The importance of learning how to manage the negative emotions victims of narcissistic abuse often feel when going no contact with the narcissist in their lives is immeasurable. The healing journey is a long and bumpy road, so, failing to manage the negative emotions that come from going no contact could cause survivors of narcissistic abuse to fall back into the abuse cycle for the foreseeable future the moment things begin to get hard.
The most effective way you manage the negative emotions you’re feeling because you’ve gone no contact with the narcissist in your life is to practice writing in a journal to protect your version of reality from being manipulated, educate yourself on narcissistic abuse and to practice radical acceptance.
By no means is this a one-size-fits-all method for victims of narcissistic abuse. However, after doing a survey among 300 survivors of narcissistic abuse to uncover the most common negative emotions they felt after going no contact with the abuser in their life, we found this to be the best method due to the fact that the most common emotions reported were the hope that the narcissist had changed, a need for closure, self-doubt/self-blame and fear.
How Does Journaling Help With the Self-Doubt and Self-Blame Created By Narcissistic Abuse?
One of the most common phases victims of narcissistic abuse go through is something we call the Devastation Phase. This phase comes from the victim’s realization that the months, years, even decades that they were fiercely trauma bonded to the narcissist in their life was all a lie.
Unfortunately, people with narcissistic personalities are so skilled at using manipulative tactics designed to cause their victim’s to question their own sanity which enables the narcissist to blame-shift with ease. The Devastation Phase often causes the victim of the narcissistic abuse to be plagued with so much self-doubt/self-blame that they fall into a limbo state of harmful ruminating tendencies.
Journaling, when combined with the other techniques we’ll cover later on in this article, can dismantle the Devastation Phase, enabling the victim to do the work needed to redefine themselves.
It’s not an easy task but keeping a journal of all of the times that you can remember the narcissist in your life being physically/emotionally abusive, breaking the boundaries you’ve set, or being abusive towards others can force you to hold onto your version of reality, which is one of the most important aspect of healing from narcissistic abuse.
There’s very important information that you should read in our article What Should You Expect When Going No Contact With a Narcissist but as a general rule you should expect them to come at you with everything they have.
You should expect the gaslighting, usage of flying monkeys, stalking, narcissistic rage, smear campaigns, financial abuse, and many other abusive behavior patterns to be at an all time high. From a narcissistic perspective, going no contact is the equivalent of withholding an inhaler from someone having an asthma attack.
When someone has an asthma attack they need the medicine in their inhaler to help open their airways to let more air move in and out of their lungs which helps them breathe more easily.
Well, going no contact with a narcissist has the exact same dynamic. When someone goes no contact with a narcissist they take away all of the power, control and narcissistic supply that the narcissist was using to keep their falsified identity intact.
So, they should expect the narcissist to come at them with every narcissistic behavior imaginable in a desperate last ditch attempt to protect their own version of reality.
Journaling is a fantastic technique that victims of narcissistic abuse can use to remind themselves of how abusive the narcissist in their life is. Using a journal is extra reassurance that victims of narcissistic abuse need to combat the self-doubt/self-blame they may feel while going no contact with their abuser.
Learning About Narcissistic Abuse Will Help You Manage the Fear and the Desire For Closure That Comes From Going No Contact
When a healthy relationship ends, both parties are able to walk away from the relationship as a better version of themselves. It might not happen right away, falling outs are sad, but eventually each person involved in the relationship will use the situation to better themselves. The reason being that the relationship was built off of respect, mutuality and empathy.
When a narcissistic relationship ends, it is arguably just as traumatizing as the relationship itself. Of course, the narcissist will be trying to make the victim as miserable as possible, but that isn’t the main reason ending narcissistic relationships are so traumatizing.
The main reason that escaping the narcissistic abuse cycle is so traumatizing is because without the proper information, there’s no explanation. Narcissistic abuse is designed to hijack the identity of the victim. The victim leaves the relationship broken, traumatized and questioning themselves.
Without a solid foundation of knowledge about narcissistic abuse, victims of narcissistic abuse often make the mistake of searching for closure from the narcissist, which is impossible. One of the biggest reasons that this is true is because closure requires a lot of self-awareness, honesty, respect, self-reflection and empathy from both parties.
