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Signs of a Narcissistic Mother (It’s Not Easy to Spot!)

Signs of a Narcissistic Mother (It’s Not Easy to Spot!)

A narcissistic mother is a parent with narcissistic personalty disorder who is “psychologically constructed to garner attention, be it from charisma, beauty, smarts, or finance.” [1]In this definition, there exists a catch. When the world views a charismatic, attention-seeking woman- and chances are she will be in a powerful position for all to admire, such as a lawyer, judge, head of the PTO, etc. – the family witnesses the other, unpolished side of the coin.

Children of narcissistic parents go through their lives feeling confused and lost, and in search of love they never received from home. They expect their mothers to nurture and support them, but when they are dealing with narcissistic mothers, they aren’t given the love and support that healthy parents provide. The signs of a narcissistic mother are not always easy to spot, but once known, there are ways to deal with the situation.

15 Traits of a Narcissistic Mother

Do you suspect you have a narcissistic mother? The signs are not always easy to spot, and some well-intentioned, but misguided parenting can be misconstrued as narcissistic. Narcissistic mothers share these traits:

They like to keep control

They like to have complete control over all aspects of their children’s lives, from friends, to music, to clothes, and habits. Manipulation is their game, and they play it well. They use guilt trips through emotional blackmail to make their kids dance to their music.

“You need to take computer science if you are going to amount to something- not waste your time in that art class!”

They divert the conversation to center on themselves

Their children may be trying to communicate a problem at school or an issue with friends, but their mothers will take control and change the direction of the conversation to focus on themselves.

The child may start talking about how sad they are because their friend is moving away and suddenly find themselves off topic: “Mackenzie is fine, but when I was your age I had a dozen of friends and my best friend and I roomed together in college…”

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They get angry when things don’t go their way

They lose temper quite easily and they always throw the blame at their children and others, instead of acknowledging that they may be the problem. Their children and spouses tend to tiptoe around certain subjects in fear of releasing the dragon’s wrath.

“That check never arrived. You didn’t put it in the mailbox, did you? It’s your fault!” They place blame- never shoulder it.

Ironically, they care what people think about them

They go out of their way to make themselves look good in public, at the expense of their children and spouses.

Before the public outing, the family will hear: “Don’t you dare forget to say “please” and “thank you” to my boss. Fix your hair. It’s a rat’s nest!” Once out with her boss: “My Jimmy received the Presidential Medal! I’m so glad I made him do those sit-ups everyday and pushed him all the way.” She turns her child’s victory into hers so that she will look good.

It’s all about them!

Narcissists are self-centered and they feel the entire world should revolve around them. The moment they come in the door, they expect everyone to come running. They feel they are the most important member of the family instead of being one of the team.

“I’m home! Someone help me with these bags. I am so tired. I worked such a long day. I- I -I.” They forget to ask anyone else about their day.

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They carry grudges

This last for a long time. If someone slights them or doesn’t do what they think should be done, or chooses a different lifestyle choice, they harbor the resentment for a very long time. The recipient will receive the cold-shoulder or find themselves disinherited for a slight that happened years ago that anyone else would have forgiven and forgotten.

“Well, I picked Frances to inherit my business because she never abandoned her mother for four years!’ “But mom, I was in the army!”

They use love to reward and punish.

Narcissistic mothers know that the most powerful weapon over their children is their love. They don’t often part with it, and when their children receive it, it’s usually in full public view to make them look good. However, they withdraw their affection as punishment for when their kids fall short- which, in their eyes, is often the case.

“You are my favorite child now…”

They treat others as their servants.

The child of a narcissistic mother will often act as a personal slave in hopes of catching a sliver of affection.

“Get me a glass of water and grab those grapes while you’re at it. Put a pot on for the spaghetti.” The list become endless, and leaves the child feeling like Cinderella.

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They are in competition with their children.

The boundaries between child and parent become blurred. This can happen with narcissistic mothers who feel their beauty and sexuality are being challenged by their adolescent daughters.

“You’re going to a school dance? Well I’m going to a real dance at a night club!”

They find constant fault in their children and compare them with other “perfect” kids.

Their unreasonable expectations set the bar too high for any child.

“Can’t you be more like John? He always says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and holds the door for me.” or “Allie gets straight A’s, is on the Honor Role and is captain of the cheer squad. Why can’t you be like her?” Chances are, if John or Allie were their children, they wouldn’t be good enough either!

Their children live in an emotionless void

Children raised by a narcissistic parent grow up missing the nurturing love they should have received. They feel little or no emotional attachment or closeness to their parent- only confusion. The years of manipulation take their toll.

