Bead Jar Method, Boundaries, Narcissistic Abuse, Recovery


Coming out of a long relationship with a toxic person or ex can take an long-term emotion toll on your health. Stress combined with toxic situations can culminate to where we go back to that feeling of staying stuck. The Bead Jar Process is a great way I’ve found to take measure of my mind and I LOVE cancelling all that negativity and giving it back to joy (where I should always stay focused).”

Weeks, months and even years into gaining your independence you find yourself worrying about what the narc with do, say or think about something. You may even worry about how they will retaliate against you for holding them accountable or even telling them they were wrong (which most narcs can’t hear). I call this the “squirrel” in your brain. So how do you turn it off?

For me, I gave my narc enough of my life. I was ready to put him away in every possible facetĀ to start over and start making new, happy memories and living the life I always wanted for myself. When I felt a thought coming, I would put a wooden bead in a jar. Until the day I dumped out the entire jar onto to the floor. I was livid with myself, “Unbelievable! I gave that man half a lifetime, walked away from everything in our divorce, ended up with a lifetime of debit and worse. I’m free and he’s STILL in my head. Nope, he doesn’t get my mind.”


What You Need:

  • Two Clear Glass Containers (I use large empty widemouth canning jars)
  • Visual Medium: Bag of Medium-Sized Wooden Beads, Buttons, Dominoes (anything will work)

Week 1 (7 Days): Filling the Negative Jar
Take an empty glass container and put a bead into the jar for every negative thought, interaction, feeling of helplessness, stress, and negative moment. Roll the object in our fingers and say it out loud before dropping it into the jar. Do this for a full 7 days (no cheating).

Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Feeling bad about yourself (bead in jar)
Anger at ex (another)
Breaking a boundary (another)
Fighting with kids (another)
Being too hard on yourself (another)
Breaking No Contact with toxic ex (another)
Feeling helpless/frustrated with toxic ex (another)

Be really honest with your negative energy and take visual weight of what that looks and feels like sitting in a jar for you to deal with.

Think About/Journal:
After seeing a full 7 days of negativity in your jar, how do you feel?
What has the last week meant for your recovery journey?
What have you learned from this exercise so far?

Week 2 (7 Days): Countering Negative with the Positive Jar

Set the second empty container next to the full jar. Your job this week is to take each bead and counter that negative energy by replacing it with something positive. Return all that wasted time and negativity back to joy. Hold the bead in your hand and really think about how you feel moving this negative bead to the positive jar.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Volunteer (bead back in the jar)
Try a new recipe (another one)
Try a new wine (another)
Met someone new (another)
Take a bubble bath (another)
Love on your kids (another)
Pay a compliment to a woman who looked like she needed to hear it (another)
Pray for a friend (another)

Until, every bead is replaced with something positive.

Think About/Journal:
How does it feel to counter every negative experience with positive ones?
Did you notice a difference in your emotional well being when you focused here?
What did you learn about yourself and recovery journey after this?

My Personal Observations

I refilled that jar faster the second time. The good far outweighed the negative. And when I was done, I saw all the amazing and positive memories I had made. Instead of looking at those beads with dread, that jar gave me joy!

The exercise reminded me my life is my own. I am the only one who can control my present and my future-and I refused to give my future to someone who held my past hostage!