Would you say that your family is a loving family that makes you feel secure and valued?
If so, that’s wonderful! But sadly, for most people, family is another burden they have to learn to cope with in their daily life.
Narcissistic and self-centered family members are a given in dysfunctional families. Boundaries are fluid, values are confusing, ethical behavior doesn’t exist, and abuse as well as trauma is often likely to occur.
In this article, I discuss family narcissism and 3+ ways to overcome it.
It’s unfortunate that the world has caught on to the term “narcissism” because everything that is perceived as self-centered, arrogant, and cold is now labeled narcissistic. As a result, when a true narcissist sits before us, we may have trouble identifying true characteristics. Not every narcissist is alike and some are very good at cloaking themselves as giving, loving, and altruistic. It takes proper knowledge and a keen eye to identify the various kinds of narcissists that are among us.
It also takes a keen eye to differentiate narcissism from sociopathic behavior or a combination of the two. It can be very difficult, however, to identify narcissism in family because they tend to be too close to us and know to much about the communication dynamics of the family. It may be easier to spot narcissistic traits in strangers or enemies.
In order to cope with the reality that you have a narcissist in your family, you will need to become skilled in how you react to their unbelievable behaviors. I often encourage my clients to:
- Refuse to respond: Sometimes the best response to a narcissist is no response at all. You are not obligated to respond to everything they throw your way. Narcissists like responses from people who are blind to their manipulative and calculating ways. Don’t give them the “comfort” in knowing that you can be duped.
- Avoid them: You don’t have to put up with the narcissist’s behaviors just because you are family. You don’t have to attend every family event, every family meeting, or every reunion. Your psychological and emotional health requires that you know when to be present and when to take a leave of absence.
- Build boundaries: Boundaries provide other people with a measurement of how far they can and cannot go with you. Setting boundaries requires that you evaluate how to set the boundary, when, and where. For example, lets say that your cousin wants to visit you in your new home. Your cousin calls you on your new phone number (given out by your mother) after not speaking to you for several years and asks if they can stop by your house a day before they leave. You feel overwhelmed and caught off guard. It’s bad enough that you did not give your cousin your number in the first place, and now they are forcing themselves on you by asking to visit with you. To set the boundary it may be best to tell them that you will have to meet up with them somewhere else or not at all because you aren’t ready for company yet. This may anger your cousin but at least you are setting the boundary.
Family can be very difficult to deal with, especially if several family members have a personality disorder. It’s important for you to identify your “finish line” and figure out how to express that you have had enough.
For the remaining tips on how to deal with narcissistic family, visit my video below.
If you’re looking for signs that you should possibly walk away from your toxic family, my newest video provides insight:
I wish you well