Tag Archives: thoughts
Ruminating thoughts are very common after someone has experienced trauma, in particular in cases of PTSD & C-PTSD. They are when a person can’t stop thinking about their awful experiences.
Like many people, I experienced them once C-PTSD developed, but I still had a slight degree of control over them. Sometimes, I could force them to stop & think of something else. After surviving carbon monoxide poisoning though, my brain was damaged. Part of that damage was no longer having the ability to control those ruminating thoughts. I had to learn new & effective ways to cope with them.
After my mother’s sudden death in April, my ruminating thoughts got really, really bad! At first it was incredibly hard to handle them on top of everything else about the situation. With God’s help, after a few months of this, I’ve gotten a much better grip on the awful ruminating thoughts.
When they happen, I’ve learned it’s best if at all possible to get alone & sit with the thoughts. I let them run their course, reminding me of whatever awful thing they are about. I also allow myself to feel the emotions that the thoughts trigger. Whatever it is, be it anger, sadness, hurt, I feel them. No, this isn’t easy. In fact it’s incredibly difficult, but it is also well worth it. The more I do this, the less frequent the ruminating thoughts on that particular topic are.
Immediately following my mother’s death, I kept having ruminating thoughts about the night the police came to give me the news of her passing. It was hardly a pleasant experience to say the least. I would relive their visit over & over in my mind. At first, I did my best to ignore these thoughts. I didn’t see it could do me any good to think about that night.
As time went on though & the thoughts were still frequent, I realized something had to give. I started allowing myself to think about that awful night, & to feel the emotions that I remember feeling that night. I leaned on God to help me but even with Him, it was still quite painful. However, the more I did this when they happened, the less painful remembering that night became. As an added bonus, the less frequently the ruminating thoughts about that night became. I still remember that night pretty frequently & it still hurts to be honest, but now I think it’s on a much more normal level. After all, it’s only been just under 4 months since my mother died. That isn’t a long time at all, so it’s totally normal considering the length of time, our lack of relationship & the rest of the odd situation that I’d still be very upset about her death.
If you suffer with ruminating thoughts, I recommend that you do the same things I have. Get alone with the thoughts as soon as you can. Let them run their course & feel your feelings. Let God help you to get through them, too. Tell Him what you feel & allow Him to validate & comfort you. It’s going to hurt at first, but I promise, it gets easier as you do it! I also promise it’s well worth the pain you feel at first when those ruminating thoughts come less frequently or even disappear in time. It’s kind of like lancing a boil. That doesn’t even sound pleasant & must be awful to experience, but it must be done in order to release the infection so the body can heal. You’re doing the same basic thing – you’re going through the discomfort of facing these ugly things head on so your mind can heal.
Ruminating thoughts are a miserable thing, I know. They don’t have to cause you unnecessary suffering anymore, however! You can make these miserable things work in your favor. You can use them as a tool towards healing!
If you have survived narcissistic abuse, then you know how badly it can mess with your mind. One thing it does is it can skew a person’s perspective in all kinds of ways. It can leave a person feeling badly about themselves, such as believing they are ugly or stupid when nothing could be further from the truth. It also can make a person overly pessimistic, because he or she has had so many bad things happen to them. Or, it can turn a person overly optimistic, because either he or she has decided not to be so negative like the narcissist who abused them or he or she is trying so hard to distance from the abuse in every possible way.
In any case, neither being too pessimistic or optimistic is good. Pessimists are often depressed because they only see the bad things in life & expect only bad things to happen. Optimists are often depressed, too, because they constantly expect good things to happen. When something happens that isn’t so good, they are shocked & saddened.
Being realistic yet slightly optimistic seems to be the healthiest way to think, in my opinion anyway. You accept things as they are, whether good or bad, & if there is a way to glean good from it, you do it.
It can be tricky to get your thinking more balanced after being so out of balance for a long time, but it is still possible. It takes time, patience, understanding with yourself, focus & help from God.
Prayer truly is the best place to start. Ask God for whatever it is you need, such as helping you to be more aware of unhealthy thoughts so you can change them.
I recommend too, focusing on God. If your relationship with Him isn’t particularly close, then work on it. Drawing close to your Heavenly Father really helps to bring comfort, peace & joy.
Also try to focus on what you think about. Many times, people just think things & don’t even realize what they are thinking about. Slow your thoughts down & pay attention to the things that cross your mind. Acknowledge them & accept them without judgment.
