How to Overcome the “Discard Stage” of the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

By Dr. Perry, PhD


“Here is a new car, a new iPhone. We buy. We discard. We buy again. In recent years, we’ve been doing it faster.” ~Arlie Russell Hochschild

So here you are, in the middle of the aftermath and wreckage. You have been left behind by a cold-hearted narcissist who once intoxicated you with love and admiration. You most likely are feeling confused, hurt, overwhelmed and angry. You bought into the love bombing. You sacrificed life and limb for this relationship. You fell for the elaborately executed scheme of your narcissistic wounder. And still, you may be unsure if you are making the right decision to leave this person behind. The discard stage is the period where the narcissist has idealized, devalued and is now in the process of discarding or throwing you away. This stage of the narcissistic cycle can be a painful reality check for anyone on the receiving end. However, it is also an opportunity to reclaim, revive and rebuild yourself.

Here are 7 important steps to take if you are currently being “thrown away” by a narcissist.

1. Set boundaries
Patients of mine may struggle with going no contact even though that is often my first recommendation. It is important to set boundaries with the narcissist even if that means going no contact for 30 or 60 days. After 30 or 60 days of no contact, it is likely that the narcissist will move on or you will begin to see more clearly the damage that has occurred as a result of the dysfunctional relationship. It is critical to know that even if the narcissist has discarded you, it is not uncommon that they will return shortly after to make sure you are still “hooked.” Let friends and family know that you are attempting to keep your distance from the narcissist and ask them to help you stay accountable. Never attempt to do this alone. The weaponry of the narcissist is calculated and cunning. You can easily fall back into the grips of the narcissist if you are not careful and assertive.

2. Educate yourself
There are many informative books on narcissism and the impact narcissistic abuse can have on an individual. Because we have become more aware of narcissistic abuse as a society, extensive information can be found online through blogs and YouTube videos created by professionals and those who have been narcissistically abused. It is important to know that just because you are in the midst of being discarded, this does not mean that this is the end. Hoovering is a strategy used by narcissists in order to “suck” their victims back into a relationship with them. Hoovering is often done after the silent treatment is given or the victim has left them. It is a technique named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner and can last days, weeks, months or years. Do as much research as you can to gain insight into the many tricks used by narcissists.

3. Start focusing on you
It is likely that you have spent much of your time and energy putting the narcissist first. Now that you are in the discard stage it is important to take this time to focus on yourself. This may be difficult at first because you may feel absolutely vampired by the narcissist to the degree that even your sense of self has diminished. Take a moment to reflect on the things that you once did that brought you joy. Maybe it was a yoga class, getting a massage, going for walks or taking trips to see nature’s beauty. Whatever it was, make a mental note here and now to bring these happiness promoting activities back into your life. This may be difficult at first but don’t give up. It is absolutely necessary to begin putting yourself first either again or for the first time in your life.

4. Seek support from family, friends and a professional
Family and friends can provide a valuable support system to help you stay accountable for not going back to the narcissist. A professional can help ensure that you will not repeat the pattern. In my practice, I specialize in helping individuals recognize how past wounds, often from childhood, lead to the encoding of negative core beliefs such as, “I am not good enough,” “I don’t matter” and “I am not important enough to come first.” These negative core beliefs can easily become vulnerabilities to the calculated narcissist. The narcissist can often quickly and easily identify your negative core beliefs and begin to “feed” you in those areas. You may feel seen, heard and understood for the first time in your life by the narcissist who is simply using these vulnerabilities to manipulate you to do their bidding. By having a deep understanding of what your negative core beliefs are and when and why they developed, you will be able to more easily recognize when a person is attempting to use them against you.

5. Connect the dots
This is the “Let’s take a good look at myself” step. If you are honest with yourself, would you say that you have dabbled with narcissists before? It is not uncommon for there to be a love addiction on the part of the abused. For no fault of your own, you may have learned at an early age that this type of relationship is normal. If a person is raised by a narcissistic parent it is common for there to be a passing of the torch so to speak. The new narcissistic partner simply takes on the role of the parent in a repeated pattern of narcissistic wounding. For the abused, it is something that just makes sense. It’s time for a change. It’s time to make sure this never happens again.

6. Resist self-blame
This is not your fault. Just because you have good intentions for others does not mean they have good intentions for you. One of the most common traits of a narcissistic relationship is gaslighting. Gaslighting means to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. This includes manipulating you into thinking all of this is your fault. Chances are high that your narcissistic wounder made you believe that you are to blame for many of the dysfunctional aspects of the relationship. The truth is that you were most likely trained from day one to take on a great amount of guilt and shame in the relationship. Resist the temptation to blame yourself for the shortcomings of the relationship. This is a pivotal time of your life… a time to begin again.

7. Be patient
A patient once came into my office and said, “Heal me now.” It is important to keep your expectations realistic as you begin your healing journey. Physical wounds do not heal instantly and nor do emotional wounds. But, they do heal. I cannot emphasize how important it is to eagerly seek out and discover why/how you found yourself in the relationship with the narcissist. The last thing we want is for this to happen all over again a year or two from now. Don’t rest (not literally) until you discover these answers that are within you.

