Unsubscribing from the Narrative
How to own your reality after psychological warfare
While we are in the temporary phase of calm before the next round of chaos, there’s a practice you can do to take greater ownership of your reality. This will help you return to yourself and prepare for more of these challenges to come.
This is important even after we wake up to the abuse, and in this case, the psychological warfare.
The narrative is infectious. When we are living under this spell, we are still subscribed to the abuser’s reality. This remnant of the abuse can limit your life in ways you might not be consciously aware of.
It could be surprising to those of us who consider ourselves aware of what’s going on, that there might be ways the narrative is still affecting our mind, the way we see ourselves and the world.
Reprogramming your paradigm is helpful for owning your reality in order to create the life you want.
In this post, I’ll share with you a powerful mental ninja technique to overwrite the reality program that was installed in your mind by the abusers in your life. It’s one of the most important parts of self-care that will help you recover after psychological abuse. This applies to interpersonal relationships as well as abusive systems in workplaces, organizations or society at large.
The abuser’s reality and the effects on the target can last long after the target leaves the abusive relationship or situation. This is why it’s important to unsubscribe.
We all live in a certain reality paradigm, our perception of reality. The reality paradigm is constructed of the stories we tell ourselves about what’s real, who we are, what world is like, etc.
Your reality is a neurological program creating your perceptions of self and the external world.
Reprogramming your reality paradigm is similar to reprogramming old habits.
The programs that create your perception of reality are based on your beliefs (which have to do with past experiences) as well as your nervous system’s perception of the environment (which is often based upon past experiences and not necessarily what’s in front of you here and now).
We are also influenced by what we are exposed to, and we tend to expose ourselves to that which is familiar (from the past), even if it’s harmful.
The process of perception and reality formation is especially impacted by psychological warfare and abuse, as well as the social engineering that comes through advertising, entertainment and social media. Of course, we could say that social engineering a covert form of psychological warfare, abuse and manipulation.
Anytime we are exposed to that kind of messaging, as it’s repeated over time, neurological programs are created and the perception of reality is manipulated and curated. This continues automatically, and mostly below the radar, until we become more conscious of our habits, perceptions and self-talk.
The beliefs that you hold of yourself and the world, which are based on your past experiences and exposure, create your perspective, which then determines your reality.
For the most part, this all happens on a subconscious level. Unless we interrupt the patterns consciously, it’s an automated process like a computer program.
When facing life experiences in the present moment, we often don’t realize that we are actually responding to the past because this is happening at the neurological level, without our awareness.
One of the most common processes where this shows up is when we get triggered. This means something happened in the present that the nervous system perceived as familiar based on what happened in the past so it triggered the old program to run.
When you get triggered, you might think you’re reacting to the present situation but you’re actually reacting to the past. That’s why you might overreact to something that’s not such a big deal. Your nervous system isn’t just reacting to that little thing. It has superimposed the big things from the past on top of it, so you’re reacting to all of that.
The installation of the abuser’s narrative (and all the programs that entails) is one kind of trauma that causes such triggers to be frozen in the nervous system.
Abusers live in a twisted, distorted reality paradigm, a narrative that the target ends up subscribing to. Abusers accomplish this through gaslighting and a strong conviction in everything they say, which causes the target to self-doubt, and over time, to give the manipulator the benefit of the doubt.
During the induction period, the target slides slowly into the abuser’s reality. The target starts deferring their perception of reality to the abuser, usually without realizing. The target just thinks it’s normal and real.
The abuser’s narrative is like a virus of the mind that can cause a target to completely lose their sense of self. This needs to be reprogramed after abuse. This is especially insidious with psychological abuse.
If you’ve been in a relationship or a social system (family, workplace, organization, etc.) with a manipulative or abusive person, you were indoctrinated into a false reality paradigm. You were taught to see yourself, others and life in distorted ways according to that narrative.
This indoctrination distorts your reality perception about who you are, what’s real and what’s possible for you in life.
This same kind of narrative indoctrination happened since 2020. It’s not that the psychological warfare started then, but it’s been at all new levels during the last few years, affecting nearly everyone around the world at the same time as policies and mandates were coordinated by global organizations and keywords and phrases were translated into all the languages and pumped out through the media and social media.
Here are some common types of messaging that abusers use to indoctrinate targets into their narrative. There are examples from interpersonal relationships, small social systems and society.
