Get Positive Revenge: 6 Ways to Heal From a Narcissistic Parent
Growing up with a narcissistic or a self-absorbed parent can leave lingering effects on adults.
These effects might include not being able to initiate and maintain satisfying and healthy relationships, or not being able to say no, etc.
You might feel tempted to get revenge because of all the lingering effect you’re left with.
But the best revenge is to build your self and to create your desired life – this is positive revenge.
This article contains some strategies to help you heal from your narcissistic parent
Ready? Let’s get started!
Who Is The Narcissistic Parent?
Narcissism has become a common term today.
You can see narcissism as being located on a continuum. On one end, there is healthy narcissism that is mature and realistic.
On the other end, there is pathological narcissism that is extremely immature and unrealistic.
Most narcissistic parents would be in between the two ends, where the person may display the behaviors and attitudes of the person with the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as described in the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but it is not an NPD.
These behaviors and attitudes ones that you may expect of children but that signal immaturity, such as constantly bragging, or expecting others to immediately meet one’s demands.
6 Sings You Grew Up With A Narcissistic Parent:
1. Your parent seems to be self-absorbed in almost every situation and circumstance. Even when some of their acts seem to benefit others, they are really based on their own needs.
2. You have suffered a number of parental empathic failures that affected you psychologically and that continue to affect you today.
3. You always felt that you are responsible for your parent’s emotional or physical well-being and no matter how hard you worked to achieve this, you had no success or you never received your parent’s appreciation.
4. You emerged from childhood with relatively low self-esteem and self-confidence, which continue to affect your relationships.
5. Any efforts you made to get your parent to see your own perspective, to approve of you, or to show you love and support have been futile.
6. Any attempts to change your parent have been futile – they did not and will not change.
How to Heal From a Narcissistic Parent?
#1. Let Go of Fantasy
The first step in healing from your narcissistic parent is to let go of your fantasy. You may not even be aware that you are fantasizing, but children of narcissists usually have one of these fantasies:
* Your parent admits their mistakes and hurts, and makes amends.
* You are able to achieve more success than your parent and show them that.
* Everyone sees your parent for the person they are and rejects them.
* You do to the parent what they did to you, or someone else does that to them and they suffer.
* Your parent will regret what they did and change.
The reason why these are fantasies is because they are unlikely to happen – your parent isn’t going to change or become aware of their wounding.
Having these fantasies are reinforcing your negative feelings and keeping you stuck.
Becoming aware of your own fantasies and how unlikely they are to happen is the first step to let go of them and allow yourself to heal.
But how do you stop having them?
To let go of these fantasies, you need to work through and resolve your negative feelings about the injury and your narcissistic parent.
One strategy is to engage in self-talk in your thoughts every time you begin to think any of your fantasies.
For instance, if you find yourself fantasizing about your parent apologizing for the hurts they inflicted, you can tell yourself the following:
I cannot change others and it is unrealistic to expect my parent to change.
I need to accept that my parent isn’t going to realize the hurt that they inflicted
I will rise above the hurts by becoming a better person.
I don’t need to hurt my parent or receive an apology in order for me to feel better.
Be patient with yourself – these fantasies won’t disappear overnight.
Remind yourself that the hurt might be deeper than you thought, and that with persistence you will overcome it.
The following strategies will also help you reduce your fantasies.
#2. Negative and Positive Self-Statements
Your narcissistic parent might have triggered much of your insecurities and negative thoughts. But your current negative self-statements can be a contributor too.
To change your negative self-talk, you need to become aware of it and its inaccuracy and negativity and substitute it with positive self-statements.
The following are some examples:
Negative Belief: I need others’ approval.
Self-affirmation: I like and want this person’s approval, but I will be okay even if I don’t get it.
Negative belief: I must be perfect.
Self-affirmation: I will work to be better, but I still like myself even when I am not perfect – good enough is sufficient.
Negative belief: I need to take care of others.
Self-affirmation: Showing confidence that the other person can fix it can be the best help I can give them.
Negative belief: I am helpless to make changes.
Self-affirmation: I have not yet found a way to do change, but I believe in my ability to make choices and change
Negative belief: I’m not as worthwhile as others.
Self-affirmation: Mistakes are one of our best tools to learn and most mistakes can be corrected and they don’t make me less worthwhile.
Altruism is when you give freely not because you are forced, or made feel guilty, or for your own satisfaction. It is also free from obligations, expectations, reciprocity, or any other strings attached.
You simply give because you want the other person to have whatever it is.