Narcissistic mothers lack empathy

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Because they are so super-focused on themselves, they are unable to sympathize with their children or their children’s plights. They are blind when it comes to seeing situations from their children’s viewpoint.

“I see a “D” on your report card. A “D” is unacceptable. I don’t care what you have to say.”

They have low self-esteem

Their grandiose, supermom act is an empty facade hiding the fact that they suffer from low self-confidence. Though they won’t let the world see them crumble, their children see the other side, and often have to pick up the pieces and deal with their bouts of depression.

They never want to let you go

All parents know their kids will grow up and leave the nest. It may be painful, but they can accept this fact of life. However, a narcissistic mother will hold on to her child as long as possible- even into adulthood to maintain control. She will use every tactic in the book to make them feel dependent on her. “You can’t leave me. You need me!” The truth is that narcissistic moms need their children and their full attention!

How Their Children Are Affected

Children of narcissistic mothers often deal with a roller coaster of childhood emotions. Sapped of a carefree youth, they spend their time trying to please or appease their mothers, sometimes walking on eggshells so as not to invoke anger from the one person who should be providing them with unconditional love and boosting their self-confidence.

Instead, their highly-judgmental parent pokes at all their faults, criticizes their choices, and manipulates their childhood to suit their own needs. They will be accused of being ungrateful. They will be told, “It’s my way or the highway.” They will feel they aren’t enough, and for narcissistic mothers they never will be.

These children will spend the rest of their lives, desperate for a love they never received- an approval that didn’t happen. Some will turn to therapy for help, others will unwittingly seek out narcissistic partners subconsciously feeling that if they can “fix” that relationship they will be able to “fix” the one with their mothers, and still others may become narcissistic parents themselves, continuing the cycle.

Breaking Free from a Narcissistic Mom

If you feel that you are dealing with a narcissistic parent, you can learn ways to cope. If you visit your friend’s houses and are able to view other family dynamics, chances are you’ll realize something is wrong. That sliver of enlightenment can set you free.

  • Avoidance: Choose not to be goaded into situations and caught in uncomfortable encounters by avoiding the perpetrator. It may take evasive actions worthy of a spymaster, but it is possible.
  • Maintain privacy: Living with a narcissistic mother can sap the energy from anyone. Maintain a personal space where you can escape the drama and find peace, whether it’s your own room or Grandma’s house.
  • Seek outside support: Sometimes you need to talk with someone who will actually listen, be it the guidance counselor, a therapist, or a relative.

Adults may still find themselves under their mother’s influence, but as an adult you have far more options available:

  • Therapy. You may need to talk to a professional. Narcissistic parents can emotionally wreck their children, and cause them to unconsciously seek out equally damaging narcissistic partners. Consider getting professional help.
  • Distance. Sometimes the best avoidance is distance. You may find you have to move away to remove yourself from your narcissistic mother’s manipulations. It’s easier to put down a phone to end a conversation than to walk from a room.
  • Choose not to follow suit. Just because parent acts in a certain way doesn’t mean you have to as well. If you see the problem for what it is- a personality disorder- you can choose to break the cycle by not becoming a narcissistic parent.
  • Didn’t receive love or praise in your childhood? Hug your kids every day and shower them with affection. Tell them that you love them and leave no doubts in their minds about that love. Be the parent of your dreams.

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: The Narcissistic Mother

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Sally White

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Published on August 15, 2019

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

15 Tips for an Overwhelmed Working Mom to Feel Better

As an overwhelmed working mom, you get a lot of intelligent ideas from magazines, friends and the internet about how to manage work, children, and a household.

Unfortunately, you may still feel exhausted and insufficient at work and home despite the advice to organize, cook efficiently and pamper yourself .

How great would it be to wake up tomorrow knowing that you can begin to feel better without all of those overwhelmed feelings?

The sensation of feeling overwhelmed when you wear a lot of hats: mom, professional, household manager, partner, friend, etc. has its roots in reality. You are absolutely doing a lot of important jobs. But here’s the thing:

If feeling overwhelmed has become your knee-jerk or chronic reaction, this emotion is now literally a part of you that needs your attention so that you can move forward more confidently.

If helping yourself sounds too difficult, never fear. These tips come straight from therapy and neuroscience to hack into your nervous system. You will learn deeper ways to calm down and feel more confident about yourself, your life and your choices.

1. Breathe and Notice What Your Body Feels like Inside and Out

By using body-centered therapy techniques, you can better understand your overwhelmed feelings and offer accurate and practical help.

As you’ll learn, when you feel stressed out, your thinking brain is not your best resource. In fact, simply thinking about and bolstering your efforts to “get rid” of overwhelmed feelings might actually make them worse.

