One of the most important parts of healing from narcissistic abuse is taking responsibility for your own self-development and working hard to grow as a person.

10 Ways to Grow as a Person After Experiencing Narcissistic Abuse

  1. Identify your core values.
  2. Practice daily gratitude.
  3. Develop a healthier lifestyle.
  4. Set goals for yourself.
  5. Embrace setbacks and mistakes.
  6. Explore new activities.
  7. Set healthy boundaries.
  8. Learn how to forgive yourself.
  9. Build healthy relationships.
  10. Practice mindfulness.

In this article we are going to guide you through each one of those steps so you can grow as a person heal from narcissistic abuse.

Identify Your Core Values

Core values are personal ethics or ideals that guide you when making decisions, building relationships and solving problems.

After experiencing narcissistic abuse, it is very common to feel disconnected with your core values because of all the abuse and manipulation that you endured.

For example, narcissistic abuse destroys your self-esteem, and subsequently, the trust that you have for yourself.

A woman struggling to trust herself

When you feel like you can’t trust yourself, you are naturally going to feel like you can’t trust your core values either.

When you feel like you can’t trust your core values, over time, they will fade from your memory.

It is impossible to grow as a person after experiencing narcissistic abuse if you don’t know what your core values are.

Core values are like a guiding compass, they help you live with direction and purpose.

A man holding an emotional compass.

When you have a clear understanding of your core values, you are in a much better position to grow as a person.

If you are ready to start reconnecting with your core values, click here to download our free guide that teaches you how in four simple steps.

Practice Daily Gratitude

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

To practice daily gratitude, you must create a gratitude list.

A gratitude list is a compilation of things that you feel grateful for.

A woman journaling.

After experiencing narcissistic abuse for months, years, or even decades, having a gratitude list is essential for personal growth.

This is because when you practice daily gratitude, it helps you remind yourself to look at the positive side of things.

Over time, practicing daily gratitude will give you a new perspective, help you reduce stress, give you hope, and serve as a constant reminder that you are healing.

This is important because one of the toughest adversaries that you will come across on your healing journey is rumination.

Rumination is defined as engaging in a repetitive negative thought process that loops continuously in the mind without end or completion.

A man ruminating.

If left unchecked, rumination can keep you psychologically trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle.

As you can imagine, being psychologically trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle will stunt your personal growth.

When creating your gratitude list, you are going to want to focus on things that you are grateful for, people that you are grateful for, and highlights of your day.

Take a look at my gratitude list for today (see below).

  1. I am grateful for my brother because he called me today and made me laugh.
  2. I am grateful for my sister because she sends me funny messages.
  3. I am grateful for my wife because she helps me be the best that I can be.
  4. I am grateful for my mom because of how honest she is with me.
  5. I am grateful for my dad because he has taught me so many life lessons.

Develop a Healthier Lifestyle

If you are going to grow as a person after experiencing narcissistic abuse, you have to develop a positive self-perception.

Self-perception is the view we have about ourselves, our characteristics, and the judgments we make about the traits we have.

A woman looking at herself in the mirror.

Unfortunately, it is very common for survivors of narcissistic abuse to have a negative self-perception.

This is because narcissists use the people that they abuse as repositories for their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

For example, narcissists struggle with feelings of worthlessness.

They can’t manage this painful feeling on their own because they have such low emotional intelligence.

A narcissist with many painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Instead, they project it onto the people that they abuse by saying things like, “You can’t leave me, you are nothing without me. Nobody will ever love you but me.”

Suggested Reading:

Our article Why Do Narcissists Use Projection? has all the information that you need to grasp a better understanding of the relationship that narcissists have with projection.

Over time, the people that narcissists abuse will likely start believing their projections, and subsequently, develop a negative self-perception.

After experiencing narcissistic abuse, one of the biggest reasons people have a hard time developing a positive self-perception is because they have an unhealthy lifestyle.

A lazy man sitting on the couch.

When you have an unhealthy lifestyle, you can’t improve your self-esteem, you can’t develop a positive self-perception, and when combined, you can’t grow as a person.

Developing a healthier lifestyle is one of the best ways that you can grow as a person after experiencing narcissistic abuse.

8 Things That You Can Start Doing Today to Develop a Healthier Lifestyle

  1. Improve your eating habits.
  2. Get more exercise.
  3. Read more.
  4. Do something that you enjoy.
  5. Build healthier relationships.
  6. Set reasonable goals for yourself.
  7. Improve your sleeping schedule.
  8. Meditate.

