14. View other people as fragile, or view yourself as too much to handle? Possible connection: Your parent acted like a martyr, or became unhinged by your healthy independence.
15. Feel extra-sensitive around entitled, arrogant, or manipulative people? Possible connection: Your parent’s desperate need for attention took up the emotional oxygen in your family.
Human behavior is complex, and it would be a simplification to say that just because your parent did A, you will automatically do B. But years of being on the receiving end of narcissistic parenting can take a toll.
How to recover from growing up with a narcissistic parent?
As children, acknowledging family dysfunction when we have little power to do anything about it can feel devastating. As a result, we may ignore unhealthy patterns, believe what we see to be normal, blame ourselves, or seek means of escape.
Such coping strategies may help us emotionally survive a difficult childhood—and it is important to honor whatever helped us survive in childhood—but those same coping strategies may later manifest in self-defeating ways like some of the 15 patterns listed above.
As an adult, making connections such as these may bring up emotions such as anger, sadness or dismay. But if you had a difficult upbringing, it does not mean you are irreparably damaged or that your life will always be difficult. None of the 13 patterns are life sentences. Everybody has challenges in life; some of the above tendencies maybe your challenges.
However, a difficult upbringing does not mean you are irreparably damaged or that your life will always be difficult.
If you notice yourself falling into one or more of the patterns listed above, the following steps may help:
- Recognize that the past has come alive in the present. Troubling feelings or counterproductive behaviors such as the 15 listed above can serve as a signal that your parents’ narcissism from decades ago is trying to reach into your present life. Your parents might like their legacy to continue forever. Don’t let it.
- Place responsibility and accountability correctly. Narcissistic parents may have blamed you for their problems and taken advantage of you for their own gratification. But let’s be honest: Your parents were adults and they were accountable for their actions, no matter how much they may have avoided taking responsibility. At the same time, you’re the adult now, and you are accountable for what you do with your life.
- Seek support. There are countless resources to help you move on. Psychotherapy excels at identifying and breaking unhealthy connections with the past. Support groups and 12-step programs provide a community of support and offer opportunities to see how others handle similar situations. Self-help books allow you to explore deep issues at your own pace.
- Ask yourself empowering questions such as:
“What is the best way to take care of me in this situation?”
“Is this how I want to treat myself or view others?”
“Who do I want to be, and what do I want to stand for, right now?”
If all else fails and you are unsure of what to do in any given situation, simply ask yourself what your parents might do in the same situation, or may have told you to do.
Then do the opposite. Chances are you won’t go wrong by doing the opposite of a narcissistic parent’s self-serving advice or put-downs.
© Copyright 2017 Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., MFT
If you are someone who has been raised by a narcissist, then there is a lot you have gone through since a young age. But, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Never let that criticism define you because none of it is true. Love yourself enough to believe that you are more than the negative things thrown at you.
If you want to know more about being raised by a narcissist, and how you can move on from it, then check out this video below:
By Dan Neuharth Ph.D. MFT Originally appeared on blogs.psychcentral.com Printed with permission from the author