I often find when working with people that are in toxic relationships, the main question many people ask me is “Is it me” (am I the toxic one) or is it my partner? So, if you’re asking yourself this question, you’re already starting in a very good place.
So; we will begin by looking to explore if you feel your relationship is more toxic and harmful to you, than it is positive. For this exercise (set roughly 10 minutes aside of yourself) and get yourself a pen and a piece of paper. Please take the time to do this. As I find taking your thoughts out of mind, and placing them on a piece of paper where you can see them, and reflect upon them, can be exceptionally powerful. I have 13 questions for you – please try and answer these questions in as much detail as possible. Because as the saying goes, the devil is certainly in the detail.
- Does your partner criticise you constantly? If so, write down all the things your partner constantly says about you – add to this, the names he or she regularly calls you. Now you have done that, write down how all these labels and put downs make you feel on a consistent basis.
- Is your partner ALWAYS right – and your ALWAYS wrong (no matter what the situation is)
- Is your partner disrespectful towards your feelings? Do they belittle you for feeling how you feel? Are you forever being told that what you think and feel is wrong? (If so – then write a few examples of these occasions down)
- As a direct result of staying in this relationship, do you ever find you are actually doubting your own thoughts and feelings? Write about how you were before this relationship. Did you ever have to question your own thoughts and feelings ever before?
- Do you find within this relationship you never actually feel heard, seen or understood? If so, what does it really feel like for you to have a partner who never truly understands you – and never actually appears to try and want to understand you? write down in great depth about how this leaves you feeling?
- Does your partner have a total lack of empathy for you – write in great detail about all the times you have tried to get your partner to understand you, or a understand a certain situation that has happened, but it fallen upon deaf ears. But on the flip side of this, when you talk to friends or family about the situation, they can understand the event perfectly.
- Do you find on many occasions your partner is talking AT you, and never actually to you? If so, write down in great detail about how he or she actually makes you feel every time this happens.
- Does your partner have a rage that goes from zero to 100 in seconds? Write down about this makes you feel, and also about how it makes you react. For example, are you normally a laid-back person who avoids conflict in general – but find yourself totally out of character, and screaming back in frustration to try and get your point across?
- Do you find through staying in this relationship, you have acted in ways in which you have never had to act before? If so, write these behaviours down. Maybe for example you find yourself walking around on eggshells, continually trying to keep your partner happy. Or maybe you have to try and avoid just saying hello to people in public when you are with your partner. However, you find you have to behave, or if you have reacted to a certain situation which is totally out of character for you, remember to be very kind to yourself here – we are all like an elastic band on times, and sometimes when we are stretched far enough, we can eventually snap (even if you have a predominantly laid-back nature in general). This can be what happens when you are in a toxic relationship and you are being pushed over the edge by your partner on a consistent basis.
- Does your partner always insist that you’re the problem within the relationship? And if so, has he or she managed to convince you this is true? If you are with a toxic partner nothing is ever their fault. They are perfect. They never take responsibility for their actions / or inactions. Whatever goes wrong within their lives, they will have a tendency to blame you for. On the other hand, whatever is going right for you within your life, they may also have a tendency to credit themselves for. Write about all of these occasions.
- Has your partner ever tried to turn your family and friends against you, by making up stories about you – for example telling people how you are the crazy one, and listing certain events to them (but missing out crucial information) If so, this is known as a smear campaign or character assignation. Write as much detail as you can about these occasions.
- You may also find your partner is a great master of disguise. They may have instigated events in which they are the perpetrator, and yet they have sat back and played the role of the victim, insinuating the situation has been created by you? They may even go to great lengths to portray you as the Perpetrator, such as getting them in trouble by doing things such as getting the police involved. This again is character assassination at play. Your toxic partner may make up lies about you, in order to turn people against you. They may do this in all sorts of different ways, such as calling you from their place of work or local pub, (to make to people around them) you are on the phone saying things to them, you know for a fact, you are not saying on the other end of the phone. The message your toxic partner is always trying to portray is poor little me, look how bad my partner is. Write about all the times you feel this may have happened to you.
- Has your partner ever hit you where no one can see? Do they try to stop you from having friends and family around? Do they try to control what you can wear? Write about how all of this is making you feel?
- Does your partner play mind games with you to make you feel like you’re going crazy? For example, they may start convincing you, that you’ve said or done something you know for a fact you haven’t said or done. After a long period of time (of this happening) you may even begin to doubt your very own sanity. This is known as gaslighting. If you have experienced this, write about all the occasions you have actually had to question your own sanity. This is a very scary situation to be in – and certainly one I have experienced myself within my toxic relationship.