“You can’t” messages:
“You can’t do that.”
“You can’t go there.”
“You can’t accomplish that.”
“You can’t survive out there without us.”
“You can’t travel. You can’t visit your loved ones. You can’t study at an institution. You can’t breathe freely in public. You can’t talk to people on the subway. You can’t open your non-essential business.”
“You’re not good enough” messages:
“What makes you think that school/job will take you?”
“Who do you think you are to do that?”
“You’ll never make it if you start your own business, no one will pay you for that. Go get a job at the mall!”
“If you don’t get injected with this experimental drug technology, then you’re not doing your part like the rest of us.”
“It’s your fault that society can’t go back to normal.”
“No one wants you” messages:
“You’ll never find anyone to put up with you like me.”
“You’re too old to find someone now.”
“No one wants a man/woman with kids.”
“Should we tolerate these people (the unvaccinated) in society?”
“You can’t trust anyone but me” messages:
“Your friends/family don’t care about you like I do.”
“I’m the only one who really loves you and wants the best for you.”
“So-and-so was talking badly about you behind your back, (which may or may not have actually happened).
“Don’t do your own research, you’re too dumb/uneducated for that. Leave it up to us, we are the experts and we know what’s best for you.”
“Follow the science. Nope, not that science. Trust only what we tell you is science.”
These sorts of guilt, fear and shame-based belief systems can get internalized by the target, and then this distorted reality begins to affect the target’s life poorly. It can affect a person’s health, sanity, wellbeing, inner peace, success, relationships, self-esteem, self-worth, self-trust, self-love, sense of self, and so much more.
The narrative of the abuser is like a plague that spreads through the target’s life.
What spread faster and farther in 2020, covid or the narrative?
You’ll know you’re still living in the abuser’s reality when you’re still talking to yourself as the abuser (or their enablers) talked to you.
You might notice that you’re still arguing with the abuser (or their enablers) in person or online, or even in your head long after they’re gone.
You might notice that you’re still concerned about what they’re saying to others and what others think of you because of what the abuser (or their enablers) say about you.
Why is it so important to unsubscribe from the abuser’s narrative?
The most dangerous thing about abusers is their reality paradigm. It can keep affecting the target and holding them back in life long after going No Contact with the abuser or even after the abuser is dead.
This is the internal process that happens when we aren’t conscious of unsubscribing from the abuser’s reality:
First a negative thought comes by.
Then a heavy emotion gets triggered and comes up to meet the thought.
That combination becomes a downward spiral into the abyss where it feels like you’re caught in the undercurrent, you don’t know which way is up or down, and you don’t know how to get out of that cycle or the funk that it causes for hours or days.
It’s dangerous to every aspect of your life to keep living in the abuser’s reality. It’s how they can keep tormenting you through your own mind, even after they’re long gone or the situation is long over. This is how they maintain their power, when their narrative gets internalized and the target keeps reacting to that program, which was installed in the past.
At some point hopefully you’ll recognize this internal process taking place and you’ll realize that it’s no longer about the abuser. Now it’s time for YOU to grab the reins of your mind, to unsubscribe and overwrite the programming.
I like to say “unsubscribe” from their reality because it’s like unsubscribing from unwanted spam mail filling up your inbox.
What happens if you don’t unsubscribe?
You’ll need to purge the abuser’s perspectives and beliefs from yours in order to truly be free.
Otherwise you’ll keep tormenting yourself, thinking about what the abuser, and/or their enablers, are saying about you to your friends, family or community or how you feel about what they believe you are.
You’ll be on the defensive instead of proactive in life. You’ll want to defend yourself from false accusations and assumptions, spending hours of the day ruminating about it and justifying it to your yourself in your mind as if you were defending yourself on public trial.
This is incredibly draining and distracting from living your life’s purpose.
Until you unsubscribe, you’ll keep working at creating the life you want but you’ll keep sabotaging it all for yourself much like the abuser did to you.
You’ll start telling yourself how you’re not good enough, how you can’t this or that, how it’s just not possible for you, how no one will believe you, support you, or buy your thing that you’re selling, that there won’t be enough money or time or energy to create your goals, or love isn’t possible for you… You’ll find some way to talk yourself out of going for what you really want and instead you’ll end up conforming to your assigned role in the narrative that someone else wrote for you.
It could be the little things too, like little decisions or indecisions that you make at the supermarket or when you’re out running errands that add up over time, making you feel less than, unworthy, incapable and a passive, powerless victim of your life.
