When Your Adult Child is a Narcissist

When Your Adult Child is a Narcissist

Do you have a strained relationship with your adult child? Do they seem to have an overblown sense of entitlement? Do they think the world revolves around them and get offended if you don’t agree? Do they ever try to control you or your choices, either directly or through guilt trips or manipulation? Do they make unreasonable demands on your time or expect you to pay their bills? Do they make up stories about things that never happened? Do they deny things that you know to be true?

Could your adult child be a narcissist? 

Have you found yourself wondering what you did wrong in raising them or what happened to the child you once knew? Have you asked yourself if your child might be a narcissist? How can you tell? And what are you supposed to do if you find out that your child is a narcissist?

What is a narcissist? 

We’re not talking about someone who takes too many selfies or is overly concerned with their appearance, necessarily, though those signs might be present. Still, those signs alone aren’t enough to identify a malignant narcissist.

In this case, we’re talking about a toxic or malignant narcissist, we mean someone who has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (or would be, if a psychologist had the opportunity).  Malignant narcissists are known to have certain features of antisocial personality disorder well as paranoid traits and ego-driven aggression. Additionally, you might see that they seem to have an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.

In every malignant narcissist, you’ll see the lack of emotional empathy that drives their behavior.

As I explain in this video, narcissists often use “false” empathy to manipulate and control people around them.

What are the risk factors for developing narcissistic personality disorder? 

You’re probably asking yourself how your child could have become a narcissist, right? Maybe you did everything right and it makes no sense to you. Or perhaps you were married to a narcissist and you tried really hard to protect your child from them, and now you don’t understand why they would land on the “dark side” after all you’ve done. So, what causes a child to grow up and become a narcissist? In this video, I explain how narcissists are created.

While there is some research that says narcissism may be genetically predisposed, but there’s no official word on how it really happens. The nurture versus nature debate continues, of course.

With that being said, from a psychological standpoint, it looks like narcissists are created in a few different ways. For the most part, chances are that one or more of the following happened.

An Insecure Attachment Style

Most narcissists are found to have developed an insecure attachment style. This is according to attachment theory, which is a psychological, evolutionary, and ethological theory concerning relationships between humans. When it comes to narcissistic abuse recovery, the significance of attachment theory and attachment style cannot be overstated. The premise of attachment theory is that, during infancy, children have a deep, intrinsic need to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver (specifically, the mother in most cases) for normal social and emotional development. When this doesn’t happen, the development of the brain and psychology are affected in dramatic ways, leading to unhealthy attachment styles. Certain attachment styles can naturally lead to both narcissism and codependency. Learn more about attachment styles and how they affect the development of both narcissists and codependents. 

In this video, I offer details on how attachment theory could offer insight into both narcissism and codependency. 

Due to Adoption

Maybe your child is adopted and spent a few days or weeks after birth waiting to be adopted. Maybe it was much longer than that. I explore the possibilities in this video, where I answer a question from a follower named Diana Gish, who wanted to know whether adopted children are more likely to become narcissists than other kids.

Diana said: Most narcissist videos I see relate to children who became narcissists due to parental behavior. Can you confirm the reverse – whether an adopted child fears abandonment more than a nonadopted child, and whether a child will display narcissistic behavior toward adoptive parents much like between spouses – blaming, poorly handling truth, failure to acknowledge anything good has been done for them, or bonding?

Due to an Extended Hospital Stay After the Birth

Perhaps your child was born prematurely or had some other condition at birth that caused them to need to be in the hospital for a long time for was in the hospital for a long time after birth, or you (or their mother, if you’re not their mother) had post-partum depression. In this case, as well as in the case of the adopted child who wasn’t properly nurtured in the first few days, weeks, or months after birth, your child could’ve developed an insecure attachment style, which may have contributed to the narcissistic traits you’re noticing.

Abuse, Neglect, or Other Ongoing Trauma in Childhood

Your child was emotionally, physically, or otherwise abused in childhood. Whether or not it happened at home, if your child experienced any ongoing abuse in childhood, the effects of the abuse could have contributed to their toxic behaviors. Perhaps you were married to a narcissist and your child watched you go through the abuse yourself – and maybe their other parent even encouraged your child to join in on abusing you verbally or otherwise. Or maybe you had to work a lot of hours and couldn’t spend as much time as you’d have liked with your child. There might have been times where your child felt alone and abandoned as a result. There’s also the chance that a sibling or even someone outside of your home caused trauma through physical, sexual or emotional abuse. It might have been a teacher, babysitter, grandparent, family friend, or even a school bully.

