How Emotions Go Haywire in Abuse Survivors

 Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

“…our pain-based emotions become faulty and lose their intended design functions of being reliable protective safety measures and providing depth and color to our lives. They go haywire and rather than protect us, do us more harm and our children more harm as we teach the same distorted thinking patterns to them as well. We and our children become vulnerable targets of energy and power vampires.”

th-8We are not the source of our pain. No one is. We are the source of our joy. Read this again…and again…and again.

Our pain-based emotions exist to protect us. They exist as cues, as lessons for us to put on the brakes, stop, think, course correct or thought correct to heal from wounds and to keep ourselves safe from danger and further harm.

We are not born with pain and we are not born deserving of pain. There are no “chosen people” better than us who are genetically predisposed to deserve joy more than we do. If you believe this, your thinking is not rational and needs correcting.

th-23We are born with only two fears – fear of falling and fear of loud noises. All, yes, all of our pain-based emotions (and the list is long) like shame, guilt, anxiety, grief, phobias, compulsions are learned, every darn last one of them. Some we developed in order to cope with or avoid another greater fear or pain. Our caregivers in our youth should have taught us how to take cues from our pain-based emotions, as well as our joy-based ones and showed us to self-regulate and modulate them with healthy self-coping and self-soothing mechanisms. They should have taught us to accept, use, and rely on our emotions in order to develop our divine miraculous abilities to care for ourselves and nourish our souls and mature these abilities throughout our lives to become the best joy-seeking versions of ourselves we were put on this earth to be.

Instead they taught us to believe the lies they were taught to believe that caused them and us to maladapt. Toxic pain-based thinking in our families today originated generations ago from our great great great great great grandfathers or grandmothers who suffered some traumatic experience and who never healed and shadowed their pain on and taught their wounded thinking to their descendants. Read more on this subject here.

13166007_822039794617518_5597762351778431864_nThe truth is that we are all born and designed for happiness and to feel safe, secure, and lovable. When we are abused and betrayed in our youth when we are growing at such a rapid pace, our pain-based emotions, through overuse, become toxic and our beliefs about our self-worth and deserving peace, solace and joy become skewed. We are taught and conditioned, instead, to believe that in loving relationships, we deserve pain, we are the source of our pain, we are powerless to the pain, and only those who inflict pain on us have the power and authority to relieve the pain. We may not be able to see the “good” in normal healthy relationships and sabotage them because we were not taught to relate anything positive in a relationship to love or our worthiness.

When we are abused, our pain-based emotions become faulty and lose their intended design functions of being reliable protective safety measures and providing depth and color to our lives. They go haywire and rather than protect us, do us and our children more harm as we teach the same distorted thinking patterns to them as well. We and our children become vulnerable targets of energy and power vampires.

11825868_789154231210160_5369177878722907305_n-1We can replace this distorted thinking with emotionally adaptive and healthy thinking and learn to modulate and control our own emotions and bring our self-esteem and self-worth to healthy levels. We can change our pain-seeking/pain-avoiding lives to joy-seeking/joy-filled lives, achieve emotional sobriety, and thrive. As we heal, our children will heal through us. This is how we break the cycles of intergenerational abuse.

I am committed at Yourlifelifter to teach you how to heal and recover.

I explore these topics in much more detail in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can purchase and read a free sneak peek and review of the book here.

How Emotionally Fit Are You?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

Our sustained happiness is a sign of th-2emotional fitness just like our blood panel, cholesterol, and blood pressure are signs of our physical fitness.

When we are happy, our emotional needs are met and motivate us to set and achieve goals. So our feelings are indicators of our emotional well being and what we need to work on. Conversely, not meeting our emotional needs and being unhappy or anxious for prolonged periods of time can lead to emotional fatigue and exhaustion and for some, depression and even trauma.

Our happiness is a product of and dependent on the state of our self-esteem. Self-esteem is an implicit judgment that every person has of his or her ability to face life’s challenges and solve problems and of their right to achieve happiness and be given respect. Self-esteem is a conscious decision we make and reflects confidence in our abilities to take risks, love and be loved, protect ourselves and achieve goals that bring us joy and that we know we deserve.

th-1Healthy self-esteem allows us to rely on ourselves for validation of our self-worth because we know what we are capable of doing, know we are worthy of joy, and set goals to bring us joy that we are confident we can achieve. When we do not achieve our goals, we do not hunker down in shame but rather we course correct or get advice or assistance to achieve our goals. The role of other people is not to validate us or rescue us. Their role is to complement us and to share our joy with. We do not routinely depend on others because we rely on ourselves and cues from our internal gauges to define who we are and our level of happiness.

