Why we must Confront our Pain when Healing from a Narcissist

I am often asked when the grieving ends. Everyone is different. You can’t put a time frame on the healing process. What I do know is that the longer you avoid your pain, the longer it takes to recover. We must confront our pain and process it in order to heal and move on. Writing about it helps, expressing ourselves helps, meditating helps. All of these things help, but it is up to you to put these things in motion for yourself. No one else can do it for you and until you do, you will remain stuck. You will not thrive. It is your choice.

Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.

By learning from the moments in life, we become more compassionate and can aspire to live in the now. We can relax and open our heart and mind to what is right in front of us in the moment. We see, feel and experience everything more vividly. This is living. Now is the time to experience enlightenment. Not some time in the future. Keep in mind, how we relate to the now creates the future.

“Nothing we can do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.”
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

When we find ourselves in a mess, we don’t have to feel guilty about it and angry. Instead, we should reflect on the fact that how we RESPOND to the situation determines whatever happens next for us. We can become depressed and cynical or we can look at it as an opportunity to make ourselves strong. It is all a choice. Being brave enough to be fully alive and awake every moment of life, including the dark times, is to truly experience life to its fullest. What seems undesirable in life should not put us to sleep or deaden us. Instead, it should wake us up and remind us of the things we should appreciate.

We must lighten up, relax and go easy on ourselves. Many of us find it easy to have compassion for others, but have very little for ourselves. It never occurs to us to feel it for ourselves. Self-Compassion is the key to healing. Living life with an unconditional love for ourselves changes everything. We get rid of the “should haves” and the “could haves” and gradually discover ourselves by being honest and staying in the moment. Without any agenda except for being real, we begin to find ourselves again. We assume responsibility for being here in this messy world and realize how precious life is.

The only true path to enlightenment is to drop all inner resistance and be honest. We must be true to ourselves. We must allow ourselves to feel our feelings and not be ashamed or afraid. In my opinion, all of our anxiety in life comes from:




Eckhart Tolle explains that each of us has a voice in our head that reminds us of troubles from our past and also encourages us to worry about our future. Some individuals listen to this voice more than others. Certain events or experiences can cause this voice in our head to run incessantly. The emotional abuse that occurs in a relationship with a Narcissist creates this obsessive-compulsive thought. This has been proven and studied for years now.

Tolle helps us understand that all negativity is caused by too much focus on the past or future. He explains that worry and anxiety are caused by too much future focus and not enough presence. Being stuck in the past, either feeling resentful or guilty, is a result of too much past and not enough presence.

By focusing on the past or future and denying the reality of your present, you remain stuck. Identification with your mind causes thought to be compulsive. Tolle explains that this mental noise prevents you from finding the realm of inner stillness inside you that is necessary to achieve enlightenment.

Since the beginning of time, spiritual teachers of all traditions have pointed to the Now as the key to enlightenment. Meditation is one way you can learn to live in the moment and I highly recommend you explore it. It takes time to learn to stay focused on the present, and you may need to try more than one method before finding one that works for you, but please don’t give up. It is easy to get distracted by time, noise, anxiety and fear. However, learning how to live in the moment is worth every bit of effort. Once you know how to do it, it is truly life-changing.

Eckhart Tolle points out that in life threatening situations, the shift to living in the moment happens naturally. The personality that is time-bound is replaced by an intense conscious presence that feels incredibly alive. Tolle says this is why some people enjoy engaging in dangerous activities, such as skydiving. I know this is why my brother enjoys mountain climbing and running incredible distances.

It makes sense. While you may not be aware of it, dangerous and challenging activities FORCE you to live in the present. In a life or death situation, you must stay 100% focused on the present moment in order to ensure your survival. Slipping away from the present for even a second could prove deadly. My brother caught a mountain-climbing companion at the last second from falling through a crevice that came out of nowhere. If he had not responded with cat-like reflexes, she could have died. This feeling of living in the moment reminds you that you are alive. It is intoxicating.

While it may not be easy at first, we can learn to enjoy the present moment and live life to its fullest by accepting that we are on a journey into the unknown. Instead of being afraid, let this inspire you!

