There are several levels of narcissism, from full-blown narcissistic personality disorder to general narcissism, but the general definition is the same: someone who thinks they are perfect, full of themselves, can do no wrong, or believes they’re better than everyone else. Being raised by such people can create similar patterns in your own mind, and lead to bad habits, failed relationships, and a sense of isolation. Here’s how to cope with being raised by narcissists and how to learn to undo some of the programming you’ve experienced from childhood.
Recognize There’s An Issue
The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging there is one. If you’ve developed narcissistic traits as a result of your upbringing, it’s vital to your mental health to recognize and address these traits. If you don’t know there’s a problem, you can’t ever fix it, and you’ll end up scaring off more than your fair of people with your narcissism.
Narcissistic people tend to push others away with their over-bloated egos. People don’t like to hear how perfect someone else thinks they are, or why you’re better than they are. This is a poor way to maintain relationships or make new friends. Unfortunately, in the age of social media, narcissism is almost the norm; people post thousands of selfies per day on social media sites like Instagram, and people eat it up.
If you were raised by narcissists, it’s not hard to pick up on the behavior. It’s not necessarily your fault that you were taught to behave in such a way, but it’s ultimately your responsibility to address such problems in yourself. Get help, go to counseling, join a support group, or simply start the journey toward undoing the harmful programming you’ve endured.
Know That You Are Good Enough
Another side of the coin is that you can develop poor self-esteem as a result of being raised by narcissists. Narcissists think they do no wrong, so when things don’t go as planned, they’ll need a scapegoat. This was probably you as a child, and now you’ve got to bear the terrible burden of guilt well into adulthood. The worst part about that guilt is that it’s entirely unnecessary, and is only a result of a warped mindset forced on you by your upbringing. You’ll go through life questioning your decisions, perhaps even worried what your narcissistic parents might think if you choose x decision over y decision. This is no way to live; it creates a constant state of anxiety and panic, which can cause high blood pressure and more health complications.
At the end of the day, you need to understand that you are good enough, and the reason you think you aren’t is simply that your parents had their own unaddressed issues that they projected onto you. Narcissism is often linked to a sense of insecurity, with the inflated ego acting as a cover for someone who’s truly unhappy inside. It’s not your responsibility to bear the burden of someone else’s misery. You are good enough.
Do Nice Things For Yourself
Your narcissistic parents likely put your personal needs and wants dead last in the priority queue, which means you don’t even know what it’s like to be pampered or cared for properly. That being said, it’s time to break that cycle and treat yourself. Go get a personal massage, take a vacation, or simply take a day off work to relax. There’s a misconception that caring for one’s self or spoiling yourself is somehow selfish, when the opposite is true.
This is called self-care, and it’s crucial to your mental health. If you don’t take care of your wants and needs first, you cant’ help anyone else. Remember that this is your life and you only get one. You don’t have to spend it living in the shadow of fear that your narcissistic upbringing has created. Break the cycle, break the fear, and spoil yourself a bit!
Stop Serving the Master
Your entire life you’ve tip-toed around mom and dad so as not to upset them. You’ve allowed them to project their narcissism onto your life, making you question your accomplishments, your personal value, and your very purpose in life. At the end of the day, this is nothing less than emotional manipulation; they’re using you to keep themselves happy. That’s incredibly unfair, and, quite frankly, disturbing that a parent would do such a thing to their own child.
It’s time to break free of those chains and stop serving the master that is your parents’ narcissistic behavior. Learn to say no, to walk away, to take charge and stand up for yourself. Set hard boundaries, and more importantly, enforce those boundaries. Anyone who doesn’t respect your boundaries doesn’t respect you as a person and probably shouldn’t have a place in your life; even if they’re blood.