FOG stands for fear, obligation, and guilt, and it’s a tactic narcissists use to control and manipulate their victims. Narcissists train their victims to walk on eggshells, prioritize their abuser’s well-being over their own, and doubt their own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Often, the FOG of narcissistic abuse persists even after the relationship ends. You may feel overwhelmed by self-doubt, lack healthy boundaries, or find it difficult to do things for yourself. Many survivors of narcissistic abuse struggle with their sense of identity and vision for the future due to the destructive impacts codependency has on their psyche.
How can you finally free yourself from the grasp of narcissistic abuse? Today, the Alternative Health Tools podcast presents four things you need to stop doing in order to escape the FOG of narcissistic abuse.
Finding Comfort in Chaos
Narcissists thrive in chaos because it creates confusion and allows them to manipulate others. Over time, the chaos starts to feel normal, and managed dysfunction is how you learn to survive. After leaving a narcissist, some people continue to gravitate towards dysfunction despite the consequences.
Healing from an addiction to chaos requires recognizing unhealthy patterns and building new habits to replace them. Are you constantly frazzled, hypercritical, or do you seem to only attract negative relationships? A cluttered home is another subtle warning sign that you’re finding comfort in chaos. When you stay mindful of your energy and commit to healthy habits and routines, you teach yourself how to be comfortable with calm.
Putting Yourself Last
You shouldn’t feel like a supporting character in your own life. Stop living to please other people and start spending more time doing what makes you happy. Schedule “me” time into your calendar and use it to disconnect from responsibilities by spending time with family and friends, finding a hobby, or planning a vacation.
You may find it difficult to choose activities and hobbies at first. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Reading, journaling, crafting, running, and doing yoga are hobbies you can try at home without a big commitment. Even a relaxing bath or skincare routine is an act of self-love. Over time, you’ll learn what types of activities you enjoy most.
Saying “Yes” to Every Request
Survivors of narcissistic abuse often don’t know what their boundaries are because they weren’t allowed to have any. This makes survivors vulnerable to getting taken advantage of and erodes your self-esteem. In recovery, you need strong boundaries that you can rely on when making decisions, navigating difficult situations, and knowing when to say “no.”
At the core, boundaries are about values. Boundaries reflect the values that you’re not willing to compromise on, like privacy, honesty, protecting your time and the type of treatment you’ll accept from other people. You may also have physical, sexual, and material boundaries.
Boundaries that are rooted in personal values also stop you from doubting yourself. Instead of seeking external affirmation, remind yourself that you’re intelligent and capable of making the decisions that are best for you. You may find it helpful to write positive affirmations and value statements on post-its and stick them where you can see them.
It’s also important to call narcissistic abuse what it is. If you can’t admit what happened and that it wasn’t ok, it’s harder to break the cycle of narcissistic abuse. You’ll be more likely to re-enter an abusive relationship and feel internalized shame about the past. Confronting the truth teaches you to trust yourself and makes you free to move on.
Not Working with a Therapist
If you're struggling to recover from narcissistic abuse, attending therapy may be a wise choice. Although the upfront costs can be daunting, therapy can provide invaluable support as you work to heal your wounds and rebuild your self-esteem. In addition, therapy can help you to understand your experience, set boundaries, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. If you're ready to take the first step on your journey to recovery, look into finding a therapist who can help you achieve your goals.
If in-person sessions are difficult for you to attend, online therapy is a great option. Online therapy offers a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional in-person sessions. It also provides a fair amount of privacy. When it’s time to look at therapist costs, consider using a concierge platform that’s dedicated to virtual healthcare. Most concierge services work via an annual membership, and many platforms work with common insurance providers. Plus, telehealth options like this give you free reign to find the right therapist for your specific needs.
Breaking out of the FOG of narcissistic abuse is hard work. Even after you leave, a narcissist’s manipulations maintain a stranglehold over your mind. But by growing your self-love, setting firm boundaries, learning to trust yourself, and working with a therapist, you can recover from narcissistic abuse once and for all.