Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 34 · 3 years ago

Healing from a Narcissistic Parent

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The moment Brian first really understood the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a light bulb went off in his brain. He spent most of his life thinking he was crazy, lazy, and stupid – three words his father often said about him to other family members and friends. His father also severely and harshly disciplined him, set-up unnecessary competitions in which his dad was the winner, never apologized, showed no empathy even when Brian was hurt, and treated everyone like they were inferior.

For years, Brian struggle with insecurity, anxiety, depression, and feelings of inadequacy. After his business failed, Brain decided it was time to rethink his life, so he began therapy. It didn’t take too long before the therapist identified narcissistic characteristics in his father. Suddenly, everything became clear that the very issues he struggled to overcome were a direct result of having a narcissistic parent.

But knowing this information and healing from it are two different matters. The lack of self-esteem, obsessive thinking, minimization of abuse, excessive anxiety, fear-based reactions, and heightened survival instincts are common among adult children of narcissists. The distorted perception of reality a narcissistic parent imposes on a child has damaging consequences on the adult at work and home. By addressing the impact of narcissism, a person finds relief. Here are the seven steps:

  1. Recognize. The first step in the healing process is to admit that there is something wrong with a parent’s behavior. A person can’t recover from something they refuse to acknowledge. Most narcissistic parents pick a favorite child, the “golden child,” who is treated as if they walk on water, this was Brian’s older brother. In comparison, Brian was treated as inferior through belittlement, comparing, ignoring and even neglect. Occasionally, his father switched his favoritism depending on the performance of a child. When Brian received a football scholarship, his dad treated him like the golden child; but when he lost it due to an injury, he was inferior again. The key to remember is that narcissistic parents see the child as an extension of them so they take credit for the successes and reject the child who fails.
  2. Study. Once the narcissism is identified, it is essential to gain an education about the disorder and how it affects the entire family system. Narcissism is part biology (other family members likely have the disorder as well), part environment (trauma, abuse, shame, and neglect can draw narcissism out), and part choice (as a teen, a person chooses their identity and what is acceptable behavior). Since there might be other narcissists or personality disorders in a family, it is easy to trace the pattern. The environment and choice factors can further draw out the narcissism in a child which is cemented by age eighteen.
  3. Recount. This next step is comfortable in the beginning but becomes more difficult as the impact of the narcissism is realized. For each sign and symptom of narcissism, recall several examples in childhood and adulthood when the behavior is evident. It helps to write these down for reference later. The more time that is spent doing the step, the more significant the impact of the healing. Each of these memories needs rewriting with a new dialogue of, “My parent is narcissistic, and they are treating me this way because of that.” This is very different from the old internal dialogue of “I’m not good enough.”
  4. Identify. During the previous step, it is highly likely that some abusive, traumatic, and neglectful behavior on the part of the narcissistic parent becomes evident. Abuse for a child can be physical (restraint, aggression), mental (gaslighting, silent treatment), verbal (raging, interrogating), emotional (nitpicking, guilt-tripping), financial (neglect, excessive gifting), spiritual (dichotomous thinking, legalism), and sexual (molestation, humiliation). Not every event requires trauma therapy but some of them might, depending on the frequency and severity.
  5. Grieve. There are five stages to the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Brian struggled to believe at first that his father’s narcissism impacted him – this is denial. Anger is a natural response after the dots have been connected and the abuse has been identified. It is hard to believe that a parent who should be loving and kind would do the things they have done – this is part of the bargaining process. Whatever glorified image a person had of their narcissistic parent is now wholly shattered – this is depression. Sometimes anger is projected on the other parent for not adequately protecting their child from the trauma. Or it is internalized for not realizing or confronting sooner. It is crucial to go through all of the stages of grief to reach acceptance.
  6. Grow. This is an excellent place to step back for a while to gain a better perspective. Begin by reflecting on how the narcissistic parent’s distorted image of the world and people shaped current beliefs. Then drill downwards towards the vows or promises that were made internally as a result. Counteract the distorted images, vows, or promises with a newly gained perspective of reality. Continue this process until a new perspective is fully formed and now is part of the inner dialogue going forward. This essential step frees a person from the narcissistic lies and false truths.
  7. Forgive. The past cannot be changed, only understood. When forgiveness is genuine, it has a powerful transformational effect. Remember, forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the offender. It is better to honestly forgive in small chunks at a time, rather than granting blanket forgiveness. This allows room for other future or past offenses to be realized and worked through thoroughly. Don’t force this step, do it a comfortable pace so the benefits will be life lasting.

