One of the best tools for thriving and enjoying
life after narcissistic abuse is learning to reframe.
Reframing is the process of rethinking everything we have learned throughout childhood and adulthood. It might seem like an enormous task, but it’s actually quite simple and can be done one step at a time.
So why do we need to re-frame? Because narcissistic parents have raised us as though their spin on life is the only way to live life. Of course by now most of us realize this isn’t true, but the things we were taught growing up are often hidden deep in the psyche and we find ourselves making the same mistakes are our parents because we didn’t re-frame.
Here are five things we need to reframe in order to thrive and why we need to re-frame them:
- Reframing Our Life Stories
Whether we are writing a memoir or just understanding our stories for our own sanity, it is important to re-frame the events that shaped our lives. We often take some fact for granted and sometimes a little research helps us find out something we never realized before. Another good reason to reframe our stories is to make peace with disturbing events in our past. If we don’t reframe, we might have what ACoNs* call fleas–this means we might act like our narents because we have never seen another way to live life. Reframing allows us to step outside of our heads and look at the big picture of our lives and see what is possible without the narcissist’s dark shadow coloring everything.
- Reframing Our Relationships
This seems like an obvious place to reframe, but it’s surprising at how many people are still trying to get along with the narc or flying monkeys long after they know what they are dealing with. We sometimes need an objective opinion. This is where a good counselor can really help us. It is sometimes a shock to us to realize not all families are like ours.Many ACoNs leave one narcissist when they leave their childhood home and run straight into the arms of another. This happens because they needed to reframe the abuse and understand the issues surrounding narcissism. When they were young and trying to escape, the new narc felt comfortable because their actions were familiar. When we learn to reframe our relationships, we become wiser and less vulnerable and can avoid future relationships with another narcissist.
- Reframing Our Pain
Sometimes even after we have discovered the truth about narcissism and the fact we cannot fix our parents, we find we are still in pain. Statistics reveal childhood trauma affects our income and health for decades. We might take time to heal, but reframing can speed up the process once we learn to reject the negative people and voices in our head. Eventually, we might see the pain we have endured as a step to a brighter and more healthier future.
- Reframing Our Shame
Who hasn’t felt shame? It’s one thing to feel guilty for hurting someone and another to carry shame as our identity. When we reframe our shame, we can separate the things that happened to us that were not our fault, from our own guilt inducing mistakes. Many ACoNs have been told it is their fault when a parent is sad or mad or abused them. This is heaping shame on injury. Once again sometimes the only way to sort it all out is to find a counselor and reframe these accusations. It’s amazing how free we can become when we let go of all the baggage heaped on us by the narcissist.These are just a few ways we can reframe our lives. It might seem heavy at first, but just take it one step at a time. There is also no specific order to do these things, choose whichever concepts or areas in your life inspire you to r-frame. Sit down with your favorite beverage and make a list of things you might have wondered about, then find a trusted friend or counselor to share your list with. It will be eye opening to see how a better understanding of these concepts could change your life and help you thrive beyond narcissism.
*ACoN – Adult Children of Narcissists