Meaning that for there to be true closure in a narcissistic relationship, the narcissist would have to acknowledge that they’ve been living behind a falsified identity their entire lives. They would have to acknowledge that they are some of the most insecure, vulnerable and self-loathing individuals on the planet.
While there are a handful of self-identified narcissists who appear to be aware of the damage they’ve caused, the likelihood of a narcissist using enough of the healthy behavior patterns I listed above to bring closure to the relationship is mind bogglingly low.
It is terrifying to let go of a narcissistic relationship because it requires the victim to wake up every single day and walk into the unknown. They don’t know how the narcissist is going to respond and they don’t know what steps they need to take next to begin to heal.
It is for this reason that educating themselves on the complexity of narcissistic abuse is the best way to deal with the fear and need for closure that comes from going no contact with a narcissist.
Practicing Radical Acceptance Will Help You Let Go of the Wish For Things to Be Different
In a narcissistic relationship radical acceptance is when the victim stops themselves from fighting the reality that the narcissist won’t change, they stop responding with impulsive or destructive behaviors when things aren’t going the way they want them to, and they let go of bitterness that may be keeping them trapped in a cycle of abuse.
It is a really difficult technique to use because at one point the victim may have felt that the narcissist in their life was their soulmate, best friend, friendly co-worker or beloved family member. To stop fighting the reality that the narcissist isn’t going to change their behavior requires the victim to let go of their identity.
What does that mean?
This is where educating yourself on narcissistic abuse and journaling gets really important. While it is never the victim’s fault, they are actually the biggest enablers of narcissistic abuse. What keeps most victims of narcissistic abuse trauma bonded to their abuser is something called cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a theory that suggests that when someone experiences an inconsistency among the information they have, the behaviors they’re experiencing and the beliefs they have, it causes a lot of psychological tension. To ease the tension the individual will change one or more of the elements that are causing the inconsistencies to make everything consistent.
For example, imagine that Mike was starting a brand new diet. Summer is just around the corner and he wants to get into shape so he can enjoy himself at the beach. He’s seen some progress because he is sticking to his diet but one night he develops a craving for his favorite junk food, glazed donuts with chocolate shavings.
Now he has a hard choice to make, does he stick to his diet or does he find some way to justify eating one donut? If cognitive dissonance was present he would justify eating one donut.
The problem is that the more times he uses cognitive dissonance to rationalize a bad decision, the more frequently it happens. Before you know it Mike has completely given up on his diet and has fallen back into unhealthy habits.
This type of behavior happens all the time in narcissistic relationships. The victim is unable to let go of the perfect relationship they envisioned with the narcissist so they use cognitive dissonance to normalize, rationalize and justify the abuse.
It is where the “they stop responding with impulsive or destructive behaviors when things aren’t going the way they want them to” aspect of radical acceptance comes into play. Even though narcissistic abuse is never the victim’s fault, radical acceptance is about the victim acknowledging the destructive behavior patterns they’re displaying just as much as it is about the victim letting go of the wish for things to be different.
There’s no doubt about it, radical acceptance is an essential technique one needs to master if they are to truly escape the narcissistic abuse cycle. However, it isn’t always possible to use it. Victims of narcissistic abuse often have to practice radical acceptance on smaller elements of the relationship for months, sometimes even years, before they’re able to use radical acceptance on the narcissist in their lives.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
The negative emotions one feels from going no contact with the narcissist in their lives is completely normal and shouldn’t be too frightening. At the end of the day, the success of the no contact method comes down to the individual’s ability to make the hard, but essential, decisions.
As with nearly every single aspect of narcissistic abuse, there are some hidden aspects of no contact that could destroy the victim’s ability to break free from the narcissistic abuse cycle once and for all so be sure to check out our article When Should You Go No Contact With a Narcissist to learn more about them.
Remember, healing is a long journey, there’s nothing wrong with taking it one step at a time.
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Vickie Howard; (Gas)lighting Their Way to Coercion and Violation in Narcissistic Abuse: An Autoethnographic Exploration. Journal of Autoethnography 1 January 2022; 3 (1): 84–102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/joae.2022.3.1.84