If you have a narcissistic parent, then nothing of your own belongs to you. Not your mind, not your thoughts, not your feelings.
The narcissists feels entitled to control and own all of your things, both physical and mental.
When you have an idea you want to try that is different from theirs, they will put up a fight to make you change to their way of doing things. They have no right to d this. You are an adult with the same rights they have.
They do not ever see you as an adult, or as an individual with your own rights, gifts and talents.
They feel you are something they own and should control when you need controlling.
If you do not comply with their wishes, they will try to undermine you in any way they can.
Narcissistic parents have gone so far as to publicly shame their children, spread lies and gossip about them, and cause them to lose jobs and relationships.
They will take over responsibilities that are yours, and tell you it is for your own good, because you are inadequate.
This wears down your self esteem and effects how others see you. The narcissistic parent does not want you to shine independently from them.
If you do something well, they will claim the credit for it. Even if they did nothing but counter and interfere with something, they will still assume the credit.
If they disapprove of something you do, then they will punish you in the form of shunning. silent treatment, demeaning you, scapegoating you, or causing a mobbing effect from other family members, who they turn against you.
These are hurtful, malicious games, designed to keep them in the spotlight and you in the darkness, and under their shadow.
The narcissist is sure they are right all the time. They will never listen to your idea, your pint of view, or your circumstances. They do not care.
No contact is usually the best way to live.
Then you will have autonomy and be able to flourish and grow in ways you can not imagine while you are under their darkness.
If you cannot go no contact, then do your best to stick to your own ideas and plans.
Do not give in to the pleas of the narcissist or believe them when they call you abusive to them. It is a typical tactic designed to make you feel shame and guilt.
If you are always finding yourself at the bad end of unfair and unbalanced relationships, then you might have People Pleaser Syndrome.
Most people who have People Pleaser Syndrome, including myself, have come from a background of being emotionally and mentally abused, manipulated and scapegoated.
It may not be readily apparent to you that you had emotional abuse as a child, because this syndrome will cause you to question any abuse that you have experienced. People may have manipulated you into thinking that your childhood was free of abuse, as part of the mental abuse itself.
Gaslighting a person into doubting their own feelings of being abused, is mental abuse. When you feel like you are being treated unfairly and cannot communicate about it, your reality about the abuse can become confused.
I have done a lot of research recently about People Pleaser Syndrome. There are many lists that you can find that will describe various characteristics and qualities of people that suffer from it. I have also gone through my own situations in my mind, to identify what characteristics that I have tended to demonstrate over the years.
I recommend that you do your own research about this topic, if many of things on this list seem to ring true for you.
I have written this list off if the top of my head. Some of these characteristics have been brought to my attention from articles that I have read.
Some of them are direct examples from my own life. All of the things on this list have caused me problems in my own life over the years.
Characteristics of People Pleaser Syndrome
1. You take on the feelings of others as if they are your own.
2. You feel the need to fix the problems of other people
3. You feel responsible for other people’s problems and guilty about them
4. It is easy for other people to make you feel guilty
5. You can easily be forced by others to feel shame
6. You carry toxic shame
7. When other people are unhappy, angry or disappointed with you, it makes you feel like you have the responsibility of fixing their feelings
8. You have trouble doing, not-doing or saying anything if it will get a negative reaction from the other person
9. You want people to always approve of you, your beliefs and your actions
10. You feel the need to always justify your actions and decisions to others
11. You have great difficulty in saying “no” to people
12. You are often talked into doing things you really do not want to do.
13. You are talked into not doing things, that you do want to do
14. You tend to do whatever will keep the peace, even if it is not good for you
15. You have trouble standing up for yourself, but always listen to other people who are standing up for that they want
16. You give other people their way, much more often than you just do things the way you want to
17. You question the validity of your personal wants and needs, when it conflicts with those of others
18. You often put your own dreams and goal on the back burner, in order for someone else to fulfill their dreams
19. You do not express your anger about being treated unfairly by others
20. You tend to allow your partner more benefit of the doubt than they allow you
21. You cover for other people, even if they would not cover for you
22. You have C-PTSD from some sort of childhood abuse
23. It is sometimes unclear to you how you feel about things and if your feelings / thoughts are being “put into your head” by the other person
24. You allow other people to tell you “how you should feel” about some things
There are a few reasons that you need help for People Pleaser syndrome. If you are recognizing very many things from the above list, then I encourage you to do some further research, get materials which will help you and work on a plan of overcoming this.
