When someone’s psyche becomes consumed with excessive and intrusive thoughts about negative experiences and feelings, it is called rumination. For those who have suffered narcissistic abuse, rumination is a very common and dangerous part of their healing journey. If victims and survivors don’t take the time to learn how to stop ruminating after narcissistic abuse, they’ll remain trauma bonded to the narcissist in their lives indefinitely. 

To stop ruminating after narcissistic abuse one must learn the specific aspects of the narcissistic abuse cycle that causes rumination. When victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse understand the reason they’re ruminating in the first place, they can use journaling to dismantle the manipulative structure that narcissistic abuse creates

The overarching cause of rumination after narcissistic abuse is confusion because of how unbelievable narcissistic abuse is. Without a comprehensive understanding of the narcissistic abuse they experienced, victims and survivors are extremely vulnerable to rumination. 

There are so many horrifying consequences for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse who are unable to stop ruminating so this article serves as a complete guide through the origin of rumination for those who need guidance. 

Understand Narcissistic Lying and Gaslighting

The manipulative structure that narcissistic behavior patterns create is designed to force the victim of narcissistic abuse to justify, rationalize, and ultimately normalize their abuser’s behavior on a daily basis.

This manipulative structure is so intense that victims of narcissistic abuse are often left unable to conceptualize their own version of reality. As a result, the narcissist’s convoluted, insecure, emotionally unstable, and isolated reality becomes the victim’s reality as well. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse being forced to accept his abuser's reality.

What does this have to do with rumination? 

When victims of narcissistic abuse begin to recognize the severity of the situation they’re in and make moves to escape the narcissistic abuse cycle, it feels as if their world has been viciously flipped upside down because the narcissist’s reality they’ve been forced to accept and believe is beginning to deteriorate.

This is where the confusion that leads to rumination originates from. After months, years, or even decades of narcissistic abuse, it takes a lot of work for victims of narcissistic abuse to regain enough control over their identity to be able to accurately conceptualize their own version of reality.

This period that starts the moment that the victim of narcissistic abuse escapes the narcissistic environment and ends when they regain control of their identity is a very dangerous period, especially for those who have to go through it alone.

However, having a comprehensive grasp on narcissistic lying and gaslighting will enable victims of narcissistic abuse to successfully use journaling to guide them through the rumination phase and all of the confusion that accompanies it.

Narcissistic Lying

Everyone on planet earth lies from time to time. It is a normal behavior that is woven into the fabric of humanity. There are white lies that people tell to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. There are lies by omission where someone simply leaves part of the story out. There are lies that are exaggerated, embellished, or designed to gain something. There are lies for the sake of expediency, meaning that someone tells a lie because it’s easier/more believable than the truth. 

Then there are narcissistic lies that are a whole other ball game. You see, narcissistic lies are designed to manipulate, exploit, and dominate others. A narcissist’s arrogance, lack of empathy, and sense of entitlement makes lying a very common behavior for them to take part in. 

What’s often underestimated when it comes to narcissistic lying is a narcissist’s need for their lies to be true. Because of an unhealthy/abusive upbringing, narcissists spend their entire lives hiding their vulnerabilities and insecurities behind a falsified identity because they believe that these core aspects of their identity will make others reject and/or abandon them. 

There’s a lot more that goes into the creation of a narcissist that you can find in our article How Are Narcissists Made but the most important information you need to know to understand how important lying is to a narcissist’s well-being is that this unhealthy/abusive upbringing makes narcissists so emotionally immature that they’re incapable of regulating their own emotions. 

This is a huge deal for two reasons. 

First, narcissists are some of the most self-loathing individuals on the planet which means they have A LOT of negative emotions that they suppress within their falsified identity. 

Second, a narcissist builds their falsified identity off of their own perception of what society values. However, their emotional immaturity makes them incapable of looking past society’s superficial exterior so they end up building their identity and self-esteem of the most superficial, trivial, and materialistic aspects of life. 

The combination of those two points that we just made causes narcissists to have an incredibly fragile ego. The problem here is that anytime a narcissist experiences something that damages their ego, also known as narcissistic injuries, the fragility of their ego causes the “damage” to punch crater sized holes in their falsified identity, allowing all of the suppressed negative emotions it was holding back to flood their psyche. 

negative emotions that narcissistic have

They are not emotionally equipped to handle the tremendous amount of shame, fear, and self-hate that comes from their suppressed negative emotions so they’ve developed other methods to regulate their emotions. 

These methods include but aren’t limited to narcissistic rage, projection, scapegoating, gaslighting, and narcissistic lying. Meaning that narcissistic lying is more of an act of survival because they’re trying to support their falsified identity than it is a form of manipulation. 

Gaslighting

When a narcissist doubts, denies, and/or manipulates their victim’s reality so frequently that the victim begins to question their own sanity it is called gaslighting. The versatility of gaslighting is what makes it the most dominant form of manipulation in the narcissistic realm. It can manifest in nearly every single narcissistic behavior pattern imaginable. 