I hope this was helpful. If you are in need of further support please click here.

Kindly,
Dr. Perry


www.MakeItUltraPsychology.com
“We specialize in a solution-focused approach to psychotherapy, specifically treating depression, anxiety, relationship issues and narcissistic abuse.”
Verified by Psychology Today
Office in Sherman Oaks, CA


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49 responses to How to Overcome the “Discard Stage” of the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

  1. Thank you for this. I haven’t had contact since August 1, and even though I am able to see things more clearly, I get angry because I have been left with vestibular trauma after he attacked me which impacts my daily life.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Klea says:

    Reblogged this on narcissistic truth and commented:
    Valuable information By Dr Perry PhD for those who have just realised they have a narc in their life, or have just broken up with one …

    Take care xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. boomergirl47 says:

    This was timely for me. I think my ex-boyfriend has narcissistic tendencies. I found myself feeling that I couldn’t extricate myself emotionally (even after I left) because the psychic connection was so great. It felt like he’d “cast a spell” over me. I found myself wondering if leaving him was the right thing to do, but your post will help me to keep my resolve to keep moving forward. It’s so hard to resist his charm!! Thanks!

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Simply Hina says:

    Thank you for this really great read. It’s taken me about 2years to emotionally and mentally get to free from me ex narcissist boyfriend. I was so on control and wouldn’t take shit for the first 6months. Then. Got dependant and messed up for the next few months of the relationship. It was long distance too which in the end allowed me to go through the painful 2years of extracatating myself from knowing him at all. The rel lasted 9months and then I took it into the friends zone and knew more than anything it had become toxic and I couldn’t be his caretaker and empath at the Cost of losing myself whom I’d worked on so hard to become over a few very hard years nd hard intensively therapeutic work. Now it’s 2018 and I am really feeling free. He is still blocked on all ways of contacting me & reached out to me. Via one mean I’d forgotten to block him on and gave me his sob story and I remained firm and didn’t allow for my humane feelings to suck me back in to his chaos that uprooted me so much previously. It’s been a major learning curve and my sanity and independence are worth much more than a romantic relationship! Peace.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Mary Lou says:

    Reading this and recognizing myself. With distance, I’m seeing things clearer. I’m reading “The Wizard of OZ and Other Narcissists. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for this post. I think the most difficult part is not blaming ourselves, especially when well intentioned people keep telling you that it is your fault because you allowed the person to abuse you.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. kikiphoenix says:

    I thank you for this post also – I have definitely been a ‘victim’ of this kind of relationship. It is only with hindsight that I saw it and recovered.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great article! Very well written, covering the most important aspects post-discard.

    I can’t go full no contact because we share a chikd. But it is important to point out that they use the child to Hoover you back in, maybe not a relationship with them, but the abuse. They use your children to keep tabs on you, to control you and manipulate you. You have to be very strong to see through their ways and be able to separate and weed out lies and truth.

    The point about putting yourself first is one I’m still struggling with, not because I don’t try, but because coming up with the time is hard when you have to juggle a full-time job and a parenting schedule, trying to pay off your legal debts.

    But I’m going to share what was the first thing I did for myslef. It’s a bit embarrassing. But I’m going to share to show others how badly we out them first to the point where we don’t even take care of ourselves anymore.

    Two were the things I started to do again for me as soon as I could. First one: Wash my hair more than once a week. Sometimes I would go almost two weeks without washing it. I just didn’t have the time or the energies. Truly embareassing. ?My hair was down to my waist at the time, taking me a very long time to take car of it. Still, I had been able to take care of it when narc wasn’t in my life. But then, I stop taking care of myself.)

    Second one, chores. Yep, took care of a long list of things I needed to do at my place. I still had my house from before getting married. Chores might be something boring and not for oneself. But it gave me pleasure and a sense of accomplishment she. I was finally able to tackle a 7-year long list. Still not done. But most of it.

    😉

    Liked by 3 people

  9. notdonner says:

    The wreckage that a person like that creates is so horrible. Friends, parents of an adult woman married to this type, are trying to support their child, but the victim here has to want to get help and seems still “stuck”. The narcissist is not done using her. I’ve seen it before when another woman I knew was in a decade-long slide with a narcissist boyfriend. (Her) siblings’ equally unrelenting caring -pressure finally convinced the predator to abandon the relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The F Word says:

    I’m fortunate not to have been someone to suffer this but thank you for putting this information out their and empowering people to try and break the cycle x

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This is so good. I am approaching the ten year mark of my “independence day.” I am still uncovering the ways in which my life was twisted. I wish I had been reading you ten years ago. I know you are helping so many people.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wonderful post. In having experience with this, I agree, don’t blame yourself and start focusing on “You.” Great to have a support group of friends and family. Narcissistic people completely drain you and it takes time to get back on your feet and learn to live in balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Chrissy says:

