How to know if you were raised by a narcissist

raised by a narcissist
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Narcissists lack the most important components of parenting: empathy and compassion. If you were raised by a narcissist (or two) you’ll suffer the consequences of their deficiencies.

Those consequences such as shame and low self-worth can wreak havoc on our adult relationships, careers, and other aspects of our lives.

So, how do you know if you were raised by a narcissist? See if any of the following sound familiar.

You feel you’re not good enough

As children, we never see our parents as deficient, but blame ourselves for their shortcomings. We think if we were better they would love us.

We see our friends receiving love from their parents and wonder what’s wrong with us that our parents withhold theirs?

You have a harsh inner critic

Our internal narrative reflects the way our parents or caregivers spoke to us. The harsh inner critic is a direct echo of our parents’ voices. When those voices condemned us, we internalized that and spoke to ourselves the same way.

You question your intrinsic worth and value

Your parents taught you early on that your needs don’t matter. You encountered a role reversal in which you had to meet your parents needs instead of them meeting yours.

As a result, you may play small or invisible, and believe you don’t have the right to get your needs met. Since your parents failed to acknowledge your value, you feel worthless, unseen and unknown.

You have stormy relationships with people who treat you badly

You might feel like a magnet for toxic people. That’s because if you were raised by a narcissist, your chances of getting into relationship with one are higher.

You might feel like a magnet for toxic people. That's because if you were raised by a narcissist, your chances of getting into relationship with one are higher. Click To Tweet

You’re so used to being dismissed and controlled by your parents that you attract partners and friends who treat you the same way.

You believe love and acceptance have to be earned

If you were raised by a narcissist you experienced “love” as conditional on you performing certain tasks or behaving a certain way. You may have stayed out of your parents way, kept silent, or achieved, to try and win their love.

You believe you have a fatal flaw that makes you unlovable. And you have trouble believing people would love you if they really knew you, or accept you for who you are.

You believe you have a fatal flaw that makes you unlovable. And you have trouble believing people would love you if they really knew you. Click To Tweet

That makes you wear a mask in relationships and avoid intimacy. This deprives you of the close connected relationships we all crave.

You tend to give more in relationships

This belief that love has to be earned carries over into adult relationships. You concern yourself with your partner’s or friends’ needs and ignore your own.

You attract people who monopolize conversation and rarely ask how you’re doing. And you feel as though you have no choice but to put up with neglect or abuse because you have no template for standing up for yourself.

You seek external affirmation to prove your value

Do you find it hard to switch off and relax? Do you feel like you have to constantly prove your worth through achievement and goal fulfillment? Are these goals based on other people’s approval?

As a child you believed if you could only do better, your parents would love you. As an adult, that pattern continues as you seek to earn your place in the world through external affirmation. You may not even know what you want and rely on what others expect instead.

What to do if you were raised by a narcissist

If you were raised by a narcissist, what can you do to heal from the damage your parents did to you? You may feel desperate for them to understand and acknowledge your pain, but that would be a mistake.

Talking to your narcissistic parent about their abuse will make matters worse. They have a complete lack of self awareness or empathy. As a result, they will not be able to enter your world or feel remorse for the pain they caused you.

Worse yet, they will likely turn the tables and accuse you of the very things they are guilty of. You will leave feeling confused and condemned and will get nowhere in helping your parents see their shortcomings.

Give up the lie that you can reason with a true narcissist. They will twist things to prevent taking ownership of their mistakes. Vulnerability and humility are foreign to the narcissist. They are not capable of connection and bonding and must always come out on top.

You don’t need to understand or figure out a narcissist. I read a book comparing it to wrestling with an alligator, rather than getting the heck away from them. Or at least putting up barriers to keep them at a safe distance.

Instead, spend that energy healing from the effects of the toxic parent. Learn how to set healthy boundaries (which may include no contact), and reparent yourself to receive the love, care, and attention you deserved as a child.

How to navigate sibling rivalry and toxic sibling relationships

sibling rivalry
Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

If you experience sibling rivalry, you may wonder how someone raised in the same household could have such a different perspective on your family dynamics.

It’s not that they’re lying about what happened (though that could be the case). Rather they have a contrasting memory of events, or the past affected them differently.

If you’re a more sensitive type for example, slights that roll off your sibling’s back would hurt your deeply. Or perhaps one of you were targeted for abuse the other neither experienced nor witnessed.

What causes sibling rivalry and why does that rivalry sometimes turn toxic? Here are 4 examples.

1. Birth order

Even when they have the same parents, children are born into different families. A first-born child, for example, may enter into a family with happy and contented parents. She receives lots of attention because no one else competes for it.

