Ever felt like you were living in a gilded cage? Where everything seems perfect from the outside, but inside, you’re suffocating under a set of unspoken rules?
If you grew up with narcissistic parents, you’re not alone.
We all had our own versions of the 10 commandments of the narcissistic family, the code we were forced to obey to keep the peace, even when it meant sacrificing our own happiness.
But here’s the thing: you don’t have to live by those rules anymore. You get to write your own damn commandments.
So, pull up a chair and buckle up. Below, we’ll go on a wild ride down memory lane to see what it was like growing up in a narcissistic family.
- You are not to blame for your family’s narcissistic behaviors. Their abuse is a reflection of their issues, not yours.
- You are a valuable and deserving person who deserves to be treated with kindness and compassion. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
- Healing from narcissistic abuse is a journey, but it’s possible. With time, the right support, and self-care, you can build a healthy and fulfilling life.
Table of Contents
10 Commandments of the Narcissistic Family: Stupidity at Its Best
Now, let’s get into the heart of the beast. We’ve all been there, forced to live by these nonsensical rules that only served to benefit the narcissist family in charge.
These next ten commandments are shining examples of how my narcissistic family logic operates in all its twisted glory. Cheers!
1. Your Needs and Desires Are Always Secondary
Remember those childhood dreams you held so close to your heart? The ballerina twirling in the spotlight, the astronaut exploring the cosmos?
In a narcissistic family, those dreams often fade into the background. Like a dimming star, your desires and needs become secondary to the dazzling needs of the narcissist.
In our house, my narcissistic mother’s happiness was the only thing that mattered. My needs and desires? They barely even registered.
“Know your place,” she’d say, subtly reminding me that my happiness was never as important as hers.
From the clothes I wore to the hobbies I chose, everything was filtered through the lens of “what would make mom look good?”
It’s a suffocating reality, one that leaves you questioning your worth.
2. You Do Not Express Emotions or Opinions
In dysfunctional families, thoughts and feelings are often seen as threats to the carefully constructed facade.
Expressing your true self, whether it be joy, sadness, or anger, becomes a dangerous game.
So, you learn to walk on eggshells, constantly monitoring your words and actions to avoid triggering the narcissist’s wrath.
In my experience, it made me become a master of emotional suppression, burying my true self beneath layers of compliance and indifference.
But this constant state of emotional repression can be incredibly damaging, leading to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and a deep sense of invalidation.
3. You Do Not Challenge the Narcissist
Forget healthy discussions. In a narcissistic family, questioning the grand master is like poking a hornet’s nest.
To disagree is to undermine, to offer an alternative perspective is to declare yourself an enemy. So, you learn to nod along, swallowing your doubts like bitter pills.
Growing up, any attempt to voice my opinion, offer a different perspective or simply disagree was met with swift and severe consequences.
This is when I learned that challenging my mother’s narrative is not simply a harmless debate. In her mind, it’s an act of rebellion, a direct attack on her self-worth.
This can leave you feeling powerless and questioning your sanity. You learn to keep your head down and accept the narcissist’s version of reality as the only truth.
4. You Must Always Put the Narcissist First
In the narcissist’s world, your life is purely an extension of theirs. Your time, energy, and resources are all expected to be poured into the bottomless pit of their needs.
Their desires become your commands, their whims your daily bread.
From rearranging your schedule to sacrificing your personal goals, every aspect of your life must be molded to accommodate the ever-shifting needs of the narcissist.
You learn to prioritize their happiness above your own, to anticipate their wants before they even form, and to exist solely for their benefit.
It’s a relentless cycle of self-sacrifice that leaves you feeling drained, depleted, and utterly invisible.
5. You Do Not Air Family’s Dirty Laundry
In the image-obsessed world of narcissistic families, “airing dirty laundry” isn’t just a metaphor, it’s a weapon of mass destruction.
Exposing the family’s dysfunction, even to trusted friends or confidantes, is seen as a betrayal of the highest order.
It’s a threat to the carefully constructed facade of perfectionism and a direct attack on the narcissist’s fragile ego.
As a child, my attempt to share my struggles with a friend was met with my mother’s hostility, which made me feel even more isolated and silenced.
I was labeled a “liar,” a “troublemaker,” and an “outsider.”
That’s when I learned that the family’s problems must remain hidden, locked away in a vault of shame and secrecy.
6. You Must Not Expect Empathy or Support
Expecting empathy and support in a narcissistic relationship is like searching for a flower in the desert.
The narcissist, consumed by their own needs and desires, is incapable of offering genuine emotional support.
Your struggles, your joys, your sorrows and they all fade into the background noise of the narcissist’s self-absorption.
In fact, instead of understanding and compassion, you receive criticism and blame.
The message is clear: your emotional needs are irrelevant, a mere inconvenience in the narcissist’s self-absorbed world.
7. You Must Always Accept Blame and Guilt
Narcissists like playing the blame game. So, they look for a designated scapegoat, the convenient target for all the family’s problems and dysfunction.
