I received this letter from one of my followers. She had dated a narcissist and fell into a depression after he broke up with her. The relationship was very damaging, and she was hurt by the abuse of a narcissistic relationship. She isolated herself but was beginning to want to reconnect with others. She didn’t know where to begin to rebuild her life, and she needed my advice.
I’ve been following your Instagram for months now, and it’s totally saving my life — thank you. Whenever I feel like I’m being sucked into a black hole, I scroll your feed until I feel better.
My #AskMorgan question for you is this: My narcissist ex-boyfriend dumped me last summer, trying to get me back a couple of times until he would ghost me again. Because I had no idea what a narcissist was or what it can do to your mind, I fell into a deep depression over it. I stopped going out, my work suffered, and I isolated myself, watching reality TV all day.
Luckily, things have begun changing the last few weeks. I’m starting to feel lonely and like I want to be around people. However, I have been alone for so long that being around people, even in short doses, can be too much. I don’t have many friends or the energy for small talk but have to do something. I don’t want to live like this anymore.
So, how do I do this? How do I start getting my life back again?
Thank you for the kind words about my Instagram profile, I’m so glad my message resonates with you and that it’s helping with your situation.
I also want you to know you’re not alone. Unfortunately, isolating and falling into a depression after narcissistic abuse is very common. That said, I’m pleased to know that you are doing what you need to do to recover and move forward towards a more positive and uplifting state.
So, before I address the mindset and steps necessary for getting your social life back, I would like to address your [possible] emotional state briefly.
After going through narcissistic abuse, it is common to experience what is known as Trauma Bonding. Trauma bonding is an unhealthy loyalty towards your abuser that almost feels like an addiction, a love addiction if you will. And just like any substance we’re addicted to, our body needs to go through a detox process in order to get back to optimum levels.
Detoxing from trauma bonding, once you have gone “no contact” from your abuser, takes an average of eighteen months to get through. And please note, the recovery process is not linear, nor is it easy to go through, so be kind and gentle with yourself as you go through it.
Now then, onto what you can do to get you back into life again.
When you have isolated from people for extended periods of time, becoming acclimated to social environments and interactions again can take some practice. You need to practice being “on” with your social energy, as well as be ready with the latest news of the day or at least what’s happening in your industry. To do this, you need both the right mindset and course of action to follow so that you’re more confident with the process.
To make this simpler, I’m going to break it down into two parts: one for mindset and one for actions steps so that you can apply both to your life for immediate results.
As you may know, everything we believe first started off as an idea in our mind. Hence, the same way you were programmed into isolation to protect yourself from harm and abuse, you can be re-programmed with the types of beliefs that will support your new desired outcome. In this instance, a healthier social life.
To do this, I’m going to offer you two exercises that, if done regularly, will help build the necessary beliefs to get you out there again.
If you are familiar with my work, then you know that I believe that our imagination is like the blueprint for our desired reality. We can visualize the things we want to experience over and over again until we’re comfortable and confident in them manifesting. So, the first thing I’m going to invite you to do is to visualize yourself in social settings you believe would make you feel good, every morning for five to ten minutes – or however long it takes for you to generate the feelings of being in the desired situation.
Because the mind doesn’t know the difference between what it imagines and what it really experiences, this visualization exercise gives you a way to practice interacting with people without having to actually do it. This “practice time” allows you to see how you may want to look, rehearse what you want to say, and maybe even go over what you may do in different scenarios. No matter how you use this time, this visualization exercise will help you build confidence in your ability to get out there again.
2. The Focus Wheel
The “Focus Wheel,” as you may know, is a common tool in the self-improvement world for building our beliefs about something we want to achieve. How it works is, you write down a desire, in this instance, “have a healthy social life” and put a circle around it. From this circle, you draw lines to other circles where you write down reasons your desired outcome is probable for you. For example, “I already have some friends who care about me.”
These phrases, when written down repetitively, will help reinforce these positive ideas back to you about your ability to have the social life you desire, which will, in turn, build your confidence to achieve them.
I grew up in a spiritual center where the minister used to say, “You gotta treat (pray), and move your feet,” and I wholeheartedly agree. So, here’s where you have a chance to put your money where your mouth is, and put some action behind your desire.
Because you haven’t socialized in so long, any type of social interaction may feel overwhelming. So, I’m going to give you a list of a few “starter venues” and how I share with my clients to use them to get back into socializing again. My reason for doing it this way is to inspire you to not only use these but to come up with some that best suit your personality.
The Mall / Entertainment Retail Space
I recommend going to a mall or outdoor retail space because you can walk around and interact with salespeople who are supposed to be nice to you and you can leave the store if you’re uncomfortable. These venues also provide for great people watching. Hence, you can find a nice place to sit and people watch, feeling the social energy and environment, without actually having to speak to anyone.
Spiritual / Fitness Center
Gyms and churches are great when you’re ready to have controlled social interaction. In these venues, you can people watch, interact with staff from a distance, or even form surface connections with other members. All which offer different levels of social opportunity, depending on how you feel in the moment.
Workshops / Classes
When you are ready to form longer connections, the kind that lead to potential friendships, workshops and classes on topics you’re already interested in are a great starting place. These opportunities allow you to build a steady connection with someone, over a period of time, with a common connection already present. I recommend this option when you feel ready to commit (or push) yourself to being out there regularly.
I hope this helps.
Remember, you are loved.