Even when they have the same parents, children are born into different families. Click To Tweet

Three years later, the second child enters into a conflict-ridden household with parents who fight for various reasons. She receives less attention because it’s shared with the older sibling.

Or the oldest child is born to poor, struggling parents whose stress is passed on to her. By the time the second comes around, the parents are well off financially and the second-born enjoys an environment of relative wealth and security.

And so it goes. There’s evidence the eldest sibling remembers the most and is often challenged by younger siblings who say those things never happened. That’s because the oldest protects the younger ones from witnessing trauma.

As a result of this protection, sibling rivalry manifests as invalidation of the eldest’s experience. She realizes she has sacrificed herself to protect her siblings and now feels isolated and alone.

It’s important to remember the fault for this parentification lies with the parents, not the siblings. Still, the parent’s abdication leads to sibling resentment.

2. Temperament

If one child is more sensitive than the others she will internalize the effects of conflict in the family. She is more likely to be scapegoated and bear the brunt of any bullying in the household.

Taken to its extreme, temperament can include personality disorders like narcissism. A narcissistic sibling will wreak havoc on a relationship with a more sensitive, empathic sibling.

3. Attachment

If one sibling has developed an avoidant attachment style, she will denigrate a sibling who wants to connect on an emotional level.

She may use nonverbal cues such as rolled eyes, contemptuous looks, and sarcastic sighs to put a halt to any emotional connection.

Or she may appear “nice as pie” which confuses and guilts the connection-seeking sibling.

4. Resentment

If one adult sibling takes care of an elderly parent while the others live far away, resentment can build.

The caretaker sibling feels overburdened and accuses the long distance siblings of abdicating their responsibility.

Or one sibling receives more support from parents in the form of enabling or coddling. The less supported siblings feel resentful over having to make it on their own.

What to do about sibling rivalry or toxic sibling relationships

sibling rivalry

Don’t ambush your sibling with a huge conversation, especially before you’ve asked their permission to discuss things.

Start small, with an email that says you’ve noticed conflict between you and want to know if she’d be willing to work on it.

If, however, your relationship feels more abusive than rivalrous, then you need to protect yourself. If they tear you down at every turn, that’s the sign of a toxic sibling rather than sibling rivalry.

When a sibling gossips about you, lies about you, and turns family members against you, it’s time to guard your heart rather than try to repair the relationship. Do not sacrifice yourself to keep peace with your siblings!

Don’t accept non-emotional relating if that leaves you feeling empty. It’s common to put up with a family member’s unwillingness to share feelings to “get through” the interaction. However, you sacrifice your own needs in the process.

It's common to put up with a family member's unwillingness to share feelings to "get through" the interaction. However, you sacrifice your own needs in the process. Click To Tweet

Focus on changing your behavior toward them, rather then hoping they will change. Set firm boundaries that teach them how to treat you and what will happen if they violate those boundaries.

If this means you must detach from your sibling, know that’s not your fault. Sibling estrangement is a hallmark of chaotic family systems that don’t support positive sibling interactions.

Never rely on a sibling or anyone else to validate your feelings. It’s wrong for anyone to minimize your emotions. They are doing so to protect their image of what happened, and sacrificing you in the process.

Romance scammers more common than you think: How to protect yourself

romance scammers
Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Women make up 82% of victims of romance scammers. In spite of this fact, the media is saturated with stories about female grifters who dupe both men and women.

This is a curious bias and hugely misleading reporting. It gives women the false sense that men are no worse than women in this area.

This puts women at risk of being victimized. Another popular false belief is that only gullible women fall for these traps.

Instead, these women tend to be intelligent, highly educated, and successful in their fields of work.

Victims of romance scammers tend to be intelligent, educated, and successful in their fields of work. Click To Tweet

Women who fall for romance scammers are not stupid or naïve. They are trustworthy and community oriented. In other words, good people who expect the same in others.

How do romance scammers operate?

It starts with “love bombing”, a common tactic among narcissists. That intense attention and affection that moves things too fast and prompts you to let down your guard.

They also pretend to like and dislike the same things you do. To build a false sense in you of having found the perfect partner.

Anyone can Google your name or read your Facebook profile to find out all kinds of things about you. This is material they use to give you the false sense of feeling “known”.

Scammers will isolate you and seek out victims who are already lacking support. If you have suffered a recent trauma like divorce you are far more likely to fall for one.

How to avoid romance scammers

Here are 4 ways to protect yourself from falling for a romantic grifter:

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1. Don’t commit too fast.

Spend time with someone before becoming over involved with them or giving your heart away.

