The Challenges of the World of Self-Help Messaging When you are Managing a Narcissistic Relationship

Many folks grapple with the question of “how can I be better in my life” -which is a BROAD question that takes in self-improvement, personal growth, mental health, better relationships, a more fulfilling life, flourishing, or being a better parent/partner/worker. And there is a multi-billion-dollar industry to help with that. There are some universal themes in the self-help world – let go, get to know yourself, set goals, practice gratitude, learn coping, build social support, see the glass as half full, set boundaries, communicate needs, practice self-compassion, get enough sleep, drink less, avoid drugs, have affirmations taped to your bathroom mirror, eat better, breathe, practice mindfulness, meditate, break tasks down, learn new habits, journal, go outside, watch the sunset, manage expectations, find meaning, find purpose, find joy in your underwear drawer, let your house be messy, clean your house, find balance, do yoga, create a coping toolbox, slow down, be vulnerable, be creative. You get it – none of this is bad, but what if it misses the larger issues that there is no amount of kale smoothies or sleep that are an offset to my narcissistic relationship, and of being shamed if you do any of these things (e.g. being called selfish for wanting to communicate a need, being called self-centered for taking a yoga class), and recognizing that a tidy underwear drawer is not an antidote to gaslighting.