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27 Comments to
13 Ways Being Raised by a Narcissist Can Affect You

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  1. A handful of these ring true for me.

    Number 12 is what I am dealing with right now and have done so in previous work places, with it usually being a woman, like my mother was. Occasionally, it has been a man. And she always gets sympathy as well as being viewed as a strong woman. Meanwhile, if I speak up I am a seen as a troublemaker.

    It makes the workplace miserable. So, I am wondering how me, an introvert who doesn’t like confrontation, can get past the dread of going to work in these environments.

    • Hi Jen,

      Your dilemma of feeling extra sensitive around bossy or entitled people in the workplace is shared by many. If a workplace situation triggers our own sensitivities, there is always an opportunity to look at that, own our part, and make changes as needed. At the same time, abusive behavior from others or an unhealthy management style or workplace environment have real costs. You have the option to report such behaviors, protect yourself legally, or choose to continue to working there if unhealthy actions occur.

      Dan

      • This is such a great read, and applicable to children who had parents who were alcoholics, drug addicts, had mental illness, or for whatever reason just were not present. The attachment we have or don’t have with are parents shapes a lot of beliefs and patterns that not many are aware of. It’s powerful when we are aware so that we can begin to notice the patterns and have some compassion for self and the parents who also were probably part of generational learning from their family of origin. Multigenerational trauma is not just applicable in the aboriginal community it’s everywhere. It can be very empowering and motivating for individuals to learn tools to break the pattern of learned beliefs and behaviours. I find that a combination of using Cbt, narrative, gestalt, and debt skills very effective for my clients to learn how to have their voice in an effective way

      • Michelle,
        Thank you for sharing your insights!
        Dan

  2. Yes this is my story almost to a T
    Got 10/10 on ACE scores as well
    Still dealing with the parent too….she just
    Cant seem to help herself; shes a selfish jerk
    Who plays the hard done by martyr and she will
    never own het own awful behaviour then or now
    I just feel sick when I have to deal with those
    behaviours. It never ends.
    I actually ran away at 13 to get away from the
    violence & verbal and emotionsl abuse
    I honestly dont know what to do about it
    I stand up to her but then I am now the abuser if I do…
    And she is once more the poor soul that is suffering
    Its a horrible situation to be subjected tocontinually

    • Thank you for sharing your story. Your post captured some of the painful dilemmas inherent in relating to a destructive narcissist.

      Dan

  3. Thank you for the positive messages in this blog … I do not have to feel powerless, even with these very controlling, fear-based people who call themselves my parents (more like employees at the orphanage). What I know for certain is I feel so much better when I’m not around them and I dread seeing them. That basic Truth will always be my guide for self-care and healing because it’s just too big to ignore.

    • June,

      Thanks for adding your comment. Using your own feelings and intuition as a litmus test on whether it is healthy to be around hurtful narcissistic people is a good guideline we can all learn from.

      Dan

  4. Unravelling this web of deceit foisted upon the child we were can be very frightening, because in a sense we are so vulnerable and in the trust of they who brought us into the world and raised us, and narcs will tell you how lucky you are, though as in my case being told not to get involved, not to feel , and don’t be sensitive ,clashed with what was actually going on inside me.
    As I grew older this schism got bigger and the final denouement came when a whole carefully contracted pack of lies came crashing down exposing my mother as what she was, a manipulative liar with a case hardened emotional carapace.
    The truth lay in a scenario not unlike Mike Leigh’s film Secrets and Lies…and left me with no means of finding or contacting the Irish side of my family.
    Then came the hard life lesson of shedding those nurture cloaking role model narcissistic traits which clashed with my own innate qualities, which actually gave me a rather schitzy nature.
    Very confused and confusing in those days before I realised I needed to take a dive into psychology.
    I actually don’t swim well, and the journey to selfhood also contained several near drawing moments in this subliminal sea,
    However, given time, anti depressants, and access to both one to one therapy , and the ever more accessible information on sites like these, I was able to raise a different inner child and not one of a lesser god.
    And, (The hell with correct English usage ..lol) I am happy.

    • This was beautiful to read!

    • Well said. I can relate with you.

    • Bodach,

      Thank you for sharing your journey of healing with this community.

      Dan

  5. I didn’t feel these things before since I’m doing well as a person but this is quite a good read though. I didn’t know that these complications can really affect a person’s life.

  6. my daughter read this and said she refrains from being happy and wants to know why she finds her self stopping herself from laughing. It is almost as if she feels she doesnt deserve to be happy.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      For some people who have been wounded or traumatized opening up to laughter may feel too vulnerable. That may change in time for your daughter. Perhaps she can gradually feel more open to allow a bit more lightness into her life, trusting that doing so won’t cause past traumas to recur, and trusting that she can handle, perhaps with the support of a trusted professional, any grief that may arise as she opens up to the lighter side.

      Dan

  7. Each of the 13 deeply resonates with me. As does the rest of the post.
    In fact, every post I’ve read (so far) that pertains to parental narcissism has been a solid blow to the gut.

