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If Only I'd Known : How to Outsmart Narcissists, Set Guilt-Free Boundaries, and Create Unshakeable Self-Worth - Chelsey Brooke Cole

If Only I'd Known

How to Outsmart Narcissists, Set Guilt-Free Boundaries, and Create Unshakeable Self-Worth

By: Chelsey Brooke Cole

Paperback | 15 August 2023

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This therapist-written and recommended 3-part book will give you the insights and strategies to understand the inner workings of a narcissist, heal from narcissistic abuse, and experience sustainable post-traumatic growth.

In relationships, have you ever found yourself:

  • Feeling like something is "off," but not being able to explain why?
  • Leaving conversations feeling more confused than when you started them?
  • Mentally rehearsing the "best" way to bring something up so your partner won't get mad?
  • Constantly ruminating on how to "make sense" of what you feel and what's happening?
  • Trying every communication strategy, but nothing seems to work?
  • Feeling "not enough" no matter how hard you try?


Narcissistic abuse creates a tidal wave of confusion, hypervigilance, and overthinking. You have trouble thinking clearly, remembering things, or taking in new information. You feel frazzled, foggy, and flawed.

And because these changes are happening to you-you begin to wonder:

What's wrong with me?

Why can't I make this relationship work?

Am I fundamentally broken?

And that's exactly how narcissistic abuse works-it happens so subtly that you believe the insecurities you're experiencing are "you" instead of "what's happening" to you.

You think there's something wrong with you.

You think you need to change or get better.

You think they'll grow out of it.

You think no one else understands.

Narcissistic abuse is a multilayered attack on your sense of self-a dismantling of who you are and what you believe you're worth.

This book covers unique information related to narcissistic abuse, including:

  • How different narcissistic types love bomb
  • Cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physiological warning signs that you're being abused
  • How and why narcissistic trauma bonds form and the process to untangle yourself from these binding relationships
  • How to set boundaries even if you're an empath or highly sensitive person
  • The most common reasons you stay stuck and how to get "unstuck"


If you've ever wondered:

How did I get into this relationship?

I didn't experience an intense love-bombing phase-are they still a narcissist?

I'm such a people pleaser-how can I set better boundaries?

What if healing isn't possible for me?

I feel so lost and broken-where do I even start?

This book is for you

Praise for If Only I'd Known

"Chelsey is able to describe exactly what I went through and what others have endured in a concise way. It is so important for mental health professionals to shine a light on this insidious form of domestic violence so that our clients, readers, and followers can get the validation and support that they so desperately need. She is an advocate for trauma survivors and her writing will help so many people to become empowered and heal." -Vanessa Reiser, LCSW, Narcissistic/Cult Abuse Expert

"If you've ever been touched by a toxic workplace, tyrannical boss, or undermining colleague, you need this book. With clinical expertise, relatable stories, and fresh insights, Chelsey helps us all recognize, recover, and resist narcissistic individuals at every level." -Dorie Clark, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Long Game and executive education faculty, Columbia Business School



Industry Reviews

"Encountering narcissists is inevitable; letting them get the best of you is optional. Chelsey helps you understand what narcissism really is, how to heal when you've been hurt, and what you need to have healthier relationships in the future. This book feels like coffee with a compassionate friend combined with therapy by a wise and experienced counselor. Get a copy for yourself and everyone in your life you want to protect!" -Holley Gerth, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of The Powerful Purpose of Introverts???????

"If you're a quiet overthinker with a kind heart who struggles to set healthy boundaries, then you can be taken advantage of by a narcissist. Your caring heart and willingness to see the good in people are gifts that need protection. To protect yourself from toxic people, you need to do two things: educate yourself on narcissists, and set authentic, sustainable boundaries. And that's exactly what Chelsey teaches you to do. Any introvert who's experienced narcissistic abuse or toxic relationships needs to read this book." -Matthew Pollard, bestselling author of The Introvert's Edge series

"Chelsey Cole's book on narcissistic abuse is an exceptional and empathetic guide, offering deep insights and compassion for those on a journey of understanding and healing. With a profound understanding of the subject matter and personal experiences to draw from, Cole's perspective is both enlightening and empowering. The author effortlessly breaks down complex concepts, making them accessible and relatable to survivors who are grappling with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse. For anyone in search of clarity, healing, and a renewed sense of hope, this book is an absolute must-read." -Tracy Malone, author, founder of NarcissistAbuseSupport.com, International Coach, and Speaker

"If you've ever been touched by a toxic workplace, tyrannical boss, or undermining colleague, you need this book. With clinical expertise, relatable stories, and fresh insights, Chelsey helps us all recognize, recover, and resist narcissistic individuals at every level." -Dorie Clark, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Long Game and executive education faculty, Columbia Business School

"If you've ever struggled to understand how narcissists think or why they do what they do, you need this book! Chelsey provides a fresh, down-to-earth explanation that will quiet your criticisms and confusion, and provide clarity and calm once and for all." -Dr. Ivan Misner, NY Times Bestselling Author

"After narcissistic abuse, you feel like you've lost yourself. You're overwhelmed, broken, and shattered. This book will help you put yourself back together, piece by piece. Chelsey provides compassion, insight, and guidance on every page. Readers will feel like they have a true friend walking alongside them every step of the way." -Jenn Granneman, Founder of IntrovertDear.com and co-author of SENSITIVE

"Have you ever ignored your gut feeling about someone, only later to find out that you were right all along? I learned from Chelsey that tuning in to your body's cues for safety and danger shields you from narcissists. I'm grateful that she devotes a chapter to understanding your body's mental, emotional, behavioral, and physiological warning signs. Like Chelsey says, 'You can't overthink a gut feeling!'" -Nancy Ancowitz, Career Advancement Coach and Author, Self-Promotion for Introverts®

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