Life should be a journey - an adventure. Travel is a wonderful way to get in touch with yourself. About five years ago, I spent 19 days traveling the Greek Islands. It was amazing to me how getting away from the noise of the city and my every day routine while journaling helped me find myself. It was a truly transformative experience I will never forget.

Live each day as if it were your last and cherish every moment of it. Learn to live with uncertainty for I believe it is the first step on the spiritual path of awakening.

It is easy to forget the many blessings we have, which is why I encourage you to create a Gratitude List in your Recovery Journal. In this journal, you should write down everything you are grateful for in your life. Whenever you think of a new gratitude, add it to your journal. By writing this down, you will begin to see how truly blessed you are and appreciate the abundance in your life.

The present truly is a gift to be cherished. An attitude of gratitude can change your life. If you stop in the moment and ask yourself if you’re ok, you realize you are not starving, you are not oppressed and you are not a prisoner of war somewhere. You are in a safe place and have much to be grateful for in life.

One of the best ways to learn to live in the moment is to stop allowing yourself to regret the past or worry about the future. This little saying helps me re-focus when I find myself struggling to stay in the moment:

Yesterday is History
Tomorrow, a Mystery
Today is a Gift
That’s why it’s called
The Present

It is a daily conscious effort to stay in the moment, especially in today's busy world. Appreciating the simple things in life is a good lesson for those who need to learn to live in the moment. By doing this, we begin to engage our senses to the point where everything we experience becomes more real and vivid. When we sense everything around us, we start to feel life.

This is when we begin to ENGAGE in life rather than merely OBSERVE it.

This is living!

Become fascinated with nature. The beauty of nature is one way God shows us he exists. Beauty provides us with a source of inspiration that is available everywhere to everyone. Embrace the gift of the present moment and realize how blessed you are. The present moment is all we really have.

The present should be the primary focus of your life. You can always cope with the present moment. However, you cannot cope with something that hasn’t happened yet and you cannot change the past. You can control how you respond to the present moment, and how you respond to the present moment determines your future. We have a choice to be happy and embrace the moment or be miserable and remain stuck. I choose to be happy and hope you will join me in my journey.

