Narcissismis in our culture. We are encouraged to maximize our potential and get our way. It’s not inherently a bad thing. But, when we are only thinking about ourselves, like some pumped up Anne Rand character, we end up creating a world that’s not nurturing or accepting of others.
Did your mother have the narcissism bug?
If so, you may be struggling as a consequence.
The Narcissistic Mother:
Here are a few characteristics of the narcissistic mother. While many people have narcissistic traits, only a few are true narcissists. Still, a few items on this list may have affected you. Now, it’s time to do something about it.
The Value of Validation:
When trying to understand the narcissistic mother, the important word to think about is VALIDATION.
Everyone needs validation in order to feeling emotionally secure. Plus, it doesn’t stop with childhood; we need to be validated in our relationships - and at work.
Validation is not false praise; it’s catching you for being good at something. Or seeing you for the person you are, or simply feeling like you are important to your mom or dad. Validation is not poisoning a child with saccharine support; when a person is validated, they feel truly appreciated.
Healthy validation sinks in, and transforms to healthy self esteem.
Narcissistic people have trouble validating others. They are too caught up with needing to be validated themselves. Whether it’s their looks, or money, or position, or career or their “successful” children, the narcissist mother or father, has a huge hole to fill. And, their children suffer.
How Children Are Affected:
If you have (or had) a mother with narcissistic tendencies, you may be struggling to enjoy the fruits of your adult life. Your career—no matter how great—may not be good enough. Relationships may not do it as well. You may have the very hole that mom had, and passed down to you.
She taught you that whatever you have is not enough.
Or, your need for validation may have pigeon-holed you into the role of taking care of the needs of another narcissist. You learned to seek approval from someone who can’t give it to you; so you find yourself in relationships that re-enact your early life experience.
Surviving a Narcissistic Mother:
So how do you deal with the consequences of a narcissistic mother? There are no simple rules here. But, with a general awareness of what you’re dealing with, much can be done. Here are a few insights that may be of help.
Acceptance is Key
It was tough growing up with a narcissistically inclined mother (or father), but it wasn’t impossible. With luck, there were other supportive figures that may have validated you along the way. Dad and your siblings knew exactly what kind of wrath you were dealing with at home, and school or friends may have been a sanctuary that accepted and validated you. Plus, you may have found other outlets through reading, hobbies, art or sports that encouraged you somehow to know that you’re truly capable.
A narcissistic mother is a big obstacle, but you still have a life to live.
Now that you are an adult, the ball is in your court.
For more from Dr. Banschick:
The Intelligent Divorce - Taking Care of Your Children (Kindle)
The Intelligent Divorce - Taking Care of Your Children (Amazon)
The Intelligent Divorce - Taking Care of Yourself (Kindle)
The Intelligent Divorce- Taking Care of Yourself (Amazon)
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