There is no simple way to heal from narcissistic abuse. The healing process can be extremely complicated and difficult to move through. But as with anything worth fighting for, the moment you step out and just start walking, you’re making progress.
With that said, there comes a time when you begin to notice things are changing for the better. You’ve survived the worst of it. And now you start to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here are 22 signs that may indicate you’re finally beginning to heal from narcissistic abuse and take your life back:
1. The Shift From “Him Thinking” To “Me Thinking”:
One big picture way to know you are starting to move on is when you shift your thinking from “him” to “me.” “Why did he do this to me?” versus “What can I learn and understand about myself from this situation?” “I just need him to understand my side of things.” to “How can I improve the way I respond this time so I get less triggered next time?” This change of perspective is a healthy sign you are becoming more empowered.
2. Consistent Disengagement From Toxic Behaviors:
When you consistently and consciously stop yourself from engaging in toxic or unhealthy behaviors, you are one step closer to freedom from your past. For example, if your narcissist sends a long angry text and you do not feel the need to respond, take it as a sign that the relationship has lost its grip of control over you.
3. You Know When Your Body (Gut) Is Giving You Useful Information:
When this begins to happen, it’s like a ray of hope. You understand you’re not crazy like you were often told. In fact, you come to know your gut feelings were right all along. You no longer have to defend your reasoning. You don’t feel the need to explain yourself. You don’t care what your narcissist says or how crazy it sounds because you expect and are prepared for their crazy nonsense. As a result, you begin to reconnect to your authentic self and trust it to lead you in the right direction as you rebuild your life.
4. Negative Spirals Are Less Severe & Shorter Now:
Once you start trusting your feelings again, you can begin to let go of the past…piece by piece. Maybe you’ve let go of the guilt or have gradually started releasing all the anger, resentment, sadness, and grief you’ve been storing up inside. You realize you don’t have to hold onto the past anymore as a burden to carry with you forever. Instead, you feel lighter and more ready to embrace what comes next.
5. You Are Able To Be More In The Moment:
Whether because of high anxiety or simply overthinking every situation out of fear of angering the narcissist, your mind used to be everywhere except where you actually were. You have been in “flight or fight” mode for way too long. You would obsess over the details of every decision, going over every possible scenario in your head — hours and days before it even happened or in looking back to analyze past interactions. But now, more and more often, you’re present in the moment where your thoughts are focused on what is actually happening (not what might happen or did happen) and it feels like wholeness returning.
6. You Realize That It Wasn’t Your Fault:
After the devaluation, discard, and the vicious smear campaigns, you felt worthless. You blamed yourself for everything that happened and beat yourself up over every mistake you ever made. But you couldn’t possibly have known better. He or she was “perfect” and you were the one who messed everything up, or so you were told. But now you’ve figured out that this was a ploy to make you think your value was dependent on him or her. And you know better.
7. You Are Able To Talk About the Abuse Without Getting Too Emotional:
This is a big step! No, talking about the abuse doesn’t make it seem any less real. But you’ve managed to learn how to take the emotions out of the situation and just talk about it from a standpoint of growth and self-reflection.
8. You Feel Proud Of Yourself:
You don’t need external praise to validate your accomplishments. Feeling content or happy with yourself comes from the inside out, not outside in. You most likely gravitated toward getting external approval from your narcissist and realized you would never get it since they don’t have the capacity to give it. Instead, you feel proud for surviving, for getting out, for overcoming such a challenging time in your life. When you feel proud of yourself, it makes it that much easier to want to continue along the path of growth and betterment. Feeling proud of yourself also leads to wanting to do even more for yourself, whether that’s going back to school, finding a new career path, or taking a trip.
9. You Notice You Are Expanding Parts of Yourself:
This is an important sign — after years of being codependent and lost in someone else’s game, you can finally see yourself more clearly. And you are growing by using your strengths. It may not be an exact picture of who you want to be yet, but you’ve at least made progress. You know yourself better now…possibly even better than you ever have before. This means that you can better determine what it is that you want for your future and which direction to go next.
10. Your Self-Esteem Feels Clearer:
You find that it’s easier to be assertive with people who intimidate you and you can more easily speak up and express your thoughts and opinions. You also might be surprised to see that you don’t care anymore if people disagree with you or think less of you because you know deep down that who you are is enough.
11. You No Longer Feel The Need To Explain Yourself:
When you first began to put your life back together, you felt the need to explain everything that happened and how it affected you. Now, when people ask why you left or how it’s going, you just say, “It’s what was best for me.” And that’s all there is to it. No matter what they say, you don’t feel the need to defend your actions anymore.