In most cases, an adult with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) has a serious fear of abandonment. They might be terrified of being found out for what they really are or for what they think they are not. They fear rejection, abandonment, and criticism. This is because, in their minds at least, their parents or caregivers in childhood abandoned them or rejected them, in reality, or emotionally. In this video, I’ll fill you in on exactly how and why narcissists develop their often irrational fear of abandonment. 

Acquired Situational Narcissism

Perhaps your adult child became rich or famous suddenly. This might have caused them to develop something called acquired situational narcissism. Acquired situational narcissism is most likely to happen when there were already some pre-existing factors that would have led to narcissism under the right circumstances. So, at least in some cases, narcissism can be developed by people who had good, healthy upbringings. In this video, I’ll share more about acquired situational narcissism and how it might be affecting your adult child.

How do you know if your adult child is a narcissist? 

They Feel Entitled to Your Attention and Your Money

  • Your adult child continues to engage in the same kinds of attention-seeking behaviors they did as a small child.
  • They demand your time or attention even when you are dealing with some crisis or other kind of personal stress.
  • They always minimize or ignore what you do for them, but you continue to help them anyway out of fear or obligation,despite the fact that you feel unappreciated.
  • Your adult child seems jealous or any when you show attention to others, including but not limited to their own children (your grandchildren).

They Don’t React React Normally If A Loved One Is Sick Or Passes Away

While inappropriate relations to death or illness can certainly be an indication of narcissism in your adult child, chances are that you’d have noticed this kind of behavior and types of reactions earlier in childhood.

  • Your adult child either over or under-reacts to family members’ or friends’ death or illness.
  • When you’ve been sick or otherwise in danger, your child may not have shown compassion or any genuine concern.
  • If you are visibly upset or even crying, your child would have either ignored or minimized you, or they would have somehow made it all about them and their own issues.
  • They also may over-or-under-react to the death of their pets.

They Have Unrealistically High Expectations

  • Your adult child has pie-in-the-sky expectations all the time, in nearly every situation.
  • They get angry or sad when they don’t get what they want (narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)
  • They are always putting others down and pointing out areas where people don’t “measure up” to them or others.
  • They will become overly critical of you as their parent or as a person.
  • They will judge your life choices and the way you present yourself.

They Can’t Seem To Maintain Long-Term Friendships

  • Your adult child can’t seem to keep friends for long, or they have one or two friends who seem to be their little “minions” or “cronies” – flying monkeys who do their bidding at will.
  • They seem to idealize their friends or romantic partnerships initially, followed by a period of devaluation until they either discard them or restart the cycle. This might go on for decades.
  • You might also be idealized, devalued and discarded, over and over again in your relationship with your adult child.
  • They might have a spouse or partner who seemed absolutely perfect until the spouse or partner starts accusing your child of psychological or emotional abuse.
  • They might have lost a lot of friends who suddenly “ghosted them for no reason.” (There IS a difference between “ghosting” and “going no contact,” for the record).

They Cannot Accept Responsibility For Their Actions

  • Your adult child causes harm and heartache to you and others in their lives on a regular basis, but they will never actually accept responsibility.
  • They will deflect responsibility by saying things like, “Well, I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t (insert presumed mistake here).”
  • They will often blame the person they hurt directly.
  • They blatantly lie or “omit” the truth in order to avoid responsibility for what they’ve done.
  • They will never genuinely apologize, and if they ever do say they’re sorry, they prove they don’t mean it.

My Adult Child is a Narcissist! What now?

So, assuming you’ve determined that your adult child is a narcissist, what are you supposed to do? Should you go no contact with them? How could a parent go no contact with their own child? Well, here’s the thing. These are difficult and painful questions, and even more so when you consider the possibilities – and the fact that by the time they’re an adult, there is little hope for a narcissist to really change. 

In this video, I offer insight into the possibility of narcissists changing for the better.

Sadly, your options for dealing with your adult child when they have narcissistic personality disorder will come down to essentially two choices – and neither one is one you really want to make.

  • Do you accept the abuse in order to continue to have a relationship with your child, who for most of us, is among the most important people in your life? OR
  • Do you end your relationship with your adult child in order to maintain your own sanity, health, and emotional wellbeing?

No one wants to have to make this choice when it comes to their own child, right? But when the adult child is narcissistic, they drain you of your energy and they absolutely will not respect your boundaries.

When Should You Go No Contact With Your Narcissistic Adult Child?

