Navigating Thanksgiving with Narcissistic Family
You dread spending Thanksgiving with narcissistic family/in-laws. Memories of previous fights, passive aggressive digs, and verbal abuse escalate your anxiety as the holiday grows closer. You plan to just suffer though the occasion. What other option do you have? Essentially, you feel helpless.
If you relate to the above, you aren’t alone. Many people struggle to manage their mental health while dealing with toxic and unhealthy family dynamics. Below are some tips to help you navigate the holiday and keep your mental health intact!
The Narcissistic Family System
Families with at least one narcissistic parent adopt a system of dysfunctional roles and dynamics. Below are indicators of a Narcissistic Family System:
- Divided siblings. Golden Child vs Scapegoat
- Unhealthy competition among family members
- At least one enabler of the narcissist’s behavior
- High emphasis on image
- Poor boundaries among family members
- Poor communication among family members (silent treatment, passive aggressiveness, gaslighting etc).
- Emotional reactivity
- Dismissiveness of emotions and needs
- Mistrust of outside influences and beliefs
How to Limit Conflict with Narcissistic Family
1. Set reasonable expectations: Don’t go into the holiday expecting the narcissist to have a breakthrough or for your relationship with them to change. Set a realistic goal to have cordial and polite interactions.
2. Don’t engage: Do not engage in conversations that can lead to a fight. Narcissists tend to seek out conflict and may try to bait you into an argument. Refuse to engage in the discussion or provide short, neutral responses.
3. Have an exit plan: Plan your holiday with an option to leave on your terms. For example, schedule additional plans to shorten the visit or drive separately to allow for a flexible exit.
4. Write down your coping skills: It’s difficult to remember coping skills when emotionally triggered. Create an easy to access list of effective coping strategies (in your phone or planner) that you can refer to as needed.
5. Don’t go: Remember, you don’t have to visit with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable. It is your choice, and you can always change your mind.
Psychotherapy for Narcissistic Abuse
If you are experiencing anxiety about seeing narcissistic family for the holidays, please reach out for help! I provide therapy for those experiencing or recovering from narcissistic abuse. Contact Me today to schedule an appointment. Offered online in Georgia and Tennessee.
Online Locations: Nashville, Tennessee – Brentwood, Tennessee – Atlanta, Georgia – Sandy Springs, Georgia – Greater Tennessee and Georgia Area