Question those thoughts, too. Is it possible that your expectations of this person/situation are unrealistic? Ok, so this situation is pretty bad.. is there something good that you can take away from it?
If you tend to think too emotionally, then try to interject some logic into your thoughts. If you have trouble doing this, try imagining your situation not as yours, but as that of a friend who has come to you with this situation, looking for advice or comfort. How would you feel about it as an outsider? What would you think of your friend’s feelings? Thinking this way can help to detach you some emotionally so you can look at situations more objectively.
Although it may take some time, you can learn to have a healthier perspective on life. It will be well worth your time & energy when you are a happier & more peaceful person.
Lately I’ve noticed something. So many people are just over the top positive. They can find something good in every single situation, no matter what. While that may sound good, I really don’t think it’s entirely good for a person’s mental health.
If you’re very positive, you expect nothing but good things to happen. Since life isn’t always perfect, bad things do happen, & when they do, overly positive people can be devastated. A realistic person hopes for the best, but also prepares for the worst. When something bad happens, they aren’t usually overwhelmed, because they knew it was possible something bad might happen.
Very positive people also can unintentionally invalidate others, which damages their relationships. Look at these typical scenarios:
- You’re recovering from a potentially life threatening illness. The overly positive person says, “At least you’re still alive!” Well, yes, but that comment makes you feel like you don’t have the right to be upset about the fact that you could have died, when in fact you most certainly have that right!
- A soldier with PTSD saved his friends’ lives by killing an enemy soldier who was running at them, guns blazing. A positive person might say something like, “You did a brave thing! Look at the lives you saved!” While that’s true, how about asking how he feels about the incident, or offering him comfort because he had to kill another human being & is having difficulties coming to terms with it?
- You tell the overly positive person of trauma in your life such as your parents’ abusing you, being the victim of a mugging or maybe being in a terrible car wreck. The overly positive person says, “Other people have been through much worse!” Or, even worse, they don’t so much as acknowledge what you said.
- You were adopted as a baby. As an adult, you’re frustrated because you don’t know your family’s history, how many siblings you may or may not have, why you were given up for adoption or even what name your biological mother wanted to give you. Or, maybe your adoptive parents abused you. An overly positive person might tell you how lucky you were & how grateful you should be to be adopted, making you feel guilty for not feeling so lucky or grateful.
I’m not trying to say being positive is all bad. It certainly has its place. It can help you in tough times to focus on the good, such as remembering the good times with your loved one after he or she has passed away. I do believe though that there must be balance.
Being too positive means a person doesn’t deal with their emotions in a healthy way. They ignore the anger, hurt or sadness & put on a happy face. That is never a healthy thing to do! Emotions demand to be felt, so if they aren’t felt in a healthy way, they’ll find a way to manifest in an unhealthy way. This can lead to physical health problems such as high blood pressure as well as angry outbursts or depression.
It also can lead to deep insecurity. If a person feels bad about themselves for feeling a negative emotion, chances are, that person will shame themselves for what they feel. Their self talk will be awful. They’ll tell themselves things like, “You’re so stupid for being mad/sad about that!” Negative self talk can damage self-esteem, which is never a good thing.
You can be positive yet realistic at the same time, Dear Reader. If something bad happened, there is nothing wrong with admitting that event was bad. As I’ve mentioned before, in 2015, I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Good has come from it- my personality changes have worked well for me. I’m happy to say I no longer have patience for abusive people, I’m better with self care than ever before & I finally will stand up for myself. But, at the same time, I don’t like the fact I get tired so easily, I have constant head, neck & body pain, sometimes my moods swing like crazy, & my memory & comprehension are seriously damaged. See what I mean? I have found the positive, but at the same time, I admit the negative. You can do this too, & I firmly believe when you do, you will be much happier than if you are overly positive.
Everyone has an inner voice. That sense of pride when you do a job well is a part of it, as is that other voice that criticizes you when you make a mistake. For most of us who suffered narcissistic abuse, that inner voice turns into the harshest, cruelest critic you can imagine.
Have you ever done something simple, like spill your drink, & then tell yourself how clumsy you are for doing so? Or, did you show up late due to circumstances beyond your control such as a flat tire then berate yourself for being so unreliable? Did your company let you go due to cutbacks, no fault of your own, yet you still told yourself you were a failure? That is your inner voice turned inner faultfinder.