The last thing that any parent wants to do is go no contact with their flesh and blood. However, unfortunately, it is necessary at times when it comes to the adult narcissistic child. So, if you’ve decided that you cannot tolerate their abuse and manipulation any longer, when is it appropriate to go no contact with the adult narcissistic child?

When It Affects Your Health

Narcissistic abuse is well-known to both cause and complicate health problems you might be struggling with. As we get older, it’s important to remember to be mindful of this. If your adult child is disrespecting your boundaries repeatedly and it is taking a toll on your mental and physical health, it’s time to go no contact with your adult child. Keep a close eye on your overall stress levels and health. If you are struggling to get proper sleep, if you are struggling to eat, or dealing with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, the time has come to go no contact.

When the Behavior Becomes Abuse

There is never an excuse for abuse, but you might not really recognize that you’re being abused by your own adult child. If this is the case, you’ll often feel exhausted or like you’re walking on eggshells with them. In other words, if the blatant disrespect, lies, and personal attacks that your child dishes out are worsening, to the point that you feel you’re being abused, it is time to go no contact.

When They Try to Ruin You

It’s difficult to imagine that your adult child might actually do something to intentionally ruin your life, but it happens more often than you’d expect. If your adult narcissistic child is angry with you about something and they are smearing your name and ruining your reputation, that is the time to go no contact. You have had to deal with your child gaslighting you, disrespecting your boundaries, and devaluing you for so long. If they smear your name and violate your privacy, then you will want to consider going no contact.

Can you maintain a relationship with your adult narcissistic child? 

Can you maintain an adult relationship with someone who is a toxic narcissist? Sure. Should you? That’s entirely your choice. And listen, I don’t think anyone would judge you if you chose to stick it out with your adult child if they’re a narcissist. But you have to understand what you’re going to be dealing with if you do. So, expect that they will not change, and understand that if you want to keep them in your life while reducing the stress and overwhelm involved, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage and to reduce the friction of the relationship.

Steps to Keeping the Peace With a Narcissistic Adult Child 

Some people will swear that with enough validation and proper counseling, things could get better in your relationship with your toxic adult child. But the truth is that by the time someone is an adult, you cannot help them change if they don’t want to change.

As you are probably aware, your average non-narcissist is perfectly able to create meaningful change in their lives with intention (thanks in part to neuroplasticity). That’s because, not only might they want to change, but they can recognize that there’s something they’re doing that is causing some undesired result in their lives. They can take responsibility for that and be willing to do something to make their desired result a reality.

However, if your adult child is truly a narcissist, they definitely will not have a problem with their own behavior, so they won’t see a need to change. Rather they will blame you and/or anyone else for the things that go wrong in their lives.  Since nothing could possibly be their fault, they’ll literally destroy anyone who implies otherwise as they continue to refuse to accept responsibility for anything they don’t love about their lives.

With that in mind, here is what you can do to keep the peace with your narcissistic adult child. The steps aren’t fair and they’re not easy. They won’t allow you to feel seen or heard, and they will leave you feeling exhausted and emotionally fried.

If you want to maintain a tolerable relationship with your adult narcissistic child, here’s what you do. 

  1. Accept them for what they are, without questioning anything they do, say, think or feel.
  2. Recognize that they will not offer you the same courtesy.
  3. Never argue with anything they say, want, think or feel.
  4. Offer them as much praise and validation as possible.
  5. Avoid criticizing them if at all possible.
  6. If you DO criticize, do the “compliment sandwich” thing. First give them a compliment, followed by the (gentle) criticism, followed by a compliment.
  7. Be prepared to accept all responsibility for anything that goes wrong in the relationship or outside of it.
  8. Be prepared to pay for or take responsibility for their bills or their behaviors.
  9. If they attack you, try to use the gray rock method and avoid confrontation if at all possible.
  10. Never try to “fix” them or “help” them get better. They do not want to change and cannot see a reason they should.
  11. Avoid telling them you believe they’re a narcissist. If they are diagnosed, allow them to deal with their psychiatrist and only discuss the issues with them if they bring them up first.

Do you think your adult child is a narcissist? If so, here are some resources that might help you.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

These resources might also be of interest if your adult child is a narcissist.

 

5 Ways Narcissists Destroy Their Families

5 Ways Narcissists Destroy Their Families


(Prefer to listen or watch? See video on YouTube)

Why do narcissists destroy their families? If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, then you know how damaging it can really become.  And if you have or had a narcissist in the family, then you know how distressing their presence really is to everyone involved. If you dealt with a narcissistic ex, whether you got married to them or not, you might also be well-aware of the way they treat their families. If you had a narcissistic parent, you saw that they were not capable of giving you love and care as you needed to grow up healthy and secure.