After completing these steps, Brian found it easier to identify other narcissists at work, home, or in the community. No longer did the narcissistic behavior trigger Brian and escalate his anxiety, frustration, or depression unnecessarily. Instead, Brian was able to remain calm and as a result, the other narcissistic person was disarmed because their behavior no longer had an intimidating effect.

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...to grow with Christine Dot com forward slash narcissism. That's grow with Christine dot com, forward slash narcissism. This master class will change your life again. That's grow with Christine Dot Com. Forward Slash Narcissism. This is understanding today's narcissist, brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom and now here's your host, Christine Hammond. Today I want to talk to you about how to heal from a narcissistic parent. So, like we're going to use the example of Brian in the story. And Brian was an adult when he came in to...

...see me, and a had first when he first heard the term narcissistic personality disorder, it was like a lightbulb had gone off in his brain. He had spent most of his life thinking that he was crazy, lazy and stupid, which were the three words his father often said about him to other members of the family and even to friends. It was very humiliating for Brian. His narcissistic father also severely and harshly discipline him, set up unnecessary competitions in which his dad was always the winner. He never apologized, showed no empathy when Brian was hurt and treated everyone around them like they were inferior. So for years Brian struggled with insecurity, anxiety, depression and feelings of inadequacy. After his business failed, Brian decided it was time to rethink his life, so he began therapy. It didn't take too long before I had I identified...

...the narcissistic characteristics and his father. Suddenly everything became clear and the very issues he struggled to overcome where a direct result of having a narcissistic parent. So we're going to talk a little bit about how to go through this healing process. Let's See, knowing this information and then healing from it are two entirely different matters. The lack of self obstinate self esteem, obsessive thinking, minimization of the abuse, excess of anxiety, fear based reactions and even heightened survival instincts are very common among adult children of narcissists. The distorted perception of reality a narcissistic parent imposes on a child has damaging consequences on the adult at both work and home. So I want you to think about it that if,...

...as a kid, you are constantly surrounded by somebody who is nitpicking on you, who is overbearing, who is controlling, who is manipulative, that you or brain actually winds up developing in a certain way that is not as functional as somebody who comes from a healthy family household. so by addressing these different areas and the impact of narcissism, a person can find relief and you can actually recover your brain, so your brain can start to function better and can have a renewing once you know that the perception that you were brought up with is not accurate at all. There are seven steps to this process, so hang on there with me. We're going to go through all seven of them. The very first step is to recognize. The first step in the healing process is to admit that there is something wrong with the parents behavior. A...

...person can't recover from something if they refuse to actually acknowledge it. Most narcissistic parents are going to pick a favorite child. We call it the Golden Child, who is treated as if they walk on water. This was Brian's older brother. In comparison, Brian was treated as inferior through belittle mint, comparing, ignoring and even neglect at times. Occasionally, his father switched his favoritism depending on the performance. So when Brian received a football scholarship, his dad treated him like the Golden Child, but when he lost that scholarship due to an injury, he was inferior. Again, the key to remember is that the narcissistic parent sees their child is a physical extension of themselves. So they take credit for the successes and then they'll reject any child who actually fails. So the first step in this process for Brian was to recognize where this comes...

...from and to begin to see this as like an underlying thing that they have been dealing with their entire his entire life without even knowing that it was there. The second thing I asked Brian to do was to study. Once the narcissism is identified, it's essential to gain an education about the disorder and how it affects the entire family. Narcissism, the disorder itself, is part biology, so there are other family members who usually have a disorder. It's part environment, resulting from trauma, abuse, shame and neglect, all of which draws out and can intensify narcissistic tendencies. And then the last part is choice. So as a teenager, a person gets to choose their identity and what is or is not acceptable behavior. So it's three parts biology, environment and choice, since there might be other narcissistic narcissists or personality disorders in the family.

It's kind of easy to trace this pattern in a family. The environment and choice factors can further draw out the narcissism in a child, which is usually cemented by age eighteen. So I asked Brian to first recognize that the personality disorder existed, then to study it, not only the definition itself, but study it within his own family so that he could see the history himself. The third step is to recount. This step is more comfortable in the beginning but then becomes more difficult as the impact of the narcissism is realized. For each sign and symptom of narcissism, I asked Bryan to recall several examples in his childhood and even adulthood where the behavior was evident. So, for instance, I are will picked arrogance, and so I asked him to give me examples of when, is a kid, did he experience his DAD's arrogance?...

