Retrain Your Brain to Recover from the Narcissist

We had our first support group call last night and the amazing group of ladies in our meeting inspired me to write this blog on how we can and will recover.

In sharing all of our stories last night, one thing I learned is how different and unique all of our stories are, but how similar the pattern. We all fell for our narcissist for different reasons, but what we can all conclude is that we fell in the same way...hard, fast and blindly....and woke up in a similar manner...baffled, dumbfounded and stunned.

Some might say that falling in love blindly means you showed poor judgment, didn’t look at obvious signs or did not think responsibly. I beg to differ. I believe it means that you trusted in the good heart of someone else and decided to believe they were real.

Should we be ashamed to admit this? Some think so and have chosen to criticize us for such choices. It’s unfortunate they don’t understand that in the beginning of a relationship, a narcissist puts on an act in order to win us over. It is not until you fall for them that their true colors slowly begin to emerge.

Unfortunately, by that time, you are already in love with a false image and they have successfully managed to get their hooks into you. Trust me, this was their plan all along. A narcissist knows how to coerce, persuade and exploit others to get their needs met. They are master manipulators. This is what makes a narcissist dangerous.

A narcissist's vanity is harmless. Narcissism has many characteristics, vanity being the least of which one should be concerned with...it’s the lack of empathy and exploitive/ manipulative nature of a narcissist that should make one run for the hills.

A narcissist’s true colors do not come out until they have successfully charmed their way into your heart and soul. Many are so advanced that they study Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which is often used in sales as a technique to manipulate and brainwash others. Mimicking another person’s emotions is a common technique taught to ingratiate yourself into another person’s circle of trust. Some even compare NLP to hypnotizing.

They say love is blind, don't they? Are we never supposed to take a risk and fall? No, I will never be so jaded as to question everything I see and never let anyone in. However....Will I proceed with caution and question things I may not have questioned before? Yes. Will I call someone out on their behavior if it is unacceptable? Yes, most certainly. Will I have the courage to state my needs and stand my ground? Hell, yes.

Narcissists don’t like this type of behavior. Not one bit. They will be the ones running if you exhibit such behavior and you will be that much better off for it.

Narcissists want to keep us brainwashed and under their spell. The minute they know we see right through them, they will disappear before we can end it ourselves.

As you know, I believe that self-compassion is the key to our recovery, and as part of that process what I believe to be absolutely critical is to learn how to retrain our negative patterns of thinking. As cliché as this sounds, we must Retrain Our Brain.

The human brain is amazingly powerful. Yet, until recently, we did not know how to harness its power. Thanks to recent advances in science and technology, we now know that our brains are much more plastic (changeable) than we ever thought. The concept of brain plasticity, known as Neuroplasticity, is one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in the last decade.

This field of research has proven that our brain is not permanently hardwired, but rather able to change physically, chemically and anatomically in response to our thoughts, experience and behavior.

This means that we can alter and heal our brain by directing how we respond to stimuli. It is a step-by-step process and takes time, but we now know we can reverse the damage caused by emotional abuse and psychological trauma. As Dr. Frank Lawlis, author of “Retraining the Brain” states: “This is possibly as great a leap forward in public health as the discovery of antibiotics and vaccines.”

When coming out of a relationship with a narcissist, it is important to remember that our minds are experiencing severe Cognitive Dissonance. We know that Cognitive Dissonance leads to obsessive, intrusive thoughts that impede our ability to concentrate, work, sleep, eat or function. It can often feel like we are in a fog or haze of some kind.

Our mind is not functioning properly and we don't see things clearly, which is exactly where the narcissist wants us. If you question or doubt the narcissist, he/she will use several different methods of coercion in order to get you back under his/her control.

The narcissist will shift blame, criticize, manipulate, threaten, degrade, verbally assault, dominate, blackmail, withdraw, withhold love and affection and gaslight in an effort to make you feel as though you're the person behaving so poorly. By doing this, he causes you to doubt yourself, which leads to obsessive-compulsive thoughts that can make you feel as though you’re going crazy.

The narcissist denies events ever occurred or certain things were said. As a result, you doubt what you’re hearing and seeing to the point that you begin to question your sanity. This is exactly what the narcissist set out to do. The narcissist wants you to believe you are imagining things and losing it...this way he keeps you dependent on him at all times.

When we doubt our perception of reality, the narcissist is able to control us knowing we are completely dependent on him for the truth. A narcissist wants us to believe we have problems and issues only he can understand and is willing to tolerate. By doing this, we start to feel flawed, paranoid and doubtful, which ensures our dependence on the narcissist and their subsequent ability to control us.

It is critical we understand how we are being brainwashed and realize the only reason we feel addicted to them is because they have managed to create within us a false dependence on them. We must acknowledge this no matter how hard it is to accept. We have experienced emotional abuse and psychological trauma at the hands of the person we love. We have been brainwashed. The good news, however, is that we can deprogram and retrain our brain.

We now know it is possible to teach the brain to react in certain ways in situations in the same manner as it is possible to teach the body to move in new ways through physical therapy. I believe this information is all we need to know in order to rest assured that we will heal from these toxic relationships!