This also greatly affects how you socialize and connect with others.
Abusers aim to divide and conquer, to isolate the target so they feel alone and want to belong, yet feel unworthy of belonging or being accepted.
Maybe the abuser made you feel suspicious or afraid of everyone else, which makes you feel insecure and socially anxious when you’re around other people. You’ll likely have insecure, needy, approval-seeking behavior, which turns off healthy people and magnetizes manipulators. Or maybe as soon as you start getting close to someone, you panic and put up big walls to protect yourself.
Maybe you feel socially awkward, always thinking people are making fun of you when they’re laughing at something else. Maybe you fear people are putting you down behind your back while praising you to your face because your abusive parent did this all your life and that programming taught you to expect others do it too.
Maybe you just can’t see your beauty or sexiness because your abusive ex was so critical of your body or the way you moved, did your makeup, your hair, the way you ate, how you dressed, etc. Other people sometimes pick up on these insecurities subconsciously and manipulators will take advantage of that.
It’s important to shift out of that life-sucking reality into a life-affirming reality based on what’s real, who you know you are and what you want, not what someone else thinks of you or wants for you.
What’s real is you are worthy. You are enough. You are lovable. You can accomplish your dreams. You can do it and you got this!
Positive belief systems can be used to replace the old narrative so you can live the life you want instead of feeling limited and boxed into what someone else wants for you.
How do you unsubscribe from the abuser’s reality?
Recognize all the ways that other people have influenced the way you see yourself, others, the world, your place in the world and what’s possible for you in life.
Take an inventory of these belief systems by noticing your thought patterns on the daily. Write them down when you catch them in your self-talk. You’ll hear versions and variations of, “You can’t” or “You’re not good enough”, etc.
Journal these thoughts when you catch them.
Then you can weave the pieces together when memories of the past and new insights come, helping you to differentiate and identify the narrative of the abuser, then noticing how that became incorporated into your perception of reality. You’ll probably have realizations like, “Ahh okay so when s/he did… it was because s/he believed… and wanted… from me. Now I get it.”
This process helps you to see, with greater clarity, the landscape of the reality that you’ve been conditioned to believe in and internalize as if it were your own.
This is part of the work of stalking the Inner Dialogue and reprogramming the self-talk, which is where these beliefs show up, in your thoughts. Your Inner Dialogue is a constant inventory of your beliefs (Carlos Castaneda).
You can become like a mental ninja, observing your thoughts, so you can identify the belief systems that need to be purged instead of allowing your mind to get hijacked.
Notice what you’re telling yourself all day long.
That’s the stuff that’s creating your reality. That’s where you’re going to identify these false belief systems. And that’s where you have the power to overwrite them.
Notice how some of these thoughts probably sound a lot like what abusers have told you. This might have started in childhood for some, and those are the deepest core beliefs that you’ll want to work on reprogramming in layers in order to liberate yourself from false narratives.
The technique I teach to reprogram the self-talk came from ThetaHealing. It might sound woo woo or silly, but it’s very powerful when you put this into consistent, daily practice.
This is a way of reverse engineering the negative process that I mentioned earlier:
thought >> heavy emotion >> downward spiral abyss >> funk for hours or days at a time
Self-talk reprogramming technique:
A negative thought shows up.
Immediately interrupt the pattern by saying “CANCEL” three times (or use some other word you prefer).
Reframe the negative thought with something positive and true.
Here’s an example that many people who have been dating or mating in the recent decade can probably relate to.
Negative thought: “People only want you for your physical body/resources.”
Interrupt the pattern: “Cancel, cancel, cancel.”
Reframe: “I am worth much more than my physical body.” or “I am worth much more than what I provide financially.”
If you’re trying to reprogram something that’s not true yet but you’re in the process of making it true, then use the present progressive tense (I am -ing) so your subconscious can get on board with the statement.
For example, maybe you’re trying to get back in shape but you don’t feel or look fit yet. When your mind tells you nasty things about yourself, you can cancel then reprogram. If you say, “I am fit and healthy,” your subconscious is probably going to reject it. Instead you can use something like, “I am getting fit by working out and eating healthy.”
You’ll need to do the reprogramming practice consistently to get results.
That means working on it every day. Inconsistent action leads to inconsistent results so if you want to see the difference, the consistency of your efforts is KEY.
