Tips on setting boundaries

A useful video for those of you who have trouble saying ‘No’ to others and have a general difficulty in setting boundaries.For those of you who had an abusive childhood, boundaries would have been invaded very often and you wouldn’t have been able to defend yourself. Now that you are an adult you ‘CAN’ protect yourself and practice self-care whenever you need to. It doesn’t matter if it is a family member, partner or best friend. Setting boundaries is essential for good psychological well being!

Much Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Narcissistic abuse survivors

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As some of you already know, I have great insight into narcissistic abuse, after a tumultuous life with 2 narcissistic parents, many narcissistic ex-partners and narcissistic ex friends. Before my father discarded my mother in 2000 and filed for divorce, he had already met his second narcissistic wife. He had already lined her up to fill his emptiness and later had a child with her. The cycle of abuse unfortunately continued and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.He has been married to her for 16 years now and it has been the most destructive, soul destroying relationship I have ever witnessed.

My histrionic/covert narcissistic mother, on the other hand, luckily didn’t re-marry. She just had 2 relationships which didn’t work out.She has remained irritable, negative and critical. She still blames everything & everyone else for her misery and struggles to cope with her own depression.

My childhood in general was always hot & cold.One minute things were relatively normal and my parents would be kind & thoughtful and the next they would be extremely hurtful & abusive. This almost made coping with the abuse harder, as the kind moments would give me hope as a child and then when the abusive moments would come around, I was utterly devastated and confused. I then learnt that whenever my parents were kind, there were always strings attached to this kindness. I was told many times as a child ‘After everything I have done for you, this is how you treat me?’. I felt guilty and ashamed. I felt worthless and no good.

The one thing I know for certain is that for those of you who have also been affected by narcissistic abuse, you have developed a deep sense of self-awareness, a sense of gratefulness for the tiny moments of kindness that others have shown you and a high level of empathy from a young age. Most of you sought out therapy and have always helped and be-friended the shy or needy. Yes you have made many mistakes along the way, by getting involved with people who resembled your family of origin, however this is a logical result of growing up in an abusive or neglectful home.

The thing that helped me the most in my recovery was forgiving myself for struggling so much in my life. Self-compassion is the best gift you can give yourself as an abuse survivor.Recovering from narcissistic abuse means that you have to dig deep to reveal the many layers of trauma. You have to acknowledge that it isn’t going to be easy to go through all the painful realisations of your past but that is extremely important to work through each layer and grieve your losses. Trusting that others won’t hurt you is a huge struggle for those who have been abused. If your primary caregivers let you down so badly, why on earth would you trust complete strangers?

The most important thing to remember is that there is no time frame on healing and that everyone copes and heals differently.

My advice will always be to ask yourself ‘What do I need’? ‘What am I scared of’? ‘How can I look after myself’?

For those of you who can relate and understand, just remind yourselves daily that you survived an unfair childhood and that from now on you can give yourself the unconditional love your parents weren’t able to give you. In every low moment, remind yourself that you are brave and resilient.

Now in my 30’s I have already been through the darkest moments of despair and have healed extensively through many years of trauma therapy. I am now armed with knowledge,coping skills and the most important thing: the knowledge that healing is possible and that you ARE able to live a more fulfilling life. If you had asked me this same question 2 years ago, I wouldn’t be feeling so optimistic.

Now I am putting all my knowledge into helping others and it feels good! It feels good to see that others feel validated & comforted, because this is a feeling I missed out on a lot! It feels good to be there and pass on information, even if it only helps one other person. Free advice is so valuable and we can all do it! So many of us are already doing it!

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Surround yourself with supportive people

When you suffer from a mental illness it is very difficult to feel hopeful when you are really struggling.Every day can be a battle and those negative thoughts can be very hard to silence. Sometimes feelings can overcome you at the most inappropriate times and others may think you are overreacting or being a drama queen. Paying close attention to the people in your life can determine how much your overall mood is affected. If you are an empath or highly sensitive person, you suck in other peoples’ emotions like a sponge. For this reason, you need to have the right kind of people around you or limit your time with those who aren’t enriching to your life.

Think about how the people in your life make you feel 80% of the time? Are they supportive & uplifting? Are they encouraging and empathetic? Do they understand your struggles and offer to help?

This is very important when you have a low tolerance for stressful situations due to a history of toxic child abuse. When complex trauma is part of your life, you need to feed your brain with the things you were starved of as a child. You should provide yourself with unconditional love, acceptance, validation and comfort. It is also important to have friends and family that can also provide these things for you.  It might feel unnatural at first and almost feel silly to tell yourself that you are worthy and lovable every day, however this is what your brain needs. It needs a new healthy habit!

Recent studies have shown that victims of childhood abuse and combat veterans actually experience physical changes to the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning and memory, as well as in the handling of stress. The hippocampus also works closely with the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that regulates our emotional response to fear and stress. PTSD sufferers often have impairments in one or both of these brain regions. Studies of children have found that these impairments can lead to problems with learning and academic achievement.

We know that psychotherapy can really help survivors of severe trauma and also we know that EMDR is very helpful for reducing nightmares, flashbacks & overwhelming emotions.What you do for yourself however is equally important as you are the person that feels, thinks and reacts to your surroundings 24/7! It has been proven that with a mixture of validating affirmations, manageable goal setting, therapy and loving relationships, people can improve the quality of their life dramatically, especially in regards to their overall outlook.

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Breaking the cycle of your childhood abuse-Start being kind to yourself

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Of course it isn’t as simple as the 4 things written in the photo but it is definetely true that in order to break the horrible pattern of abuse from your childhood, you have to stop abusing yourself. YOU hold the answers to how much you will recover and it is up to you to start changing your thought patterns day by day..Nobody ever said it would be easy but it is possible..

The internalised messages of ‘You are not good enough, you are stupid’ are just repeats of what your abusers told you. They aren’t the ‘real’ you! The real you is a worthwhile person who deserves love and happiness.The real you is a person who deserves to heal and doesn’t need a nasty inner critic. With the help of a therapist or a coach, you can keep yourself on track. By having someone to report to, this might help you be more motivated. It is very important to keep trying as your brain needs sustained effort to learn ‘new, healthier messages’. That is why it is important to practice the above steps every day.

Your brain needs time to destroy the old habit wiring already in existence and then build new wiring for your new empowering positive affirmations.

Whatever your mind keeps hearing, it will eventually accept as truth. So what you want to do is to start repeating your new positive thoughts to yourself. Do it constantly. Do it repeatedly. Do it daily. Do it with passion, conviction and belief.

Unhelpful thinking styles/Cognitive distortions

This link below gives you a useful list of all the unhelpful thinking styles that we might use in our daily lives.For those of you who suffer from depression or anxiety, keeping an eye on your thinking style is really important. Try and challenge those negative thoughts by replacing them with more positive or helpful alternative thoughts. With practice, this should help you feel better.

http://media.psychology.tools/worksheets/english_us/unhelpful_thinking_styles_en-us.pdf

Love Athina ♥