We undergo narcissistic injuries all the time throughout our lives.
Our partner cheats on us. Our boss fires us. Our husband announces they want a divorce. That girl/boy we’ve been going out with tells us they want to end things.
Narcissistic injuries are part of life — you can neither prevent nor predict them. What you can do, is to learn how to effectively cope with them.
This article breaks down:
- what is a narcissistic injury
- why each person reacts differently to a narcissistic injury
- how you can cope with narcissistic injuries
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
What Is a Narcissistic Injury?
Narcissistic injuries refer to each loss and rejection we undergo throughout our lives, that hurts our ego and lowers our self-esteem.
As clinical psychologist Vanessa Moore explains in her article:
“The psychoanalytic literature describes the loss, any loss, as a blow to the ego, which creates a ‘narcissistic injury’: a wound to the self that lowers our self-esteem and can result in a range of emotions, including shame, humiliation, and rage.”
Since loss and rejection are ever-present in every person’s life, there’s no way to prevent or predict narcissistic injuries — we can only learn how to heal the wounds they create.
But before discussing effective coping strategies, let’s take a look at why each person reacts differently whenever they experience those kinds of injuries.
Why Do People React Differently to Narcissistic Injuries?
People’s reactions to narcissistic injuries vary.
Some people bounce back from rejection and overcome loss in a short amount of time, without asking anyone for help. Others might feel angry and devastated from rejection and loss for months, even years.
Have you ever wondered how come your friend seems to bounce back from their breakups in no time, whereas you’ve been spending months pining over your ex?
It all comes down to your Rejection Sensitivity levels.
Psychologist Vanessa Moore explains:
“People who have high RS experience greater psychological distress when they are rejected and may misinterpret the reactions of others as a result of their hypersensitivity. So if a friend doesn’t respond to a text straight away, a person with high RS might think that they no longer want to be friends, whereas someone with lower RS might assume that they’re busy.”
In other words, if you have high RS you might be prone to misinterpreting certain interactions as rejection and overreacting to being rejected whereas if you have low RS, you’re likely dealing with rejection in a calm and rational way.
If the former sounds familiar to you, don’t worry too much about it — there are some effective coping strategies you can always use and make the handling-rejection process easier.
How to Cope With Narcissistic Injuries
Υou might find yourself being unable to get over your ex. You might still be mourning the end of your marriage or you might struggle to re-enter the dating game after being cheated on.
My point is, coping with narcissistic injuries can be very difficult. Here are some strategies that might make the process easier:
Make an effort to be kind to yourself:
Don’t pay too much attention to your inner critic. Try to talk to and treat yourself equally as kind and gentle as you’d treat a good friend. Narcissistic injuries happen all the time — it doesn’t mean you’re the one to blame.
Sure, maybe you made a lot of mistakes in your relationship or you misjudged a person’s true intentions, but that’s something that can happen to anyone. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Learn from your mistakes, and allow yourself to try again.
Surround yourself with supportive people:
Sometimes, upon taking multiple or unexpected blows to your self-esteem, you might find it difficult to heal your wounds and re-acknowledge your worth.
That’s why it’s important that you have a supportive cycle of people around you. Start spending more time with friends or family members that make you feel good, calm, and supported. Try to eliminate or at least spend much less time with people who only see doom and gloom and make you feel worse about yourself.
Indulge in emotionally fulfilling activities:
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Do more of what makes you happy” a million times. It might sound ultra-cliché, but there’s a reason so many people go around saying it: When you do things that make you happy, you feel confident, fulfilled, motivated, and, well… happy!
If you’re struggling to heal from a break-up, a divorce, or any other kind of “narcissistic injury” the best way to pick up your pieces, distance yourself from your bad experience and gradually heal, is to indulge in emotionally fulfilling activities. Read more books, go out for more walks, start a new hobby, write, craft, cook — anything that makes you feel good and emotionally fulfilled.
Try to build a healthier lifestyle:
Our emotional and physical health are fundamentally connected. Handling loss and rejection in a healthy way and healing from narcissistic wounds also requires a healthy lifestyle.
Despite what many people might think, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just mean eating more veggies (although you should definitely eat more!). It also includes regular exercise, getting enough sleep, proper hydration, low levels of stress, and having some structure and security in your life.
All these things combined contribute to building a healthy lifestyle, which in turn, will strengthen your emotional well-being and make it easier to handle and overcome loss, rejection, and emotional injuries.
To Sum It Up…
Narcissistic injuries are part of life. It doesn’t matter how good, clever, or beautiful you are — you’ll have to deal with loss and rejection eventually.
If you have low RS (Rejection Sensitivity) levels you probably have dealt/will deal with them in a calm and rational way. For those not-so-lucky ones with high RS, however, dealing with various blows to their self-esteem can be tricky and emotionally exhausting.
However, things can always get easier. Once you learn to be kind to yourself, surround yourself with supportive people, start spending more time in emotionally fulfilling activities and build a healthier lifestyle, the process of healing your wounds won’t be so emotionally draining.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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