What you’ll notice, after just a couple weeks, is a reduction in these negative thoughts.
After a month, you’ll see a big reduction in those thoughts. Any time they do show up, it will be more jarring because you’re learning not to minimize or normalize those negative thoughts any more.
After 2-3 months of doing this practice consistently, your subconscious gets fully on board with the new program. You’ll notice how you don’t always have to consciously do the practice, that your subconscious is now trained to be on alert for negative thoughts and before you even notice the thought, your subconscious is often already reframing it.
You’re going to realize in this process how your mind is either your greatest ally or your worst enemy. It all depends on how you train it, otherwise you let your mind get molded and indoctrinated from outside, then continue to run those programs.
So first you train yourself to interrupt the negative thoughts, cancel and then reprogram them. This training of your self-talk starts to upgrade your larger belief systems, and that shifts your perspective of self and the world, which then shifts your reality.
This is how you can unsubscribe from the abuser’s narrative or any limiting belief systems that were taught to you.
The practice of owning your reality starts with unsubscribing from the abuser’s reality and then creating a new reality for yourself based on truth, self-responsibility, self-love, self-respect, self-worth, self-trust and self-confidence.
Take responsibility for what you allow into your world. You are the gatekeeper of your mind and your reality.
This means consciously choosing what kinds of people, information and media that you expose yourself to.
If you’re doing all this work to transform your life but you’re constantly ingesting celebrity gossip, family or social gossip, reality TV, social media, swipe apps, porn, fantasy novels, the news and other fear-propaganda, or stalking your ex online… you’re going to keep feeding your mind garbage. That’s going to have a negative effect on your life because what you ingest becomes part of your reality.
Take an inventory of your day-to-day habits and ask yourself in what ways you’re allowing yourself to ingest garbage. Check in to see where in your life do you need to take more responsibility for what you’re allowing in. Then you can set new boundaries with yourself to change the habits that are having a toxic effect on your mindset.
The skill of reprogramming your mind isn’t just about recovery after abuse and psychological warfare, it’s also a valuable life skill that can help you get out of toxic victimhood, become the person you were born to be and live the life of purpose that you dream of.
High Performance Coach, Brendon Burchard taught me that owning your reality is the definition of being assertive.
Assertive is confident, steady, centered and grounded.
Becoming assertive is an important part of healing after abuse. If you previously had a tendency to be passive and comply in order to avoid conflict and discomfort in the moment, then surely all that stuffed anger and frustration added up over time. When it became too much, you might have flipped into aggression in order to set a boundary.
You might notice when you first start setting new boundaries that it often comes across as anger and aggression because there’s all this built up anger and frustration from the past when people violated your boundaries or you complied with something that was against your values and not okay for you. In some cases, maybe no one ever taught you how to set boundaries assertively or you weren’t exposed to people who managed their boundaries in healthy ways.
When you’re assertive, you know who you are, what you’re worth, what’s okay for you and what’s not, and you’re willing to show people that through your actions.
When you’re assertive, you also know when and how to walk away from people who aren’t honoring your boundaries or respecting you.
Through practice, you’ll eventually be able to do this without the anger and aggression because you’ll get to know yourself, trust yourself and believe in yourself. You won’t feel like you have to prove anything to anyone or defend your life choices and who you are to people who try to force you to act, or accept something, against your values.
When working on owning your reality, it’s helpful to ask, “Is that in alignment with who I want to be and what I want to grow in my life?”
If not, change it.
There are 3 levels of owning your reality — This doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.
Level 1: This is where you start to let yourself off the hook from the guilt, shame and fear that was imposed on you from someone or something external. You realize that it’s not your fault. Someone else taught you, conditioned you, programmed you to believe in a lie. This is the level of victim consciousness.
Level 2: This is when you decide, enough of that garbage! You can change your reality. This is survivor consciousness, where the deep reprogramming work takes place through your active and ongoing commitment to self-responsibility. There will be a lot of trial and error as you work to take the reins of your mind back and set new boundaries. You’ll gain an increasing sense of empowerment over your life and in the process, you’ll stop giving your power away externally.
Level 3: This is where you’re owning your reality and creating the life you want. This is thriver consciousness, where your mind and boundaries develop more effortless assertiveness. You’re much less defensive and reactionary. You prefer not to waste your time and energy arguing or trying to change people’s misperceptions about you and instead you’re focusing on building the life you want with people who mutually uplift each other. You’re eliminating the self-doubt and self-abandonment by this stage through the actions you take to trust yourself and take ownership of yourself. This is where you really start to thrive in life.