In some cases, professional mental health treatment may be appropriate. I am not a therapist and this article is not intended as a replacement for professional mental health treatment. I am just validating your experiences with my own and hopefully helping you to take a look into your own tendencies and patterns.
If you have the characteristics of People Pleaser Syndrome, then you are likely to be a target for predators that will take advantage of your good intentions. There are narcissistic people and other toxic personalities that look for people that are easy to manipulate with guilt and shame.
There are people that actively seek “people pleasers” in order that they can subject their will upon them. If people can easily push our anxiety buttons about confrontation, then you are the type of person that can end up in domestic abuse situations and abusive relationships.
People pleasers try to avoid confrontation that makes them feel guilt or shame. Abusive personalities will sense this about you and deliberately force you into anxiety, in order to manipulate you.
Other problems you probably experience are in work situations and social situations. Dominating people will overcome you at work and in social circumstances. It is just the way they are.
It is hard to compete and get ahead at work if people take advantage of you. Even if there are nice, kind people where you work, there is always one that will destroy you, when they realize that they can use you as a means to get ahead.
It is nice to want to believe that the world is full of people who are compassionate and caring, but we realize that this is not the case. You may be around many good people in your situations, but it only takes one person to really injure you.
We will talk more about this issue and ways in which we can retrain ourselves to have different habits. These are habits that are rooted into us, but they are not unbreakable.
The most important things are to be able to identify when we are being treated unfairly and not to feel guilty for standing up for ourselves, or otherwise protecting ourselves from abuse.
You have a right to your boundaries, your self confidence and your self esteem.
In fact these things are necessary for you to live and thrive well. Your dreams matter and your happiness matters, just as much as anyone else’s.
I got the following idea from a Teal Swan video about how to make the decisions that are best for you. What she suggests is to ask the question “What would someone who loves themselves do?” If you keep this in mind as you are interacting with people, then you will have a frame of reference for when to say “no” to people.
Blessings to all,
This term “dysfunctional family” is a catch all basket term that includes a variety of types of malfunction within the family that can cause trauma and C-PTSD to the child.
Children of alcoholic parents fall into this category and even have their own phrase, which many of you have heard “Adult Children of Alcoholics.” Of course adult children of drug addicted parents, whether narcotic addicted or even prescription drug abusers also falls into this basket term.
The family can be dysfunctional when one or both of he parents are abusive in a physical, sexual, mental, emotional or any psychological way. Abuse can occur from other members of the family other than the parents. Even siblings and grandparents can cause the home to be unhealthy psychologically for the children growing up in it.
Some preteens ans teens are left alone most of the time due to a single parent work schedule and no other relative available. Having to parent yourself all the time can cause psychological dysfunction and important “brain software upgrades” can be missed at these ages.
This may not be the parent’s fault and may be circumstantial but can be as devastating to the child than if it were intentional. The intention of the parent to be abusive or to create a psychologically damaging atmosphere to grow up in is not the main factor of whether or not the child is damaged.
If you were in any atmosphere that interfered with your normal social and psychological development them you may have C-PTSD from your childhood. C-PTSD is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
C-PTSD is caused by years of being in various situations where you felt unsafe and you also felt trapped into the situation with no choice to leave it.
As a child we are mostly sentenced to the life we are living in therefore there is a feeling of powerlessness about having to stay in the situation. It can feel like a prison.
If there was a divorce or other upheaval like moving a lot, then we may have been in multiple environments with different kinds of abuse, or trauma that happened at various ages and from various different people. This is the root cause of C-PTSD.
Complex trauma is built over time and compounded by one traumatic event or situation being piled on top of the next.
There can be years and years of traumatic experiences from emotional abuse by different relatives and non-relatives like babysitters and people that dated our parent. Moving and having to be the new kid at school and adjust to unfamiliar houses and neighborhoods can also be traumatic.
Being different than the other kids at school who have more stable lives can lead to bullying at school, which further compounds the complex trauma.
As you were growing up you may have felt like there was something wrong with you because you never seemed to fit in with the other kids who did not share your trauma and inadequate support system.
The feeling that there was something wrong with you further compounded the trauma.
As you got older the type of abuse you were exposed to probably changed. As a small child you may have been emotionally abused by being ignored and minimized. As a teenager the abuse may have increased to aggressive yelling. hitting, or being thrown out of the house for periods of time.