When, as an adult, did he experience his DAD's arrogance? And as he started to recount stories, he would get more and more frustrated. The more time that is spent doing the step, the more significant the impact of the healing. Each of these memories needs a rewriting, with a new dialog of my parent is narcissistic and they are treating me this way because of that. This is very, very different from the old internal dialog of I'm not good enough. So every time Brian recounted a story, we had to rewrite that story saying this is a direct result of the narcissistic personality disorder. And so each and every single time, and it was not. What his dad did and how is dad reacted was not because of Brian, it was because of the Dad. Very, very timeconsuming but very beneficial. So we recognize, we study, we recount. Number four, we identify during the...

...previous step, which is recounting, it is highly likely that some abusive, traumatic and neglectful behavior on the part of the narcissistic parent becomes evident. Abuse for a child can be physical, such as like restraint or aggression, mental, such as gas lighting or the silent treatment, verbal, such as raging or interrogating, emotionals such as nitpicking or gilt tripping, financial, such as neglect or excessive gift giving, spiritual, such as dichotomist thinking or legalism, and sexual, such as molestation and humiliation, not every event requires traumatic therapy, but some of them might depending on the frequent seat and severity. So as we started to recount some things, some old abuse started to resurface. We identify that abuse and then we did the trauma therapy to recover from that.

Step number five is grieve. There are five stages to the grieving process denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Brian struggled to believe at first that has narcissistic, that is father's narcissism, actually impacted him. This was the denial stage. Anger is a natural response after the dots have been connected in the abuse has been identified. This happened as soon as we started the recounting phase. It's hard to believe that a parent who should be loving and kind would do the things that they have done. This is part of the bargaining process. So like, why did they do this? How come they didn't like why did I have to go through this? Why was I borne into this family? That's all bargaining. Whatever glorified image a person had of their narcissistic power parent is now wholly shattered. So, as a result of going through the first four stages, Brian was fairly depressed at this...

...point because he was coming into full awareness of what was happening in what had happened. Sometimes the anger's actually projected on the other parent for not adequately protecting the child from the trauma. So Brian was mad at his mom for a while. or it is internalized for not realizing or confronting sooner, which that was Brian's biggest problem was. He kept taking responsibility for knowing things that he had no ability to even know about or even understand. It is crucial to go through all the stages of grief before you can finally reach acceptance. So you don't get to skip a stage, but you will bounce back and forth between them. So the seven stages. Let's go through them again. The first is to recognize, the second is to study, the third is to recount, the fourth is to identify, the fifth is to grieve and the sixth is to grow. This is an excellent place to step back for a...

...while and gain a better perspective. So begin by reflecting on how the narcissistic parents distorted image of the world and people shaped current beliefs. Then drill downwards towards the vows or promises that were made internally. As a result, counteract the distorted images, vows or promises with a newly gained perspective of reality. Continue this process into a new perspective is fully formed and is now part of the inner dialog going forward. This essential step freees a person from the narcissistic lives and lies and false truths. So this growing stage is very important. It is the part that transforms your life and if you don't go through the other five steps, it is very difficult to do. This part of the process is where everybody wants to start from, but you can't. You have to heal from the other stuff first before you can get to actually grow.

All Right, after you've grown, the last one is to forgive. The past cannot be changed, only understood. So when forgiveness is genuine, genuine, it has a powerful transformational effect. Remember, forgiveness is not for the forgiver is remember forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the offender. It is better to honestly forgive in small chunks at a time rather than granting blanket forgiveness. This allows room for future or past offenses to be realized and worked through thoroughly. Don't force force this step. Do it at a comfortable pace so the benefits will be life lasting. Forgiveness is the hardest part of the process and you should take time. Please don't do it falsely. Do it wholeheartedly, or otherwise they won't actually work. And remember, forgiveness is for you and not for the narcissistic parent. So, after completing all seven of these...

...steps, Brian felt it a lot easier to identify other narcissists at work, home or even in the community. No longer did the narcissistic behavior trigger Brian and escalate his anxiety, frustration or depression unnecessarily. Instead, Brian was re able to remain calm and, as a result, the other narcissistic person was disarmed because their behavior no longer had an intimidating effect. This truly was life transforming for Brian, and he did so much better at the other end of this and you can too, just follow those seven steps. I would highly encourage you to do this through the help of a therapist who understands this personality disorder, so that you can more effectively and quickly walk through this process. Good luck on your journey. Thanks for listening to understanding today's narcissist with Christine...

...hand brought to you in part by Psych Central Dot Com. For more information, visit grow with Christine Dot Com.

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