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Abuse Recovery: External to Internal Shift

As long as we believe a part of us has been "stolen", we are distracted from the very tools needed to heal it.

  1. Peace
    I've been writing a lot lately about shifting the focus from external to internal, and why it's so important.

    Psychopaths and narcissists often give the target a "spotlight" effect - like all the attention and focus of the world is on you. This comes from the love-bombing, flattery, 24x7 communication, grandiosity, and personality mirroring. Basically, a completely inappropriate amount of attention, but it feels good.

    All of this allows us to slip from internal measures of worth, to external ones. This person thinks so highly of us, puts us on a pedestal above everyone else. It's easy to hang onto their every word, because it feels so great.

    But once they split to devaluation, the opposite happens. They start to lie and triangulate with others. Because our worth is invested in them, we become obsessed with proving ourselves and trying to win back our place as "number one". Our focus becomes more external, waiting (even begging) for their next communication like a drug.

    Then the discard happens and they immediately replace us with someone else. Our focus becomes even more external. How is the new couple so happy? Who is this person they chose over you? Why are they better than you? Why do they get better treatment than you?

    External focus becomes external obsession, trying to prove we're happy too. Consumed by resentment and revenge fantasies, imagining how much better we'd feel if their lives were ruined, or their new relationship came crumbling down. It's this sort of manic, delusional energy that appears unstable to onlookers.

    With time, things calm down, but the focus is often still stuck in "external". Perfectionism, staying busy, care-taking, being overly nice, seeking approval, impulsive behaviors, grandiosity, vengeful or resentful thoughts, and even addiction. All temporary bursts of external worth. Often times this becomes so serious that mental illness forms: C-PTSD, Avoidant Personality, Codependency, and even Borderline Personality.

    The problem is, our focus is still stuck externally. In order to heal, we need to turn the focus internal. So it becomes less about "this person did awful things to me" and more about "this is how I feel right now on the inside, independent of external factors".

    Sometimes it's frustrating, especially with PTSD, because the best description a person can find for their internal experience is "numbness" or "tension". What are you supposed to do with that?

    And that's exactly the problem. All of this external focus has caused us to accidentally abandon what's really going on inside of us. Without knowing our own internal emotions and feelings, we rely on external measures.

    Often times after narcissistic abuse, survivors feel that they've lost a part of themselves: love and joy. They worry that they'll never be the same person again, as if that old person is lost and gone forever. But this is simply not true. We can always restore that part of ourselves, but we can't do it when we're focusing all our energy on the person who abused us. As long as we believe a part of us has been "stolen", we are distracted from the very tools needed to heal it.

    Recovery comes from experiencing the pain fully, rather than trying to pretend we're fine or happy. And with narcissistic relationships, it's not just the typical pain of a breakup or being mistreated. It's the pain of being separated from love in such a traumatic, unexpected way. When a trusted loved one abandons or rejects us the way Cluster-B disordered individuals do, our bodies tend to absorb a message of inner defectiveness. (This person rejected or abused me because something is very bad about me).

    While you may logically understand this isn't true, the body is not so easy to convince. Living in there is often a great deal of self-doubt, inadequacy, worthlessness, and rejection. As we allow ourselves to experience those things, we get in touch with the truest parts of who we are, no matter how intolerable those feelings might be. Our most vulnerable, authentic self was shamed and humiliated from conscious awareness. But we can find it again, in our bodies.

    In the end, it's not really about what the other person did, but the messages they left behind in you, which stay there regardless of any external factors.

    The reason internal focus is so important is that we are the only people who can do the hard work to release these old messages and reconnect ourselves with love.

    I've written a new book about long-term healing. Whole Again is now published! If you would like to be notified about future books, you can enter your email address below. This is not a mailing list. Just a one-time notification:

Article Author: Peace