Being accustomed to getting with strings attached, altruism can help you change the way you perceive the act of giving. It doesn’t just benefit the receiver, but the giver also receives positive outcomes.
It helps you free yourself from expecting and needing appreciation, expecting something in return, or feeling the need to do something to gain someone’s approval and admiration – you free yourself from the negative beliefs around giving the narcissistic parent taught you.
What can you do or say that would be altruistic?
First, you need to keep reminding yourself that your actions will be freely given and are without strings.
The following are is a set of altruistic acts you can perform:
- Helping a neighbor, by bringing a home-cooked meal, offering to babysit, or even offering a listening ear.
- Tutoring or mentoring a child.
- Making reading tapes for the visually impaired.
- Buy a movie ticket for the person behind you.
- Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant.
- Hold open the door for people.
#4. Reaching Out to Others
Your relationship with your narcissistic parent might have affected your ability to create and maintain healthy relations.
Reaching out to others and working on these connections will help you change the negative beliefs around relations.
Our relations and connections with others improve our physical and emotional health and provide us with significant support. These connections are also part of what gives meaning and purpose for our lives.
You can use encouraging self-talk to get started. Remind yourself that you might face disappointments, but that you need to try to understand others’ responses rather than giving up.
Keep in mind that meaningful relationships usually take time and effort to develop.
The following are some ideas to help you with that:
* Show interest in the other person and ask them questions to encourage them to talk about themselves.
* Find something you appreciate about the other person and let him know about it.
* Listen intently to their concerns and don’t rush to solve their problems or give unsolicited advice. Most of the time people don’t need a solution, they just need someone who’s going to listen and sympathize.
* Respect other people’s psychological boundaries and don’t try to take over others’ lives, or let your life be taken over.
* Find mutual interests and activities with the other person, and engage in these.
Mindfulness teaches you to stay focused on what is important. This won’t just improve your life, but also your interactions with your narcissistic parent.
It helps you stay grounded and curiously observe your emotional state and thoughts. It can reduce your anxiety or anger and let you feel more in control.
You can practice mindfulness while interacting with your narcissistic parent by doing the following:
* Notice that your parent is showing many signs of aging you don’t remember seeing before.
* Notice how even though your parent is saying the usual hurtful things, you are not confused about why they’re saying them.
* Watch the inaccurate words said by your parent flow out harmlessly – they don’t hurt you anymore.
* Notice your parent’s anxiety without taking it on your essential inner self, or feeling that you need to change it.
Start practicing mindfulness with more activities throughout the day, (like washing the dishes, or taking a shower, or taking a walk outside) until it becomes effortless.
#6. Reduce Your Own Self-Absorption
Being raised by a self-absorbed parent, you can see how self-absorbed behaviors and attitudes are not constructive or helpful.
It’s also important that just as your narcissistic parent cannot see their narcissism, you may also be unaware of the behaviors and attitudes you have that indicate undeveloped narcissism.
Becoming aware of your narcissistic parent influence and working on reducing your own self-absorption will help you lead a healthier life and enjoy better relationships.
Start noticing any of these behaviors or attitudes and journal about them. Think of ways you can reduce these behaviors and attitudes and replace them with healthier ones.
The following is a list of the behaviors and attitudes of the narcissistic that you need to watch out for:
* An attitude of entitlement that conveys arrogance, contempt, and superiority.
What can you do: become more aware of the impact of your behavior on others and question some assumptions you might have about how others are supposed to treat you.
* Attention-seeking behaviors that ensure that you are constantly the center of attention.
What can you do: become more aware of your attention-seeking behaviors, such as talking loudly, and reduce such behaviors.
* Admiration seeking behaviors through which you external recognition and approval.
What can you do: refrain from boasting and bragging – your achievement is enough recognition you don’t need external validation.
* Lack of recognition or understanding of the boundaries that define where you end and where others begin.
What can you do: become more aware of when you might have violated others’ boundaries, as well as when your own boundaries are being violated.
* Taking advantage of others for your personal benefit.
What can you do: become more aware of any attempts from your part to get people to do things for you just because you want them to and not really because you need their help.
* Lack of empathy and not being able to be compassionate with others’ feelings.
What can you do: practice listening more intently to others and try to tune in to other people’s feelings behind their words.
Living well, where you achieve a meaningful and satisfying life, in spite of your narcissistic parent behaviors and attitudes that affected you is the best revenge.
“Positive revenge” allows you to show the other person that they were wrong without hurting them or compromising your own values and principles.
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- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Children of the Self‑Absorbed, © 2001 by Nina W Brown. All rights reserved.