As if that wasn’t scary enough, there are 6 different types of gaslighting as well. In our article 6 Powerful Examples of Gaslighting In Narcissistic Relationships we go into each one in more depth but the important information that readers need to know to understand the correlation gaslighting has with rumination is why gaslighting works.

By and large, gaslighting works because narcissistic abuse is a hidden form of abuse. What we mean by this is that a large portion of society is unaware of this narcissistic phenomenon. We’re certainly becoming more and more aware but we still have a long way to go. 

Our blindness to this form of abuse becomes a huge problem once we cross paths with a narcissist. You see, narcissists know that they can’t be abusive straight away. It’s why manipulative behaviors like love bombing and mirroring exist. 

They do a really good job at placing their victim up on an emotional pedestal by portraying themselves as someone who can fill the void, whatever that may be, in their victim’s life.

The moment they’ve manipulated their victim into letting their guard down and have attached their strings of manipulation to them, they kick the pedestal right out from underneath them, leaving them hanging like an emotional puppet. 

a victim of narcissistic abuse being controlled like a puppet.

One of two things happens at this point.

First, and very unlikely to happen, the victim is able to accept the fact that this person they thought was the perfect partner, friend, co-worker, or family member is actually an incredibly abusive human being and they leave the relationship immediately. Second, cognitive dissonance sets in and the victim justifies, rationalizes, and normalizes the abuse for months, years, and sometimes even decades. 

What is cognitive dissonance? 

It’s a theory that suggests when we experience an inconsistency among our beliefs, knowledge, and behavior it causes a lot of psychological tension. To ease this tension we will change one or more of the elements that are causing the inconsistency to make everything consistent. 

In narcissistic relationships, this manifests in the justification, rationalization, and ultimately normalization of abusive behavior. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse gaslighting themselves into the narcissistic abuse cycle

What does this have to do with gaslighting? 

The moment victims of narcissistic abuse justify, rationalize, and ultimately normalize abusive behavior, their version of reality is decimated and replaced by the narcissist’s version of reality. What ends up happening is that the victim begins to rebuild their identity around the gaslighting comments, they lose sight of their core values, and they become more isolated from friends and family.

Under these circumstances, accepting gaslighting in all of its forms becomes habitual and the longer the narcissistic relationship goes on, the further from reality the victim drifts. Much like narcissistic lying, gaslighting is essential to a narcissist’s emotional stability for two reasons.

First, when a narcissist is able to gaslight their victim into questioning their sanity and relying on the narcissist to conceptualize a reality for them, they’re able to project all of their suppressed negative emotions onto their victim. In a way, the victim becomes a repository for all of the narcissist’s suppressed negative emotions. 

Second, successfully gaslighting their victim offers the narcissist a lot of reassurance to maintain their own falsified identity. Remember, narcissists are constantly working to suppress their negative emotions. They need reassurance, validation, and admiration, also known as narcissistic supply, to keep these negative emotions suppressed. So, the reassurance gaslighting gives the narcissist is crucial for their well-being.

How Can Journaling Stop Rumination After Narcissistic Abuse?

Grasping a comprehensive understanding of gaslighting and narcissistic lying is a really important phase of the healing journey. The reason being that understanding the dependence that a narcissist has on these two forms of manipulation is going to help cut out a lot of the self-doubt, self-blame, and trust issues one may have with themselves that keeps rumination alive. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse attempting to heal without this knowledge may ruminate about what they could have done differently, if they made the right decision, if they can ever trust themselves again, why the narcissist did what they did, wondering if they’ll ever get closure and so on. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse attempting to heal with this knowledge may ruminate in the same way from time to time, nobody is perfect, but the knowledge will put them in a position from which they can understand that answers, closure, justice, and peace comes from within, not from the narcissist. 

a victim of narcissistic abuse meditating.

With that being said, the best way to reach this level of awareness is to combine the knowledge you learn with journaling about the narcissistic abuse you’ve experienced. 

Journaling is a fantastic way for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse can hold onto their reality. When someone keeps a detailed log of all of the lies, gaslighting, broken boundaries, physical/emotional abuse, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and concerns, they’re providing themselves with a source of validation when they can’t validate themselves. 

Every victim and survivor is going to have days when it doesn’t matter how hard they work in therapy, how far along the healing journey they’ve come, or how happy they are with their new life, they’re just going to feel down and be in their own thoughts. 

It is in these moments of self-doubt, self-blame, guilt, anxiety, shame, and/or confusion that having a tangible representation of the abuse they experienced is going to be so helpful. It doesn’t matter how many flying monkeys, narcissist enablers, or negative thoughts are swirling around their head, having a journal is going to guide them through the darkness. 

The answers, closure, justice, and peace of mind that victims and survivors need comes from within. Journaling teaches victims and survivors to be comfortable with validating their own reality without the help of others.

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Howard, Vickie. “Recognising narcissistic abuse and the implications for mental health nursing practice.” Issues in mental health nursing (2019).