this, there needs to be serious threat to life demonstrated. So you can get an AVO against someone and then head straight out to the pub together after and talk about how they’re not going to stalk, harass, molest and assault you. How is this even allowed? If it’s serious enough for police intervention, and serious enough to take time off work to stand in a court room, then how come that piece of paper makes ZERO attempt to cut through the abuse cycle whatsoever. And don’t get me started on how you need to put your address forward for it!

I am the first to put my hand up and admit I was addicted to a man who abused me, and that in itself destroyed my self esteem and self worth, and kept me in the cycle even longer. He tried to kill me on three separate occasions, the last time he tried to run me down in his car … that wasn’t a threat, it was the action, right there. To the point that he ramped into me – the physical body of me trying to get away – three times. It was on CCTV, however, I thought I deserved it. I blamed myself. How could I put myself in that situation again … and yet he was nice again right after: “It wasn’t like that, I’d never do that to you”. And he’s the believable type … I was an intelligent woman and yet, I kept going back to him.

If an AVO was in place, where I could have trusted it would break the abuse cycle, I would have taken that option. But it didn’t exist. And it still doesn’t. That terrifies me. And what’s worse – and you would be first to know – it doesn’t protect children: at all. If I know anything about my abusive partner, it’s that the first thing he would go after if we had it was our children, our pets and then me if he could find me. Where my abuser kept getting me was he told me he was “hurting” because I didn’t love him anymore and I “just didn’t care”. Being empathetic, I’d fall straight back into his trap – exactly as he wanted me to. Let me share an email I received from my abuser, which the police still refused to respond to because there was no direct “threat to life” in it:

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A lovelock is a padlock with our names on it and the dates we dated. Is it not insane that I’m being threatened for something you could just buy at Bunnings? And for the record: Narcissistic Abuse/Psychopath 101 is their obsession on soul mates and their romanticised philosophy love that is so far from fact and not the basis for a healthy relationship.

Now, the thing is, at 5 foot 2, meaning it was out of reach, and with NO muscles and nothing to use to cut it down with … I did not cut that lovelock down. But why did I not flinch that it was gone? Why did I not respond to this threat except to go straight to the police? Because if he didn’t have it – he couldn’t come back to me weeks, months, years later and hoover me back in: AGAIN! I knew whatever pain was ahead for me would be the last of a very LONG dark and painful period for me. It was a romance that isolated me from all friends and family and kept me trapped, terrified and silenced. But I was not going to find it, least of all have it returned to him.

Following my relationship, with zero support from our law and police because there’s no “threat for life” in this message, I put myself into my own witness protection program. I changed everything about myself as best I could and I spent more than ten thousand dollars trying to get safe from him.

What I needed?

I needed an AVO that not only said he couldn’t contact me, but I couldn’t contact him. Why? Because he manipulated what happened and he made it look like I didn’t care, which made me go to him and hoovered me back in. But if I knew legally I couldn’t go there and if I did then there would be consequences, then I would’ve been out of there and his ongoing harassment also would’ve stopped. Keep in mind as I write this, 2/3 of women served with an AVO in New South Wales are known to be the target of ongoing domestic violence according to New South Wales Woman’s Legal. And I look outwardly to other women, the women who are slain or where separation abuse does escalate … and I’m talking about situations like yours, Kate Malonyay’s and more recently Leila Alavi.

What I’m trying to say is if there was an AVO that literally cut through the abuse cycle: if the accused was to be punished, with harsher penalties for breaking it (because let’s face it – psychopaths aren’t deterred by two years in prison and a $1,500 fine … at least not in New South Wales) and the target was to be at risk of the current penalty – then perhaps that would be enough. And once that order is in place, there’s no relinquishing it.