That voice isn’t naturally cruel. It turns cruel because of your narcissistic mother. Her constant put downs & judgments eventually turn inward, & you began to tell yourself the same things she did. Maybe you use her words, or maybe not, but you become as abusive towards yourself as she is towards you.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a natural event for children of narcissistic mothers. I wonder if it is because that inner voice stays stuck as a child. It doesn’t grow up, but instead stays an abused child, wanting to please the impossible to please narcissistic mother. When you fail to please her (by making a mistake, spilling something, doing something she wouldn’t approve of, etc.), that inner voice simply repeats what your mother has said (or implied). I’ve heard that some people who experience trauma at an early age never emotionally grow past that point. They get stuck at the age of their traumatic experience. Maybe for some of us who didn’t do that, our inner voice did instead. It just got stuck in an abusive childhood, & wants so desperately to please the narcissistic mother, it will imitate her actions in an attempt to make it happen.
I have been this way my entire life- extremely critical of myself. If I forget something, I tell myself how stupid I am. If I’m feeling under the weather & my husband helps me with or worse yet, does all of the housework, I’m useless & a burden. If I stub my toe, I’m stupid, clumsy & should’ve known better. It’s not a pretty inner dialog. Frankly, it’s gotten old. I’ve heard enough unfair criticisms in my life to last ten lifetimes, & not only from the narcissists- from myself as well. I’ve decided it’s time to change. God has shown me some ways to change this, & I’ll share with you in the hopes they help you as well..
- Ask for God’s help on the matter. He will show you creative ways to handle it as He has me.
- Tell that critic to shut up. I’m going to say “shut up!” to that awful faultfinding, hyper-critical voice inside every time it says something hateful, then switch my thinking to something else. Anything to take my mind off what it said.
- Remind yourself the critic is only an echo of your narcissistic mother, & it’s wrong. Just like your narcissistic mother, this voice has her best interests at heart, not yours. Its opinions won’t benefit you. Ignore it as you do your narcissistic mother’s useless opinions on your life.
- Years ago, I saw Robb Thompson, a preacher on TV, give a wonderful visual for controlling bad thoughts. He said they were from the devil, so when bad thoughts came to you, imagine taking the devil by the hand, walking him over to God & saying to the devil, “Ok, now tell Him what you just told me.” Naturally the devil would be too afraid to say anything so cruel to one of His children in front of God & would back down.
I believe it will take time to make that cruel inner voice less cruel but I think it can be done. After all, it was trained to be so negative- why can’t it be retrained to be less abusive?
There have been a great deal of controversial things happening in the world lately, such as same sex marriage becoming a nationwide right. People often have extreme feelings on controversial issues. So extreme in fact, many friendships have ended due to people disagreeing with each other.
This makes me sad. I don’t understand why people won’t respect each other’s opinions. Agree to disagree, if you will. You don’t have to agree on every single thing to have a good relationship. No two people will anyway, because God made everyone an individual, with unique tastes, thoughts & feelings.
Disagreeing with someone’s views on a topic doesn’t give you the right to force your views on them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, whether it’s right, wrong or indifferent. If God Himself doesn’t force people to do anything, what makes you think you have that right?
I’m hoping, Dear Reader, that this doesn’t describe you. But, if it does, I pray God will help you to become more gentle & understanding in your behavior.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of harsh words due to a differing opinion, I’m very sorry. It’s hurtful, I know. If you haven’t lost your friend because of your views, but you two disagree, it may be a good idea simply to avoid discussing the topic. If you have a good friend, yet you both feel strongly on different sides of a topic, why let that one thing hurt your friendship? Agree to disagree. Simply accept that you both feel differently on the issue at hand, & don’t discuss it anymore. This really works if both people value the friendship & are willing to do this. I’ve done this myself in my friendships, usually with good results.
Sometimes though, it doesn’t turn out as well. Some people are so determined to make sure you hear their opinions & change yours to theirs, it will ruin a friendship. They always remind me of this one dream I had last year. I wrote about it here if you’d like to read it. I’ve been in that situation too, & it really hurts. A few years ago, I ended a friendship of 20 years because that person only cared about what he cared about, nothing else mattered, even hurting me. It still hurts to this day. Unfortunately in these situations, you’re going to hurt. It’s just a fact. All you can do is nurse your wounds, & appreciate the good, caring friends you have who are willing to accept you even if you differ on opinions.
Many people who grew up abused tend to have black & white thinking. For example, you may think you’re a bad employee because you made a mistake at work, or a bad spouse because you forgot your wedding anniversary rather than just thinking you made mistakes. Most people aren’t so hard on themselves, & are much more forgiving than that.