People with low self-esteem, on the other hand, cannot look internally for validation of their self-worth and typically are pain addicted due to abuse or trauma or possibly more severe psychological issues. They also have high tendencies towards codependency. Other people become sources or solutions to their pain.

Here are some characteristics of those with high self-esteem. Which ones do you possess? Which ones do you feel you need to work on to achieve emotional “fitness?”

th-3People with a healthy level of self-esteem:

  • Are self-reliant on themselves to define their self-worth and for affirmation of their thoughts and ideas.
  • Can use their compassion responsibly without routinely self-sacrificing their personal needs, rights and authorities for others.
  • Set joy-seeking goals they know they deserve and are confident in their abilities to achieve them.
  • Understand well what their personal boundaries and authorities are and understand their right to have theirs honored and respected.
  • Practice self-care, kindness, and nurturance including self-compassion when they are in emotional pain or are distressed.
  • Can assertively defend their personal boundaries and respect others’ personal boundaries.
  • Firmly believe in certain values and principles, and are ready to defend them even when finding opposition, feeling secure enough to modify them in light of experience.
  • Are able to act according to what they think to be the best choice, trusting their own judgment, and not feeling guilty when others do not like their choice.
  • Do not lose time worrying excessively about what happened in the past, nor about what could happen in the future. They learn from the past and plan for the future, but live in the present intensely.
  • Fully trust in their capacity to solve problems, not hesitating after failures and difficulties. They ask others for help when they need it.
  • Consider themselves equal in dignity to others, rather than inferior or superior, while accepting differences in certain talents, personal prestige or financial standing.
  • Understand how they are an interesting and valuable person for others, at least for those with whom they have a friendship.
  • Routinely set and achieve goals to fulfill their spiritual, financial, career, community, relationship, and health needs.
  • Identify and resist manipulation, collaborate with others only if it seems appropriate and convenient.
  • Admit and accept different internal feelings and drives, either positive or negative, revealing those drives to others only when they choose.
  • Are able to enjoy a great variety of activities.
  • Are sensitive to feelings and needs of others; respect generally accepted social rules, and claim no right or desire to prosper at others’ expense.
  • Use their compassion responsibly to their and others’ benefit.
  • Can work toward finding solutions and voice discontent without belittling themselves or others when challenges arise.
  • Are tolerant of other people’s differences including differences of opinion.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.26.25 PMAnswering these questions can help you gauge your level of emotional fitness and where you need to focus and set some milestones and goals.

Register here for a free 14-page report of self-esteem building tips and exercises that can help you build your self-esteem, become emotionally fit, and improve your overall wellness and happiness.

How Do We Nourish Our Own Souls

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

“We cannot see our souls or what we call our self-esteem. However, we know that our souls need to be nourished consistently to sustain our joy.”

starving soul hungerTruth is again on my mind like usual or more accurately “the search for truth” and its role in nurturing our souls. Here are my thoughts:

We cannot see our souls or what we call our self-esteem. However, we know that our souls need to be nourished consistently to sustain our joy. We are designed for happiness, however we are also designed with built in mechanisms to protect us from harm. Our emotions even our pain-based ones like shame and sadness exist as gauges to guide and protect us and to keep us safe. When they function properly and our filters are intact, we confidently take cues from them to either course correct or thought correct and take actions that remove us from harm’s way and teach us to avoid that “bad” thing again in the future. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are cues that our actions and thoughts are serving us well.

images-4Once our souls are nourished, we feel complete – happy – content – valued. We know how being liked, loved and desired makes us feel. We set and achieve goals because we know how achieving them makes us feel and that we are worthy of the outcomes. And when our souls are not nourished or are depleted such as from abuse, overwork, and invalidation, we feel trapped, inadequate, and become unhappy, emotionally fatigued, depressed, sad and, even worse, traumatized.

