The Empath Child-Narcissistic Parent Dynamic

As an empath, you likely had at least one narcissistic parent while you were growing up.

Is it narcissistic parents who create overly empathic children?

It is quite possible, as narcissistic actions by a parent certainly create trauma for the child that then has the potential to activate their survival mechanisms of needing to be extremely aware of and sensitive to other people’s emotions to avoid confrontation, criticism, or aggression.

Empathic tendencies in children may actually be a trauma survival mechanism, especially in relation to a narcissistic parent.

What are the signs of a child with a narcissistic parent?

Children who have narcissistic parents often suffer debilitating mental and emotional issues which affect their social lives and relationships in life as they grow up.

They may suffer very poor self-esteem and lack a sense of their individual strengths and power, due to their narcissistic parent’s enmeshment and control over their lives.

The children become exceedingly people-pleasing to keep the peace, wanting constant reassurance and approval, learning to ignore their intuition and instincts in favor of what the narcissist parent expects and demands from them.

Never receiving the sort of unconditional love and acceptance they need to thrive, children of narcissistic parents can become perfectionists with an onslaught of negative self-talk who blame themselves for their lack of love or belonging, often suppressing their own feelings and taking on the problems of everyone else around them.

This cycle is what leads to depression, anxiety, paranoia, low self-worth, and living life through the lens of a trauma response.

This cycle is what leads to the children of narcissists becoming extremely sensitive to the shifting moods and opinions of others, learning to shift themselves to suit their environment, and often losing their authentic sense of self in the process.

And thus, an “empath” is created.

How can you heal as an empath with a narcissistic parent?

If you’re an empathic adult who is beginning to realize all the ways your narcissistic parent’s behavior affected your mind, emotions, and psyche, here are a few ways to set yourself on the path toward healing and learning how to become an empowered empath!

Create clear boundaries in your relationship

If you haven’t already, establishing clear boundaries in your relationship with your narcissistic parent is the first and most important step to finding peace and healing in your life.

This may be a constantly shifting boundary that changes as emotional maturity grows in both parties, or it could become a hard line of “no, not ever again” in terms of what you need to do for yourself to become free of the manipulation and pain the relationship has caused.

Only you will know that line and it’s okay to change it as you grow and learn more about yourself and what you need.

This becomes an exercise in saying no, making different choices, becoming more firm and clear in your voice, and absolutely getting physical distance from them.

There needs to be boundaries in place in terms of how often you see your parent, around what you will and won’t talk about or share about your lives. And if they cross your personal line of discomfort or harm, that’s when it’s your lesson to learn in how to speak up for yourself, stand up for yourself and distance yourself when need be.

Inner child healing

If you’re an adult realizing you had a narcissistic parent growing up, it’s going to be very important to do the deep inner work of healing your inner child.

There are many ways to start to connect with and heal your inner child. Some things may need to be worked through with a mental health professional, especially if you suffered extreme abuse or trauma as a child, but there are also practices you can do by yourself, in the comfort of your own home, to take your power back and reclaim your childhood innocence and awe.

The main thing is to talk to your inner child. To acknowledge them, consider them, remember them. You can do this in your mind throughout the day, or take some moments out to sit with yourself, close your eyes, and envision yourself as a child.

See your adult self walk up to your child self and say what you want to say to your child self.

Tell yourself what you wish you had heard when you were growing up. Tell yourself what you recognize and understand now that you couldn’t understand as a child. Tell your childhood self about all the love, attention, and respect they deserve, even though they didn’t receive it then.

And let your inner child know you are here for them now, to love them, to guide them, and to grow into the beautiful person with the beautiful life that you always wanted to be.

Energetic protection and emotional clearing

It’s also important to learn energetic protection techniques and emotional release practices and start to incorporate them into your day regularly so you can stay grounded, feel secure and develop more confidence in yourself.

Check out our past article sharing 3 Emotional Clearing Practices for Empaths for the immediate release of heavy, overwhelming, or uncomfortable feelings.

Or check out our Empathic Protection Tips for Everyday Life to learn some daily energetic practices you can incorporate into your life to feel brighter, lighter, and more yourself!

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