May 24 - 1AM
seeingclearly's picture

I thought he was done hurting me

It is the first time I post although I have been reading everything on this website almost every day for over 2.5 months now and it has helped me immensely. Sunday morning I actually felt that I wanted to write something even to just express my gratitude for the existence of the website and all the people involved, Lisa and all other women having shared their nightmares here. I had been in a relationship with my N for 5 years, living together for 1.5, when I started to really think that since we managed to reach this point after loads of ups and downs, him being unsure of taking any single step, me crying after each time something else was always more important than I was etc. etc., it was now time to move on and to discuss about our future plans together. He is a workaholic, thinks that he is the smartest dude on earth and is also at the gym or playing soccer every single day. Always wants to be the center of attention and is (now that I have read so much) totally consistent with every little characteristic of a narcissist. Only difference with all I have read was that we actually never really had a period that all was perfect, no honeymoon... My N had never in 5 years uttered the words I love you, told me I look beautiful or just offered to make a dinner for one night that I am tired. I instead was waking up every morning saying I love you, just because this is how I felt and this is how I am. What I received was a squeeze that I wanted to and interpreted as “me too”… Our lives have actually revolved around his research or sports schedules since I met him. At the start, this created some tensions but he managed to make me believe that it was me who was wrong in all this, that I was claiming too much of his freedom. I even broke up with him a couple of times and then for some sick reason I decided that I had not really given him a chance and that I had to accept him as a different but still good person… This is more or less when I subconsciously signed my close-to-death contract with him. Just after getting back together for the 2nd time 3 years ago, I got pregnant, by mistake. I knew that this was a wrong time for anything like that and told him immediately that I knew that this baby had to go, we were not ready. He came with me, this whole story was taken care of and silly me, I thought that actually this was an experience that had brought us closer together and since then fell into this relationship with basically closed eyes, having said that this was our choice and also stating clearly that I do want us to have kids when we are both ready and sure that this is the right time. Nothing changed much from his side, but I really managed to make up a story in my head that was heavenly and as such left him all the space he needed to be happy. And things worked as he was happy with reality and me happy in my dreamworld, happy with very small things, watching tv together, working together at times, going out with common friends and staying over at my or his house every day. And when after a while and even after long sessions of my crying and saying “where are we going” he accepted to move in together I thought all was fine… Eventhough I should have known better when he said that this did not mean anything “automatic”… Well, going back to the beginning of this text, just over 3 months ago I decided to finally confront him with the fact that ok, life together is good, I have left you all the freedom you want, you are back every day at 22.00 after your work and sports, I have your food ready, I plan our social life, I plan our trips (which can only take place at a limited period when football season takes a break too), I have learned your language, go on holidays with your family 2 or 3 times a year, we are happy with how this living together is, now I want to know whether we have some plans together given that we are both in our mid thirties. The answer in a nutshell was that “I do not want to speak about this things, they are not important for me at this moment, they have not crossed my mind, family is not something that concerns me and you are putting too much pressure”. He left the house within a few days and I have not seen him since. He spoke to me on the phone and with some emails, getting crueler every time, supposedly taking time to think and eventually, within 15 days announcing that he wants out, that he sees nothing in us or me anymore and that he wants to spare me the contact of telling me in person. Adding the extra cruel bit that who knows maybe with someone else he might have wanted more, but a life with me will only be full of arguments about unimportant things and that therefore he has no intention of staying or having a family with me. Oh, and the abortion thing was a long time ago by the way and thus irrelevant in all this discussion about my clearly stated since a long time ideas of a future family… I went through the worst time in my life without any competition. From the one moment to the other the man of my life just disappeared without even seeing me. I stopped eating, stopped sleeping, lost a lot of weight, lost my period, barely escaped hospitalization, lost myself. Well, I had probably lost myself a long time ago I guess... I have lately been feeling better with the help of my parents, some friends (because many of them disappointed me to an amazing level in all this too, not understanding and always finding excuses that this is just a normal break up and he is a nice guy that just is not into you anymore… 5 f**** years it took him to see this?), my shrink, this website. I have moved out of the flat that I had just basically finished putting up for us (I guess it is obvious in all this that I have always been taking care of everything and by the way I am doing the same job he is, working full time and at the same place) and I am now in a new flat, eating again and having a more normal life. Being in the same circles in everything has been hell but I have finally clearly told him to stay out of my life in as much distance as possible. I have tried to also get some new friends, some people totally out of this, that never knew us as a couple and who are just getting to know me, for myself and independently. I also have gone back to my sports and my singing after work, which has also helped a great deal. Coming to the title of this entry, yesterday I also found out that he has now a new girlfriend that he is taking around and that he apparently found already during his “thinking time” if not before. I really thought that I had reached rock bottom, that he could not hurt me anymore as I have cut all contact and have indeed not seen him since he left the house eventhough after taking his “decision” he said that now he was ready to meet for a coffee and that he wants to maintain a healthy link with me because I am worth it! Unbelievable… I know I am worth it, but you are so not! It still hurt like hell to hear that there was no thinking, that moving on, or cheating possibly even was so easy, so standard… Even at the end, I really believed that what he needed was more freedom that he finally realized that he wanted to be alone that he cannot be with someone. Him, him, him... Bottom line, everything that I have read in all sites and blogs is such a precise picture of him… It was scary at the start, comforting and liberating afterwards, as I finally found a way to understand and to connect with other people here having gone through very similar experiences. It is all about him! It always was… And this last bit was the final proof that he cannot be without his narcissistic supply. He cannot be with himself. And how could anyone live with a self like that indeed? And even knowing all this, the pain and the anger are so strong and keep on alternating 24-7…
May 25 - 11PM (Reply to #8)
mynewlife2011's picture


He is a pathetic coward, and thank god you did not have children with him. I hear so many victims are so saddened that their narcs refused to propose marriage to them, but in fact it is a blessing. Do not meet him for coffee- he only wants to keep you on the hook in case. Yep, he blew it big time with you..he will miss all of your acts of love which he interpreted as entitlement. Wipe the tears away, we are here for you xxoo
May 28 - 2AM (Reply to #9)
seeingclearly's picture

Thank you...

