I had a narcissistic mother and it was a complete disaster for my boyhood sense of self-confidence and the way I saw myself as I grew into a man. A narcissistic mother can leave deep emotional and psychological wounds that get triggered in our daily adult lives, undermining our self-confidence and making life extremely stressful. The impact is most pronounced in our relationships with women, leaving us feeling disempowered and emasculated around women until we get our narcissistic mother wound healed.

Narcissistic Mothers Are Emotionally Unavailable

Narcissists carry a lot of internalized shame and project their own unhealed emotional wounds onto everyone around them, especially their children. As a boy we were powerless to deal with our narcissistic mother and may still carry this sense of powerlessness along with her paranoid world view unconsciously into adulthood.

It's easy to recognize a narcissistic mother because they typically:

  1. Never apologized for anything

  2. Never validated our emotions

  3. Never took responsibility for their feelings

  4. Kept their emotions to themselves

  5. Blamed other people for how they felt

  6. Criticized and “corrected” anyone or anything they don't approve of

  7. Bullied other people in arguments

  8. Retained resentments for use in future arguments

  9. Used conflict undermine other people's self-esteem

  10. Played victim when confronted about their behavior

As a child we had no choice of who our mother was, so we were stuck with her. We didn't know any different and perhaps thought that her behavior was normal or healthy in some way. Even if your mother has grown out of her narcissism now, the impact on your psyche is due to the way she behaved during your formative years. I had a friend whose narcissistic mother underwent a complete spiritual transformation and seemed quite normal when I met her; but it was too late for him: the damage was already done and he was struggling with severe depression as an adult.

Narcissistic adults have difficulty establishing meaningful relationships with other adults because they are such high-maintenance. Mature adults can see them coming a mile away, and keep their distance. Nobody wants to be around an emotionally unavailable, critical person who never takes responsibility for their own feelings. This can leave their family as the only outlet for their control, dominance and manipulation.

A narcissistic mother's lack of empathy is particularly damaging to an infant since it prevents us from experiencing the emotional connection with her that we need to learn how to deal with our childhood feelings. We can end up feeling unloved and carrying an overly sensitive wounded inner child long into adulthood.

As a result we can end up taking on traits that mirror our narcissistic mother's:

  • Shame about who we are, how we feel and what we want

  • Feeling guilty even when we've done nothing wrong

  • Fear of letting other people know how we feel

  • Powerlessness in our relationships with other people, especially women

  • Oversensitivity to criticism

  • Difficulty apologizing to other people

  • A general feeling of wrongness

  • Feeling that our emotions are wrong or inappropriate

  • Avoiding conflict

  • Fear of upsetting other people

  • Feeling unlovable

  • Social anxiety

  • Hypervigillance and feeling constantly under threat

  • A strong and merciless inner critic

  • Never trusting our instincts

  • Deferring thoughtlessly to other people's authority

  • Playing victim to other people's controlling behavior

All this is a disaster for a man's sense of self, self-confidence, and relationships.

With the problem identified, we're half way to finding the solution. Healing the narcissistic mother wound involves releasing the pent up pain and grief from our early years of emotional invalidation and using assertiveness to establish healthy adult/adult boundaries with our mother and other people in our current lives.

I'll cover this in more detail in my next article on How To Recover From A Narcissistic Mother.

Graham Stoney

Graham Stoney

I struggled for years with low self-esteem, anxiety and a lack of self-confidence before finding a solution that really worked. I created The Confident Man Program to help other men live the life of their dreams. I also offer 1-on-1 coaching via Skype so if you related to this article contact me about coaching.