So my guess is that if you do or did have a toxic family member, you are probably well-aware of the fact that your average narcissist isn’t capable of being consistently kind to their family. And, in so many cases, they will even be worse to certain members of the family, for various reasons.

The Toxic Family Structure

There’s something weird that happens when you’re dealing with toxic parents: a sort of a different kind of family structure evolves – one that is way outside of what you might consider the spectrum of normal healthy families. I call it “toxic family structure.” What that means is that in most cases, a family led by a narcissist will involve a certain cast of players.

This will include, of course, the Narcissist (or the toxic person the family revolves around), Enabler (often the other parent who may willingly or unwillingly support the narcissist), Golden Child (the child who gets all the positive attention and who often lives with extreme pressure from both the parents who want them to succeed or be perfect as well as the siblings who feel jealous or slighted by this attention that is so opposite of the attention they get), Scapegoat (the problem child/the one everyone blames for everything) and Lost Child (the invisible one who doesn’t get in much trouble or who is largely ignored due to attention to the golden child and the direct abuse of the scapegoat).

5 Ways Narcissists Abuse and Neglect Their Families

Yes, narcissists treat their family members terribly. Let’s break down why they do.

1. A Family Member Is Always Scapegoated By The Narcissist

As you know, narcissists do not treat their family members well at all, and if they do have a favorite, it is not for legitimate reasons. They see their favorite as an endless source of narcissistic supply. Even their favorite family member is used and taken advantage of in cruel ways.

With that being said, there is always a family member that is scapegoated by the narcissist. This often happens among narcissistic parents, for example. There is one child that is their favorite, and there is the other child that is their scapegoat. They will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated child for anything and everything and ends up dealing with abuse.

Also known as the black sheep, the scapegoat is the person in the toxic family structure who always gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for everyone, a member of a family, or a group. The black sheep is usually considered the outcast, the “bad kid” or a straight-up disgrace to the family. A scapegoat may have the following traits:

  • Empathic/empathetic
  • Strong-willed
  • Internalizes blame easily
  • Emotionally reactive
  • Highly sensitive
  • Protective, or overprotective of friends, strangers, etc.

The scapegoat often becomes the caregiver of the family and they’re likely to question everything – including authority (which adds to their pain in the family). And of course, they seem to be different or to stick out from the rest of the family in some way.

But the “golden” child or the “favored” one has a different cross to bear. The golden child might seem to have a sweet deal, but they live in fear of letting their narcissistic parent down because they could end up with the same type of abuse as well. And it could happen. In fact, in many families, the roles are interchangeable and dependent on the narcissist’s perception of each family member in any given moment.

2. Narcissists Don’t Hesitate To Blame Their Family Members For Things Going Wrong

If a narcissist runs into a problem, they will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated family member for the problem they face even if it had nothing to do with them. And they could also lash out at other family members, but the scapegoated one would take the brunt of it. They deflect, blame-shift, and refuse to take responsibility. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak.

3. Narcissists Don’t Treat Their Families With Any Respect

Narcissist family members will speak rudely and will speak in any manner they choose to their family members which undoubtedly is in a way that lacks respect. They can appear charming, generous, and kind to those outside of their family who they are trying to impress so they gain something from them which is praise and recognition. And if these individuals ever spoke to the narcissist’s family members, they would not believe how badly they are treated by the individual who is so ‘charming and kind’.

4. The Narcissist Will Not Hesitate To Push Through Boundaries That Their Family Members Put Up

You already know that narcissists do not treat their families with kindness and respect. You know they will speak to them in very unkind and disrespectful ways. That also means that they will push through any boundaries that their family members put up. For instance, if one family member demands privacy while they are on the phone, the narcissist will ignore that request. They will barge into the room where the family member is making the phone call if they need to get something – or even just to prove a point. They will step on anyone and everyone they call family, without regard for the person or their feelings, in order to meet their own wants and needs. in other words, they do not care how you feel and you can tell by the way they treat you.

5. You Can’t Trust Your Toxic Narcissistic Family Member.

While the narcissist in your family will require absolute loyalty and confidentiality from you, you won’t get the same from them. There are several reasons you cannot trust your narcissistic family member.

First, you will have to deal with regular smear campaigns.

If you were to go against your narcissistic family member’s wishes, then they won’t hesitate to go out of their way to ruin your reputation. They will share private information about you that can be damaging through their social media platforms and they will even contact your boss and tell them reasons why they should fire you. You cannot trust a narcissistic family member in that way as they will definitely share anything damaging about you.