When our souls are routinely starved, we also run the risk of 3 things:

  1. Believing falsely we are the source of the ensuing pain and discomfort; and/or
  2. Blaming something or someone else for them; and/or
  3. Feeling unsafe in our own bodies.

All harm us more because they cause us to feel more pain and stop us from taking action that we need to learn from and that nurture us and sustain our joy.

imagesWe, folks, are NOT the source of our pain. We are the source of our joy. And we own and are responsible for regulating our emotions including our pain. Other things or people can only trigger them. However, our emotions become overly taxed and go haywire after extreme emotional neglect and pain that can make us feel unsafe in our own bodies. Our lives becomes a cycle of creating pain and
trying to alleviate pain we believe falsely we are powerless to. We become victims and reactive to life relying on others who do not have our best interests at heart rather than ourselves for answers and to define our self-worth.

imgres-7This is no secret as what some want us to believe. As a matter of fact, this cognitive based school of thought was founded by Christian Larsen in the very early 1900’s over 100 years ago and now most of his books are free to the public!!

And, yes, our parents or caregivers should have taught us this. In their defense, If they did not, then they were also not taught how to as were their parents ad infinitum.

12049632_1613466202253151_7563358611981122153_nWell, then, how do we nurture our souls?

The answer is pretty simple and is no secret. Here it is!

  1. Unlearning the thinking that makes us addicted to pain;
  2. Surrounding ourselves with others who reflect back to us the nurturing TRUTH our souls need to flourish;
  3. Honoring the value of that truth through self-compassion and self-care;
  4. Learning we are worthy of the effort;
  5. Learning we are worthy of the happiness; and
  6. Reflecting our authentic nurturing truth back to others with love, kindness, and compassion to help them nourish their souls.
  7. Repeating 2 though 6 above.

10592670_618439154966040_3348146276018635085_nThis is how love and life are supposed to work…this is also what abuse, narcissists, emotional vampires, and poor parenting ruin for us. The world is currently in crisis because we have a pandemic of starving souls.

I am committed here at Yourlifelifter to show you how to achieve these objectives and nurture your souls! And as you heal, your children will heal through you.

Be sure to sign up for my FREE self-esteem building tips and tools that can help you make huge strides in your recoveries.

You are all worthy of the effort.

I am honored to support you in your journeys!

Why Self-Forgiveness is Fundamental to Healing and Achieving Justice from Narcissistic Abuse

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

th-2“Forgiveness is part of healing. It is not a prerequisite to healing. It is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened to us from a position of emotional neutrality without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us.” 


I’d like to share some information on forgiveness, justice and victimization that may not be so obvious to survivors of narcissistic abuse but is critical to their healing.

Survivors of narcissistic or for that matter any abuse were victims, no different than a victim of a crime, a brutal illegal attack or violation of our boundaries, rights, authorities, or freedoms. What is the difference between a brutal attack of one’s body or possessions and one’s psyche and one’s heart and betrayal of intimate trust? Not many. But there are a few fundamental ones.

brokenheart-wallpaperOne attack, you may think, takes place in the conscious physical world – the other, in the metaphysical, the metacognitive world where we feel and think. However, the pain and shame and anger and fear and trauma we experience from a brutal physical or emotional brutal attack are the same. They inflict the same wounds and frequently open old ones. In addition, there are major differences to how we heal from the wounds. This is why.

We can achieve justice and emotional relief when our attackers are found, charged, found guilty, and punished for their evil deeds. Our victimization is then validated, our egos are soothed, and we can achieve some sense of safety, security, and closure. But what happens when a criminal “gets away with murder” and is free to roam and victimize whomever he or she chooses to target?

Isn’t this what serial thieves do?

Isn’t this what serial murderers and rapists do?8cc14d8f-48d2-4d8c-97d9-3e66d991850e-medium

Isn’t this what serial narcissists do?

The answers are an unequivocal YES and pose huge healing challenges to their victims. Let’s explore these challenges closer.

Healing and Achieving Justice

Healing and justice are not acquired through resentment and revenge that serve no other purpose than feeding our egos, keeping us bonded to our abusers, and continuing to give up our power to them. These are reactive defenses that cause us unjustifiably to take on additional pain and blame and continue to suppress our pain and also keep us trapped and hunkered down in shame and inaction that will do nothing more than hamper our healing and recovery.