In the Dirty John podcast, his victim let him move in after only five weeks and married him shortly after.

2. Listen to what others say about him.

And not only the positive comments. Romance scammers are experts at conning people.

But listen to the one who points out his cracks. Or says she can’t put her finger on why she doesn’t trust him.

Women’s intuition is real and the woman who trusts hers is a gifted advisor. Pay attention to what she says.

Women's intuition is real and the woman who trusts hers is a gifted advisor. Click To Tweet

3. Trust your own intuition.

Most women have spent their lives downplaying their God-given intuition. This is because we live in a world that downgrades feminine attributes and elevates cold logic instead.

Listen to that voice inside you and heed those red flags. They will always be there to mark the way to safety.

Avoid online romance scams this Valentine's Day | Buzz

4. If he seems too good to be true, he is.

He claims to have a high-flying job but needs to borrow money. That’s a huge red flag and a common theme among romance scammers.

He has all the same interests as you and supports all the causes you do. Anyone could find those details on your Facebook profile.

Romance scammers use clichés women love to hear but most normal men never say! Click To Tweet

He uses clichés that women love to hear but most normal men never say! Like, “I can’t take my eyes off you,” or “you’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.”

Be suspicious when he says these things very early on, like a first date. Pretending to fall for you immediately is the biggest romance scam of all.

Toxic people in the workplace: how to protect yourself

toxic people workplace
Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Chances are you’ve had to deal with toxic people in the workplace at some point in your life. Maybe you’re dealing with them now.

Toxic people in the workplace come in a number of different forms.

In my career, I’ve experienced harassers, bullies, manipulators, and gossips. And I’m sure you can think of more examples among the people you’ve encountered at work.

The stress of dealing with toxic people in the workplace impacts your health and your ability to do your job. Click To Tweet

The stress of dealing with toxic people in the workplace impacts your health and your ability to do your job. The effects include but are not limited to:

  1. decreased job satisfaction
  2. lost sleep
  3. low productivity
  4. increased stress
  5. poor mental health

How to protect yourself

So, how do you protect yourself from these soul suckers? Here are 4 ways to deal with toxic people in the workplace:

1. Find supporters.

Form relationships with positive people in the office. You don’t need to talk to them about the difficult person.

Simply having good people on your side acts as an antidote to counter the effects of the toxic coworker.

2. Set boundaries.

Do your best not to respond emotionally to the toxic person. Rise above their madness and refuse to get pulled down to their level.

If it’s the office gossip, socializer, or negative Nancy, tell them you can’t talk right now, you’re busy working.

Use body language to indicate your unwillingness to engage with them. This could mean averting your eyes when they approach.

Or you could wear headphones as a barrier.

Bad Coworker GIFs | Tenor

I used to work at a place where my department would meet for lunch every day and gossip about everyone who wasn’t there.

I stayed silent until one day I decided to take my lunches outside rather than stew in that toxic environment.

3. Have good self care.

Meditation helps keep your mind off the offending person and on the present moment instead. It also calms your brain and gives you more mental clarity.

Get a good night’s sleep. You’re more susceptible to someone’s manipulation and other toxic tactics when you’re not well-rested. It’s also essential for your overall well-being.

You're more susceptible to someone's manipulation and other toxic tactics when you're not well-rested. Click To Tweet

Eating healthy and exercising regularly are two more ways to stay physically healthy and emotionally fit. They’ll increase your confidence to counteract the negative effects of your coworker.

Take time off for vacations and personal days when you are permitted to do so. It’s important to get away to reset and refresh and take care of interests you have outside of work.

4. Focus on solutions.

Rather than ruminate on things you can’t control, focus on actions you can take.

There’s no point trying to understand the mind and motives of an irrational person. These people are driven by nefarious methods of getting their way at any cost.

There's no point trying to understand the mind and motives of an irrational person. Click To Tweet

Instead of dwelling on the problem of the toxic person, think of ways you can manage them and maintain your sanity. This helps you feel more in control.

Tell yourself they must be insecure and unhappy and try to find compassion for them.

Don’t bother trying to reason with them or have a civil conversation. They don’t care about you and only know how to deflect blame.

If you do complain, they may manipulate the situation to make you look bad. So arm yourself with evidence and stick to the facts if you are forced to bring in HR.

Sometimes the best way to protect yourself means staying silent. Unlike a toxic friend or family member, you can’t detach yourself from a toxic person in the workplace.

Scapegoat: How to determine you’re one and take steps to heal

toxic family scapegoat

The scapegoat is first mentioned in the Bible as a living sacrifice. The community releases the scapegoat into the wild to carry away with it the sins of the whole group.