    Thank you Dr. Perry for this post! I unknowingly and innocently dated a narcissist (he may have been a sociopath) 6 years ago. Despite it only lasting for a short time, it was a traumatic experience (zero exaggeration here). I had zero clue that he was this way from the outside looking at him. He ended up being very manipulative, liked to isolate me, tried to turn me against my mom, silent treatments, there was never a good time to talk to him. I was stressed a lot with him. He was sexually pushy. He was disrespectful and did insult me calling me out of my name. I have zero contact with him since then, despite him trying to connect with me via social media. I didn’t date anyone for 2 years after this person. Not because there weren’t men pursuing me, but because I didn’t want anyone. I was so extremely turned-off. I needed time to heal and I took as long as I needed to do so. I went to go see a therapist to make sure I was okay and coping properly, so as not to ruin the rest of my dating life, or life in general. Buried traumas will eventually destroy a person and their life, so that’s what I meant about the therapist. I only got to learn about narcissism from doing my own research. I also did research on body language. I knew that the guy I had dated was disturbed. I didn’t know exactly what it was while we were dating, but the research I did pointed me in the direction that he was either a sociopath or a narcissist. These people are very dangerous and can absolutely destroy an unsuspecting person. I have never dated a guy like him since. I am extremely cautious. I come first and I will protect myself at all costs. Anytime a guy starts to display any of those red flag characteristics…I’m out of there!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jamaJenison says:

    I remember the first domestic violence shelter. I had just left the narcissist. No support from my family; after all, I had put “them” in danger. Tucked away in the small shelter on the far corner of the city. I would take a break from my online class, or go to smoke a cigarette, and BOOM!! The tears would just come from no place! They were uncontrollable. This would happen time and time again for months. I was lost.
    Six years later, this seldom happens. But, I have been through so many therapies. I had decided this would never be okay with me again.
    Ladies, get out of there!
    I know the unknown is unimaginable. Just go. I would be dead had I not left. Don’t you be the next one. just go.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I just left a narcissistic friendship and found this part of the article very relatable – “One of the most common traits of a narcissistic relationship is gaslighting. Gaslighting means to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. This includes manipulating you into thinking all of this is your fault. Chances are high that your narcissistic wounder made you believe that you are to blame for many of the dysfunctional aspects of the relationship”.
    Which they did… they mixed their words when I confronted them about issues in our friendship, making me think the issue was all in my head. Any more info on narcissistic friendships would be awesome! Thank you Dr. Perry! 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This is great. I’ve been reading books about narcissism and seeing a wonderful therapist. I’m move than 6 years free from my narcissistic relationship. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You nailed it again! Awesome proactive steps. All wise words. I’m fortunate in that I’ve not been in a relationship with a narcissist. I am married to one with Schizoid Personality, though which, from what I’ve learned, has some tendencies/traits that can look like narcissism (?). I once thought my husband was on the narcissistic spectrum. And although we’re married and reasonably happy, there are a few sticking points. My mom’s mom is a bonafide narcissist, no question, so these articles are really helpful for us all, even if it’s on a more peripheral level for me 😊🍀💙

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Alicia Dean says:

    The term “narcissist” is very new to me. I’ve been walking a road toward healing after learning that my mom is most likely a Narcissistic Sociopath. No Contact kind of just happened. It’s been 6 months. And I am enduring almost daily input from Family on my choice. It’s been super rough. But I have amazing friends and husband and support system.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. raindrop says:

    Being patient in healing is such a good point to have in there, I find this very hard! I wish I could just get over it already haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Lorien says:

    Very fitting. Perfect timing. I’ve only come to realize in the last couple of months I have been the victim of narcissistic abuse in my marriage of eight years. He decided to end it in June and since then has been blaming me for the lack of forward progress in our divorce. He also has seized any and all opportunities to let me know that it is my fault that our marriage is ending. And he says this after we went to a bunch of therapy, and the therapist asked him, “Are you willing to see your part in this?” My husband just got angry and denigrated the therapist, said later that he was a piece of crap and he’d never go back. Sigh. So I’m definitely being discarded; he is even having an affair with another woman while we are still married and still living in the same house with our two kids. The worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. That was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through; however, I came out onto the other side and it was the BEST FEELING EVER! If anyone is hurting, please know you CAN get through it and you ARE going to feeling SO MUCH BETTER!!! Keep going! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  22. atishoo5 says:

    Oh my goodness. These are pretty much all the steps that I took to extricate myself from a dangerous narcissist several years ago. I love it how you take the psycho babble out and provide tangible and practical steps. I can attest that these actually work! Especially the no contact. Do you have any articles on how to spot a narcissist, especially one in sheep’s clothing?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. ashes4him says:

    I liked your article. It was so insightful, wish I had this information years ago could have saved myself years of heartache and pain. Good to have this knowledge now in case I should run into another narcissist, I can keep running. Lol. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. What a wonderful article!
    Its been a long time since my friendship with a narcissist ended and I am now at a point where I can actually be grateful for the personal growth I experienced during the healing. Everything you listed was true, especially the manipulation, which was so apparent to me in hindsight. The being discarded was the most painful, but I have blossomed since and my life is now filled with many kind and loving friends. Thank you for posting this because I know you have helped many people by doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

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