This type of thinking can damage relationships as well as your self-esteem. If, as an example, you grew up told by your narcissistic mother that all people who listen to heavy metal music are bad & accepted that belief, then you are either missing out on potentially good relationships, or if you later find out someone you’re close to likes metal, you’ll end that relationship.
Black & white thinking has its roots in childhood, like so many other things. When you grow up with a parent berating, shaming & criticizing you, you take it to heart! You tend to continue to do those same behaviors to yourself as an adult. It’s time to stop doing that to yourself! You don’t deserve to continue the abuse that was so unfairly done to you! You deserve better!
Today, I want you to decide to stop with the black & white thinking!
To do this, you’ll need to do several things. First of all, ask God to help you. Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth & the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight”. God wants to help you think better! Allow Him to do so.
You also need to challenge how you think. Slow down & pay attention to your thoughts. When you make a mistake & begin to beat yourself up for it, stop! Stop right there & remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. EVERYONE! Not only you. If people didn’t make mistakes, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Mistakes are a part of life- you need to accept that fact.
If you find yourself thinking something or someone is bad, then again, stop. Ask yourself why you think this. If you realize it’s because your narcissistic mother dislikes a quality that person has, then it’s time to challenge her opinion. Not to her but to yourself. Did she say why she hates something or someone? Do her reasons make sense? If not, discard them & form your own opinion! You don’t have to share her beliefs or feelings. You have the right to have your own!
Black & white thinking also can be a hindrance in healing from abuse. If you’re like me, you tend to frequently tell yourself that you should be better by now, you’ve been feeling sorry for yourself for too long, you need to let this go & more unhealthy things. Please, please, please stop it right now!!! Easier said than done, I know, but please try anyway. I’ve gotten better at this, although I still slip up sometimes. When I tell myself these awful things, I remind myself narcissistic abuse is a terrible thing. Healing from it is a lifelong task. Narcissistic abuse is insidious & permeates every part of your being. You can’t heal from that kind of pain & suffering in a month or even a year. It’s perfectly normal to heal little by little over the course of your life. It’s also perfectly normal for healing to be an up & down process. Emotional healing is never strictly an uphill battle. It’s more like an uphill battle with periodic falls into valleys & side trips.
Dear Reader, please be encouraged today to be better to yourself. Think about what you’re thinking about. Challenge those things that aren’t beneficial to you, & change how you think into more healthy thoughts. You deserve it!
Good morning, Dear Readers!
I read a lovely quote yesterday by Budda. It says, “Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” I thought it was a very true & lovely quote, & it reminded me of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV)
I am not of the delusional mindset that if you are just positive enough, all the pain from the painful experiences will magically disappear. I also will never, ever say I am grateful for the abuse & traumas I’ve experienced in my life, or that they were a blessing. And honestly, I have yet to find any blessing in some situations even years later. However, I am happy to say that some good has come from them. My horrible first marriage taught me it’s better to be alone than with an abuser, to recognize certain warning signs in a man that show he isn’t good for me, & to recognize signs of abuse in a romantic relationship. The narcissistic abuse from my mother taught me so much about what makes her act the way she does, how it has affected me, setting & enforcing healthy boundaries & more, plus it’s enabled me to help others in similar situations.
By saying these things, I’m not saying abuse or trauma is a good thing, or is necessary for building character or anything so ludicrous. I’m also not trying to trivialize trauma. I’m just saying I think it can be a good & healthy thing to find the little bit of positive in a sea of pure crap. For years, I thought my pain had no purpose at all & nothing good could ever come from it. Realizing it has, has helped me be more at peace with the traumatic events. By that I mean that I’ve been able to accept that they did happen & cope to the best of my ability, which is so much better than how I used to handle my pain- by stuffing it down inside & trying to ignore it.
It just amazes me how God can pull some good out of so many terrible situations. Regarding Romans 8:28, when I thought about that Scripture this morning, I thought about my gorgeous snowshoe Siamese cat, Jasmine. Jasmine was a lovely cat, but her first 7 years of life, she had irresponsible owners who passed her from home to home. Her last owner before me was good to her, but she passed away in 2003, which is when I inherited Jasmine. I learned early Jas had a wall up- she was obviously tired of getting close to someone only to have them abandon her.