Set Goals for Yourself

In order to grow as a person after experiencing narcissistic abuse you have to challenge yourself.

You have to challenge yourself because it is going to help you feel comfortable making yourself a priority in your life.

A woman trying to set goals for herself.

You see, one of the most abusive things that narcissists do is force the people that they abuse to prioritize the narcissist’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs over their own.

Over time, this dynamic teaches the person being abused that the only way that they can be “loved” or “acknowledged” is by catering to the needs of others.

It is impossible to grow as a person if you don’t respect or value your thoughts, feelings, emotions, or needs.

To change this, you have to start making yourself a priority.

Now, after being abused for so long, this can feel really uncomfortable to do.

But it is important that you know that making yourself a priority doesn’t mean that you are selfish.

A teacher helping us learn that we can make ourself a priority in our lives.

We all have a right to prioritize our thoughts, feelings, emotions, or needs over others.

For example, imagine that you have had a really long week at work, you want to spend the weekend by yourself to recharge, but your friend wants you to come to a party.

If you didn’t feel comfortable putting yourself first, you might say “yes” to the party.

But since you understand that you have a right to make yourself a priority in your life, you say “no” to the party even though your friend really wants you to go.

Now, one of the best ways that you can start growing as a person and feeling comfortable prioritizing yourself is by setting goals.

When you set a goal for yourself and work towards it every single day, that is growth.

A woman setting goals for herself and vlogging about them.

Even if you don’t achieve the goal, you are still growing as a person because you are trying to improve yourself on a daily basis.

Growing after narcissistic abuse is all about the effort you put in.

Setting reasonable goals for yourself (i.e. I am going to develop a healthier lifestyle) is one of the best ways that you can grow as a person.

Embrace Setbacks and Mistakes

When you have a narcissist in your life, it is very common to feel like you have to constantly walk on eggshells around them to avoid their rage.

Their rage, also known as narcissistic rage, is an unpredictable, unjustifiable, and explosive response that they have to narcissistic injuries.

A narcissistic injury is essentially an ego injury. Since narcissists have such fragile egos, they experience narcissistic injuries on a daily basis.

For example, if you raised your voice or spoke over a narcissist in an argument, this could trigger their feelings of being weak and cause a narcissistic injury.

A narcissist feeling worthless because someone spoke over her.

As a result, they could fly into a rage that could manifest in the form of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

Living in an environment where you have to be careful about everything that you say or do can manipulate you into believing that you can’t make a mistake or have any setbacks.

Growth is a game of trial and error.

When you are attempting to grow after narcissistic abuse, you have to challenge yourself.

Sometimes you will succeed and sometimes you will fail.

A man talking about successes and failures.

If you are afraid of making a mistake or having a setback, you won’t be able to challenge yourself enough to grow.

After experiencing narcissistic abuse, you have to find ways to remind yourself that it is okay to make a mistake, it is okay to have a setback, it is called being a human being and it is all a part of growth.

A Quote From One of Our Community Members

One of my favorite ways to remind myself of things about healing is to write them down on a piece of paper and keep it in my pocket all day. When I am in a tough situation where I am feeling anxious, I take out that piece of paper to remind myself that it is okay to be imperfect. It has helped my healing process so much. – Maggie

Explore New Activities

One of the most important elements of personal growth after narcissistic abuse is having a clear understanding of who you are as a person.

When you have a clear understanding of who you are as a person, it is going to be much easier to identify the areas that you need to grow in.

Now, after experiencing narcissistic abuse, it is common to feel like you have no idea who you are.

A woman looking in the mirror feeling lost.

This is because it has been months, years, or even decades since your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs have been a priority in your life.

One of the ways that you can overcome this and start growing as a person is by exploring new activities.

For example, a goal that you could set for yourself could be to participate in a new activity once a day, week, or month, whatever works for you.

When you stay committed to participating in a new activity on a regular basis, it is going to be much easier to grasp a clear understanding of who you are.

A woman using journaling to learn more about herself.

Over time, having this clear understanding of yourself is going to help you find new ways that you can challenge yourself, and subsequently, grow as a person.

Set Healthy Boundaries

After being in a narcissistic environment for so long, it is very common for healthy boundaries to feel like a foreign concept.

The term “boundaries” refers to limits that you can set on what you will accept of another person’s words or actions. 

In their simplest forms, boundaries are supposed to be easy to set and maintain because they are a verbal set of rules that you can set with someone else (see below)

3 simple boundaries.

