Narcissists are all about controlling the people in their lives, and your narcissistic mother is no different. That makes talking to her very difficult and frequently frustrating. As a child, you had little control over your narcissistic mother’s manipulative techniques. As an adult, you can exercise control over how and when you communicate with your mother.
If your mother is a narcissist, you likely have had a tense relationship with her, to say the least. Because the narcissist is externally validated, narcissistic parents typically try to make their children dependent upon them even after they’ve grown into adults. The truth is that your narcissistic parents don’t want you to disappear from their lives because they need you to prop up their sense of self-worth.
If you’re not willing to go no contact, then it’s important to establish some basic rules regarding how the two of you will communicate. Before we talk about that, however, let’s examine the basics about how narcissists communicate.
How a Narcissist Communicates
It’s important to understand that a narcissist communicates differently than other people. They use their words as weapons and to disguise their true intent. That means they don’t say things in a straightforward manner which makes it important to ‘speak their language.’
Here are a few examples of things they might say along with a translation of what they really mean.
You’re too sensitive!
This really means that your feelings are inconvenient for them. They don’t have any empathy, and so, they cannot put themselves in your place to truly understand how you are feeling. They just prefer that you stop bringing up how you feel.
I didn’t say that!
To the narcissist, image is everything. They use this phrase as a typical way to gaslight you. It can make you question your own perception of what you heard or experienced. It’s also a way for the narcissist to let other people know that you sometimes get confused or don’t understand. It is a common communication manipulation technique.
I’m not to blame for your problems!
They typically will say something like this when you’re making them feel defensive. They will never accept blame, apologize, or admit that something is their fault. They will always attempt to shift the blame onto you.
You’re the one who’s selfish!
This is usually a case of projection when it comes from a narcissist. The truth is that they are selfish in every way. If they perceive, however, that you might be stealing their spotlight, they will project that accusation onto you.
With a better understanding of how a narcissist communicates, let’s look at some ways you can take control so that when you do communicate with your narcissistic mother, you can have a more meaningful interaction.
You Decide How Often You’ll Talk
You’ll want to think about how frequently you will communicate with your mother. Most conversations with narcissists are long in duration and frustrating in content. For that reason, you’ll need to decide how often you can devote the time required to have a conversation. You’ll want it to be just frequent enough to keep your mother happy but still be something you can handle.
Decide When You’ll Talk to Her
You set the day and time for your conversation. Make it something convenient for you — ideally, when you have enough time to dedicate to talking with your mother without having to sacrifice any other activities you’d like to do. That tells your mother that you have other important things in your life and you’re not willing to give them up for her.
You Decide How Long the Two of You Will Speak
You’ll also want to decide on a set length of time for your conversations with your narcissistic mother. If you don’t put a limit on the conversation, it will likely go on far longer than is comfortable for you. Once you’ve decided on the length of time you’ll devote to the conversation, set a timer when you start, and when the alarm goes off, make an excuse to end the conversation.
The excuse can be anything from dinner being ready to someone being at the door. Your mother might not like the limited time, but by setting the length for the conversation, you have the control.
You Decide on the Acceptable Topics to Discuss
This is particularly important since your narcissistic mother will have no problem trying to tell you how you should be living your life. That’s why you need to take control and decide what are ‘safe’ topics you can talk about.
These will likely be subjects that are not too personal, and they should be something that will not reveal anything you’re worried about. It’s fine to stroke her ego by asking for advice and acknowledging her wisdom, but keep the topic focused on something you won’t mind revealing to her. That way you make her feel good while at the same time keep from feeling manipulated or judged by her.
Set Boundaries Regarding What You Won’t Discuss
Your narcissistic mother knows exactly how to push your buttons, and there are some topics where you know she won’t be able to resist doing just that. Those topics should be off limits for your conversation.
Discuss which topics are forbidden with your mother, and if she still brings any of those topics up during your conversation, tell her you have to change the topic or you’ll end the conversation. You may have to follow through on the consequences once or twice to show her you’re serious, but it usually ends up being a very effective technique.
Having a conversation with a narcissist, especially if that narcissist is your mother, is often an exhausting and frustrating experience. She communicates differently, and she has no empathy for your feelings or situation.
By taking control over how often, when, how long and about what you communicate with your narcissistic mother, can effectively allow you to let her stay in her life without ruining yours.
It’s important to set strong boundaries with her about the conversations you have and to follow through on the consequences you implement should she violate those restrictions. That will help you stay in contact without allowing her to manipulate you.
Communicating with a narcissistic mother is difficult, and you’ll need to be prepared for the mean things she might say to you. Check out the blog post, “Five Circumstances Where Narcissistic Mothers will Say Mean Things to Hurt You,” to learn more about what the triggers are, how to recognize them and how to equip yourself to preserve your integrity.
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