Let’s start here: everyone is not allowed in your circle. Nor should they be.
We need to all do a better job of only sharing our proudest moments and saddest moments with people who will be proud of us and care. Sometimes, the people who care the most are not even family. This leads to my discussion of self-care.
Self-care is so vital to keep us moving. The biggest issue I have noticed with self-care is that people assume it only means going to the spa, treating ourselves to dinner at an expensive restaurant, or taking a big trip. It is all of that but it is also just cutting toxic people out of our lives. Some of the most toxic people can be family members.
The biggest revelation you will ever hear from me is this: My mental health improved exponentially when I freed myself from thinking I had to do things the way my parents did them. Did you all ever do that? Did you grow up being taught something by your parents and you thought they were right about everything? Well, they were right about a lot of things, but they weren’t right about everything because no one is. This lesson taught me more than any other lesson I have ever learned in my years on this Earth.
I believe you REALLY grow as a person when you can take certain lessons from your parents that work and discard the things that don’t work. I think you REALLY grow as a person when you can ACKNOWLEDGE that it takes time to understand what works for you. If you see one of your parents making bad decisions, it is OK to not partake in those bad decisions. Once you become an adult you can decide to not be apart of that toxicity. You can make that choice. The choice is definitely yours to make. You are no longer a child and have to follow behind them. Do what works for you! Protect you! In this instance, self-care is removing yourself from volatile situations involving family members.
You can speak up for yourself now. You are an adult and you do have that right. Be respectful but say what you need to say to parents or other family members if they say or do something inappropriate. I realize sometimes people are who they are and they aren’t interested in changing for anyone. Those are the people you leave alone. You can either decide to not interact with them at all or limit your interactions with them and set boundaries. If they cross your boundaries, let them know they are no longer welcome in your circle. Also be consistent – if you set a boundary then stick to it. You have to stick to it so people will take you seriously.
Please don’t let family take advantage of you. Many times we are quick to tell off our friends or co-workers, but when it comes to family it is a different scenario. We don’t want to upset them or make them mad by telling them they are wrong or hurt us. Let me be real clear on something: make sure that you only share your hurt and disappointment with people who CARE and have EMPATHY…and sometimes that isn’t going to be family.
Some people were raised by either a toxic mother, toxic father, or both. Yes, I’m admitting this. We don’t talk about this enough. Some people were raised by narcissistic parents. Some adults out here were emotionally neglected and don’t know how to make friendships or romantic relationships work. They are still stressed out trying to impress their parents.
Unfortunately, if you share with a family member a time that they hurt you and you don’t get a reaction that shows any type of understanding of how what they did made you feel…then you need to leave it alone. You are dealing with an emotionally immature and stunted person who will never recognize how their actions affect others. Those are the scariest people. The ones who will never see you as a functioning, breathing, living person who has hopes, dreams, and emotions that have nothing to do with them. These are the people who have narcissistic personality disorder.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be genetic. Many of the people who have been diagnosed with NPD had at least one parent with NPD. It travels through generations when problems don’t get fixed and people continue to “do things the way they have always been done”.
Parents with NPD look at their children and grandchildren as extensions of themselves. Therefore, they put a lot of pressure on them to excel at everything. These are the parents who are quick to tell their children all about their deficiencies. They are the ones who are quick to compare you to your other siblings (because you aren’t making the money they make or don’t own a big house). They will tell you how much of a disappointment you are because you aren’t them. They will gloat about their accomplishments and will tell you they don’t understand why you don’t measure up. These are the parents that will laugh and make fun of your weight gain, but not offer suggestions on how to improve your situation.
NPD parents are the biggest malcontents you will ever meet. A malcontent is a person who complains about almost everything and everybody. They have something to say about EVERYTHING and it’s usually something NEGATIVE! Those are the parents who will say “well, I don’t like your hair that way. Why would you do that?” even when they weren’t asked for their opinion. They will see the smile on your face after getting your hair done and totally ignore your smile to tell you THEY don’t like your hair (as if their opinion is the only one that counts when it comes to YOUR HAIR)! I want to be clear that you can be a malcontent and not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s just that many people who have NPD do exhibit this trait.
Some of the signs of a NPD parent or family member:
- they steal from you, withhold money from you, they frequently ask you for money, they ask you when you get paid and if they can borrow some money but then never pay you back
- they are overbearing, involve themselves in every part of your romantic life (even sometimes in your marriage)
- they belittle your spouse or your children, they are demeaning to them
- they curse you out in front of other people
- they threaten you physical harm
- they tell you they will never help you out or be apart of your life anymore unless you start doing something they want you to do
- they are consistently emotionally abusive
- they laugh at you instead of cheer you on
- they are not supportive of anything you do unless it has something to do with them
- they demand constant attention
- they are arrogant and gloat about their accomplishments
- they are selfish
- never excited for other people
- they get jealous/angry when their spouse accomplishes something great that has nothing to do with them
- they show no interest in the hobbies of their spouse
- they will quickly throw you under the bus to protect themselves (be really careful – this is scary how well they can accomplish this)
- they will give you the silent treatment as a manipulation tactic/power move in order to prevent talking out issues (they will pretend like they are sad and just don’t want to talk). No it’s a manipulation tactic. It’s one thing to say…can we talk later. It’s another thing to not want to talk at all, completely shut the conversation down and walk out the door.
- they will lie on you and to you because they don’t care about anyone but themselves
- they will gaslight you and make you feel like you are the crazy one
I just ask all of you to protect your heart. Protect your heart from the pain that can come from the negativity of family. I pray for you if you have dealt with this in your past or if you are in this situation now. I hope that you can release yourself from the chains. It’s OK to put yourself first sometimes. It is OK to protect your mental health even with your family. If you need to take breaks from them it is totally OK. If you need to take a break from visiting your parents there is nothing wrong with it. Please don’t let the belittling get to you (I know that’s hard to do). Please understand it is them that has issues and not you. If your parent has to belittle you to make themselves feel more in control and confident then they have serious issues. It is them that has the issue and not you.
We are all in this together! I’m here to share what I have learned through the years and I hope you all share with me in the comments too. The theme of April is Growth and that is what we are doing. We are finding ways to expand and move forward.
I also want to take a moment to advertise my first book Just A Unicorn. In my first book, I discuss some of the same things that are in this post. I would definitely encourage reading my book to learn more about how I got through some of my own insecurities and how I am still healing. I am healing every day. It has been an amazing journey. I just want to keep helping others heal.
Link to my book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1724172204/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_4XY326NJ7394BDTJ3RCX
Peace and Blessings!
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