The first step to help when you feel overwhelmed is to simply slow down and breathe. This does not mean that you should suddenly take in huge gulps of air or breathe rapidly. That will send you into panic!

Breathe normally and naturally. Make your breath comfortably slow, extending the exhale. Count 5 to 10 breaths.

2. Get a Little Curious

Ask yourself: How do I know I’m overwhelmed? Close your eyes or soften your gaze if you are able. Imagine shifting your awareness from your outside world and sending it into your body along with your breath.

You might notice the signals right away. For example: My chest is tight, my heart is beating rapidly and there’s a sense of frustrated energy in my legs and arms. Or you might just hear some words like: I’m freaking out, failing or cannot do it!

If it’s possible, get a little curious about this sensation. Consider that while it may be a big feeling, you probably have other parts of you that feel differently.

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3. Offer Some Loving Care to Stressed-Out Parts of You

Richard Schwartz, developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy defines our personalities as made up of sub-parts that interact within us. This explains why a “part” of you can feel one way and yet, you have another part that feels differently.[1]

Gently acknowledging the part of you that feels overwhelmed and offering it some support and compassion (as you would a frightened child) can soothe your body and mind. “I’ve got you,” is a great mantra to breathe in when you’re overwhelmed.

4. Get Smart About Your Wise Nervous System

You may have heard of the “gut” brain or “body” brain. The science of Polyvagal Theory shows that the entire nervous system impacts how you think and feel – not just your thinking mind.

In fact, did you know that your wise nervous system generally picks up information from your environment before your brain can interpret it?[2]

When you feel overwhelmed, just one tiny cue of “danger” felt in your nervous system is often the unconscious trigger that tips you from busy but competent to feeling freaked out and exhausted.

This cue could be as simple as a song on the radio that feels overly-stimulating, a child’s bad mood (even if it has nothing to do with you) or your spouse forgetting an unimportant errand.

5. Remind Yourself That a Feeling Can Just Be a Feeling

When you’re feeling agitated, your physical body is naturally on high alert. Any information or stimulation you receive at these times will feel overwhelming.

This is not your fault, but it is helpful to understand that usually, when you feel like you’re not good enough, it is not objectively true. Your mind may just be creating a reason for the signals of danger coming from your body.

Allow your body to feel without making a negative judgement about yourself or your life. This technique will help you break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, then creating negative thought about the feeling resulting in overwhelming yourself even more.

6. Learn Your Most Common Unconscious Responses to Stress

Why is this important? When you feel stressed, you probably respond unconsciously in the same ways throughout your life.

For some, too much stress will quickly create a numb, hopeless sensation. For others, the thought that life is just “too much” leads to bouts of panic or anger. Still, others might freeze completely, feeling highly anxious but not able to do much at all.

From a biological perspective, all of these experiences are pretty normal. When you recognize that your body’s reactions are not faulty or foolish, it’s much easier to reassure yourself and move forward confidently.

7. Exercise the Part of Your Nervous System That Provides Wellbeing and Social Connection

Did you know that you can actually tone your ventral vagal nerve, the nerve responsible for feelings of safety and social connection?[3]

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As often as you are able, allow yourself to linger on your favorite memories that invoke feelings of wellbeing, connection to loved ones, times of beauty in nature or your favorite memories of pets or places. Use all of your sense to really feel the experience in your body.

By doing this, you’re activating and toning your ventral vagus nerve as you might tone your muscles. Make a kind of “body bookmark” of these purely content sensations to which you can return when stressed.

This practice may feel silly, like an indulgence or even a fantasy. But it is supported by science and is important for you to create a strong and healthy response to stressors.

8. Give Baby Parts a Break

No part of you is trying to hurt you. But parts of us do feel extreme feelings and carry burdens from our past.

For example, if you are feeling overworked in the present, it may activate parts of your personality that felt similarly earlier in life. Deep anger, fear, resentment or sadness provide a signal to you that something from your past could benefit from your attention.

I know this may sound strange, but the next time you feel very overwhelmed, take a breath and notice if you feel like a child trying to do an adult’s job. If so, spend a moment calmly and compassionately reminding all of your inner child parts that you are indeed grown, capable and doing something appropriate.

9. Address Critical Messages You Give Yourself

What do you hear yourself saying to yourself when you feel overwhelmed? You may notice parts of you that sound critical or even cruel.

Statements like “I’ll never catch up,” “Why do I try,” or “I can’t do anything right,” are very common to hear when you’re under stress. Believe it or not, these inner messages are likely misguided protective parts of your personality.

