So you’ve gone no contact, identified yourself as a victim and dealt with what that entailed, but you’re still not out of the woods, home free and happy. What is probably going on now is that you are ruminating on the past. This means that you're going over everything that your Ex did and said, and you keep asking yourself whether you could have handled things differently, whether it was all your fault, whether you're going crazy. Whether you'll ever have peace of mind again. And in addition to all t his, you may also be:
- Burdened with thoughts or emotions about unresolved past events,
- Embarrassed or shameful about having been victimized and used by the abuser,
- You may be unable to concentrate at work, need to take time off or have panic attacks or flashbacks during the day,
- You might still having nightmares or insomnia, you might be struggling to take care of yourself or your children/home,
- You’re unable to forgive, you feel like you’re being judged by others for not moving on, and you just want to be free to express yourself and be happy again.
- And you also, very understandably, might be wanting revenge. Wanting to have it out with them.
- Or you’re suffering with C-PTSD. Every day is a challenge and you don’t feel like yourself anymore. You’re constantly stressed, worried, and terrified of life.
Despite the huge amount of work you’ve done to get where you are now, ie, you’ve escaped, you’ve gone no contact, but there’s still a long way to go to become truly free of your past and live your life in freedom because you may still be suffering and struggling with all those emotions mentioned above.
That’s simply not ‘thriving’… it’s scraping by day-to-day, not living life joyfully.
So let’s look at these now and see what you can do to help you move past them so that you CAN get to the thriving stage…
5 simple tips on how to Stop Ruminating
Ruminating on the past and being burdened by thoughts and emotions about unresolved events, let me tell you… IS normal for you right now.
You’re not crazy, you’re not going mad. We humans have an ingrained need to do this, and most of us experience it if anything unusual (really good or really bad) happens to us, and this is especially so in the case of traumatic abuse.
But here’s the thing to understand – rumination is our brain’s attempt to solve problems that we cannot solve.
When something goes wrong in our lives, we go into our minds to try to fathom it out and come up with a solution. That’s how we deal with and process things.
But because narcissistic abuse is so complex, all your usual rational capabilities have been so badly thwarted that you become stuck in a situation of emotional instability and anxiety that can be very difficult to break out of – you can’t make sense of what’s happened – you CAN’T FIND SOLUTIONS …
and this is fertile ground for rumination.
So if you consider that, it’s no wonder that you are ruminating over all the scenarios during your narc relationship! But the good news is that you can change this.
So now I want to share with you some 5 tips that can help you to stop ruminating, negative thinking, and give yourself some much-needed respite from the litany of painful thoughts.
TIP 1 : Tune in to yourself.
Try a simple breathing technique and focus on your breath, your being, and swat the thoughts away mentally as soon as they come up. Breath in through your nose and count to 4, hold it for 4, and breath out through your mouth for a count of 4 or longer if need be.
Keep your focus on your breath, and on counting. Try doing this several times a day. When you’ve got that down pat, start using a nurturing phrase as you do the breathing. Say something like ‘I love and accept myself’ or ‘I am healing my inner being’… and repeat the phrase over and over. Don’t judge.
Tip 2 : JUST SAY Stop!
I’ve talked about this recently in my video on how to stop negative thinking, and it’s very effective. As soon as you realize you’re ruminating, put your hand up and say STOP!
You can imagine a big red stop sign in your mind as you do this. Then shift your position – if you’re sitting, stand up, if you’re standing, walk to a different place – if at home, go and look out the window and think about what ever is in view there.
If you’re at work, go to another place or go outside to get some air. This creates an interrupt pattern in your brain and also makes you very aware of how much time you are wasting on useless thoughts that are just causing you more pain.
Sub-tip 2: Create a Mantra
Create a mantra to go with this exercise. As soon as you say STOP, say something like ‘I’m done with this line of thinking. I’m taking back control of my mind!’
You will find you have to do this many many times a day but gradually, you’ll realize that the flow of negativity is slowing down and you’re much more in control.
Tip 3: Distract yourself
Do something to take your mind off the problem. Engage yourself in something that really requires your concentration, such as a mental game or a fun quiz.
You can find tons of them online and they do help distract you. Do this as often as you need to. Every second of respite you give yourself is giving yourself the chance to heal.
Here’s a simple NLP technique that can help. This is particularly useful if you are more visual but it does work even if you are more kinesthetic or auditory.
So the moment you start to recall an image that generates the negative thoughts, white it out. Imagine the image fading to pure white. Then say ‘That’s better’ each time.
And then SMILE. Even if you don’t feel like it – this actually tricks your brain into releasing your ‘happy chemicals’ so find a happy memory that genuinely makes you smile – just don’t let it be one related the narc!
BEDTIME – Or, night times are the worst times!
If it’s hard for you to stop ruminating during the day, it can be nigh on impossible at night, because once you go lights out, and are lying down, there are is no external stimuli to focus on, so your mind will very often kick into overdrive at bedtime, and this can leave you tossing and turning, getting little or poor sleep, having nightmares and of course, waking up the next day feeling exhausted.
So I highly recommend you listen to relaxing music with brainwave entrainment – binaural beats or Isochronic tones, and have your head-phones in.
I suffered with insomnia for years before I discovered the power of brainwave entrainment. You can go to Youtube, and find loads free, then listen every night. You’ll find it immensely helpful.
While you are lying there, before the music has had a chance to take effect, go straight into your breathing exercise, and you can also repeat your healing mantra as you do this.
Another great thing to do at this point is focus on gratitude and give thanks for the good things you do have in your life.
The main point of all these exercises is to rewire your brain by taking control of it, and breaking down the old patterns. When you do ALL these things consistently, you are creating new neural networks in your brain.
But, repetition is necessary – do it every time it happens! Stick with it and you will start to feel better.