It requires effort and certainly does not happen overnight, but trust me when I tell you that you can retrain your brain so you can disconnect from the powerful hold your narcissist has over you.

The key for my recovery has been the realization that while I cannot always control what happens to me in life, I can control how I RESPOND to it. Harnessing the power I have to retrain my brain and deprogram from a toxic relationship is what finally allowed me to heal and move on. I want to help you realize the same potential within yourself.

“It's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

Our society is undergoing a revolution in mental health with the newfound knowledge that we can retrain our brain. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the method I recommend for doing this. CBT is a type of treatment that has been around for the last forty to fifty years, but has just recently been gaining popularity.

We are all capable of developing destructive patterns of behavior and unhealthy ways of thinking. Being the victim of a narcissist will ensure this negativity will cement itself into our psyche. Narcissists cause us to doubt everything we thought we ever knew in this world.

Therefore, the key to recovery, in my opinion is to first deprogram from the narcissist by establishing "No Contact" and then to RETRAIN THE BRAIN and I believe Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the best method for doing this.

I encourage you to Google a CBT therapist in your area to find one or read the helpful articles below on how to use methods of cognitive therapy to recover from the emotional abuse you experienced in your relationship with a narcissist.

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2012/what-really-strengthens-self-esteem/

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2009/15-common-cognitive-distortions/

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/challenging-our-cognitive-distortions-a...

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2011/01/can-mindfulness-transform-feel...

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/06/22/cultivating-self-compas...

October 15, 2013 - 8:30am
MyTurnToBe Free
MyTurnToBe Free's picture

Cognitive Distortions

June 10, 2012 - 7:07am
Seen the light
Seen the light's picture

Learning to be attracted to good guys - it's working!

April 1, 2012 - 11:11am
serenity1
serenity1's picture

Retaining my brain

February 25, 2012 - 11:17am
MountainLady
MountainLady's picture

De-Programming

Do N's actually "consciously" brainwash us? It took me a long time to accept that he did it purposely. Recently a friend forwarded me an email from my ex-Narc. He has a new GF (supply) and in the email "N" stated that he was fixing her dinner every night, doing repairs to her home while she was at work, taking care of her dogs and her car for her. "She's lovin' every minute"! Reeling her in PURPOSELY. When we first broke up - it took me months to trust my judgement again. I felt helpless, I couldn't even get my oil changed. I didn't know how to survive on my own - even though I am a very independant woman. I live in a small town - I was afraid to be seen in public, alone. Perfect example of brainwashing....one day he replaced the water heater. The next day I smelled gas and called him. He told me I was being paranoid (how could I question his repair job?). He actually hung up on me because I was insisting that I smelled gas. I found myself confused...was I just imagining the smell? After a few days I mentioned it to him again. I finally called a repairman myself because I was getting scared and I was getting angry because "N" wasn't listening to me. "N" insisted on being there when the repairman arrived. I wasn't allowed to be present while it was repaired and later "N" acted unconcerned and made light of it, like no big deal. So I called the repairman later and asked him how bad the gas leak was. He told me it was BAD. I was lucky there wasn't a fire becuase the furnace sits next to the water heater. I knew someting was very wrong but I ignored my own judgement. De-progamming after a Narcissist relationship has been a challenge.
February 14, 2012 - 4:32pm
Ladydb123
Ladydb123's picture

Thank You

Lisa for this excellent article, I just found it today and it really hit home with me even though the sicko was only my friend. I believe he has run out of people to alienate for a while. I truly hope he never comes my way again. I am also wishing everyone here a very Happy Valentines Day without the Narc.
February 13, 2012 - 8:13pm
Fearless
Fearless's picture

Lisa...

...I'm trying to "deprogram from crackhead" and "retrain" my brain as you suggest. Something I have discovered in doing so is that I have to try and train my brain to even "think for myself" as well. Guess I had completely given any sense of decision making to him and had such huge self-doubt due to this freakazoid that I didn't realize I wasn't even uses my brain...just walking around like a robot. It feels good to "get real" again. Thank you for all you do...I for one am certainly grateful that you chose to pay it forward and reach out to others after experiencing something most of us would love to forget. -fefe

FeFe

February 10, 2012 - 11:04pm
Journey
Journey's picture

Great blog post Lisa, thanks!

Great blog post Lisa, thanks!

Journey on...

February 10, 2012 - 10:48am
StudentOfLife
StudentOfLife's picture

So well said, Lisa! Thank

So well said, Lisa! Thank you so much for posting... i REALLY especially needed to read this reminder today!! Staying strong....
February 10, 2012 - 9:33am
onwithmylife
onwithmylife's picture

so well stated as always, Lisa

even being over 3 years out now from the narc, you said it all. He come across a little different but never gave it much thought and in my own naive way, thought we could overcome anything through compromise and committment, little did i know what a subspecies of human being he is, and that he had totally different agenda than me......a life changing experience and a scar that may heal but will never completely go away from me or any of us.......my realization is that he cannot love or even live with a woman again and deep down he KNOWS that, he is done but will always find some woman for just sex or companionship.........