Narcissistic Abuse Coaching
by Diane Linsley
In this article, I'm going to explain what narcissistic abuse coaching
entails. I'm also going to describe the stages of recovery so that you
will know what to expect and how to cope.
Do You Need Coaching or Therapy?
Many of the people who come to me for narcissistic abuse coaching
actually need therapy, not life coaching. Therapy is best for people who are in the early stages of the grieving process. Coaching is for people who have gotten past the initial stages and are ready to work on creating a better future. Here's how to know which one you need:
1. If you are still in contact with the narcissist, you are probably not a candidate for life coaching. In my experience, people who do not completely cut ties and go "no contact" with the narcissist rarely make progress in their emotional healing, even with the best life coaching.
2. If you suffer from depression or any other severe emotional symptoms, you probably need therapy, not life coaching. See the article called What is Life Coaching? to understand the difference.
3. If you have trouble focusing your mind, you may become frustrated with coaching because it involves lots of written and spoken work. You need to be able to learn the processes and do the homework. If you don't enjoy doing homework and working independently, life coaching is not for you.
4. Life coaching is not talk therapy. If you haven't yet worked through your past trauma, I recommend therapy. Life coaching is future-oriented. It's about setting goals and achieving them. This is hard to do when you are still grieving.
Narcissistic Abuse and Codependency
Each client I work with is a unique individual with a different background, skills, personality, etc. But there are some commonalities. The most common problem is codependency. Codependency comes from core beliefs that were developed in childhood. These beliefs are about how you think you should interact with other people in order to be loved. A good book for identifying these beliefs is Who's Pulling Your Strings? by Harriet Braiker.
There are processes that I use in coaching to help a client uncover their core beliefs. Unfortunately, the first thing that most people do when they discover a negative belief is beat themselves up. Some clients feel so bad that they become resistant to doing processes in the future, claiming that processes don't work for them. They may sink back into denial or blaming others for their problems.
It takes a lot of courage to face the truth that we are responsible for what we attract. Life coaching is based on Law of Attraction. The coaching processes work, but you have to be in a place where you can face the truth, take responsibility, and do the work required to change your life.
Why We Allowed Narcissistic Abuse
When I was a child, I was literally helpless to do anything about my situation. I realized at a young age that I was being mistreated, but there was no escape. Thinking about the situation made me feel so depressed that I wanted to die. So I stopped thinking. I denied what was happening because it was the only way I could survive.
Depression is often referred to by researchers as "learned helplessness." The longer a person stays in this state, the harder it is to adopt new ways of thinking and acting.
I thought that I had escaped when I moved away from home - until I found myself in a marriage that mirrored my childhood. I was shocked and upset at first. But I soon noticed that every time I thought about my situation, I felt bad. So I stopped thinking. I coped by giving up my hopes and dreams and letting my husband have his way in everything. Basically, I betrayed myself.
Nineteen years later, I realized that I was suffering from depression. I needed help, but the only place to go was to the internet, since I was isolated and confined to my home by my husband's rules. I found Holosync meditation and Bill Harris's online course, and I started learning how to use my brain.
After the first three months, I noticed something different. I had stopped acting like a "good wife." I began to question my husband's behavior and even to fight with him. I felt terribly guilty at first, but it just kept happening. As I developed more awareness, I became more assertive.
If this had been a normal marriage, my newfound assertiveness might have helped to create a healthier relationship. But that's not what happens with narcissists. After two years of fighting, I gave up again. But this time I did it with more awareness. I simply decided to ignore the marriage and pursue my own goals for personal growth. I worked on my values hierarchy and practiced living true to my highest values. Relationship was put at the bottom of my list because it was obviously a waste of time. I focused all of my energy on Personal Growth, which was my top value. I read over 300 self-help books during this period. I later learned that this was the best thing I could have done. In this video, Lisa A. Romano explains how learning new things helps to repair the brain damage from narcissistic abuse. Eventually, I put myself into therapy. Of course, this was against my husband's rules, and I was finally forced to choose between staying married or being true to myself. I changed my values hierarchy to include Freedom as a top value. I realized that I could not have Personal Growth without Freedom.
I tell this story to demonstrate a common reason why people stay in abusive relationships. First, they value the relationship more than freedom or personal growth - even if the relationship is damaging. Second, they turn off their thinking mind and repress their emotions in order to avoid pain and the difficulty of having to make changes in their life. When you are able to think clearly, staying in an abusive relationship eventually becomes impossible.
Recovering the Thinking Mind
During my coach training, I learned how to use Law of Attraction processes to navigate emotions and think of solutions. I teach these processes to my clients. Unfortunately, some clients are resistant to doing the processes. Why?
It comes back to the habit of blocking out thoughts and feelings in order to survive abuse. When thoughts and feelings come back, one of the biggest problems is fear. When I realized that I needed to get divorced, I quickly went from being a seemingly peaceful person (living in denial) to being gripped with intense fear. I found myself crashing over and over at the bottom of the emotional scale.
The emotional scale is a tool that we use in Law of Attraction coaching. When you learn how to navigate your emotions, you become empowered. You stop feeling like you are out of control and drowning in emotions, and you learn how to shift freely between different emotions. You actually learn how to choose your emotions!
Without awareness, emotions just happen to you, and you have no choice. You assume that something outside of you is making you unhappy, which is scary because you can't control other people.
Without emotional training, people go on blaming others and ranting about what the narcissist did to them. Then they act helpless and resist doing the processes that could help them create a better future. Law of Attraction processes work. But you need to be able to think in order to do them.
When you start thinking again, one of the thoughts that may come up is, "Why did I put up with abuse for so long?" It's very painful to accept responsibility for messing up your life. But you can't create a better future until you accept where you are and forgive yourself for the past. You need to learn how to navigate feelings of guilt, sadness and anger. These are normal emotions that come up during the grieving process - once you get past denial.
Self-esteem increases as we move forward one step at a time, noting our progress and congratulating ourselves for making improvement. Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, says that self-esteem comes from what we do. Any positive action that we take to move towards our goals increases self-esteem. Living in fear, denial and blame undermines self-esteem.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
I encourage clients to adopt an attitude of curiosity about their own healing process. I can't fix anyone, and it's not my job to do so. My job as a life coach is to help you find your own power and confidence. I know that the processes work for those who practice them. I assign homework each week because I find that clients who do their homework progress much faster.
I appreciate clients who are humble enough to learn new things and confident enough to do much of the work on their own, rather than expecting me to fix them. These attitudes and behaviors contribute to high self-esteem and rapid recovery.
As a life coach, I use many different processes to help
people with their personal growth. Click here if you are
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