Written by Heather Hans and published by YourTango
A holistic approach to use your pain to transform your life.
The word "narcissist" is thrown around often and, truthfully, very few people are clinically diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Children of mothers with narcissistic behaviors are hurt the most.
The research of Dr. John Bowlby and Dr. Mary Ainsworth found that the ways in which human beings respond, within relationships, when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat is a direct result of how attuned their mothers were to them during their formative years.
Because people with narcissistic tendencies are unable to access deep empathy for others, they cannot attune to their children’s needs and inner emotional well-being. As a result, the child grows up to have insecure attachments in their adult relationships.
Children of narcissists often grow up learning to love others and not themselves. But, if you can only love others, you cannot truly love at all.
The following is an actionable, doable list to move on from your narcissistic mother so you can love yourself:
1. Acknowledge that you have relationship issues due to your narcissistic mother.
They are your responsibility to heal, not your mother’s. If you stay stuck as a blameful, powerless victim, you can stunt your growth and cause anger-related illness.
It’s all too easy to focus on the narcissist as the problem. But those who are willing to face the pain of their own dysfunctional behavior, even if it originated through no fault of their own, are the ones who rise above it.
2. Express your rage in words, writing, art, tears, or some other safe outlet.
You can share it with others if they are safe and trustworthy or keep it private. Anger is energy and it needs to be moved and cleared to restore you to health.
Support groups, art therapy, and journaling are a few of many ways you can self-express.
3. Don’t avoid your pain with substances or anything that distracts you from feeling the truth.
When you honor your feelings instead of your fears, you can move to the other side of them, rather than stay stuck in a repetitive, dysfunctional pattern that drains more and more energy over time.
4. Commit to regular therapy.
Psychotherapy is one of the most loving acts you can ever do for yourself. A therapist who specializes EMDR and trauma & attachment is most effective for this work.
5. Practice NOT reacting when you are triggered.
This mindfulness step takes time and practice but it will create one of the most powerful changes for you. People with attachment issues have developed a lifetime of repetitive reactions designed to protect them when they were little but that harm them and destroy their relationships as adults.
When things feel emotionally unbearable, do anything (healthy) to feel better but do not react to the person that triggered you.
6. Spend 10 minutes each journaling about your mother’s childhood attachment.
Then talk about the ways you are more empathetic to your loved ones than your mother was to you. Most narcissists did not receive proper attunement from their own parents, and often times, they had it even worse than you.
This exercise allows you to see that you (and your mother) are small parts of something much bigger, often something multi-generational, which causes you to feel less alone. It also creates compassion and understanding towards your mother, which releases anger in you.
When you see progress and evolution, you feel less stuck and hopeless. By seeing how you are better than your mother from an evolutionary perspective, it brings fulfillment.
7. Find ways on how you are narcissistic or how you wish you could be more narcissistic but don’t allow yourself to be so.
This form of psychological healing creates self-compassion and wholeness by diffusing the inner turmoil that comes from subconsciously projecting your fears onto others.
8. Do a release ceremony.
This is a powerful tool that marks the end of the old and the beginning of the new you! You can use symbols of yourself and/or your mother that you would like to release, even burning pieces of writing or pictures. Do it with love, as if it were a funeral.
9. Pick one practice to create a more stable and nurturing lifestyle.
Because insecure attachments are characterized by a lack of nurturing and stability, you must learn to build it for yourself.
Examples include using an aromatherapy diffuser in your home, juicing once a week, buying a new piece of decor or organizing something in your home bimonthly, getting a facial or massage once a month, and many other self-care activities.
10. Write a new vision of yourself in healthy, secure, loving relationships.
Spend ten minutes a day thinking about that vision or playing as if you are the new you. Everyone from pro sports players to surgeons use visualization and the power of the mind to create their desired results. Using it for relationships is just as effective.
Note that your relationship with your mother may be the slowest of all your relationships to heal. But if you can change your behavior with her, you can do it with anyone!
The most important thing to realize, in order to heal from your narcissistic mother, is that if you could get through an entire childhood with her, and all the ways you suffered because of her ill-equipped parenting, and make it this far into your adulthood despite being repeatedly hurt by her behavior, then moving on from her is not that hard!
You just have to focus all your energy on what you truly want, instead of turning to things that will just cover up your pain, like blame, substances, and bad relationships.
Heather Hans, LCSW, MBA is a Public Speaker, Licensed Psychotherapist, Intuitive Coach, Holistic Healer and author of The Heart of Self-Love. To inquire about booking Heather to speak at your event, visit her website.