12. You Set Boundaries In Your Relationships:
Though it’s still difficult, you’re able to stand up for yourself in situations where previously you’d give in just to avoid conflict. When you feel assertive and confident, others notice as well. Add to that a sense of relief that you no longer have to shoulder the responsibility for other people’s problems. You’ve realized that you’re an adult and you no longer have to fix everything.
13. You Are More Open To New Relationships:
After having your boundaries trampled on and your trust broken, you are afraid of getting hurt again. But now you’re gaining more confidence. Your boundaries are defined and intact. And if someone is not respecting them, you know it. This makes you feel safe. And as a result, you open up to finding new friends or even a partner.
14. You Embrace Scary Things With More Confidence:
You no longer avoid everything that makes your palms sweat or your heart race. You are slowly getting out of your comfort zone because you now know that overcoming these fears helps build confidence and courage. Things that once seemed impossible, now seem easier.
15. You Are Able To Identify More Clearly What You Like:
Before, you were so concerned with keeping someone else happy that you forgot about yourself. But now you’re defining what YOU want and you’re willing to fight for it. Your decisions no longer hinge on someone else’s desires, which leads to less internal conflict about decision-making and more peace after you’ve made a choice.
16. You’re More Open To The Kindness Of Strangers:
You are growing the part of you that feels you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. You find that it’s much easier to open up to people you don’t know very well. You can have a full conversation with cashiers, baristas, and strangers on public transit without much hesitation. You don’t feel the need to defend yourself or put up walls.
17. You’ve Started Enjoying Hobbies Or Activities:
As life starts to normalize, you’ve decided to do things that make it easier for you to relax and enjoy your free time. Whether that involves painting, dancing, jogging, or cooking, you’ve found you can actually stay present and enjoy activities without feeling anxious.
18. Your Productivity Has Increased Dramatically:
Your motivation is much higher when you aren’t so drained from the mental and emotional abuse of your previous relationship. You can actually get more things done and find yourself completing tasks more quickly. Maybe you’ve even gone back to work, started your own business, or finally launched that side hustle!
19. You Feel A Huge Weight Has Been Lifted From Your Shoulders:
You realize that you no longer have to worry about someone else’s feelings. You don’t have to sacrifice your own well-being for someone else and you can finally put yourself first. You don’t feel obligated or pressured into doing anything that you don’t want to do. You feel free!
20. You Are Grateful For New Connections:
You can think of at least one person in your life who has truly changed you for the better and would have never met if not for narcissistic abuse. This person makes your life richer and fuller. This person is a great reminder that there are kind, good people in the world that you can trust.
21. You’ve Found Support:
Whether it’s a therapist, coach, group of friends, or support community, you know that you are not alone. You know there’s nothing wrong in asking for help when hard feelings come up or certain situations trigger your memories. Whether you need advice, encouragement, or just an understanding ear, there are people that want to help you. And you are weeding out people that are not helpful or bring you down.
22. You’re Starting To Connect With Yourself Again:
The fog has finally cleared, allowing you to see yourself more clearly. For the first time in a long time, you are starting to feel love towards your own person. You value your own strengths and you know what to do when you are feeling low.
23. You’ve Started Practicing Self-Care:
As a result of practicing self-love, you’re finally becoming comfortable with the idea of treating yourself rather than dismissing your needs as “selfish.” You are learning to become more mindful of your emotional state and your physical needs. Exercising, eating well, and getting enough quality sleep are no longer indulgences or optional activities.
24. You Don’t Take Anything Your Narcissist Says About You Personally:
You know that you are NOT crazy, stupid, or worthless. You know that the things your narcissist said to you were not true. You might still have some negative thoughts about yourself from time to time, but you are able to remind yourself of the truth and let those thoughts go. And when your narcissist starts another smear campaign, you can stand tall knowing it has nothing to do with you.
25. And Finally…You Know Why Narcissists Are the Way They Are:
You know they cannot change, but you can!! You may not have a solution for this, but you’re more understanding and accepting of why narcissists are the way they are. You may not forget what happened in your past, but you’re able to let go of the hurt and anger that was keeping you stuck because you know their brain does not work the same as others.
No one recovers from narcissistic abuse overnight, and there is no “right” way to heal. These 22 signs are simply some of the most common indications that a survivor is on the road to recovery. If you can relate to many of these points, know that you are not alone. And know that you are definitely on the right track. Healing takes time, effort, and patience, but it is possible to reclaim your life after narcissistic abuse.
If you’d like to take your healing to the next level and get clear, confident, and fully reconnected to your authentic self, book a free self-reflection session where we will cover four key questions to get you one step closer to fully embracing a new life.