One of the best tools for thriving and enjoying life after narcissism is learning to re-frame. Re-framing 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 re-frame in order to thrive and why we need to re-frame them:
- Re-framing 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 re-frame our stories is to make peace with disturbing events in our past. If we don’t re-frame, 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. RE-framing allows us to step outside of our heads and look at the big picture of our lives and see what is possible without narcissism’s dark shadows.
- Re-Framing Our Relationships
This seems like an obvious place to re-frame, 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 home and run straight into the arms of another narcissist. This happens because they need to re-frame and understand the issues surrounding narcissism. When we are young and trying to escape, the new narc feels comfortable because their actions are familiar to us, but if we can learn to re-frame our relationships, we will become wiser and less vulnerable to future relationships with a narc.
- Re-Framing Our Shame
Who hasn’t felt shame? It’s one thing to feel guilty for harming someone and another to carry shame as our identity. When we re-frame our shame, we can separate the things that happened to us that we not our fault, from our own guilt inducing mistakes. Many ACoNs have been told it is their fault their narent 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 re-frame these accusations. It’s amazing how free we can become when we let go of all the baggage heaped on us by the narc.
- Re-Framing Our Pain
Sometimes even after we have discovered the truth about narcissism and the fact we cannot fix our narents, we find we are still in pain. Statistics reveal childhood trauma affects our income and healthy for decades. We might take time to heal, but re-framing 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.
- Re-Framing Our Concept of Good
It’s very possible we are confused because we have learned to call good things bad and bad things good. We learned this from the twisted mind of the narc. Sometimes the things we call good might even still be good without a narcissist to control the situation. A family meal can be good–but only with love and respect for all. Hanging with the family should be good, but not if you can’t be yourself. Learning to define what is actually good versus what we thought was good is an important act of re-framing. Growing up with narcissism, we were misled and deceived about what was good. It’s time to make our own rules now and decide what’s best for ourselves.
- Re-Framing Our Concept of God
We can’t worship the god of the narcissist–partially because the narc worships their own interests more than God and partially because the narc taught us false pictures of God. The best news is God is not like our narents, but we can’t know this unless we take the time to re-frame God. Whatever your understanding of God, you can benefit from examining the evidence.
So these are just a few ways we can re-frame 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 re-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
#Narent – Narcissistic Parent