Layers of Abuse and Trauma
The combinations and layers of abuse, neglect, and trauma that can occur are endless. Each person has their own experience and each person’s past is unique. Your story won’t be just like anyone else’s.
If you feel like something is wrong with you and it feels like it goes back into your teenage years or your childhood, then you probably have complex post traumatic stress disorder.
I am going to write a series of posts about C-PTSD because I feel that so many people are suffering from this and either do not know that they are, or have no where to turn to for help with it. The results of C-PTSD can be devastating. Most people with C-PTSD have mental illness of one kind or another or a co-morbid condition of more than one mental disorder.
Depression is common with any kind post traumatic stress disorder. There will also be hyper vigilance about things that feel threatening.
The amygdala has become dysfunctional and the fight or flight mode is likely to turn itself on at the slightest trigger of a memory associated with earlier trauma, even of the trauma happened before your conscious memory can remember.
Trauma and abuse can occur in infants and very small children.
The memory from this age cannot be stored in the conscious memory system. The memory will be stored in the subconscious as feelings of fear and being unsafe.
There can be triggers that set of your fight or flight mode and you do not understand them because they are from when you were too young to remember. If you came from trauma that you do remember, it is very possible that there is also trauma that you do not remember that is from when you were an infant and in your toddler years.
Flashbacks are pictures, sights, sounds, feelings and other memories of a traumatic event or situation which come back to our brains like they are happening right now.
Emotional flashbacks are a flooding of a negative feeling that overcomes you when something triggers a past trauma. Emotional flashbacks may come to you like anxiety attack or a wave of depression. They may come in form a sudden distrust of a person or situation that is triggering the memory of a past abuse.
Realizing that we may not remember all of the reasons why we experience floods of seemingly illogical emotions can help us to heal from our trauma.
We never feel things for no reason. People may tell you that you are overly sensitive or too thin skinned or that you tend to over-react to things, but you are none of those things.
If you are sensitive to people saying certain kinds of things to you, then it is a response to earlier wounds that were inflicted upon you. When old wounds are opened up and even pressed into, there is going to be an emotional response. This is no overreacting, it is simply reacting to someone throwing salt into an open wound.
Some of your wounds may have occurred too young for you to remember.
Some of your wounds may have caused during adulthood such as a partner being abusive. Even then this abuse was also probably opening older wounds that you already had.
Most people do not stay is abusive relationships unless they were trained to do that as a child. Abuse victims get that same feelings of being trapped into a cage that they had when they were growing up.
Fight, Flight or Freeze
The fight or flight mode actually has one more possible part to it, which is the “freeze” mode. It is really “fight, flight or freeze.”
When we feel that we are in danger, especially if it triggers earlier trauma then the brain often goes into the freeze mode. This is a way of the brain trying to protect us although it may not serve us as adults. These post traumatic stress responses are very powerful because they are embedded in our subconscious.
Our subconscious brain has a lot of power over our feelings and our reactions. In order to heal from complex trauma and post traumatic stress much of the work needs to be done at the level of the subconscious brain.
This can be done through meditation, certain NLP techniques, listening to audios designed for this that put us into a light hypnotic state. If you prefer you can go to someone who does hypnosis and specializes in C-PTSD and PTSD.
I will close for now because this is getting so long to read. I plan to write a few more articles about this topic. This was intended to the introductory article about this.
Blessings to all,
Scapegoating is a term that is used for the one person in a dysfunctional family that is targeted by the abusive family member for receiving the most aggressive abuse.
Usually this person is targeted by the abuser because of their resistance to pretending that the household is normal.
If you were the truth teller in the family then you pointed out when boundaries were being crossed and when the other people were being mistreated. You were the one that probably defended siblings who were being abused. You may have tried to draw the abuse towards yourself in order to protect younger siblings from getting the brunt of it.
Very often the main abusive parent has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, although there are other personality disorders which cause people to abuse their children, like Malignant Borderline Personality Disorder.
The narcissistic parent us the focal point of the family because they demand that their needs and desires are primary. The needs of the scapegoat are ignored. They are labeled as the troublemaker in the family. Things they say are often used against them.
Fault for most every problem in the family ends of being dumped onto the scapegoat. The narcissist projects their own faults and personality disorder into the scapegoat.
