Dealing with Toxic Family Members: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

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Interview potential mental health professionals who are trauma-informed and know something about narcissistic abuse, to be sure you feel empowered, not shamed or blamed. Good psychotherapy can be invaluable in healing from any residual trauma, depression, anxiety that has stemmed from a family system perpetuating narcissistic (or other forms of) abuse.

6) If your tribe (by blood) has some toxic members, you can create your own tribe of unconditionally supportive, authentic and safe members — these individuals don’t have to be related to you by blood.

They can be friends, colleagues, neighbors. Look for authenticity, integrity, reciprocity, compassion, empathy, honesty, accountability and compromise as important features in healthy relationships.

7) If a toxic person wants to get better, you can’t do the work for them. They have to figure out their own pathway of healing and connect with the motivation to do so, and usually, that involves a ton of therapy over a long period of time. Just because someone begs and pleads for you to stay in the relationship (whether familial or romantic), doesn’t mean you are obligated to do so.




If a person is capable of change, you are going to see evidence of sustained, continuous behavioral change over a lengthy period of time, with evidence of accountability and empathy and remorse for harm caused. For individuals who are further on the spectrum of narcissism, change is very limited and so is insight.

A malignant narcissist/psychopath will not change…they are sadly welded to their ways and hardwired to be who they are. Someone with “traits” of narcissism may have some limited ability to shift and change if they can harness some insight and empathy.

8) Read up on narcissistic abuse and family systems to understand your situation and gain some detachment and distance from the emotional pain. (see below for resources)

9) Self-care — you’ve heard the word, do the action…good sleep, good nutrition, exercise, strong social supports. Yoga, meditation, stress reduction exercise, omega-3 fish oil, nature, journaling. Boom.

10) Have hope that you will move through the pain. Whether or not your family member is capable of repairing the hurt, you will move on to have healthy connections with healthy members of your tribe or those who you have vetted to become a part of your newly founded tribe. We are social creatures as human beings; humans need and deserve to be surrounded and supported by people who are trustworthy and respectful. Bottom line.




Resources:

McBride, Karyl (2009) Will I Ever Be Good Enough?, Atria Publishing. (references daughters of narcissistic mothers — however, substitute appropriate gender pronoun — the book does a good job of explaining narcissistic family systems)
narcissisticbehavior.net — Christine Louis de Canonville’s website on narcissistic abuse recovery
selfcarehaven.org — Shahida Arabi’s website on narcissistic abuse recovery
blogtalkradio.com/mentalhealthnews — Kristin Walker’s podcast programs interviewing experts in narcissistic abuse recovery field
Originally Appeared On andreaschneiderlcsw.com

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