In their most complex form, boundaries can be more difficult to set and maintain because they are a nonverbal set of rules that are often tailored to who you are as a person.

3 complex boundaries.

In a healthy relationship, you are given the time, respect, support, validation, and reassurance that you need to feel comfortable setting boundaries in the relationship. 

In abusive relationships, boundaries, both simple and complex, are extremely difficult to set and maintain because abusers don’t care about your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs.

After experiencing narcissistic abuse, you have to set healthy boundaries with both yourself and others if you want to grow as a person.

Someone learning how to set boundaries.

If you don’t, you will be giving the abusive/toxic people in your life an opportunity to destroy your progress.

If you want to learn how to set healthy boundaries so you can start growing as a person, click here to download our free guide to setting boundaries that we created with Andre O’Donnell, M.A, LMHC, a Licensed Psychotherapist.

Learn How to Forgive Yourself

One of the ways that narcissists prevent you from being able to see that their behavior is abusive is by manipulating you into taking the blame for their actions.

Because of this, it is very common for survivors of narcissistic abuse to blame themselves and be overly self-critical about the abuse that they experienced.

They will spend a significant amount of time ruminating about what they should have done, what they could have done, or what they would have done if things were different.

A woman trying to forgive herself.

This dynamic is the reason that many survivors of narcissistic abuse have a hard time growing as a person.

You see, when you blame yourself for the abuse, it is very difficult to develop a positive self-perception (i.e. “How could I be so stupid.”).

When you don’t have a positive self-perception, you likely have low self-esteem.

When you have low self-esteem, it is very common to feel like you don’t deserve to be happy, to move forward with your life, and to become the best version of yourself.

Having this belief stops you from being able to grow as a person after experiencing narcissistic abuse.

To overcome this, you must forgive yourself.

A man trying to forgive himself.

The easiest way to start forgiving yourself is to start learning about narcissistic abuse.

When you grasp a comprehensive understanding of the abuse and manipulation that you experienced, it is going to become clear that it was not your fault.

You are going to be able to see that they use manipulation tactics such as gaslighting, blame shifting, rage, etc., to bully you into a state of self-blame.

Knowledge is going to set you free, allow you to forgive yourself, and support your personal growth.

Build Healthy Relationships

The healing journey one must take after experiencing narcissistic abuse is a long and difficult process.

You are going to have days where you feel really good, and you are going to have days where you feel really bad.

Now, if you want to have a successful healing journey, you have to surround yourself with positive people.

A healthy group of friends.

You see, the narcissist doesn’t want you to heal because they feel entitled to remaining in power and control of you for as long as they see fit.

They don’t care about your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, they only view you as a source of narcissistic supply.

To stop you from healing, they cut you off from your lines of support and fill your surrounding environment with flying monkeys and narcissist enablers.

A flying monkey is someone who the narcissist manipulates into helping them abuse others.

A narcissist recruiting a flying monkey.

A narcissist enabler is a person who gaslights those experiencing narcissistic abuse because they themselves don’t understand narcissistic abuse.

If you want to grow and heal after experiencing narcissistic abuse, you must remove these people from your life and replace them with people who truly care for you and respect you.

Why?

When you have a bad day during your healing journey, the people who truly care for you, respect you, and want to see the best version of you, are going to help you through it.

A supportive friend helping someone heal.

The flying monkeys and narcissist enablers are going to do everything in their power to manipulate you into going back to the narcissist when you have a bad day on your healing journey.

A narcissist enabler invalidating someone.

When you surround yourself with positive and healthy people, you are going to have the support that you need to continue to grow after narcissistic abuse, even on your hardest days.

Suggested Reading:

You can click here to download our free guide to the three types of flying monkeys and you can click here to download our free guide to the three types of narcissist enablers.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

The reason that mindfulness is such an important element of personal growth after experiencing narcissistic abuse is because of the information that it gives you.

You see, when you are practicing mindfulness, you are much more aware of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs.

A woman meditating.

This level of awareness gives you the information and guidance that you need to reconnect with your core values, forgive yourself, embrace setbacks and mistakes, set healthy boundaries, and build healthier relationships.

Practicing mindfulness is one of the most important things that you have to do if you want to grow as a person after experiencing narcissistic abuse.

If you would like help learning how to practice mindfulness, click here for our free guide that will teach you how to get started.

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References:

9 Small But Significant Ways to Grow as a Person

How to Practice Gratitude