How can you measure the change from the old reality paradigm to the new one?
Through the reprogramming self-talk practice, eventually you’ll stop your mind from running on the old autopilot. You’ll notice that the automaton behaviors that used to sabotage your life stop, and things change for the better.
You’ll notice a lot more self-control over your emotions. You’ll see how you’re letting go of the impulsive reactions and defensiveness, shifting your behavior into more mature actions that reflect the person you actually want to be and how you want to show up in yourself and in the world.
This process creates an important update in your character. You’ll be able to grow out of the old self-victimization, people-pleasing or other self-abandoning habits of compliance and into greater self-respect and self-determination.
You’ll feel a much greater sense of control over your life when you get control over your mind.
You won’t allow people to emotionally provoke you into reacting or giving them what they want if you have to sacrifice what’s okay for you and what’s aligned with your values.
You won’t allow people to pull you into their self-serving agendas because you’ll be self-directed and not looking outside yourself for approval and direction.
Self-control is one of the greatest indicators of success in life.
This is a valuable skill that will serve you in many ways, especially stopping the self-sabotage that comes with your reactive behaviors and impulses for instant gratification.
The narrative is only going to intensify, so the more skilled we get at unsubscribing from the garbage, owning our reality, choosing our responses to life and delaying gratification by considering what we really want long-term, the better we will fare through these chaotic times.
To measure your change and progress along the way, take a look at the results. The results speak for themselves. And again, the consistent results will only come with consistent action.
Keep in mind, this process works in layers and layers as you uncover more beliefs that you didn’t know were in there until they suddenly pop up. The surfacing of more layers usually happens through life experiences and relational dynamics. So keep working at it and in the process notice how you’re growing. Celebrate your growth too!
By the way, if you’re feeling exhausted, this is probably where you need to look.
Food, sleep and water quality affect our energy levels for sure. Something that’s often overlooked, and perhaps the most impactful upon our energy, is our mind, our perspective and the reality we live in.
Most of our energy is lost to our thoughts.
In Chinese Medicine they say where the yi goes the qi follows. Where your mind goes, that’s where you’re sending your energy. So be sure that’s really what you want to invest in and what you want to grow in your life.
When you take back control over your mind, you will see how much more energy you have. It’s like night and day!
This is one of the most powerful practices to transform yourself and your life.
Why don’t more people do this? It requires WORK. Hard work. It’s a struggle at first because you’ve spent years and maybe decades living in that old reality.
The negative belief systems are automated into your habits. This is especially true when you got indoctrinated into a negative reality paradigm since childhood, but it could also happen after some months or years in a relationship or situation (like the current events) that has an effect on the way you see reality.
There also exists a negative force in the universe that invites us to self-doubt, to see ourselves as unworthy and incompetent so we don’t create the life we want, the relationships we want and instead participate in our own destruction. When we let our minds drift without conscious vigilance, that’s when that negative force sneaks in undetected. It’s always best to catch and stop this force at the door.
It’s much easier to just let the mind run amok, blaming external circumstances and people while complaining about it, but that only keeps you stuck in the powerless victim stage and that’s not going to give you quality of life.
As you work to take control over your mind and your reality, you are empowering yourself through this act of self-responsibility.
Eventually you’ll look back at how far you’ve come and you’ll realize that you’re living the life you may have never thought you could have in the old narrative that you were once subscribed to. You will have to work for it, and it’s worth it. You’re worth it!
Take the reins of your destiny back in your hands and keep checking in periodically to be sure you’re the one handling your reins.
It wasn’t your fault that you were programmed by external forces, but the awesome thing is that you can change it and you’re the only one who can change it for you.
Empower yourself by accepting 100% self-responsibly over your life and choices now and moving forward. This is the shift from the victim stage into the survivor stage of the recovery process after abuse.
The pivot into empowerment changes everything, it’s like the beginning of the rest of your life! There will always be temptations and invitations to feel like a victim again, so when that happens, come back to your mental ninja practice and your commitment to self-responsibility.
This post is extracted from 9th episode of the Inner Integration Podcast (2018), Unsubscribing from the Narcissist’s Reality & Owning Your Reality, expanded and adapted to current global events.