And don’t share your secrets with them!

You can never confide in a narcissistic family member whatsoever. Even if you did not let them down and they aren’t going to conduct a smear campaign, they will still leak out your secrets. Especially if those secrets are the key to giving them the supply they need. They have no integrity.

You have to remember that narcissists are master liars and will never be truthful about anything unless it suits them in the moment – and sometimes, they lie just for the sake of lying. That’s why you should pretty much always assume whatever they tell you is questionable, at the very least. You cannot consistently expect honesty from a narcissistic family member.

From here on out, just be very careful if you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family. They are bound to hurt you in one way or another, and never think they won’t. Even if they say they won’t and have your best interest at heart, they have no idea what that even means.

Question of the Day: Do you have a narcissist in the family? What have your experiences been like and how have you chosen to deal with them? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

 

Toxic Abuse in Relationships: Inside the Narcissist’s Devalue and Discard Phases

Toxic Abuse in Relationships: Inside the Narcissist’s Devalue and Discard Phases

There are three main phases that people who are in relationships with toxic narcissists can expect to experience.  The love-bombing (or idealization) phase, the devalue phase and the discard phase.

The cycle of abuse may also include a “hoovering” phase that follows the discard.Often the narcissistic cycle of abuse is repeated over and over again throughout the relationship.

You might also like to read Take Back Your Life – a guide to overcoming gaslighting and narcissism in relationships.

About the Love Bombing (Idealization) Phase

We discussed love bombing recently. Love bombing is also known as the idealization or courtship phase in a toxic relationship.

Here’s more info about the idealization phase.

Today, we are going to dig into the emotions and specific kinds of behavior that happen inside of the last and most painful part of the cycle: devaluation and discarding.

What is Devaluation in Narcissistic Abuse?

Devaluation is what is happening when a narcissist tears you down emotionally, insults you (outright or covertly), and makes you doubt yourself and your self-worth. This is done as part of the cycle of abuse and when effective, it can cause you to believe you don’t have a chance of finding someone better, or that you’re not worthy of love or consideration.

The malignant narcissist will often use devaluation (as part of the “devalue” phase) to keep you from leaving by implanting negative and false beliefs and ideas about yourself in your head. Some narcissists (those on the “higher” end of the cluster B spectrum of personality disorders who may also be sociopathic or psychopathic) do this on purpose and with full intent and knowledge of their plan to manipulate you.  Those on the “lower-end” of the cluster B spectrum often don’t even recognize they’re doing it since it’s part of the standard cycle of abuse. They’re just behaving in a way that feels natural to them. And sadly, devaluation can happen to a “thing” just as easily as a person when a narcissist is involved.

Devalue and Discard: The Painful Part of the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse

You’ve been walking on eggshells for a while now, but it doesn’t seem to matter to the narcissist. They are no longer even polite to you, much less kind. You often find yourself wondering what happened to the amazing person you first met.

These days, you feel like you can’t do anything right. In fact, literally, nothing you say, do, think, or feel is acceptable to them. And as always, the narcissist makes sure you know it. Everything you do elicits the same kinds of responses: anger, irritation, “justified” rage. At some point, you will have learned the hard way that you need to keep your mouth shut, or that you need to react a certain way to minimize this narcissistic rage.

If you call out the narcissist on this behavior – or, God forbid, you somehow prove them wrong, watch out. That’s when they will go ballistic, pulling no punches, digging deep to find a way to hurt you.

During the devalue and discard phases, the narcissist will painfully insult you, picking at your most profound psychological wounds. They will do everything in the power to make sure you know that not only is it your fault but that you are in fact SO flawed and defective that you obviously DESERVE the treatment they’ve been dishing out.

(For the record, that is completely false.) But either way, the narcissist might even tell you, in no uncertain terms and right to your face, that you are so bad/lazy/fat/whore-like that you deserve the way they’re treating you.

They will make it clear that, as far as they’re concerned, you’re not important, and you’re certainly not worth their time. They will imply and even outright say that they don’t respect you. And in every single case, they will minimize anything that really matters to you.

Can your love help the narcissist change?

Meanwhile, you teeter on a precipice somewhere between emotional numbness, deep-down (actually) righteous anger, and hope. You have by now recognized that this phase might end, at least for a while. You know that there’s a cycle in an abusive relationship, and you know that there are bits and pieces of “good” that come with this person. The unfortunate thing is that you also know that there is far more of the painful stuff than the good stuff (at least sometimes). But maybe the good stuff is SO good that you decide to keep trying. Maybe you think that one day you will help them change – or that “when” something happens (“when” the mortgage is paid off, “when” the kids move out, “when” you finally figure out how to be perfect, etc.), THEN they’ll change.