On Christmas day, 2009, my husband found her barely responsive. We couldn’t see the vet until the following day, but we immediately got her in that day. The vet had taken such good care of Danya, my husky/wolf, when he had diabetes, that I was positive he’d be equally as great with Jasmine. Not only did he misdiagnose her as having cancer or pancreatic issues, he coldly told me I should “just put her down.” I don’t believe in doing that, plus Jasmine’s pleading eyes told me it would’ve been a mistake. I took her home, expecting my beautiful girl to die in 1-2 days. Instead, she started to improve. She moved a little, then ate & drank a little. Five days later, she sat upright! In looking online for answers for her symptoms, I met a good friend who is a vet tech, who diagnosed Jasmine as having had a stroke! Once she said that, i was able to take care of Jasmine & she recovered with only a little sway to her rear end as a sign she had a stroke.
During following 2 years, Jasmine had 3 more strokes, only her final one giving her any problems. She fully recovered from the other 2. We became even closer as I cared for her. That wall she had built crumbled, & she became not only dependent on me for her care, but also for comfort & love. She also fought so hard after each stroke to recover fully until she no longer could do so after her last stroke. And even then, she fought so hard to stay alive. Her blue eyes stared into mine for her last few hours with such love.. it was beautiful, the love she showed me.
While I can’t say her strokes were a good thing by any means, I still am grateful that she let them change her. We became so close, much closer during her last 2 years than during the previous 6 years when she was in better health. She also became very close to the other cats & dogs, rather than ignoring them. She even became more clear in her communications with me, which struck me funny since one of our dogs at the time was very good at communicating with me, & she always had looked down on him for that.
Out of such a tragic event as a stroke, something beautiful happened. Jasmine was able finally to accept the fact she had a loving family, & to accept happily the gestures of love we all gave her. It even seemed to give her strength & a strong desire to fight with every fiber of her being to heal after the strokes. It really amazed me, & still does, that something so positive came out of such a horrible situation. Her courageous love (as a good friend of mine describes it so perfectly) was an inspiration to me, & I thank God for blessing me with that amazing, lovely creature.
If you think about the bad situations in your life, what good has come from them?
I was thinking this morning about how blessed I am. My youngest kitty, Punkin, brought this on. He came to me & dropped his favorite toy at my feet. I thought how sweet he was, giving me his precious possession. Then I quickly realized he wanted me to watch it while he played with another kitty, Chester. His silliness made me smile, as always.
Punkin came into my life one week after losing my Georgie, as a gift for my cousin who was looking for a cat. I was going to take him to her the day of her mother’s memorial service. It seemed perfect- she would have some comfort & a young, fun kitty to help her get through. But then I woke up sick on that day, & couldn’t go to my aunt’s service. I was going to take Punkin to my cousin a few days later, but he quickly adopted us, & thankfully my cousin understood this,as she understands cats as well as I do. (Side note- happily, shortly after, adopted 2 beautiful shelter cats).
This worked out well, because Punkin has PTSD (yes, cats can have it too! I’ve seen him have a flashback) & is blind in one eye. He needs someone home with him often, as he has bad separation anxiety (although it’s improving greatly). My cousin works full time, so this wouldn’t have been good for Punkin. It was, however, very good for me. I ended up with this sweet, gentle, goofy kitten who I understand well & he understands me well. We understand being hypervigilent & how sudden loud noises make us jump out of our skin. When things happen, we just look at each other knowingly. Sharing PTSD has given us a very strong bond.
After the last couple of weeks with my father having all these health problems& spending so much time with my narcissistic mother, it felt good to have something very positive to focus on. There’s been such an influx of negative things lately, it was making me very depressed.
What you focus on has a lot to do with your attitude & whether you feel joy or not. Unlike many people though, I don’t necessarily believe that only thinking positively is the healthiest thing to do. I believe it makes more sense to be realistic. Certainly hope for the best, believe God will bless you, but know that sometimes bad things happen. Bad things are a part of life as much as good things are, if not more. But the good news is as a Christian, you will be OK! In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (AMP)
An overly optimistic attitude just isn’t healthy. In fact, I read recently (unfortunately I can’t recall where) that optimists commit suicide most often. Not pessimists as you might expect- optimists.
I believe balance is the real key to having peace & a good attitude. Knowing & accepting that bad things will happen, but when they do, know Jesus has given you the ability to deal with them. That gives you peace even during the bad times. And also knowing that good things can & will happen gives you hope.
Also, when surrounded by bad things, try to find good things to focus on when you can. I let myself get too focused on the bad things these last couple of weeks. I should have spent more time focusing on the blessings in my life, like my little Punkin. I believe that being grateful for the blessings in your life is a key to happiness.