You Realize There Is a Problem Wearing You Down
I was talking with a friend today, who said her husband was getting on her every nerve. She couldn’t stand the way he was breathing, the way he was driving, and the way he was talking. She realized that her anger and disgust was not really about him. It was about herself. She wasn’t feeling well, with allergies and some other health issues. Her exhaustion was making her feel resentful of her husband. Her husband is not toxic, he’s a really nice man, but her strategy for relieving stress is helpful for anyone.
Once my friend came to realize that her attitude was her own issue, she knew she needed rest and recovery. First, she took some quiet time to reflect. Then she got a good night of sleep. In the morning, she spent a few hours journaling to clear negative emotions. My friend was also planning to spend the day relaxing. She said the cleaning and errands could wait!
Your problem may be different. You may be dealing with a narcissistic partner, a family issue, or something stressful at work. So what do you do in that case? The remedy is very similar, except you may have to take a few extra steps to find relief from stress.
Relieving Stress When You Have a Narcissistic Partner
Like my friend, you may be realizing that you are under stress. Your narcissistic partner is blaming you for their own bad behavior, or for things going wrong in life. In turn, you may begin taking it out on people that haven’t done anything wrong, with griping and complaining, or you take it out on yourself with negative self-talk.
The first step to relieving stress is an awareness of your feelings. It helps to name your emotions. “I’m feeling stressed.” “I feel angry, and I’m taking it out on my kids, (parents, friends, coworkers, etc.)”
Next, find a quiet spot to sit and reflect on your emotions and what is causing them. Do not tell your narcissistic partner about your feelings. They will just use that against you to suit their own agenda. “Yeah! You’re taking your negative emotions out on me! I’ve done nothing wrong.” Or, “See, you’re the angry one. You’re crazy!”
Instead, go to your quiet spot, (another room, the bathroom, a closet, the car) where no one will bother you. Take this time to meditate, do breathing exercises, or journal out your feelings. Destroy your writing afterwards, or write in a private app, like Evernote. Then erase what you wrote. Destroying your writing allows you to be brutally honest without fear of retaliation from the narcissist.
Narcissistic partners try to narrow your social circle by making you feel uncomfortable being around others. That gives them more control over your thoughts and actions, which causes more stress for you. If that is the case for you, it is important to begin widening that circle again. Go to a group setting like a yoga class, a book club, or a 12-step program, for example.
Last, can you, or should you, leave your partner? Do some reflecting on whether this situation is right for you long-term. You may just be coming to the realization that your partner is emotionally abusive, or maybe you’ve known, but you don’t know how to leave. I offer a 90-minute session to help you get clarity. Go here for more details.
If Your Stress Is Caused By Family, a Friend, or a Job
Do the same steps listed above. Remember, you are your number one priority. You can’t help anyone, or give them your best self, if you don’t take care of you. This stressful situation will pass eventually. You can take steps to relieve stress, so you can think more clearly about action steps you can take to make things go smoother.
Is there someone you need to make amends to?
Is there someone you need to limit time with?
Do you need to take steps to change jobs? You can start by researching positions available. Even that simple step will relieve some of your stress.
Do you need boundaries? Make a list of things you are no longer willing to put up with.
If you’re still struggling, talk to someone who understands what you are going through. That could be a trusted friend or family member, a coach or therapist, or a group program.
You are your number one priority!