Maybe you think that if you love them hard enough, they will just choose to change. I wish I could tell you that was true. But unfortunately, the truth is that this is probably not going to happen – because narcissists typically do not change. But either way, this ongoing pattern of intermittent reinforcement keeps you hoping – and it keeps you from moving on, which is exactly what the narcissist wants. You hope that this soul-crushing phase will end soon. But every time you get your hopes up for more than a minute, you’re quickly brought back to reality when he next spits his venom at you.

You Start to Go Numb…

Your mind stops thinking as clearly. You find yourself zoning out when they start winding up to another “episode” of abuse. You’re doing this because, in order to survive without going completely insane (which the narcissist seems to be pushing you toward with all of the gaslighting you’re dealing with), you’re learning to stop being as directly affected by this narcissistic abuse by finding a place to go, in your head at least. You literally zone out and just go numb when they start raging on you. You can’t stand to do anything else.

Related: Understanding narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury

If the threats and fear tactics don’t work the way they hope, the narcissist may shift to behaving like a victim. That’s when he will stop being actively aggressive and switch to a more passive way to manipulate. This is the narcissistic injury tactic.

At this point, life is going to be very difficult for you. You’re likely on your way to being subjected to even more gaslighting and a bunch of other sneaky forms of manipulation.

Related: 44 ways a narcissist might be emotionally abusing you

This often leads to the silent treatment – one of a narcissist’s go-to tools. They will ignore you, withhold affection and call you crazy for desperately trying to fix whatever it is that they’re saying or implying is wrong – even if you have no idea what you’ve done this time.

In the end, the narcissist may leave you, temporarily or permanently. Or, the cycle may begin again – many narcissists go back to the courtship phase following the discard phase.

Related: Portrait of a Codependent

The Abuse Cycle Repeats Before It Ends

If you’re one of the “lucky” ones, the narcissist comes back, or they never actually leave. Even if they do leave you, they might not stop abusing you. In either case, once the devalue and discard phases end, you are left reeling. The first several times you experience this part of the cycle, you’ll come out feeling like you were the one who was wrong. Maybe you WERE expecting too much/overreacting/otherwise wrong. Maybe he DID have a point. Maybe you DO need to become a completely different person.

Related: Top 10 Warning Signs You’re Being Gaslighted 

But over time, as the cycle repeats, again and again, you find yourself doubting everything. You begin to notice that nothing ever changes, you just continue the toxic cycle. The cycle is destroying you, one abuse episode at a time. You feel completely lost and you don’t understand why the narcissist has to hurt you.

Related: Inside a Gaslighting Attack

When You Realize You’re Dealing With a Malignant Narcissist, You Can’t Unsee It.

Now that you know what you’re dealing with, you’ve got things to consider. And you’ve got a choice to make. Do you stick it out, or not? While a lot of people will instantly tell you that you’ve got to leave, there are things you need to consider first. Maybe leaving isn’t an immediate option for you, or maybe you’re just not ready to consider the idea yet.

(For the record, if you are, you should download my free PLANning (Planning to Leave A Narcissist) Toolkit)

Related: Look inside the toxic, twisted mind of the narcissist 

In your head, you know a narcissist can change their ways about as surely as a zebra can change its stripes. (Highly unlikely in both cases.) But your heart may be arguing with you. Because your heart finds something deep within the narcissist that is loveable. And, if we’re being honest, because you are probably dealing with trauma bonding.

Find out if you’re dealing with a trauma bond to the narcissist by taking this trauma bonding self-assessment.

Related: Why you are still in a relationship with a narcissist 

When You Recognize You’re Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse

As you go forward, you need to take time to decide if you want to continue the relationship. If you are relatively sure the person you’re dealing with is a toxic, malignant narcissist, then you know they are unlikely to change. So, again, you have to decide for sure if this is something you can live with forever – because this abuse cycle is going to go on for as long as the narcissist remains capable of it.

But please understand this: you are not obligated to keep this person in your life! You have the right to have a life that doesn’t make you miserable. Truly, the most important thing to remember is that you’ve got every right to be happy. I don’t mean just “okay” or “not being hit” – I mean you have the right to feel SAFE and HAPPY in your home and in your day-to-day life. You deserve to have peace in your home, and you deserve to be able to feel entirely comfortable in the place you spend your time.