I know that it is a blessing. It is just that the mind and the heart work at different speeds, but the heart will catch up with the mind sooner or later. Life already looks much brighter than it did 3 months ago and finding myself again feels really good, I had totally lost it in this sick frame of thought that I was put in. Enough now. Thank you for your words and support, which really mean a lot.
May 16 - 2PM
mynewlife2011's picture

the ride that never ends

During my abusive relationship with my ExN, of course it was always a roller coaster ride. One day I could do no wrong in his eyes, he would be sweet and loving and caring. Within minutes, hours, or days (never months) he would be cold, mean, condescending, abusive, elusive, and he was always swimming in two directions. It was so unstable and there was never a safe place to fall. With the betrayal of the multiple affairs, deceit abuse, stealing from me, humilitation, I ended things as a form of self-protection. Perhaps I knew my sanity and my health was at risk. Initially, with the N. gone the drama was out of my life, but fast returned with the custody battle and property battles that plagued our court process. Following our court battle, I finally found this site. By this point in time I am so angry for all of the years I have lost with this monster, that are irreplaceable. It will take me years and years to have the damaging phrases he chanted at me leave the building. I should be so grateful that I am alive and have survived this for the most part. But there are days when I breakdown, and the pain of the dream that was losT (which of course was only a dream) and the damage that occurred (which is real) is too much emotionally. I still awake some days in emotional pain. It is not heartbreak, for that happened long ago and within our first year of marriage when his mask came off. It is I think a grieving for what life became and no ability to go back and get what's mine. Such as my self esteem, my confidence as a woman and my feeling of capableness. For me, I am thankful for the daysI am angry, they are more productive. I accept and deal with the days I am sad, but it is not easy. It is a roller coaster ride that began early in our relationship and never seems to end.
May 18 - 9PM (Reply to #5)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture


Wow, so eloquently said, MyNewLife! I love what you wrote in your post. And you're right....Anger absolutely can be productive as long as it is used in the right way! In response to this comment: "It will take me years and years to have the damaging phrases he chanted at me leave the building." It doesn't have to take years to deprogram from these damaging and abusive words. Science has now proven that we can retrain our brain through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is what finally helped me stop obsessing. We talk about this in Step 5 - Wake Up - and I'm telling you, it works. At least, it worked for me. We have always known how powerful and amazing our minds are. However, until recently we never realized just how plastic (changeable) they are. Some doctors are calling this discovery the greatest leap forward in mental health in decades, comparing it to the disocvery of penicillin. It helps prove that we can retrain our brain. There are skeptics who do not think this is possible, but it makes sense when you think about it. If a person can rehabilitate from a stroke or major accident, then we can certainly retrain our brain to deprogram from an abuser, right? YES! We can and I experienced it firsthand. We can depgrogram from the hold they have over us. CBT is not easy, but it is so worth all the hard work and it really does make a difference. We are incredibly intelligent beings who can train ourselves on many things.....why not be able to retrain the brain. Those skeptics out there should try it before they knock it. I'm telling you it works!! Don't waste years avoiding your pain. Confront it by doing CBT to retrain your brain. Pain is temporary. Pride is forever! :) xoxo
May 18 - 10PM (Reply to #6)
mynewlife2011's picture

My Guardian Angel Lisa Scott

Thank you for the work you do, your never ending dedication to raise awareness and help victims of this horrible disease. Your book and this site have been a blessing and tremendous help for me in my time of confusion and pain. I do consider you one of my guardian angels. God Bless You Lisa!
May 16 - 2PM (Reply to #4)
Mag's picture

the ride that never ends

Wow!!!! I'm going through exactly the same thing...I go back and forth with anger and sadness....I dream of waking up one day and not having these feelings...this too shall past...
May 15 - 9PM
Mag's picture

I absolutely agree

Hi Lisa I needed to read this...I am struggling with anxiety these days because I've just divorced my abusive husband..some days I am happy that I got away from him and I don't have to be abuse by him anymore...and some days I just get nervous and insecure about the future..you are so right...I just need to focus on the present...
May 14 - 12PM
michele115 (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

Great Post Lisa!

I concur. Although so hard to grasp in the early stages when we are filled with anxiety, trauma and despair...it is so essential to try to stay grounded in the moment. The past has happened and the future is unknown, all we can control is how we react in the moment. Hugs!
May 14 - 12PM (Reply to #1)
Swan's picture

just what I needed today

This post was perfect timing- message well received over here! Thanks Lisa.