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Chronic Overachieving: Collateral Damage of Childhood Narcissistic Abuse

Chronic Overachieving

Collateral Damage of Childhood Narcissistic Abuse

Written by Randi Fine

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

Under-nurtured children often become overgivers and overachievers in adulthood. While the gifts they give to everyone else are enormous, true joy can only happen when they finally give themselves unconditional love for who they are, not just for what they do. ~Doe Zantamata~

Are you an adult survivor of narcissistic abuse who suffers from chronic overachieving? Are you never satisfied with your accomplishments or fear failure? Do you have the “Nothing I Ever Do is Good Enough” syndrome?

Adults who were raised by a parent or parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder suffer a great deal of collateral damage. They are left with open emotional wounds that impact many areas of their lives—wounds that will not heal until they understand what happened to them in childhood.

Many of the wounds you have carried with you since childhood stem from skewed internal belief systems deeply ingrained in you.

Many ACONS’s (adult children of narcissists) have a chronically unfulfilled need for external approval and validation, irrespective to the level of competency or success they achieve in their personal and professional lives. There is an underlying belief that they must look, act or perform certain ways to get approval, acceptance and love from others. This approval seeking pattern creates a great deal of stress in their lives. They sacrifice their own happiness and well-being at the expense of it.

Children are highly impressionable. Growing up under the control of a narcissistic parent, children become conditioned to put their own needs aside and wait to see what the parent expects of them. These expectations are never predictable. The children jump through ever changing hoops trying to keep their parents happy and get a crumb of “love” or acknowledgment.

They live in an environment in which their parent’s feelings, the person they must rely on to take care of them, take priority over their own feelings. To fulfill their basic needs of being loved and cared for, and create some sense of peace in their home environment, children must play the game the way the parent wants it played.

Having always based their feelings on the feelings of the narcissistic parent, children grow up not knowing what their own feelings are. Because they have always gauged their successes and failures by the approval or disapproval of the narcissistic parent, they have no inner guidance system. And having been conditioned to keep the peace through pleasing or playing it safe, they fear disapproval and failure. All considered it is easy to understand why as adults they do not trust their own judgment, why they rely on external validation, and why they never feel “good enough.”

As adults, their self-worth does not come from an inner pride in their accomplishments but from external validation and approval. Since they never learned to self-define or self-qualify their achievements, many adult children of narcissistic abuse become self-critical workaholics, over-performers or overachievers.

One of the biggest problems chronic overachievers have is their need for perfection. Perfectionism comes from negative self-talk; limiting beliefs that tell them that they are not good enough or that what they do is not good enough.

To change these counter-productive messages they must be moved from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind where they can be recognized. Once you are aware of them they can be replaced with positive self-talk.

The positive affirmations I am suggesting may or may not resonate with you. Use whichever ones feel right, or create your own:

  1. I deeply love, appreciate and approve of myself.

  2. I am confident in myself and my decisions.

  3. I strive to do the best I can do and then let things go.

  4. People who matter accept me for who I am.

  5. My worth does not depend on my success, my accomplishments, or what others think of me.

  6. I release the need to prove myself to anyone.

  7. I am not perfect and that’s okay.

  8. I release myself from the pressure of having to be perfect.

  9. My best is good enough.

  10. I accept my mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow in my life.

  11. I am free to make my own choices and decisions.

Letting go of chronic overachieving begins with self-love and respect. Your abuser cannot pass the degradation baton to you unless you take it.

You can always do more and always do better; the possibilities of achievement in life are infinite. But “more” and “better” do not equal contentment. Inner peace comes with the satisfaction, acceptance and appreciation of where you are now.

There is nothing wrong with striving to do more, but focus on the process of reaching your goal, not on your attachment to the outcome. If you are always driving yourself toward outcomes, you will always be looking to do more. You will never be happy with what you do accomplish.

Stay focused on the ride, not the destination.

Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, andthe author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.

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