Talk to the police – listen to their frustration as they chase their tails seeing the same cases over and over again. Why does this happen? And how is it that when I went to get help I was told “It’s just a piece of paper, it’s not going to do anything … if he wants to kill you, he will”. How terrifying are those words to someone in a domestic violence situation? How is it that our police are so desensitised to the fact that AVOs don’t work that they actually drive people way from getting the protection they need?

Ironically, the police were so sloppy with my case, I never would have trusted them to protect me. I guess that’s the issue … when you experience it and you know how bad it is: only you know, at the end of the day, what protection you need and how to go about getting that. And when I say that: let me make it clear I mean in escaping and vanishing from their radar, not in counter-attacking or anything like that. Just like most targets, I was just trying to get away…

Anyway, that’s my first suggestion.

“We don’t want to punish the target, they’ve been through enough” … one police person told me.

Bullshit! If this was in place, would your experience have happened to you? Would it have happened to Kate or Leila? Sometimes you need to put harsher terms in place in order to protect people. And if there’s a child involved, they should be protected by the same order as their primary carer. How is that not already the case?

“But my daughter loves her dad,” one of my friends told me who has been trapped by domestic violence and staying solely for this reason. Really? I loved my ex partner … I didn’t even know he was abusing me really, until I got out of there and clear from him, and does that mean he’s the best thing for me? Because I loved him?? One thing I think you know once you’ve suffered as bad as it could get, is if they can do it to you, they can do it to anyone and the defenseless are the ones who should come first. Ironically: they don’t!

I did what I had to do to get clear and safe of my situation and while my abuser intended me to feel shame for it – I don’t and I never will. For me, it’s not what he did to me, but it’s what I do what was done to me. I’ll never go back to seeing him for the man he wanted to be, but for the person he really was. And as heartbreaking as it was for me to accept, they were worlds and lifetimes apart from each other.

Second, there’s nothing mandatory with an AVO. Perhaps a target is “offered” counselling, but it should be a mandatory six week to six month program with specialist assistance, paid for by the government. How is it that we can afford Jury Duty but we can’t afford this kind of support? Why? Do people in domestic violence situations deserve to be there? Is that the overall belief?

And what about the alleged psychopath who is served with the Apprehended Domestic Violence Order? Why isn’t there follow up with a mandatory six week to six month anger management course? Because according to police there needs to be a threat to life before anyone will take action against anyone. How is it ok for these people to be on the street??

So what I’m proposing is the minute that court hearing concludes and an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order is put in place (let’s hope the magistrate puts the correct address on the order to begin with … and that’s not tongue-in-cheek!) then these people set up six weeks of appointments for their mandatory counselling to get rehabilitated.

Will this stop one person in Australia dying each week at the hands of Domestic Violence? I don’t know – but I do know it’s enough to break the abuse cycle. I’m confident of that. I’m confident that it stops the time-wasting bullshit associated with our current AVO and domestic violence system that has things going in circles, and if anything – ironically, it supports the abuse cycle in itself and worse: it ties these two people together.

One lawyer went as far as to tell me that an AVO is the “ultimate control” against someone. Want a bet? The ultimate control is what you have, Rosie: it’s not just stepping away and forgetting it to keep safe – it’s owning what happened and helping others with your knowledge.

Rosie, people listen to you: please help. Not for me, but for the sake of the lives of so many other people.

I hope our legal systems and police will continue to listen to you and support you in your quest.

Best wishes,

Sarah.

The underworld of toxic shame and how to release it

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Like moss, shames grows in the dark. Vanquish it by bringing it into the light, Ross Rosenberg

Have you ever been in a relationship where you were forced to feel overwhelming guilt just for being you? Your partner made you feel as though you were flawed in such a way there was nothing you could ever do to fix yourself? Did you believe you were fortunate to be with this person although they treated you terribly? Have you finally broken free of the relationship but you’re not sure if you will find someone who ever understands you?

