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by Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

A narcissist is not merely a selfish, arrogant individual. If we are honest, we all struggle with selfishness sometimes. No, a narcissist is much more than selfish. Not all narcissists look exactly the same, and the traits are on a continuum – there are varying degrees of narcissism. At the core, narcissists are fragile people, terrified of the slightest criticism. In order to tolerate that fear, they behave in ways that make them feels super important, above others, and keeps them at the center of attention. Here are a few of the most common characteristics of a narcissist:

  • Believes they are “special” and only other special people could possibly understand them.
  • Lack of empathy. Narcissists are unable to listen to or care about other people’s feelings and perspectives.
  • Has a strong sense of entitlement, that they should always receive special treatment.
  • Constantly wants attention and admiration.
  • Is never wrong, and cannot truly apologize.
  • Uses gaslighting and verbal abuse to control others. Narcissists always want to feel powerful, and will manipulate others to keep that control.
  • Acts charming out in public and when you first meet them. They want your attention and love. Once they feel like they have that, they will use it to manipulate you.

When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

What is the impact on someone who has a narcissist for a parent? The biggest challenge for adult children of narcissists is never feeling good enough; that their feelings and thoughts do not matter. When your parent is only focused on their own need to feel important and superior, the children become pawns in that game. The children are never valued as themselves, only as tools to feed that parent’s need for control and admiration.

Adult children of narcissists most often:

  • Never feel good enough
  • Have a deep fear of speaking up to share their own opinions, especially if it would
    challenge others
  • Have very weak emotional boundaries, and feel responsible for other’s feelings
  • Are insecure and overly worried about what others think of them

Most adult children of narcissists don’t recognize the source of their challenges because they don’t know any different. If you grew up with a narcissistic parent, you will benefit from working with a specialized therapist who can help you see your story more clearly. People who have not had to interact with a narcissist will not understand the depth of the damage they can cause, and most likely will tell you to “get over it” or you are “overreacting”. While these friends mean well, they are wrong.

Hope For The Child of a Narcissist

If you grew up with a narcissistic parent, there is hope, I promise. You learned a lot of lessons as a kid – they were just terrible lies. You are lovable, what you think and feel do matter, and you are NOT responsible for keeping everyone else happy. Here’s the hope: you can unlearn these damaging lessons and learn new ways of seeing yourself and others that will allow you to experience healthy, happy relationships.

Start Counseling & Healing Today in Ambler, PA

At Lime Tree Counseling, our team specializes in narcissistic abuse and emotional abuse. We do this work because we really care about our client’s lives, and we want to see you experience life as you were made to live. I know you feel stuck, and maybe even hopeless. I promise you, there is hope. Please contact us today and set up an initial appointment or a free phone consultation. We want to partner with you discover healing!