In other words, if the narcissist cannot allow you to do that, or if they otherwise negatively affect your ability to find your bliss, you need to decide if their happiness is more important than your own. And then comes the hard part. You’ve got to take action.

Do you recognize yourself or a loved one in the above situations? You might be dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship. Not sure you’re dealing with a narcissist? Take this free self-assessment to find out. 

Get Help WIth Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

These resources will help you with your narcissistic abuse recovery.

These articles might also be of interest if you’re struggling with narcissistic abuse recovery.
Toxic Abuse Cycles: Narcissists Will Stop at Nothing to Get What They Want

Toxic Abuse Cycles: Narcissists Will Stop at Nothing to Get What They Want

If you’ve ever been in any sort of relationship with a narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), did it ever occur to you that they seem to treat people like they’re not really “real” or as important as they, the narcissists, are? (more…)

How to Identify Narcissistic Personality Disorder

How to Identify Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Toxic family relationships can take a toll on anyone who has to deal with them, especially when mental illness is involved. Any sort of mental illness or personality disorder among family members, especially left untreated, can cause stress and discord in the family, but sometimes, the affected person doesn’t even realize there’s a problem. This is especially the case with narcissistic personality disorder, generally because a narcissist, by nature, sees no fault in him/herself. And he/she’s not capable of it, either.

How do you identify narcissistic personality disorder?How to Identify Narcissistic Personality DIsorder

Spending time with a narcissist isn’t easy, and if you’ve ever dealt with someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), you’ll know exactly what I mean.

“They tend to exaggerate in an immensely obvious way – as people, they’re unusual in their personality,” says clinical psychologist Jillian Bloxham. “It becomes very evident when a person is narcissistic.”

Healthy self-esteem is important for everyone, but some people develop an over-inflated sense of self-importance that leads to the belief that other people’s feelings, thoughts, and beliefs have no relevance. This is the first sign many people recognize in a person who suffers from NPD.

NPD is a tricky condition because often, narcissists don’t even realize anything is wrong–so identifying narcissistic personality disorder can be a challenge–but mostly for the narcissists themselves.

In general, narcissists are known for their sense of personal entitlement that causes them to expect people around them to cater to their every desire, to anticipate their every need, and to respond post-haste in fulfilling them.

“It is good to think highly of yourself – but for these people, it is out of control,” says personality disorders expert and consultant forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes. “It has gone off the scale.”

This video offers some helpful information on signs of narcissistic personality disorder and how to deal with it if someone you love is showing signs of NPD.

What are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is not considered to be a “mental illness,” but a personality disorder that manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. The official list of symptoms is as follows.

A victim of narcissistic personality disorder will exhibit at least five of the following traits*

1. A grandiose sense of self-importance

2. A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

3. A belief that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

4. A requirement for excessive admiration

5. A sense of entitlement – unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

6. Interpersonal exploitativeness – taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

7. A lack of empathy and an unwillingness to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

8. Enviousness of others – along with the belief that others are envious of him or her

9. A tendency to arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV*

Do you know a narcissist?

Narcissists tend to be caught up in their own lives, their own personal worlds. This means that in general, they have no time to consider the feelings, thoughts or needs of the people around them. Rather than offer sympathy if you are dealing with pain or frustration, they’ll just share some of their own with you (which, of course, will be far more serious than your own.)

Related Reading: The Narcissistic Flip – Why and How It’s Always Your Fault

While a narcissist may appear to be an upbeat, happy person to outsiders in his or her life, people who know him or her intimately are likely to see a whole other personality. This can manifest in several ways–but a primary marker is that they are unable to empathize with those around them, and they consistently blame others for problems they’ve caused.

Since narcissists tend to see other people as objects or possessions, they cannot fathom it when they are not obeyed or catered to. If the person is a friend or acquaintance, the narcissist may just discard them and pretend they don’t exist–but if it’s a family member, things can get more serious.

For example, the narcissist may try to pressure the family member into conforming to his or her wishes, and if that doesn’t work, additional and potentially life-altering steps may be taken to get what is desired.

Because narcissists are incapable of empathizing with others, they don’t even consider (or care) how their words or actions could affect others–and they will never admit that they are wrong. Instead, they will play the victim and use the situation to gain more attention from others around them.

As with any other toxic family situation, it may be best to distance yourself from a person with NPD. This is especially true because they don’t generally realize that anything is wrong. Plus, there is currently no known “cure” for NPD–though if a person affected with it seeks therapy, change is possible. However, it’s very unusual for a person with NPD to seek therapy since they don’t see a problem with their behavior.