You’re not alone in your experience. This is the underworld of toxic shame – what toxic and abusive people use against their targets to isolate them, degrade their self esteem and cause them to undermine their self worth.
Many people have come to me to describe their experience with toxic shame and their struggles to release it and move forward. If your partner has subjected you to toxic shame, is causing you to doubt yourself until your self worth has evaporated, and you’re feeling isolated and confused about who you are and what you should do next, this blog is for you. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can release toxic shame and move on with a happier and more fulfilling life than what you currently have.

What is toxic shame?
According to John Bradshaw toxic shame is: “The feeling of being flawed and diminished and never measuring up. Toxic shame feels much worse than guilt. With guilt, you’ve done something wrong, but you can repair that – you can do something about it. With toxic shame, there’s something wrong with you and there’s nothing you can do about it, you are inadequate and defective”.

Still unsure? People who experience toxic shame demonstrate the following behaviours:
– Co-dependent
– Irrational paralysing feelings of worthlessness, humiliation, self loathing
– Stopped identifying with themselves or lacking a sense of self
– Other people bring them more peace than they feel they could ever bring to themselves
– When they’re hurting they are very quick to disengage, disconnect or detach
– They are comfortable being abused and often don’t recognise it – friends may see it first
– They feel completely unlovable and less-than human
Toxic shame is what holds us in toxic and abusive relationships and prevents us from leaving and people who are targeting you will depend on it to hold you there.
Experts say toxic shame is linked to childhood traumas, and while I agree this could trigger toxic shame in adult life – I don’t think it’s essential to have a traumatic shaming childhood experience in order to suffer from toxic shame as an adult.

People who experience toxic shame will demonstrate the following behaviours:
– Lack of intimacy in relationships
– Poor communicator
– Engage in relationships with: non-productive circular fights, manipulation, games
– Vying for control
– Withdrawing
– Blaming
– Fear of anger – your own or someone else’s
– Ongoing short-term relationships (caused by a subconscious fear of people getting to close) and this can be demonstrated in romantic relationships or jumping from job to job
– Low self worth and confidence
– Prone to knee-jerk reactions to benign comments, inquiries or situations to attempt to maintain some control (Note: Coming out of an abusive relationship – this behaviour not an unusual experience and can be part of self-preservation following your experience)

If you recognise these symptoms in yourself, it’s time to change. NOW!

Can you fix toxic shame?
Absolutely – but it’s a journey and it is down to the individual experiencing the toxic shame to recognise it and fix themselves. Unfortunately the co-dependent element strongly linked to toxic shame often leads these people to more romantic partners in an attempt to avoid dealing with the core issues linked to their toxic shame. This can force them down the obsessive path of love, sex and people addiction.

If you recognise these things in yourself and then you find yourself thinking it will be different with your next partner as you begin to seek your next partner out – I urge you to stop. Toxic shame creates big gaping voids, and while it’s tempting to resolve the loneliness and isolation it causes by placing another person in the hole – it won’t resolve your issues until you’re ready to face them head on.

Once you’ve committed to facing your toxic shame, the next area many people get stuck is knowing what to do next. Stick with me, I’m about to tell you! The following steps will hopefully lead you to a path where you’re feeling back on track rapidly. It is better to recover on your own than to bring someone else into your recovery with you.

What do I do if I suspect I’m suffering from toxic shame but I’m not entirely sure?
Keeping a diary may assist you to process what you have experienced or are experiencing. The more you speak about what is happening, the easier it will become to digest, process and recover from. It may also lead you to a point of self compassion, which is one of the steps we will look at to help you in your recover.

You can seek help through a psychotherapist, life coach, psychologist or counsellor to work through your experiences. I am also available to assist people all over the work, so you can contact me via email on sarah@relationshipfree.com.

What will happen if I don’t get help?
Without the correct help, toxic shame will manifest all throughout your life in self destructive ways.

For example, you may continue to leave relationships or jobs as you avoid letting people get close to you; the big gaping void of loneliness and isolation that you suffer coupled with your horrible helpless feelings caused by lack of self worth and identity won’t go away and you’ll never have the opportunity to develop your true, authentic self.