If you have answered yes to the majority of the questions above, then there is a strong chance (like with myself) that you have been a victim of Narcissistic Abuse. This form of abuse leaves mental and emotional scars, and it can affect how you feel about yourself. You may have been convinced that you are the problem. You may have been subject to mind games, and fooled into thinking you are losing your sanity. You see the twisted truth here is Narcissists present as charming on the outside to others, whist creating smear campaigns about you, to falsely lead other people into the assumption that they are the victims of your adelgid abuse. Narcissists are great actors, and their number one fix, (like heroin is to an heroin addict) is to destroy your character and your soul along with it.
So after looking at all of your answers from this exercise, if you began this exercise questioning if you are toxic one, hopefully you can see now that Narcissists aim to make you think this way. Remember their rule. That is, they are always right, and you are always wrong.
Here is my question for you. If a friend of yours came to you with the exact list you have just written out – what would your advice be to your friend?
Now write down all the qualities of the partner you would absolutely love to be with. For example, are they loyal, caring, have a great sense of humour and great fun to be around – please take your time here & make your list as accurate and as extensive as you possibly can.
Once you have fished your list, and if you can see very clearly the type of partner you would ideally like to be with, is absolutely NOTHING like the partner you ARE with, then please don’t skip this part. Take some time to reflect upon this, and ask yourself over and over again – if need be (until you come up with the answer that sits right with you) why are you settling for far less than you not only desire (but you actually deserve).
Also, please remember here, the only limits in life are the ones we define for ourselves. If you have limiting beliefs such as you don’t deserve to be with anyone, or your damaged goods, or unlovable – working with a Counsellor can help you to not only change your beliefs about yourself on the inside, but the knock on effect of this, can be, that it can also help you to transform the quality of your life, and your circumstances on the outside, by helping you to bridge the gap , from where you are right now, to where in life you would like to be. After all, if you think about it, your future is a blank canvas, and you get to paint it anyway you like.
And also, another great question to ask yourself is; do you equally have the qualities you are searching for within your ideal partner? And then if not, what ideally would you need to change about yourself, or who is it you would need to become even, in order to attract this type of partner into your life? We see we are all fluid and forever changing. For example, you are certainly not the person now, you used to be 10 years ago. And within 10 years time, you definitely won’t be the person you are right now.
So what I would like you to do after answering these questions – is to ask yourself how life would really look and feel like, for you, 10 years from now, if absolutely nothing changes, and you stay in your toxic relationship? Write down in great detail how this would affect you long term mentally, emotionally, and physically? How do you think it would impact your business or career? How would it impact you financially? How would it impact your children if you have any?
So what about you? if you have been a victim of Narcissistic Abuse, (due to the extensive mind games, gaslighting and constant criticism) The worse case scenario is you may be suffering with symptoms of CPTSD. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is why when I work with people who have been subject to this type of abuse I have a program that takes my clients through the process of working through the trauma, and out the other end, towards recovery. If you feel you are a victim of Narcissistic abuse and you feel you do have symptoms of CPTSD please go and seek advice from your local GP. Alongside this, if you are able to access counselling, I would certainly suggest you find a counsellor who fully understands the depths, and dynamics of this particular type of abuse.
The main advice from many professionals out there, is if you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, to leave and to go no contact. However, I know that’s not a simple choice for many of you, especially those of you who may have children, or are financially dependent upon your partner in some way. However, the choice is ALWAYS yours to make. And there are no right or wrong answers, only YOUR answers. But for those of you who aren’t dependent on your partner in anyway, please remind yourself of this. The truth is, we are always teaching people how to treat us. And equally, we always GET what we continually tolerate. And be aware that doing NOTHING, is still a choice. You see we either repeat our mistakes, or we learn from them.
So please, if you feel you are trapped in a relationship you can’t get away from right now, don’t suffer in silence. You need a support network. If you don’t have any friends (because your partner has isolated you from others) then ring your local support line in order to at least talk to someone. Or join a facebook group, where you will be able to chat to others who have experienced this type of abuse. I will also leave the link to join my FB group bellow for victims of Narcissistic Abuse (if you would like to be a part of that & connect with people who know how your feeling and understand fully what you are experiencing)
Alongside this, if you are a victim of this type of abuse and live in the UK and would like to take part in my research project – I will leave the link to the video with more information below
Thanks for listening, and I really hope this has helped you in some way.