Getting Your Life Back After Growing Up in a Narcissistic Family
People with narcissism tend to view life in a very strict, black or white way. They see things in terms of winners and losers. Of course, this means that they don’t want to be the losers or victims. In order to make sure that they’re not, they seek to make others the losers and victims.
The truth is that narcissistic people have major self-esteem problems. You can think of them as a car tire with a small hole where the air is leaking out. Except, in the case of a narcissist, the air is their self-esteem. In order to keep the tire functioning, air constantly needs to be added. It’s the same with a narcissist. They constantly need validation and attention to replenish their leaking self-esteem.
If you grew up in a narcissistic family where one of your parents was this person, it’s likely that you were also one of the objects of their need for attention. You may have found yourself being bullied and confused by your parent’s need for attention. It’s very common for this to continue into adulthood, but now you have a choice. As an adult, you have the power to take your life back from a narcissistic family.
Look Beyond the Narcissistic Surface
Narcissistic people are good fakers. Wallowing in low self-esteem and shame, they are often completely terrified that someone might discover that they aren’t who they pretend to be. They’re afraid that people will find out that they’re ignorant or flawed in some way. Being embarrassed or victimized is a constant fear for a person with narcissism. This fear is the root cause of their behavior. In order to avoid feeling ignorant or flawed, they have to act like they’re the best and demand perfection from other people. They can’t admit that they’re wrong and always have to know the most in any situation. If someone embarrasses or humiliates them, they will often explode with rage.
Once you understand what drives the behavior of a narcissistic person, you won’t feel like you have to take their rage and ridiculous behavior personally. In other words, it’s not that you personally hurt them, but that they are hurt by anything that attacks their fake surface.
Recognize Narcissistic Distortions and Hypocrisy
As you will see, narcissistic behavior is controlled by the fear of being outed as fake and flawed. When a narcissist makes a mistake, they almost always lay the blame on someone else. They can’t possibly be at fault as they have the superior character. When they succeed, they credit their superior character for success. If you succeed at something, they will often do one of the following things:
- Take credit for your success
- Call it luck or a fluke
- Try to diminish it by pointing out your previous failures
- Put your success down by saying it’s something they already did or did better
People with narcissism tend to distort the truth and engage in frustrating double standards. If they’re caught with their hand in the candy jar, they will bully, confuse, and distract to avoid taking responsibility. Don’t fall for these tactics. Pay attention to what narcissistic people do and not what they say. They use words to cast doubt on your intentions and make you feel small so that they can feel big. Don’t take their arguments seriously as they will use these to distract by coming up with new arguments every time you refute the first one.
If your narcissistic family is abusive and manipulative, it’s important to see it for what it is.
Think About Why You’re Drawn To People With Narcissism
It’s common for people with narcissistic families to continue being drawn towards others with narcissistic qualities. The reasons behind this can be complicated. You might be drawn to them because it reminds you of the narcissistic family dynamics that you grew up with. In other words, it’s simply a sense of familiarity. However, you might also have the subconscious hope that you will find someone with narcissism who won’t treat you badly. In some ways, this might feel like it will make up for your parent with narcissism.
The problem with this idea is that people with narcissism don’t care about treating others in a nice way. They care about attention and validation for themselves only. Don’t feel like you have to deny your desire for justice and reparations, but you should also realize that you’re unlikely to get an apology or anything else that makes up for your lost years dealing with a narcissist.
If you end up with a narcissistic person, you should ask yourself why. Do you want to change them? Do you think you can reform their thought process? You can’t get back what you lost with a narcissistic parent. Instead, focus on making better choices and treating yourself in a healthier manner.
Speak Your Truth
Don’t let a narcissistic person control discourse. For example, let’s say you buy a birthday gift for a narcissist despite the fact that they didn’t get you anything for your birthday. They might try to tell you that you’re making them feel guilty because they didn’t get you anything for your birthday. This is a classic tactic from narcissists. They try to make you feel bad for making them feel bad. If you know they’re doing this, it can help you with your next move. Take a look at the following possible responses:
• “That’s not why I gave it to you. But, do you feel guilty for not getting me a birthday present?”
• “I gave you a gift because I wanted to, but now that you mention it, I was hurt that you didn’t get me a birthday present.”
These responses directly confront the other person’s narcissism.
Regain a Healthy Balance
Growing up with someone who has narcissism can make you feel unbalanced. One way to recover this balance is by doing the opposite of narcissism. For example, if you were constantly criticized as a kid, you should try to avoid self-criticism and focus on self-acknowledgment instead. If you often felt deprived, you should allow yourself to want and receive.
Growing up with narcissism means you may have experienced shaming and criticism from your parents whenever you asked questions or expressed your opinion. This might cause you to second-guess yourself constantly. As an adult, try to think of yourself as trustworthy. Face challenges and make decisions with the assumption that your judgment is worth trusting.
If you grew up with a parent with narcissism, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. Many adults had narcissistic parents growing up. You CAN take your life back.
Find a Therapist in Los Angeles with Menachem Psychotherapy Group. We specialize in treating relationship issues and the lingering struggles caused by growing up in a narcissistic or dysfunctional family. Reach out to one of our therapists today!