Tips From A Trauma Therapist for Adult Daughters of Narcissistic Parents
Narcissistic wounding happens when you are not allowed to fully develop your true self-identity. This occurs as a result of your narcissistic parent’s excessive needs and expectations. Given the major influence of parents’ empathy on a child’s development of self-esteem, this can severely impact you in adulthood as well. The adult daughters of narcissistic parents tend to struggle with issues of high anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and shame. If you are the adult daughter of a narcissistic parent, here are some tips from a trauma therapist to begin the healing process:
Learn more in-depth about growing up with your narcissistic parent. Understand how the effects of this may still be impacting your life today. This is important in working to unlearn the negative beliefs you’ve adopted growing up and make changes. This can be through reading articles, podcasts, or books such as:
Children of the Self-Absorbed by Nina W. Brown
Healing the Adult Children of Narcissists by Shahida Arabi
The Narcissist in Your Life by Julie L. Hall
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride
You can also seek a trauma therapist in Scotch Plains, NJ to help you work through this hard and emotional process.
Children of narcissists often are subject to a lot of gaslighting. This is a manipulation technique used to make you question your reality. Therefore it can be hard to trust your own thoughts and feelings. Others’ positive perceptions of your parent may add to this confusion. They can be masters of performance for others. Receiving honest feedback on your experiences from people outside of your family can help validate what you went through. However, this can be a double-edged sword. Many narcissistic wounds are hard to explain. Those who have not experienced them may not understand. It can be important to seek out others who have had similar experiences and can offer their perspective. You can do this with people in your own life or through group therapy.
It can be very hard for adult daughters of narcissists to set healthy boundaries with their parents. Narcissists are not good at respecting boundaries. They tend to evoke feelings of guilt or fear in their children when they attempt to exert boundaries. Whether limiting contact to simple interactions or ending the relationship completely, it is important to know when a situation becomes unhealthy and how to disengage. Remaining firm and indifferent to their baiting or outbursts can be difficult. However, it is important as narcissists will not empathize with your feelings. This can be described through the Gray Rock Method.
The Gray Rock Method is used to make yourself uninteresting and unresponsive to someone. Communication using this method is short and unemotional or impersonal. Responses may even be limited to one-word, conversation topics are kept general and boring, and you do not divulge information about yourself. You allow them to think you are as boring as a gray rock. When you “gray rock” a narcissist, you do not give them the attention or narcissistic supply they look for in relationships. By withholding personal information, you give them less things to weaponize against you. While this tactic will not change your parent, it can change your dynamic and help you to set healthy boundaries when you’re around them.
These boundaries may extend to include family members or friends you share with this parent. They may be involved by your parent to break your boundaries. (In survivor circles they call these individuals “flying monkeys”, as a reference to how the wicked witch sent flying monkeys to do her bidding.)
Find Your Identity:
Did your parent invalidate any specific emotions? Did they discourage certain goals or interests growing up? You may have accepted your parent’s thoughts, feelings, and values as your own without questioning or considering anything else. You may have learned that their approval would only be given to you when you met their own needs or expectations. This may have resulted in a belief that you are not good enough unless you are receiving approval from others. Even though you are perfect without others’ approval. Giving yourself time and empathy to explore your own values, independent of your parents or others, is critical in fully developing your true sense of self.
Lose Unrealistic Expectations:
Children of narcissists do not receive the validation they need. If your parent is a narcissist, you may have made exhausting efforts to make a point or get empathy from your parent for any given situation. You might have realized that these interactions have actually left you more frustrated and emotional than you were originally. You may think one day they will see you are hurting. They will try to make things better. Or that you were right. Or respectable and worthy.
In order to move forward, you need to understand and accept that you may very well never receive what you want from your mom or dad. Understanding them for their true selves, including their flaws and shortcomings, can be difficult. This awareness often means accepting their inability to ever be the parent that you need or needed. Learning to accept this reality can be an intense and emotional process. It can involve anger and grieving the loss of who you believed your parent, and your relationship with them, to be, and what it will never be. Give yourself the empathy to let go of this expectation.
Adult children of narcissists often struggle with issues related to low self-esteem. They may turn to unhealthy coping strategies. These individuals often develop an “inner critic” that replicates their parent’s disapproval. This follows them. Even after achieving space away from the narcissist parent. As the adult child of a narcissist, practicing self-affirmations (such as “I let go of my need to receive approval from others. I choose to accept and love myself just as I am!” or “I deserve to be happy. I do not have any need for misery or pain.”) can help calm your inner-critic and increase your self-esteem. In general, making time for self-care is important for regulating these feelings you may be experiencing.
Seek Support From A Trauma Therapist:
If you have realized that your parent is a narcissist, there are likely many emotions you are going through. You may feel grief over the loss you’ve experienced. Grief over the parent you do not have. Anger at the unconditional love you did not receive. You may have a hard time experiencing any of these feelings. You may have learned to shame them.
A qualified, trauma-informed mental health professional at Brave Minds Psychological Services can guide you through these emotions. As a result, you can work through the abuse you have experienced from childhood. However many therapists do not understand narcissistic abuse and the many ways it can take place. They may unintentionally invalidate your experiences due to this lack of awareness. Finding a trauma therapist who understands narcissistic abuse may make a huge difference in your therapy experience. Someone who understands the meaning behind terms like gaslighting may better acknowledge and validate your experiences.
It is important to understand that trauma can be found in the body and therefore physical exercises outside of traditional talk therapy may be needed to help you fully heal. Examples of techniques that might be helpful include EMDR therapy and trauma-informed yoga.
Read the rest of this blog series with Adult Child of a Narcissist pt 1 and Adult Children of Narcissists pt 2.
Overcome Abuse from A Narcissist With A Trauma Therapist in Scotch Plains, NJ
Processing emotional trauma caused by a narcissistic family member(s) can be difficult. That’s why the skilled therapists at our Scotch Plains, NJ office offer EMDR therapy for children, teens, and adults. With EMDR therapy or telehealth counseling, we can help you process your own trauma. If you want to stop the cycle of the narcissistic family and heal your trauma follow these simple steps:
- Reach out to Brave Minds Psychological Services
- Meet with an understanding counselor
- Break the cycle and heal from your emotional trauma
Brave Minds Psychological Services Other Counseling Options in New Jersey
EMDR Therapy isn’t the only service that our skilled therapists offer at Brave Minds Psychological Services. For adults, we provide trauma therapy, food allergy therapy, and couples counseling. We offer counseling for parents along with postpartum counseling, and birth trauma therapy. Supporting teens and children is also important to us. This is why we offer teen anxiety treatment, social phobia therapy for teens, child sexual abuse therapy, child anxiety treatment, and more. If you are wanting to connect with peers going through similar struggles we offer several options for group therapy. Our services are offered in person at our Scotch Plains, NJ office and through telehealth counseling in New Jersey.
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