If you have a pattern of getting involved with emotionally unavailable partners, for example, you might be acting out from the childhood trauma of encountering emotional unavailability from the only father figure you ever knew. You may have a running narrative of never feeling like you belonged and never being ‘good enough’ for a healthy and loving relationship.
Gently replace these narratives with more empowering affirmations to regain your sense of safety in the world as well as your sacred boundaries for future relationships. A healthier rewriting of the narrative might look something like, “I am and always will be enough. Just because I was traumatized doesn’t mean it was my fault. I, of all people, deserve healthy and safe relationships. I am a survivor who can break the pattern.”
Then, begin to reinforce these new beliefs and cement them by engaging in small steps that communicate to yourself that you are paving a new path to freedom from old beliefs. For example, limiting contact with toxic people in your life can be one small step to prove to yourself that you are committed to your new belief that you can trust your instincts about toxic people and newfound willpower to stay away from them.
Creating a “sacred boundaries” list and brainstorming a plan for implementing healthier boundaries can also be helpful to this process. For a list of guidelines for fairness and intimacy, check out trauma therapist Pete Walker’s Human Bill of Rights.
Seek more positive male role models. Due to their upbringing, daughters of narcissistic fathers may have been conditioned to feel as if males are potentially dangerous or emotionally bankrupt in some way. This might act as a filter or even drive a confirmation bias where they end up meeting more and more dangerous men that prove their core beliefs about men and masculinity right – a form of trauma reenactment to attempt to resolve past childhood wounds (van der Kolk, 1989).
Unfortunately, in a world that is steeped in violence against women – from sexual assault to brutal honor killings – we may have also internalized this sense of danger culturally as well – for very legitimate reasons.
It’s not about getting rid of this very valid fear of meeting dangerous men, but gently inviting the idea of safer men into the narrative. It’s important to recognize that there are ‘safe’ men in the world even in the midst of oppression – men who wouldn’t dream of deliberately hurting or terrorizing you.