Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Hobby Avoidance

Independence is happiness

Susan B Anthony

There are infinite things to do in this beautiful world of ours. However, most of them come with too many risks or competition to repeatedly engage in. That is why we create hobbies for ourselves. Activities that you enjoy doing in your free time and can help you relax and de-stress. They are a natural tool to explore ourselves in a controlled environment. A space where we develop our skills and knowledge and they reward us with achievements and abilities we can share or demonstrate with the people we love. Unfortunately, most children realize too late that their parents are narcissists who can damage them.

Have you ever noticed that narcissists rarely have any sustained interest in hobbies? Sure, they might join a hobby for social status or to reap some other reward but it’s usually momentous or spontaneous. They are too self important to understand how to derive innate pleasure from them. Because of this fact, narcissistic parents do not view their children’s hobbies as important because they can’t relate on how important it is to them. Unless their children start receiving a lot of attention for the achievements for those hobbies, then the narcissistic parent will try and take credit for the progress even when uninvolved.

The victims can develop a strong lack of motivation, specifically intrinsic motivation. You feel drained of any desire to continue the activity because you believe you will never actually master it. That you don’t have any autonomy over the activity. You do, but you don’t believe you do. Survivors may even start to associate the hobby with the narcissistic parent or with the abuse they experienced. This makes it difficult to enjoy these activities.

Forced Performance: How the Loss of Control can Lead to Avoidance

“Do the mental math trick you did earlier and show these people” “I don’t want to do that right now..” “Just do it really quickly for them, show them how smart you are!” So many hobbies and interests of young children have been shattered by the sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes not, loss of agency. Choice is the foundation of decision. It is the element of the journey of life. The gift of free will granted to us innately as human beings. When you lose the choice to do what you want, then what point is there in doing it. What pleasure can you possibly derive from an activity in which you have no control.

The rewards, being your own personal autonomy and progress, are taken from you. At least, that is what you are led to believe. The truth of the matter is you always had a choice, but you were deluded into thinking you didn’t have any. That is why so many victims of narcissistic abuse have the want to do the hobby they are interested in for extended period of times, but they still will not actually do anything to further their progress. Just the idea that whatever achievements they make can be stolen by their parents ego, is enough to deter most children away from the hobbies in the first place.

Critical Erosion: How the Constant Belittlement of their Child’s Hobbies can Lead to Avoidance

What happens when the child has a hobby that is not considered valuable or important? Then a new behavior I have loosely termed “critical erosion” can develop. Since the narcissist has no personal investment in the hobby and sees your exaggerated interest in it, they may try and “joke” about it. This is not to be confused with typical jokes or ribbing that often occurs when people take interest in something. Those are usually one-time or very rare comments. The narcissist parent will simply continue to belittle your hobby at any point they feel like. It can create a strong fear of judgement and develop unworthiness.

Every time you share your hobby, they have something negative to say about it in a humorous tone of voice. Even when you have decided to simply stop sharing with them, if they see you performing the hobby on your own they will continue to belittle your hobby. You start to develop a deep sense of shame unless you were born with strong emotional resilience. It is enough to make any child retreat into themselves and question if it is worth engaging in anything that is not socially acceptable. A retreat into the inner world, where you want to explore the outside but simply don’t want the risk of constant attacks.

It can cause most victims to become incredibly secretive of their hobbies. Most may even develop a fear of failure because narcissistic parents will often “move the goalposts” with their children’s hobbies. That is when you reach a target and the narc parent will just keep raising the target you should reach until you give up. They find great amusement in watching you reach your goal only to fail. It is the carrot on the stick you can’t reach, the emotional version of playing keep away with your child’s happiness.

Interest Recovery Process: How to move Forward

The first step to recovery is awareness. You need to be aware that your active avoidance of doing things you enjoy was conditioned into you by the toxic behavior of your parents. The next step is to recognize the benefits of having hobbies. They are incredibly powerful for recovering from the narcissistic abuse that separated you from them in the first place. Hobbies give you control. They instill you with a sense of independence that essentially says, “This belongs to me, no one can take it from me.”

Phase 1: Learn to Love Failure Again

There is no such thing as a mistake, only a regret. We often don’t even realize that we make “mistakes” until they are pointed out to us by someone else. If doing something a certain way makes you happy, then do it your way. There is always going to be the most “efficient” or “proven” way to do something. If your goal is the straight path to a reward, then do so. If your goal is just to enjoy something for the sake of enjoying it, then you want to explore as many possibilities as possible. Don’t worry about making “mistakes”. However, keep in mind of doing something that might make you regret exploring things that way.

Phase 2: Understand Self-Worth is Self-Built

Nobody knows your true worth except you. Narcissistic abusers often make their victims feel worthless and insignificant. That is based on their own insecurities and their own perspective. Let them have their perspective and focus on your own. Essentially, learn to mind your own business and how you want to achieve your goals.

Phase 3: Reject Shame

Shame is a socialized emotion that is a tool used as control. We all want to fit into the group when we need to survive, and shame evolved as a way to keep group members in line. It is essentially a social warning that says, “don’t do this, or we will reject you.” Do not be ashamed of who you are. You are a unique entity created in it’s own image by god. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Do remember however, that you reap what you sow. So think about your actions and how they do affect others. Don’t use shame, use empathy. If you hurt someone else, you can be sure that you will reap the consequences.

Phase 4: Practice Time Management

You need to find time to play with your hobbies uninterrupted. Not everyone will have the luxury to allot the same time to their hobbies. Some will only have a few minutes, others may have hours or even entire months. Focus on how much time you have. Remember, that something is always better than nothing. The less time you have for your hobby, the more you probably value it as well.

Phase 5: Once You Build a Foundation, Find a Supportive Community

There are 8 billion people in the world and the internet allows you to connect with all of them. Jumping right into a new community is always risky. They might only do things a certain way which can make you feel limited. Some hobbies also have gatekeepers that can only add to the old wounds of your abuse. Build a foundation of play with your hobby first so you can understand what you like, vs what everyone else likes. Be patient with yourself through out. It will take time to overcome abuse and enjoy your interests again. Start small if you are feeling overwhelmed.


Recovering from narcissistic abuse takes time and effort, but it’s possible. Engaging in hobbies can be a helpful part of the healing process. There are many reasons why people who have experienced narcissistic abuse may avoid hobbies. It’s important to understand your own reasons for avoidance so that you can start to overcome them. There are many ways to overcome hobby avoidance. Identify your reasons for avoidance, start small, find a supportive community, and be patient with yourself. When choosing hobbies, choose activities that you enjoy, find challenging but achievable, and are social or solitary depending on your preference.

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