This constant deflection serves as the narcissist’s shield that protects their fragile ego from responsibility. They become the victim and you are the villain in their narrative.
Your attempts to defend yourself are dismissed as mere “excuses,” further solidifying their narrative and fueling your self-doubt.
That was my story growing up.
Through a masterful manipulation of reality, my mother painted me as the one responsible for all their suffering.
This relentless bombardment of blame and guilt chipped away at my self-worth and left you feeling perpetually inadequate.
8. You Need to Seek Approval Constantly
Giving validation is like a shimmering mirage for a narcissist, always just out of reach. You learn to chase their ever-shifting approval, eternally striving to earn their favor.
I remember bending over backward to fulfill my mother’s every wish, hoping to finally hear the words “you did good” or “I’m proud of you.”
But no matter how hard I tried, the goalposts kept shifting.
My achievements were minimized, my successes were overlooked, and even my most genuine efforts were met with disappointment.
This endless cycle of seeking approval left me feeling depleted, discouraged, and ultimately, unworthy.
9. You Must Be Perfect at All Times
For a narcissist, perfection is not just a goal, it’s a mandatory law.
You are expected to excel in every area of your life, to be the flawless child who never makes mistakes, never shows weakness, and never contradicts the narcissist’s narrative.
Anything less than perfection is met with harsh criticism, ridicule, and even rage.
As the black sheep of the family, everything I say and do, and my individuality, quirks, and imperfections, are seen as threats.
This constant pressure to conform has been incredibly damaging to my self-esteem and sense of self, and I yearned for a space where I can truly be myself, flaws and all.
10. You Do Not Discuss the Narcissistic Behavior
It’s forbidden to acknowledge the “unspeakable” truth.
Labeling the narcissist’s behavior as “abusive” is akin to breaking the sacred seal, unleashing a torrent of denial and manipulation.
Even with your interaction with strangers, you are expected to carry the weight of the narcissistic abuse in silence, no questions asked.
Living that kind of life is incredibly isolating. It prevents you from seeking help and normalizes the toxic dynamics within your family.
Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Your Narcissistic Family Environment
Living with a person with narcissistic personality disorder is an incredibly challenging and emotionally draining experience.
The constant manipulation, gaslighting, and lack of empathy can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being.
But know that there are ways to cope with this kind of abuse and even thrive despite it.
If you are dealing with narcissism in your family, here are some key tips to remember:
- Educate yourself: Learn all you can about it and how it manifests in families. Understanding the dynamics can help you anticipate the narcissist’s behavior and develop effective coping mechanisms.
- Set boundaries: Define what behavior you will and will not tolerate, and communicate those boundaries clearly and consistently. Don’t be afraid to say no and disengage from toxic interactions.
- Focus on self-care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature. Surround yourself with individuals who validate your experiences and offer positive reinforcement.
- Seek professional help: A qualified therapist can help you process your emotions, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and build a stronger sense of self-worth.
- Remember, you are not to blame: Narcissists are skilled at manipulating and shifting blame. But remember that the abuse you experience is not your fault. You are not responsible for the narcissist’s behavior.
- Develop a support network: Surround yourself with people who understand your situation and offer unconditional love and support. This could include friends, family members, therapists, support groups, or online communities.
- Don’t expect the narcissist to change: While acknowledging the narcissist’s behavior, recognize that it is unlikely to change. Focus on managing your own responses and protecting your own well-being.
- Celebrate small victories: Healing from narcissistic abuse takes time and effort. Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Every step towards self-compassion and resilience is a victory.
While surviving in a narcissistic family environment is challenging, it is not impossible. You can learn to build a life filled with peace, self-love, and acceptance.
Rules Are Meant to Be Broken, My Friend!
If you think twice about it, these 10 commandments of the narcissistic family are about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
They’re designed to keep you small, controlled, and living in fear. But guess what? You don’t have to follow them.
Just because the narcissist in your life tries to dictate your every move, doesn’t mean you have to follow their twisted script.
Remember, you are strong, you are capable, and you deserve so much better than the scraps they throw your way.
So, break free from their toxic expectations, rewrite your own story, and create a life that fulfills you, one that is filled with love, respect, and genuine happiness. You’ve got this!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do narcissists destroy families?
Narcissists can destroy families through manipulation, gaslighting, and creating a toxic environment where their needs consistently override those of others.
What should you not tell a narcissist?
Avoid disclosing vulnerabilities or personal weaknesses to a narcissist, as they may exploit this information for manipulation or to gain control.
What does a narcissistic breakdown look like?
A narcissistic breakdown often involves extreme reactions, blame-shifting, and a crumbling illusion of superiority, exposing their vulnerability and insecurity.
What are the signs that a family may have narcissistic dynamics?
Signs of narcissistic family dynamics include constant criticism, lack of empathy, favoritism, and a pervasive need for control.
How to break free from a narcissistic family?
Breaking free from a narcissistic family involves setting clear boundaries, seeking support outside the family, and prioritizing your well-being through therapy and self-care.