The scapegoat is the one that can see that something is wrong with the narcissistic parent ans their behavior. The narcissist wants everyone in the family to pretend that everything is normal and their abusive behaviors are not abusive. The scapegoat angers the narcissist by being able to see through the false reality they create.
If you were the scapegoat child then your accomplishments were ignored or minimized. You were compared to other family members and the narcissistic parent would see to it that your accomplishments were seen as less than the other children’s and their own.
Family decisions may have been made without you in family meeting that you were intentionally not invited to. Yet you were still expected to go along with the decisions that narcissist made without expressing any dislike or negative feelings about anything.
You were emotionally punished for any resistance to what the narcissist wanted to do, even if it was harmful to you or others in the family.
As an adult the narcissist probably gossips about you and talks about you behind your back. They twist around the reality of things you say and do, in order to give a false image to others about you. You are called selfish behind your back anytime you tell the narcissist “no” or try to set healthy boundaries for the preservation of your mental health.
Your mental health is not only considered unimportant, but it is attacked intentionally by the narcissistic parent in order to undermine you.
They use techniques like gaslighting and triangulating to break you down. You end up looking like the one who is at fault in the relationship because the narcissist lies to the other family members about you.
Even though the abusive parent is the unstable one, you are often made out to be the one that is mentally disordered.
Your behaviors are taken out of context and re-framed by the narcissist to appear illogical, irrational or selfish. By the time to are able to tell your side of the story to anyone, it is too late because the narcissist got to them first and has been spreading a smear campaign against you.
At times you may be shunned by the narcissist or by the entire family, because the narcissist tells them that they should not speak to you.
However when someone is needed to step in during an emergency you are often the first one they will call and expect to drop everything to help. You are expected to be the problem solver and the one to offer assistance, even after you were made to feel inadequate in the past.
Responsibility is not equally allotted or equally shared.
The scapegoat is always expected to do more than anyone else without complaining, and they are expected to do the work that no one else wants to do.
There is never any thank you or credit given to the scapegoat for doing things for the family. In fact there will be a big deal made over a little thing that the golden child did for the narcissist, while your contribution and efforts are minimized or forgotten…until the next time they need something from you.
Scapegoating is a reflection on the person refusing to take responsibility or be held accountable, not the person being blamed. The scapegoat also provides a buffer against reality to support the family denial. The scapegoat carries the lion’s share of the blame, shame, anger and rejection so narcissistic mother can maintain her patterns of dysfunction while continuing to appear normal.
The scapegoat is punished by several methods. Shaming, ignoring, minimizing accomplishments, undermining, abused, rejected, singled out for blame.
The narcissistic parent will tell people that they have done many things for you and that they gave tried to be supportive of you. They will tell others that they have been a good parent for you and that you do not appreciate their efforts. They will sometimes go so far as to claim that you are abusive to them and play the victim themselves.
The golden child is the sibling that is put on a pedestal by the parent and expected to make the narcissist look good.
The parent claims the credit for the accomplishments of the golden child. The golden child will remain in the favor of the narcissist as long as they succeed and accomplish the things that the narcissist approves of.
The rules for the golden child and the scapegoat are never the same.
The scapegoat will be punished for things that the golden child is not punished for. The golden child will be praised for things that are ignored or undermined when the scapegoat accomplishes them or tries to accomplish them.
The narcissistic parent will undermine the scapegoat and at the same time say to them “I am doing this for your own good” They disguise their cruel, undermining, manipulative tactics as loving guidance.
There are many tactics that the narcissistic parent will use to undermine the scapegoat. The family often becomes blind to the tactics of the narcissist against the scapegoat. They do not see that the scapegoat is being attacked and undermined.
Some adults choose to break off contact with the narcissistic parent for their own mental preservation. Others are shunned by the narcissist and sometimes the entire family.
If you choose to continue interaction with a narcissistic parent, you have to learn how to maintain boundaries and not allow anyone in the family to violate them. Most likely this will anger the family members who are not used to you maintaining the same boundaries that they expect you to respect for them.
They feel entitled to be treated with respect and to be able to set boundaries about their time, their emotions, their relationships, etc. But they do not often respect your right to set the same exact boundaries for yourself.
You are not seen by the narcissist as a real person that has the right to your own thoughts, feelings, ideas or a right to personal boundaries.
You should prioritize your mental health and your life and make any decisions about interacting with your family members based on what is best for you.
If they have never been happy with anything you have done by now, then what are the chances that continuing to try to please them will gain their appreciation and approval?