Having just ended your relationship with a narcissist is traumatic enough. What if you also happen to work with them under the same roof, or share an office?
Here are five tips to help you cope, also discussed in the video below.
One. Detach Emotionally.
I know this is very difficult. Emotional hurt takes time to process, even if you go full no contact. Healing is much easier if you don’t have to look at your ex everyday. Still, you need to detach one way or another. It’s a boundary you set with yourself.
Limit your rumination about the relationship to specific times in the day when you are able to release verbally and emotionally. Focus on remembering the negative parts of the relationship and why you left. The brain will play a trick on you and make you remember the good times. This is why you want to write down the bad episodes and keep them fresh in your mind.
Realize you were the lucky one who got away.
Sometimes, a good chat and a cry can do a soul more good than forcing a smile. If you don’t have someone you trust whom you can talk to about this, try journaling or the morning pages practice. It will help to clear your mind and unwind the looping thoughts.
Realize that this person’s behavior has nothing to do with you! This is who they were before they met you, this is who they are now and how they will be in the future. It is not personal. Narcissists have a serious problem and it is their work to fix it, not yours. You cannot save them, even though they absolutely want you to believe that you can, because it keeps you hooked and addicted.
When you are around them, keep it professional. Think gray rock. Don’t show them how you really feel as it will only fuel them and grow their ego until it exceeds the size of the building your’re in.
Two. Keep Your Contact to a Minimum.
When no contact is not possible, low contact is the next best thing.
When they are around or you are forced to interact, show little interest and emotionality. Focus on the work at hand, say what you must and retreat into your space as soon as you can. Have a positive quote or a cup of hot tea waiting for you there.
To further limit your involvement with your ex if you happen to work on the same project, ask your manager to release you from it and give you another responsibility instead. You can mention the situation to them, but do so in a way that is minimal and protects you.
If you are being harassed by your ex, collect evidence and go to HR.
Restrict your interactions in the common areas. If you see them approach, make your way out.
Don’t read between the lines if they attempt to communicate through making insinuations, or take the bait if they hoover. Don’t try to get back together with them. And for the sake of your sanity, don’t flirt with them or others in front of them to evoke jealousy. Stay out of the game. Engaging will only work to distract and eventually destroy you.
Three. Up Your Self-Care.
You will get so much more mileage if you take your care and compassion and turn it towards yourself. You are the one who needs it now.
Basically, you want to shift your attention form them and the drama they are whipping up and focus on you, your health, your peace, your goals and your future.
Evaluate your coping mechanisms. Do you spend a lot of money on things you never really use or wear, just to bolster your self-esteem? Do you eat your sorrows? That will not give you the relief you are seeking long term.
Instead, try self-dates. Go to a yoga class or the gym, cook a nice meal for yourself, stock up on supplements and nutrients that help heal your brain and schedule a massage or a movie night with a friend. This is investment in self-care that will pay you back in dividends.
The pain will not go away immediately, but by taking care of you, you’ll begin to shift the dial and train yourself to expect better treatment from others. I remember looking at it as putting little coins in my emotional piggy bank. At some point, the amount of self-nurturing I’ve done, began to spontansously flood my nerves with contentment.
If you need personal help or assistance, which has been proven to help boost the feel-good chemicals in your brain (oxytocin and serotonin), reach out to HR to refer you to a therapist, or hire a coach.
If you do go the therapist route, make sure they are familiar with Cluster B personality disorders or domestic violence at the very least so you get the compassion and understanding you need.
Four. Ask to be Relocated to Another Department.
If the pain of seeing them sitting across from you is too much, consider the more involved option of jumping the departmental ship.
While seemingly daunting and complicated at first, it could be a blessing in the sense that you will be introduced to new people, new projects, new ways of doing things. Learning new things grows your brain cells and that’s precisely what can help you forget your ex faster — taking on a new challenge.
You deserve to feel better. When you feel better, you perform better. It’s a win-win. So don’t think that you are bothering the management with your proposal. If they refuse your ask, at least you tried. If that doesn’t work, there is still another option:
Five. Look for Another Job.
Sacrificing your health and wellbeing for a job is not worth it. The decision of course is yours. But know that you don’t need to suffer. Sometimes the idea of moving somewhere else can be enough to infuse your life with a fresh feeling of excitement.
Maybe there is another company you’ve been thinking of joining? Maybe there is a new career path you’ve been thinking of pursuing? Maybe a new city or country to explore? Now is a good time to ask this of yourself.
I get that the unknown may seem scary at first. But your current job was once an unknown too. With time, it became known and therefore comfortable.
You know what you get if you stay. The moment you gather the courage to at least look outside the perimeter of the familiar, the fear of the unfamiliar loses it’s edge.
So, have a look outside your current reality and consider a wider variety of options of yourself. To borrow from L’Oreal: you are worth it.
For more on the subject on working in the same place as your narcissistic ex, check out the video below:
I will be teaching a workshop in Amsterdam on Saturday, November 24. If you are interested in more details, check out the video below.
I hope this post was helpful to you and look forward to meeting you in the comments. Your 👏🏻 are the rocket fuel that inspires me to keep up this work.
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If you are suffering from the shock of being subjected to narcissistic abuse, have a look into my FREE three-step SOS program available on my website.