Equally, healing and justice are not acquired through excusing the evil or pain or betrayal that was inflicted on us by our attackers or by showing compassion for them. Our need to forgive can also be guilt-driven by our moral, ethical or religious 1935078_1109367059096008_7406065166067850262_nbeliefs and convictions. I agree with renowned author and therapist Dr. Alice Miller and others that we do not have to forgive and that forgiving our abusers is a personal choice. We can add a huge amount of emotional burden to an already painful situation by being told if we do not forgive, we punish ourselves twice..blah blah blah. This can leave us conflicted and feeling added guilt and even shame when we really do not want to forgive.

We also while dealing with forgiveness have to deal with other daunting and unique challenges faced while grieving our losses. Effectively grieving after narcissistic abuse requires a reconciliation and a recalibration of our conflicting beliefs as they not only relate to forgiveness but also to loss, unrequited love, our lovability, and our pain and suffering.

Read more here on how to grieve and mourn the loss of a narcissist.

How, then, do innocent victims “get justice” when their attackers get off free of charge? How then do they achieve emotional relief and a sense of security? Victims of emotional abuse do not even have the option of becoming vigilantes because the narcissists like the mutants on X-men and space creatures on Men in Black look normal on the outside, do their dirty deeds, and remain unscathed. In essence, not only are we the victim, but we also become the police, judge and jury.

Healing is All about the Victims, Not the Abusers

th-1Healing, folks, has nothing to do with our abusers. Healing is, however, all about the victims. We are left to heal invisible wounds that were caused by our active but unaware participation in a very harming situation. Abuse survivors must work to turn their compassion and care inward and release the pain, trauma, shame, anger and fear that were projected onto them and inflicted on them by the emotional and conscienceless criminals, vampires, and thieves who also stole their identities. We, to heal, must not only release the pain and anger from the attack but also the shame from betrayal and of our unconscious complicity in the crime and our perceived foolery. This is why self-forgiveness and self-compassion are so important in healing. As Emily R., a community member at Yourlifelifter so eloquently stated, “forgiving a conscienceless person has absolutely zero meaning, thus, the real issue is learning to forgive oneself for not trusting oneself over their manipulative ploys of false promises and fake emoting.”

Forgiveness is part of healing. It is not a prerequisite to healing.

10453112_10150486967674990_1990359670124377576_nIt is a point we reach when we understand and accept the truth about what happened
to us from a position of emotional neutrality without the pain, blame and shame that our abusers shadowed on us. Releasing the pain and anger will allow us to heal emotionally. Accepting our powerlessness to the pain “permits” us to direct our energy to healing. But to fully heal we must forgive ourselves for the part we played. This is why understanding why we were targeted is critical to healing. We are then emotionally free to see things truthfully and accept what happened to us, accept our powerlessness to the pain, incrementally take back our personal power and redirect it to change our faulty thinking, rescue our own selves, and stop being vulnerable to emotional criminals.

Healing is a process of self-discovery, self-analysis into the root causes of why we were victimized, addressing how our beliefs contributed to that, correcting our skewed beliefs, mourning our losses, building our self-worth as well as healing our trauma wounds. I personally believe, it is close to impossible to fully accept what happened to us and forgive ourselves for the part we played unless we first heal and recover from the trauma and then stop our faulty victim thinking. This requires fully understanding why we love people who inflict pain on us and why we are attracted to power imbalanced relationships.

 “Forgiving a conscienceless person has absolutely zero meaning, thus, the real issue is learning to forgive oneself for not trusting oneself over their manipulative ploys of false promises and fake emoting.”  ~ Emily R., a community member at Yourlifelifter

As a survivor, I can say that I do not excuse the despicable acts of the abusers in my life or absolve them of their “sins” (e.g. outside my pay grade) but I can say that I am clear on what happened and why it happened in my childhood, why I was targeted and why I let it happen into my adulthood. I am also very clear that the abuse no longer continues because I do not think like a victim so I am no longer victimized. I am not powerless to pain and I do not deserve to suffer. I choose not to participate in the dysfunction so they are defused and go away. They continue to target me because that is just what abusers do and but I am not emotionally vested. I no longer fear them. I no longer believe I have to suffer or self-sacrifice to be good or lovable. I do, however, accept them and readily identify them as the abusers and broken people they are.