These parts are normal and try to help you by “whipping you into shape” so you won’t fail, alerting you about scared feelings inside, or avoiding shock or disappointment by anticipating how others might criticize you.

If it’s possible, acknowledge these parts as protective. Maybe express a bit of gratitude. Notice how the critical voices inside you, even though they likely mean well, cause exhaustion and even more stress.

When you acknowledge these messages inside, letting them know they are part of you and you see their positive intention, the critical messages calm.

10. Take Small Moments to Express Gratitude

Everyone is talking about gratitude, I know. But there are good reasons for this trend.

More and more studies about gratitude show valid connections between gratitude and lowered stress and mental health. A 2018 multi-university research study concluded that gratitude not only has direct effects on quality of life, but also has indirect effects through perceived stress and mental health.[4]

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There are many reasons that gratitude impacts our nervous systems in positive ways, but the best way to discover this impact is to simply try it yourself.

Take a minute each day to write down one to three things for which you feel grateful. These can be large or small, important or trivial, but they must be true. Make this a habit and watch your stress-relief grow.

Or you can try some of these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

11. Play with Time

In Gay Hendrick’s 2010 book The Big Leap, he talks about the concept of Einstein time vs. Newtonian time.

Newtonian time is the clock time we all watch all day. Einstein time is more about what you make with your moments, realizing that your perception can slow or speed time up.

For example, if you are spending time with someone you love and doing something you enjoy, time moves very quickly. Conversely, if you are doing a miserable job in uncomfortable weather, each second can feel like an eternity.

The next time you feel stressed for time, take a slow breath and remind yourself that you make time. Time belongs to you. Then, enjoy the pace and do what you need to do. With practice, this little tool will become valuable for overcoming the mental pressure of time.

12. Don’t Be Tricked by Perfection

When you’re in the thick of raising children and working, sometimes nervous energy presents as perfectionism. In an effort to feel in control, you may make arbitrary but unreasonable goals for yourself that feel like they are necessary or true.

Make a quick inventory of every job you are expecting of yourself and your family. Now question it all. What is really important and what is just preferable? What jobs can be left to someone else’s discretion, done well-enough by the children or dropped completely?

Keep any jobs that give you joy and do them joyfully. Let go of jobs that feel like standards or expectations with little or no payoff. Save them for retirement if you like.

13. Give Yourself Credit for Quality Time with Your Kids

Think of the time you spend relaxing with and enjoying your children as a $100,000 per hour job. Very small amounts are still incredibly valuable.

Showing your children that they are important is just as likely to happen in a ten-minute game of catch as in a whole day at the water park. A shared snack time, a book before bed, a half hour away from your phone to allow loving eye contact with your babes adds up to a lifetime of security and wonderful memories.

Imagine your child someday saying, “Mom worked hard, but she always had time to hug me, to hear about my day, and to offer me guidance. I always knew that I mattered to her.”

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14. Meditate for One Minute a Day

Yes, you may do more. But if you can’t afford any more than one minute, go ahead and sit comfortably, breathe and be in your body for this time. It’s such a simple but powerful exercise and the kids can do it too.

While you meditate, notice your loving heart. What does it need from you today — patience, compassion, creativity, caring, play? Remember to show up for yourself and you will show up for your work and your family as well.

15. Guard and Celebrate Sleep

From tinies to teens, there are many unavoidable reasons that kids interrupt your sleep.

Here’s the thing: Unexpected sleeplessness due to childhood growth or illness is normal and not easy to control. If you are feeling overwhelmed, though, sleep is crucial.

There are two things you can do to improve your mindset toward sleep so that you set yourself up for confidence rather than collapse.

One, prioritize and protect your sleep time. If you tend to wait until the kids go to sleep to complete work or finally relax, that’s okay. But don’t let these activities cut into your sleep time.

Given the choice between another load of laundry, Words With Friends, binge watching Game of Thrones or eight hours of sleep, consistently choose sleep.

Two, appreciate and express gratitude for any sleep you get. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get seven or eight hours of sleep. However, allow yourself to enjoy any time when you are laying in a comfy space allowing your body to rest and repair.

When you wake up saying “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” you put your mind on alert that there is something lacking. This thinking alone can trigger feelings of overwhelm.

Set your nervous system up for success by appreciating any amount of rest.

Final Thoughts

Life as a working mom is not an easy one. Overwhelmed feelings are natural and normal but, they can take over and cause chronic stress and dissatisfaction.

Allow yourself just a few moments a day to reorganize your thoughts and feelings using the steps above. You’ll soon discover your calm and capable self.

Take a lesson from your growing children: small changes create big results now and in the future.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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