Or it may even get worse. You could become co-dependent with obsessive tendencies that steer you toward love, sex and people addiction. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will become dangerous but it means you will have to overcome your addiction before you can deal with your toxic shame – so it’s better to nip it in the bud.

So how can I release my toxic shame?
1. Switch on the self-compassion light
Often toxic shame festers in people who are particularly hard on themselves. If it was a friend in a similar situation, this person would be able to empathise and demonstrate compassion – but because they’re close to it, they become hard on themselves for experiencing it. Shame is a “soul-eating” emotion according to Carl Jung – it survives as long as someone is fearful and negative and causes these people to be insecure, self-loathing and self-doubting.

Keep a process journal during your recovery. First I want you to write about your most shameful experience – and there are two approaches:

If you experienced shame in your childhood – try to remember the very first time you experienced it and what happened and write it down in your diary. This exercise deals with the core shame and is the most powerful approach of the two options. Once you have written about your experience, detail what you would’ve liked an adult to say to you directly after you experienced the shameful incident.

If you have only experienced shame in your adult life – try to remember the time when you experienced it at its peak. This exercise deals with “situational shame” and will assist you to process what you have recently experienced. Once you have completed writing about the incident, write what you would have liked an authority figure to have said to you directly after you experienced your situation.

Alternatively, you could write the story as though a friend experienced the exact same situation and write down what you would say to them directly after the event. Then say it out loud to yourself and see how it makes you feel to hear those words from yourself.

2. Enhance self worth by embracing your inner child
Find out about various ways you can connect with your inner child – I highly recommend this meditation by Mark Ryan. You can work with a psychotherapist, life coach or hypnotherapist to do this. Once you have connected with your inner child and created a platform for self-love, you can start embracing your inner child by finding out the things they like. When you reward yourself going forward, be mindful of your inner child and the things they enjoy. With the right ground work and assistance from the right support, this process will help you to feel security in an unconditional sense – it’s very, very powerful!

3. Take time off dating
If you are single, take at least six months off dating to detox from what you’ve experienced and allow yourself to process and find your true authentic self. During this time, challenge yourself to banish any unhealthy or limiting beliefs that may keep you in your current cycle or the state of harbouring toxic shame. Be mindful of your self talk (you are listening!) and challenge yourself to shift your focus to positive and healthy things as much as you can – as Tony Robbins says: where your focus goes, energy flows! It takes practise. I’d recommend getting a life coach to assist you to stay on track and really stretch you to reach some great achievements during this time. If you are codependent, I highly recommend “Codependent no more” by Melody Beattie and attending CODA meetings to start to break this and developing a self-care plan for yourself.

4. Learn to trust yourself
Toxic shame causes us to lose our faith in ourselves, so while we’re taking time out from other people to rebuild, it’s important to start looking at how you can build your self trust and test it in various safe environments. Quit putting yourself in self-sabotaging situations and instead work to break the cycle. Rebuilding self trust can be a frustrating task, so again, I’d recommend working with a life coach, psychotherapist or counsellor for this. One of the things I ask my clients to do is create the ideal of what they’re looking for and then find small ways to test if the quest to obtain this is possible – for example a healthy relationship with the perfect man, my clients would set boundaries and know the consequences to each being crossed and sticking to those boundaries to prioritise their self-preservation as a way of developing self respect and self trust. This is one of my specialities, if you would like to work with me – contact me via email at sarah@relationshipfree.com.

5. Reassess the people you associate with
Nurture all relationships with people who recognise and appreciate your fundamental and naturally defining value. If a client comes to me having left a toxic or abusive relationship, I often recommend they cut contact with their ex-partner, which includes limiting communicating to mutual friends if they need to maintain the friendship at all. Part of the reason for this approach is that it’s very difficult to drive a car forward – and not crash – when you’re looking in the revision mirror.
Then once you’re ready to enter back into a relationship, only allow yourself to be with people who can see your self-worth based just on who you are, not what you do. Setting clear boundaries will assist with defining who may best assist you on your journey to detoxing from toxic shame.