    I brought along a printed copy to a therapy session to help the therapist better understand some things I haven’t been able to put into words.

    The reaction I get to these insights is a sort of “Now you know these things. But, why are you still stuck? If you know these things, you shouldn’t be stuck.”

    I understand his response since he’s primarily a CBT type therapist. And I’d love to reply, “Hey, you’re right! Time to go and turn my life around, right now!” But it doesn’t work that way – at least for me. Granted, I don’t know what *will work*, but that isn’t it.

    Anyway, thanks for the article.

    *Side note: When I first clicked this article, I stared at that picture of the parent using a magnet to take a part of her own child’s identity – the tear on the child’s face. I couldn’t stop staring at it. And crying.

    • Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your poignant post. Understanding the problems and consequences inherent in narcissistic parenting is important in healing. Yet for many people raised in such families, understanding is only the first step. It may take time, work, grieving, self-discovery and growth to move on and let go of the hurtful legacy of being raised by a narcissist.

      Healing has its own timetable. Trying to rush it is like yelling at a broken bone to heal quicker. There are many paths to healing. It helps to honor whatever path and timetable that works best for you, and to give yourself the vote of confidence that you will get there.

      Dan

  8. Narcissism is within us all, I think we can refer to the narcissistic behaviour in others and ourselves without absolute labels. People experience narcissism in themselves and others during personal interactions, those instances need to be understood and decoded.

  9. Thanks to the author for this valuable article. It is helpful for all humans emotionally intelligent enough to explore who they are and the catalysts which influenced why they do what they do. This article offers insights from which we can all benefit. As the author wrote, “Human behaviour is complex and it would be a simplification to say that if your parent did X, you will automatically do Y. But narcissistic parenting is a powerful influence on children and it is important to take stock of your past.” Whether parenting or reflecting why you do what you do, here are insightful identifiers upon which to reflect. The Buddha said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear; this may be one of those golden opportunities for those who are ready.

    • Joseph,
      Thank you for pointing out that there can be opportunities, not just angst, in dealing with narcissists.
      Dan

  10. One of the consequences of being raised by narcissistic parents is that now I’m always attracted to narcissists. Even though they make me suffer, it’s as if I’m attracted to the chaos, drama, etc. because it’s familiar to me. I think also perhaps I am under the illusion that I can “fix” and heal that person as I could never do with my parents. It’s very hard to get out of this pattern, but at least now I recognize it and I can be wary of the red flags and strengthen my boundaries.

    • Irina,
      The familiar can be such a draw, but as you point out, recognition and awareness of unhelpful patterns is a crucial first step. Thank you for your post.
      Dan

  11. I’m crying right now because I’m realizing fatally that each and every one applies to me. I have spent literal nights trying to evaluate and rationalize the way my parents treated me and how it had to have been my fault. I always thought I was selfish and irrational and seeing this, I don’t even know what to think anymore.

    • Rose,
      For some, being raised in a narcissistic family is a powerful process akin to “brainwashing.” Perhaps despite what you were led to believe, your parents’ unhealthy behaviors were not your fault — and you are not “selfish” or irrational for doubting or questioning their actions and motives. It can be unsettling to question some long-held beliefs but doing so can lead to health and freedom.
      Dan

  12. I have emailed links to this and ’11 More ways being raised by a narcissist can effect you’ to my psychologist as I really identify with many of the situations outlined as an adult.

    I relate to the following;
    I get uncomfortable when good things happen (it wont last/don’t get your expectations too high/or expect people to let me down)
    I Worry or ruminate over confrontations with others (confrontation in my family means blame, denial, screaming matches and no actual resolution to a problem. makes it hard to confront others as i am scared they will abuse me too)
    Too often please others at your own expense (moved away from my mother…otherwise I would be at her beck and call, still am taken advantage of by others because of my ‘generous nature’ . setting better boundaries is challenging but necessary)
    Expect too much of yourself (single mum, doing a degree at university, working….er (cough) yep. Feeling like things are falling apart/too much for me but realise I expect so much of myself too)
    Feel extra-sensitive around bossy, entitled or manipulative people (totally. Need to find a way to protect myself from other people’s energy, it tires me out! I was always expected to put my mum/dad/families needs before my own – oldest child of a toxic family – playing the ‘good girl’ role)
    Self-soothe through excessive food, drink, shopping or other addictive behaviors (yep. food. at least not alchohol/drugs like other family members (dad,sister). But when there is nothing ‘good’ in my life food was able to comfort me. Am over weight but so busy with kids/work/uni that I don’t have time to even address it and look after myself properly. But if I don’t it may hurt me. It is on the list.

    I am my own biggest critic. Carrying the negative and critical stuff that has been told to me over my life. Parents who never told me I was loved or was pretty/good/valued. Same goes for my ex. Apparently my mother thought that telling us we were beautiful or attractive in any way would make us conceited and stuck-up.

    I tell my own daughters that they are beautiful and loved in many different ways. I am conscious of my choices in words and deeds when it comes to raising my kids and how I treat others. I am not perfect, but I do my best.

 

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