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.

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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.

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