6. Keep promises you make to yourself
You may have noticed you often tell yourself “If you do this, you can have that” – as a parent would, but once you do it, it’s like an anti-climax and you don’t reward yourself as promised. From today forward, keep all the promises you make to yourself – particularly when it is around achieving something – this is a really simple and effective technique which will assist to build your self worth back up.

7. Be mindful of your shame
When you do begin to experience shame, be mindful of it. Have a look at the meaning you are attaching to events in your life and ask yourself “What else could it mean?” or “What else could I feel as a result of this situation?” Instead of relying on external validation and other people to tell you how you should feel, ask yourself what you feel or how you should feel, decide on it, and make your next move from there. There are some fantastic mindfulness Apps you can download on your smartphone which will assist you to practise mindfulness including Headspace (10 days of 10 minutes) and Smiling Minds.

8. Spend time with pets or children
Spend time where you can getting unconditional love from pets and children. Watch how they make you feel about yourself. Then take that feeling home and try to replicate it on your own with one of your self-care activities. It’s important to teach yourself unconditional love, towards yourself, so you’re not relying on receiving it from others.

9. Rephrase “I am…”
Often when we feel shame we are also assigning blame … to ourselves. If someone want to say to you “Finish this sentence: ‘I am …’” what would you put after it? Be mindful of what your self-talk says and start to find healthy endings to that sentence and then go out of your way to prove it to yourself where ever possible. This is the affirmation for your life.

10. Change the ending
Going back to that shameful experience you wrote about, you could also change the way it ends. Write this out in such a way that you become the powerful hero of the story. Pick a character who resembles this powerful hero (a good one is Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games), and when you feel toxic shame is taking over again or can see signs of it, ask yourself what this character would do before you take action.

Have you experienced toxic shame? Please share your recovery experiences below.

Need more help? I’m a qualified life coach who specialises in recovering from failed, toxic and abusive relationships, whether they’re romantic, career-related, family-related or friendship-related. For personalised assistance, contact me via email for my rates: sarah@relationshipfree.com

How to kick-start your new year and why 2015 will be better than 2014

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2015 is the year of opportunity!

Winston Churchill said: A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

In order to be the year of opportunity, it is also the year of letting go:

Let go of past hurts

Let go of bad memories

Let go of judgements

You need all the space you can create to allow for these great opportunities to come through, so de-clutter your mind, body and spirit, release anything toxic or negative, and get set to thrive and achieve!

This year believe that everything coming into your life that doesn’t or won’t serve you, will bounce off the white light surrounding you, protecting you in your journey forward.

So how can you really kick-start your new year? Sometimes people want to start the quest but don’t know the steps to get there so here are some ideas:

  1. Set your New Year Resolutions (if you haven’t already) and make them specific and clear
  2. Make a commitment to love yourself – only allow positive and healthy things into your life
  3. Challenge yourself to achieve something you haven’t done in previous years
  4. Whatever you’ve been putting off: make it a goal to do it within the next six months
  5. Make yourself proud! Be your best self every day. Define what that means to you and start striving towards it
  6. Failure is a stepping stone to success. Don’t worry about failure, just be open to learn from your mistakes
  7. Find people like the person you want to be and surround yourself with them as often as possible
  8. Write a 101 life-goal list … it’s a list of 101 goals for your life. Google examples and go for it! Start achieving today
  9. Find a new mentor to guide you through the year
  10. It’s the Year of Opportunity! You create your own luck but also be open for opportunities to come your way. The rule of thumb this year: if it moves you forward – do it!

As for how you can ensure 2015 is better than 2014?

