Replaying Failed Scenarios After Narcissistic Abuse

Replaying Failed Scenarios After Narcissistic Abuse replaying failed scenarios after narcissistic abuse
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Replaying failed scenarios refers to the act of constantly ruminating about or reliving a past experience in which we feel that we failed to act in a certain manner or we got hurt. It may include playing out various scenarios in our minds, analyzing what we could have done better, what went wrong and even imagining different outcomes. Basically, it’s a way of trying to make sense of what happened in the past and understanding why things didn’t go as we had hoped.

The process of replaying failed scenarios can be helpful or harmful depending on how it’s done. It can provide great insights into what we can improve on in future as well as provide great lessons from our past mistakes. This positive side of replaying failed scenarios happens when you do it with awareness or when you’ve worked on yourself on a deeper level (processed your traumatic memories).

On the other, it can be quite harmful when you constantly live or think about the past and it will even make it harder for you to move forward with life. You may get triggered, experience emotional overwhelm, get paralyzed with fear, or find yourself in a constant negative thought loop.

In the context of narcissistic abuse, replaying failed scenarios is a normal occurrence and understandable response for every survivor who has endured the trauma. It occurs when your mind drifts to infinite “what if” scenarios and wishful thinking about your past relationship. You may be pondering what you could have done better to save the relationship or prevent them from discarding you.

You may also be contemplating what you could have done to trigger their sudden change or to prevent them from turning to the dark side. You may be attempting to comprehend why they betrayed you, why they lied to you, why they abused you, or why they left you for someone else. You may find it difficult to move forward and start imagining the ‘bright scenarios’ (such as owning a home or having money) that might have occurred if you had compromised and ignored the abuse.

The other thing is that the more you learn and educate yourself about narcissism and abuse, the more you realize the insidious forms of abuse that you ‘subjected yourself to.’ Of course, you were not aware of certain forms of abuse, such as verbal and emotional abuse (gaslighting, blame-shifting, silent treatment).

Once you logically understand them, your mind drifts back to the scenarios where you were subjected to those kinds of abuse. That’s why sometimes awareness can be very uncomfortable and painful because it stirs up the pot (negative emotions). You become aware of the abusive ways that you were suppressing or ignoring, which further feeds you negative thought patterns.

You now start replaying other scenarios where you experienced those hidden forms of abuse: scenarios where you were gaslighted, blamed, future-faked, smeared, and more. In short, it’s an exhausting thought process that involves thinking about the trauma, pain, and abuse you experienced at the hands of the narcissist.

Replaying failed scenarios after experiencing narcissistic abuse can be highly harmful because it can aggravate the trauma you experienced in the relationship. When you engage in this negative thought loop, you may be unconsciously re-traumatizing yourself by reliving the traumatic memories in your mind without properly releasing or processing them. This can lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and can cause significant damage to your mental health. It’s like repeating your painful and hurtful experiences without making any conscious effort to protect yourself from further harm.


Imagine repeatedly pressing the rewind button on a movie to watch the same scene over and over again. But in this scenario, you’re repeating the scene where your favorite character (yourself) is being tortured. It’s monotonous, tedious, and the tape will eventually wear out. Moreover, you will be swamped with more and more negative thoughts and emotions.

One other thing we need to understand about replaying failed scenes after narcissistic abuse is that it mostly happens unconsciously, and you’re not really in ‘control’ of those thoughts. This is because traumatic memories are stored in the subconscious mind, and most of your life experiences trigger what’s already there. You may consciously choose to focus on something else or keep yourself busy, but those scenarios from the unconscious will still find a way to resurface.

For example, when you feel lonely, your mind may take you back to the scenarios where you ‘ruined’ the relationship or where you did something ‘wrong’ that made them leave. Your unhealed self is just looking for justifications from your past so that it can pin you as the one who’s at fault and not the narcissist. Consequently, you end up inflicting more harm on yourself and blaming yourself for your current circumstances in life.

All in all, replaying failed scenarios is very harmful to your mental health when you have not healed or processed those traumatic memories. It mostly happens unconsciously, but you have the power and control to make a conscious choice to work on releasing and processing your trauma or past pain. You can take the conscious path to heal and grow from your past experiences. By doing so, you’ll be moving forward and using the past as great lessons rather than as a place to live or relive in.

Actually, when you’ve healed, you will find yourself replaying failed scenarios from the past, but now you’re using those thoughts to work for you and not against you. You will be jumping to a positive mindset or positive thinking, but not as an escape or a coping mechanism (which we may do mostly unconsciously — read here on toxic positivity) but as a conscious choice because you’ve made peace with the past.

Your failed scenarios are now your source of understanding and growth. They show you the importance of boundaries, how a healthy relationship looks like, your weaknesses and strengths, your past mistakes, the importance of self-care, and more valuable lessons that will steer your life moving forward.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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