Healing Henry CloudWe cannot expect things from people who are not capable of giving them. I accept that life is not fair and I was born into a herd of narcissists that I had no choice over. But I do have choices now based on my new found personal truth and not others’ lies. I choose a life I know I deserve, a life of peace, harmony, happiness, emotionally healthy love and mutual respect! I also accept that they cannot. I also accept that truly evil people do exist and that I do not possess the divine power, right, and authority to absolve them of their depravity.

I do, however, have the divinely provided right and authority first and foremost to forgive myself, heal, and to live a joy-filled life I am deserving and worthy of. The best revenge is healing, happiness, and success!

And in the process we achieve the justice we seek.

Narcissistic Harm by Proxy

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

“People who sincerely care about you will actively listen and follow. Those who don’t will not. Healing is a time of self-evaluation that provides a great opportunity to clean your closet of legacy unhealthy relationships that are supporting the narcissist’s dirty dealings and preventing your healing and hindering your happiness.” 

I read frequently from viewers here and at many other sites who maintained no
contact but watching their children and friends be targeted continued to cause th-1them great fear and pain.

They also experience great pain from those they believe care about them who do not believe them or “do not want to get involved.”

Narcissistic harm by proxy perhaps?

No contact with abusers and especially narcissists is critical to healing. Narcissists, however, frequently target their own children and others you love and use them as pawns to get to you, their primary narcissistic supply. After all, if they cannot have our love and attention, why not settle for our angst, contempt and negative attention by using those we love and care about the most and turning them against us? Negative attention is attention after all, right?

What can we do to support the no contact rule for ourselves and protect ourselves AND our children and others we care about under these circumstances? Personally, this was my greatest fear for my child and my greatest challenge.

But no longer.

Here are some tips and recommendations that I use that I hope you find useful to keep you, your children, and loved ones on a path of emotional health and safety and your relationships intact.

  1. We have options and choices ALWAYS. You are no longer a victim or a target of what the narcissist COULD do in your personal relationships. You can only remain a victim or target if you continue to live in fear. There is a huge difference between REAL danger and fear of what COULD harm you. Remember always to call the police immediately if you are in any real physical danger or threat of physical harm. Use the legal system to acquire restraining orders if needed.
  1. You can also only remain a victim or target if your self-worth is not strong and is dependent on validation from others. This is no longer the case. We learn to use our compassion and empathy, what attracts narcissists to us, to benefit and protect us. Your innate emotional intelligence and new knowledge on emotional health and boundary management provide you with renewed personal power founded on new truth.
  1. The new family dynamic provides you opportunities to use your renewed personal power in your children’s and your favor. You most likely were raised in families where there were no boundaries and healthy rules of engagement or regard for your personal rights or authorities. I call this the “family amoeba,” the family glob. The glob no longer exists and has been replaced with new relationships and dynamics. Your spouse is no longer your spouse, rather the Ex. Your children are still your children. You are still the parent. Those, now, remember, are three or more DISTINCT relationships you are engaged in and that you have the right and authority to manage as you choose with newly established boundaries and the rules of engagement that support emotional health.
  1. Remember your personal power includes the ability to parent and educate your children and influence and educate your loved ones. Teach your children, friends, relatives EVERYTHING you can about narcissism and how to protect themselves from harm. This is an insipid and insidious disorder that needs to be brought into everyone’s levels of consciousness. Share with your children, no matter what their age, EVERYTHING you have learned, signs of narcissists, and especially how to manage and protect personal boundaries with everyone including you and the other parent. TELL THEM THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARM OF ABUSE AND YOUR CHILDHOOD AND UPBRINGING. Teach them self-respect by demanding it in all your personal interactions and paying honor to your own personal rights and authorities. People who sincerely care about you will actively listen and follow. Those who don’t will not.

Healing is a time of self-evaluation that provides a great opportunity to clean your closet of legacy unhealthy relationships that are supporting the narcissist’s dirty dealings and preventing your healing and hindering your happiness.