  • Do things differently: try something else for anything that didn’t work
  • Get motivated and get excited: it’s a new year
  • Leave the past behind and start fresh – it’s new, how can you tell? Because you have a past and past is experience. Use it to further you, but leave the baggage behind
  • Don’t wait for things to be perfect: The Arc was built by amateurs and Titanic was built by professionals – go for it!
  • When you attach meaning to something ask yourself: what else could it mean?
  • Live each day to the full, be in the present moment and go forward with confidence!
  • Love yourself to the point that you need no one else

Looking for a personalised plan? Book a coaching session (45 mins – 60 mins) by contacting me at sarah@relationshipfree.com to free yourself in areas of business, relationships and everyday life and achieve your best.

Follow Relationship Free on Facebook: www.facebook.com/relationshipfreepage

All the best in 2015 xx

A special Christmas message with love, Sarah xx

Hello,

I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe holiday season from Sydney, Australia.

I’m taking holidays for the next little while as I try to cement some really exciting things for 2015!

If you need my assistance in the meantime, you can contact me by email at: sarah@relationshipfree.com

In the meantime: set yourself some awesome goals for 2015, reach for the stars and achieve more than you set yourself. Always step things up. Challenge yourself at every opportunity. Believe in yourself always!

Catch you in 2015!

Best wishes,

Sarah xx

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Removing limiting beliefs

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Conquer your limiting beliefs and nothing can prevent you from achieving success in anything you want. Jerry Bruckner

What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are. Tony Robbins

Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that dis-empowers them or one that can literally save their lives. Tony Robbins

All personal breakthroughs being with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it’s costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting a new, empowering belief. Tony Robbins

I often tell people, if you want to succeed at something, if you want to improve an area of your life, one of the things involved is taking a risk, being able to step outside your comfort zone. What have you done this year that is outside your comfort zone? If the answer is nothing, why have you not had the confidence to step outside the comfort zone? Clint Ebbesen, Entrepreneur

Limiting beliefs are our little subconscious voice arising when we’re ready to take a risk that stops us from moving forward. Recently I was having a reading and healing session with the delightful Nandini Kumaran and she was talking to me about my dreams for the future and what was to come. (Perhaps this is a bit alternative for some of you, but stay with me, this is leading somewhere!) I want to dedicate this post to Nandini – she was one of the kindest souls I connected with while I was in the darkest place.

Nandini made a suggestion about my future that I was actually currently working on, but at that moment I thought to the failure of that product. At that moment she said “Wow – I just felt your heart shut down when I said that, just be open, have faith in your ideas because it will be a success, and your new direction is right for you”. From that moment, I promised myself I’d be more conscious of my limiting beliefs and work at being open to all possibilities. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at how you can shift or remove your limiting beliefs to realise your full potential.

 

What is a limiting belief?

A limiting belief is a belief that is held consciously or subconsciously that serves only as obstacles to manifesting and attracting what you want. They become filters to our reality. Initially they are there to protect us, particularly after we have been hurt or had a negative life experience, but ultimately they only hold us back.

 

Where do limiting beliefs come from?

A lot of the work I completed over my break in May and June this year was to do with removing limiting beliefs. For a long time I had some massive stories in my head that included Blame, Excuses and Denial … and I needed to put them to BED (see what I did just there?)! During these two months, I had a full life clear out. I reassessed friendships, my career, my health, my very being. Once I was finished clearing my closet, I decided on my clear direction, I set goals and I am so excited because I have started moving in the direction I want to be.

Once I did all that I stopped. What if my limiting beliefs returned? It’s possible. This can be the hindrance of having conservative parents who only want the best for you, and don’t want to see you getting hurt, because if you don’t say it to yourself first, they’ll be sure to tell you – right? Not just this, but your mind draws links to events and assumes the outcome based on past experience.

The pattern will go like this: the event will happen, you draw false generalisations based on that specific event, then assign questionable meanings to that event which leads to disempowering interpretations of what happened. Consequently, your mind blocks you from taking certain actions even though they may be reasonable or intelligent.