The group casts out the scapegoat and leaves it to its own devices. Its only purpose is to bear the burden of sins that are not its own.

Today, we more often see scapegoats in dysfunctional families. The family singles out one person to bear the burden of the group’s sins.

This person is usually the mentally healthiest of the bunch. They may also be the most creative, sensitive, and honest.

The scapegoat is usually the mentally healthiest family member. They may also be the most creative, sensitive, and honest. Click To Tweet

Rather than look at themselves, the family points a collective finger at the scapegoat. This allows them to carry on without changing.

They pretend to themselves they’re all right while the scapegoat is all wrong.

Are you the family scapegoat?

There are several signs you’re the scapegoat in your family. Here are five you might recognize:

1. You are punished for telling the truth.

It seems like anytime you speak the truth, your family casts you out. They abandon or punish you when you don’t follow along with the status quo, even when it’s criminal.

They can’t acknowledge the obvious truths that you bring up. If they did, they would have to change. Instead they point the finger at you and say you are the one with the problem.

2. You are the whistle blower.

The scapegoat is often a whistle blower. Perhaps you threatened to expose a family secret. In bringing the truth to light, you become branded the bad guy.

The scapegoat is often the family whistle blower. Click To Tweet

They refuse to examine the poor behavior you’re asking them to acknowledge. Instead they point to your very human reaction to that behavior. And pretend that’s the issue instead.

Your desire to bring the truth to light poses a threat to a family dynamic that functions in the dark.

3. You feel left out.

You may find yourself left out of family events or conversations. Because you tell the truth, they’d rather not hear from you.

The last thing they want is your insight. That would force them to look at themselves and the ways they need to change. They can’t bear to do that.

4. They ruin your reputation.

Family members talk about you behind your back. They may try to brainwash your few supporters against you.

They speak poorly of you even to those outside the family circle. Rather than face their dysfunction they’ll sully your reputation publicly.

This is so you won’t receive support from outside the family and they can continue in their collective delusion.

5. Your family makes you feel ashamed or guilty.

As a result of this unjust treatment, you have internalized a false sense of being bad or wrong. You have trouble standing up for yourself and accept too much blame.

You may accept jobs below your qualifications and abilities. Or experience workplace bullying and general disrespect from others.

When you are successful, your family downplays your achievements. You realize you’ve never been praised or encouraged. This makes it hard to feel good about yourself.

Due to your family’s betrayal, you find it difficult to trust people and form secure relationships.

You have internalized anger from a lifetime of absorbing all this negative attention. That can impact your health through stress-related disease, or make you feel on-edge, depressed or anxious.

How to heal if you are the family scapegoat

If all this sounds familiar to you, take heart. The scapegoat is generally the mentally healthiest member of the family.

These very qualities of honesty and sensitivity will help you heal from the damage of scapegoating.

The scapegoat is generally the mentally healthiest member of the family. Click To Tweet

The hardest part of being a scapegoat is that families can be very good at hiding their dysfunction. This results in further isolation when the victim is not believed.

You may be told that family relationships should be kept at all cost. This is not true!

If your family has been abusing you, either physically or emotionally, you do have a choice.

You can stand up for yourself and refuse to tolerate the abuse any longer. You may even make the difficult decision to cut ties.

Here are three ways to reclaim your life from the lies:


1. Let go of the longing for your family to accept you.

Understand that nothing you do is likely to make the abusers acknowledge wrongdoing.

No matter how reasonable and rational your position, they will never understand because they don’t want to.

They may never apologize for what they’ve done to you. More likely, they will double down on making you wrong.

Instead of hoping for something you’ll never receive, move forward and forge a new identity based on the truth of who you are.

It’s up to you to set boundaries with your family to protect yourself. Stop allowing them to treat you with disrespect. That may mean walking away.

2. Change the narrative.

You must challenge the story about yourself that your family has placed in your head. Look honestly at the situation and put some critical distance between yourself and them.

See that you are punished disproportionately to anything you have done. Most often, you are targeted simply for telling the truth!

You are not bad or wrong or have a fatal flaw that makes you unlovable. To remind yourself of this, make a list of your good qualities and read it to yourself often.

You are not bad or wrong or have a fatal flaw that makes you unlovable. Click To Tweet

3. Listen to what God says about you rather than your human family.

As you heal from the damaging effects of scapegoating, let God provide you with the comfort you never received from family members.

You are not who your parents or family say you are.

Remember, if you are suffering as the scapegoat, you are in excellent company. Jesus bore the burden of the world’s sins even though he had done nothing wrong.