My books have helped thousands to step back, and away, from the damaging effects of a narcissistic person, whether it’s a present-day relationship or one that has haunted them from the past. Now, they may help you, too.
Narcissist ruining your life?
Maybe you love one. Or work for one. Maybe you’re related to one. Or were raised by one. Whatever the relationship, you’ve likely been hurt by the narcissist in your life.
When the dynamic is operative, both the narcissistic parent and their child believe it is they who are internally, irreparably flawed. But it is the child, having become the depository of the parent’s disowned traits, who may consciously ask, “What is wrong with me?”
The parent may say, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but something is wrong with you.” The child is carrying something they are unable to control, and the parent is fearful that the child will stop carrying it. What must be understood, however, is that the child cannot heal this “thing” himself because…this “thing” does not belong to them.
A very helpful article from the New York Times describes the differences between worry, stress, and anxiety and how to successfully handle them all. Emma Pattee explains:
“Here’s the takeaway: Worry happens in your mind, stress happens in your body, and anxiety happens in your mind and your body. In small doses, worry, stress and anxiety can be positive forces in our lives.”
Read “The Difference Between Worry, Stress and Anxiety” here
We are told a parent’s greatest gift is to instill in a child positive self-regard. One of the ways the parent helps the child along this path is by acting as a mirror.
Developmentally, the infant self is referenced in conjunction with the parent. The parent is there to support the child’s self-discovery by being a constant, stable force in the child’s world. It’s this connection that forms the foundation, then springboard, then doorway to the child’s eventual independence. The parent understands that the days of parent-child referencing are over and that they and the child are two separate, whole individuals.
An article featured in The New York Times explains why talking about our feelings is extremely important. Eric Ravenscraft writes:
“There are a lot of reasons talking about our problems can be difficult. Some people…are socialized to internalize feelings, rather than give voice to them. Sometimes the very emotions you’re dealing with — like guilt over something you did, or shame about how you think you’re perceived — can feel so overwhelming that you can’t get up the motivation to talk it out….Regardless of the reason you might keep it in, talking has powerful psychological benefits that might not be obvious.”
Read “Why Talking About Our Problems Helps So Much (and How to Do It)” here
An article on Vox.com offers some helpful insights and ways to embrace solitude during the Covid-19 crisis. Sigal Samuel writes:
Whether you’re self-isolating at home in an effort to flatten the curve, or quarantined in your room because you have Covid-19, you’ve probably felt at least a momentary surge of panic at the idea of being physically cut off from your friends for days or weeks or months…Human beings have evolved over thousands of years to take comfort in one another’s presence, so when we’re isolated, it hurts us on a physiological level…At the same time, we can probably recognize that some of our fear about being alone is not unique to the current pandemic. It’s a fear that has lurked in us for years, as we’ve forgotten — or perhaps never really learned how to sit with ourselves, including with our uncomfortable thoughts and emotions…And when we do find ourselves alone, we’re increasingly at the mercy of an attention economy that bombards us with ever-present, ever-pleasant distractions. With external stimulation always just a click away, it’s never been so easy to avoid our inner worlds. Why would you sit with a feeling like boredom or sadness if you can distract yourself from it by texting a friend, or bingeing a Netflix show, or launching a Zoom call?
Images take a lot of crafting and require a ton of upkeep. Since the narcissist’s image is external, it requires the “help” of others. Kids don’t typically understand this, particularly when it comes to their own parents. When people talk about narcissists feeding off of other people, this is the “help” we are talking about.
Kids may know they feel bad about how their parent views them, but they don’t understand why. The same goes for adult children. Narcissists are parasites; they feed off a host. Ironically, they have the “host” believing that they, in fact, are feeding off of the narcissist!
In an article from The New York Times, Susan Shain offers science-backed ways to become more optimistic. Shain quotes author and psychologist Martin Seligman, explaining:
“Another evidence-based approach to boost your optimism is to intentionally counteract your extremely negative predictions with extremely positive ones…Let’s say you have a doozy of a fight with your partner. She leaves the house, slamming the door on the way out. If you’re like many humans, Dr. Seligman said you’ll naturally be attracted to the ‘most catastrophic interpretation’: This is the end, I’m unlovable, I’m going to die alone. As a counterbalance, imagine the least catastrophic interpretation, too…Between those two poles is where you’ll find the sweet spot — the realistic interpretation.”
“The issue of independence gains complexity with a narcissist parent because the personality matrix is built on a massive internal wound. Denial of this wound has further thwarted, contorted, and warped the narcissist’s growth. The goal is always the same: to not see or acknowledge its existence. Therefore a real attachment with the child remains in question. This is a sad fact for their child but an important one because it helps explain why the notion of their launch and independence is so threatening.”
The “smoke-and-mirrors” aspect of narcissism can make it tough to pin down. But once I begin to understand and see the nuances, I feel my own healing take hold. Healing is not always what I expect. Sometimes it feels revitalizing, other times it seems to bring more hurt. If I surrender to the process I will reach a place of neutrality, where my focus is no longer on the pain or even on the healing, but on living my life.
Every desirable feeling one experiences with or because of the narcissist is invisibly bound to one far less desirable feeling—its polar opposite. Months spent feeling wanted and special will invariably deteriorate into feeling discarded, abandoned, ostracized — the polar opposite of the warm, fuzzy, too-good-to-be-true love you thought you had.
STOP COUNTING THE HOURS Help for Struggling Parents of Overly Dependent Adult Children
50 Days of Recovery, Hope, and Change
A Meditation on Recovery From the Effects of Narcissism
Today I take small steps to educate myself about narcissism. To try to be objective about what I learn. I give myself time to absorb what’s new and do not rush to act. My goal will not be changing the entire world, or even changing my relationship. Rather, I commit to changing myself—my expectations and my view of myself and my role in the relationship. I trust that, as I change my own world and outlook, the world around me also will shift in my eyes because I will have new clarity, a new faith in myself.
Visitation to this site and the content of these books do not construe mental health or healthcare services, or suggest any action or direction an individual should or should not take. Please seek appropriate help and guidance for your particular situation. This site offers suggestions for healing and information for education purposes only.