The good news is, you have control over your limiting beliefs. You create and manifest them, but you also have the power to eliminate them. Rest assured, if you don’t do this consciously, your ongoing behaviours that are holding you back will force you to reassess and there will come a point when the frustration will force you to change.

 

The best way to eliminate limiting beliefs

Working with a life coach and taking part in Schema Therapy are both fantastic for assisting in permanently removing limiting beliefs, particularly if they are linked to our core beliefs. But not everyone can afford this kind of help, so how about trying this:

Once you’re conscious of the limiting belief…

  1. Question the limiting belief

When you hear yourself think something limiting, stop and ask yourself – Really? Does it always happen? Consider the last time it happened and that outcome occurred … now consider the time before that, and the time before that … did it always happen exactly the same?

  1. Stop identifying with the limiting belief

Many of us subconsciously use our limiting beliefs to harshly define ourselves. “This happened, so that means I am this!” We almost use it as evidence for why we think and act the way we do, and then it becomes an excuse as to why we keep going down that path. In order to permanently remove your limiting beliefs, it’s essential that you stop identifying with the belief, because in doing so, you’re giving it power.

  1. Resist thinking to the conclusion

A limiting belief comes into our mind and we go “Oh yeah, I’ve been here before, last time this happened it lead to this!” It’s like seeing the beginning credits of a movie and fast forwarding to the last five minutes – because we already know what happens, right? This is exactly what we’re doing when we immediately draw conclusions to an event. What ever happened to keeping an open mind? Consider this – in any given situation: you don’t know, what you don’t know. Don’t assume because it shuts off possibilities and opportunities. Every conclusion you draw is a limiting belief, ensure you question it before believing it.

  1. Put assumptions to the test

This is your opportunity to prove to yourself that this limiting belief is not serving you. Step out of your limiting belief head-space for a moment, suspend your judgement about what this event will lead to and challenge yourself to see what the outcome is by doing something slightly different to break the pattern. Trust yourself. Realistically assess the outcome. An action must be taken to put your conclusions to the test.

Jordan Gray Consulting has some more practical ideas for removing limiting beliefs that I recommend you take a look at. I always think doing is habit forming and in order to break a habit we need to challenge it by doing something different – it’s similar to what Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

 

It’s what you do with your limiting belief that counts

Sometimes our limiting beliefs can be shifted to a positive. For example, one of my limiting beliefs following my abusive relationship was that no one could understand and therefore they just couldn’t help me. It was at this point that I stopped seeing counsellors and instead started learning how to cope through various courses and workshops so that I could help myself. Once I got those skills, I was able to help others – just like when a coach told me that it’s like the air mask in a plane, you need to help yourself before you can help others.

 

How can I be more conscious of limiting beliefs?

While growing awareness of your limiting beliefs is an important part of the solution, it’s not the entire solution – you need to put a little more conscious effort in than that. When you feel a limiting belief rise, you can stop and ask yourself: “If that wasn’t an issue or if it was resolved, what would I do?” That immediately helps you rise above your limiting belief for a moment to see what’s on the other side.

 

I still can’t shift my limiting beliefs

If you are still grappling with limiting beliefs in your life, I highly recommend you check out these empowering beliefs that you can use to replace your limiting beliefs by Tony Robbins. I recommend using these as affirmations each day to assist in driving you forward:

1. The past does not equal the future.

2. There is always a way if I’m committed.

3. There are no failures, only outcomes—as long as I learn something I’m succeeding.

4. If I can’t, I must; if I must, I can.

5. Everything happens for a reason and a purpose that serves me.

6. I find great joy in little things… a smile… a flower… a sunset.

7. I give more of myself to others than anyone expects.

8. I create my own reality and am responsible for what I create.

9. If I’m confused, I’m about to learn something.

10. Every day above ground is a great day.

 

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How do you challenge and/or remove your limiting beliefs?

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