“Why would someone who thinks they’re special and great come for therapy?” Bloxham says.

 

Do you think someone you love might have NPD? 

gaslighting lovebombing and flying monkeysIf you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy reading Gaslighting, Love Bombing and Flying Monkeys: The Ultimate Toxic Relationship Survival Guide for Victims and Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse by Angela Atkinson

Are you in a relationship with someone who makes you feel crazy and “not good enough” all the time? Do you find yourself constantly shocked at the outrageously disrespectful behavior and excessive bullying of a friend, family member or co-worker?

Narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) make you feel worthless and numb, and they leave you wondering if you’re even a real person sometimes. (Read more)

Take this quiz to determine if someone you know could be a narcissist.

Answered: Is Extreme Self Confidence Just Arrogance in Disguise?

Answered: Is Extreme Self Confidence Just Arrogance in Disguise?

“Calm self-confidence is as far from conceit as the desire to earn a decent living is remote from greed.” ~Channing Pollock

Extremely self confident or really arrogant? How to know for sure.

How is a high level of self-esteem or self-confidence different from plain old arrogance?

~~The Question~~

Submitted by a Reader:

I was a shy and insecure kid and teenager, but the older I get, the more self-confidence I have. It didn’t come easy, though. I worked hard to get here and I work hard to stay here.

I work out and eat right, and I have a job I really love. I’m in a good relationship and I’m thinking of getting married and starting a family in the near future.

After years of feeling like I just wasn’t good enough, I feel great about myself finally, and I’m not afraid to let my confidence shine through. This is working great for me and I am mostly real happy with life. 

So mostly I’m super happy these days. 

But here’s the problem. My mom and my sister seem to think I’ve become “really full of myself.” They are always making snide comments about how I need to be humble and how I shouldn’t “brag:” so much. I don’t brag, I just tell them the good things that are happening in my life. I am trying to stay positive, like you suggest, because I want my life to keep getting better.

But these two are always saying I have to “face my issues,” which I have done already. I just don’t want to focus on them. They are just sooo negative and I don’t know how to make them stop acting that way.

What can I do to change the way they treat me? Or do you think I am the one in the wrong here?

~~My Response~~

First, let me congratulate you on your emerging self-confidence! I know how hard it can be to overcome insecurity, and I applaud you for taking charge and making positive changes in your life.

Now, as far as your mom and your sister go, the first thing you need to recognize is that, most likely, the reason they can’t be happy for you and your new-found confidence is that they, themselves, are insecure for some reason. Your success most likely makes them more aware of their own failures or insecurities.

It’s also important to know that it’s not your responsibility to help them feel better about themselves. You can definitely offer support and compliments whenever possible, but unless they have the desire to make positive changes within themselves, your input will only go so far.

So, my suggestion to you is to focus on your own perceptions, both of them and of yourself. Continue to work on feeling good about yourself and your life, and don’t allow anyone else to define you. You get to decide who you are, and you do not have to accept negative perceptions from anyone else.

Heads up: Do you think you might be dealing with a narcissist? Find out here. 

As I told another reader who was struggling with feelings of unworthiness, your mother and sister aren’t alone–approximately 85 percent of all people have felt  like they weren’t good enough at one time or another. It’s a common and unfortunate phenomenon in our society, one that you dealt with yourself in the past.

Rather than let their feelings of inferiority affect you, try just acknowledging them and moving forward. So, the next time you hear a snide remark about yourself, just let it pass. You don’t need to defend yourself–this only adds fuel to their unhappy fire. Instead, just focus on something that makes you feel good.

It can be really tough to handle negativity from the people you love, especially when you’re on such a positive track yourself. It’s human nature to want to share your joy with the people around you, and it can be disheartening when they’re not willing to be happy for you.

Just remember that no one else can define you. Not only do you get to do that yourself, but you don’t have to accept anyone else’s definition either.

As writer Peter Murphy says, “Just because someone is concerned for your welfare does not mean that their advice or input has value.”

You can also change your expectations. Remember that we get what we expect–so if you expect your mother and sister to be negative, they’re sure to give it to you. Try changing the way you feel about them. While you can’t directly change another person, you can focus on the good things about them as much as possible, and you might notice a positive change in them too.

In the end, try to stop worrying so much about what other people think and focus instead on how you feel. That’s when you’ll truly find peace.

So, how about you? How do you handle negativity from the people you love? What advice would you give this reader? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments – let’s discuss.

 

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