It’s Narcissist Friday!
A new year! I have to admit that I am a sucker for new things. I like beginnings. I like to think that, with a little tweaking, things can be different. A new year offers a starting point for change.
At the same time, I am not one for big resolutions. Maybe I am too old for all that. I have a few things in mind that I would like to do this year, some good things; but I have learned that setting myself up to feel guilty is dumb. Instead, I will try to make small changes that will help these goals to be accomplished and celebrate whatever successful steps I make.
Can life be different? Yes! But the change has to start. If you do the same things tomorrow as you did today, don’t be surprised if tomorrow looks just like today. If you do the same things next year as you did last year, next year will be the same as last year. Change has to start somewhere.
So why not today? Changes in relationships seem so hard, so overwhelming. I can almost hear people shouting at their computers, saying: “Don’t you think I would change things if I could?” Yes, I think you would. But I also think you probably need a little encouragement to take the first steps. And, perhaps, permission to take very small steps in the beginning.
You see, we tend to think of change as something like getting a new job, a huge endeavor. Sometimes people just quit their old jobs and start the search for something new. Sometimes, they take much smaller steps. Maybe just beginning to think about your skills and what other company or vocation could use what you can do. Maybe taking an online class to introduce yourself to some new software, or some old software everyone seems to be using. Maybe talking with friends (who are not in a position to jeopardize your current work) about what’s out there. Begin somewhere.
Relationships tend to develop over long periods of time. If you were raised with a narcissist, you were probably well into your adult years before you began to see that something was wrong—and realize it wasn’t you. If you married a narcissist, you probably found out that something was wrong in a fairly short time, but you were convinced that things would get better. In other narcissistic relationships, the same thing holds true: it takes a while to figure things out. So the big change almost has to happen in small steps. Just understanding the problem begins the process.
I can’t tell you what the change should look like. Some choose to stay in these painful relationships. Some choose to leave. Some go no-contact. Others set firm boundaries and stay in contact. Some learn everything they can about beating the narcissist in his/her own game. Ask the Lord what you should do, then do what He says. Just move forward. Toward health and peace. Somehow. Starting today.
Here are some beginning steps. They don’t lead to anything in particular, but could lead directly to the change you need. This is not a particularly profound list, just common sense. Think of these items as permission slips for moving forward.
- Begin a daily prayer for the change, asking the Lord for guidance and protection.
- Begin a daily (or regular) journal.
- Find someone who will listen and understand.
- Find a good counselor.
- Set aside some money just for you.
- Take a class.
- Eat a little better and exercise a little more.
- Find a place to where you can slip away just to clear your head.
- Read something you enjoy. Admit that you enjoyed it.
- Write down your story.
You see, these are just ideas for first steps. Some of them might take a little preparation. Even preparing to take a step is movement. You can add to this list, I am sure.
It’s a new year. An opportunity for a decision. A decision to move toward change. You may not know what that change will be yet, but you can begin to move. No guilt. No shame. Not even much fear. Just a small step in the right direction. That’s how every great journey begins.