Grandmothers usually provide an invaluable source of stability, comfort, and guidance. But when a grandmother exhibits covert narcissistic traits, the situation becomes a lot more complex and a lot less stable and comfortable.
In this article, we’ll explore what covert narcissism is, how to recognize it in your own grandmother, and how you can protect yourself emotionally when dealing with the toxic tendencies of a covert narcissistic grandmother.
What is the Difference between Covert and Overt Narcissism?
Covert narcissism and overt narcissism are two different aspects of the same personality disorder.
Overt narcissists tend to be more open and explicit about their narcissistic traits, whereas covert narcissists may be more subtle in their expression of these traits.
Overt narcissists can exhibit a range of behaviours including grandiose self-absorption and an inflated sense of superiority. They may also likely to be very entitled, expecting that the world will bend to their will, manipulating the people around them in order to get what they want. In addition, they have a tendency to behave aggressively when their demands are not met.
Covert narcissists, on the other hand, may display behaviours such as passive-aggressiveness and a need for constant validation. They can also be emotionally manipulative, using guilt tripping and shaming to get what they want without seeming to directly ask for it. Additionally covert narcissists tend to devalue the people around them, seeing themselves as superior while denigrating their friends and partners.
While both types of narcissism are damaging to those around them, covert narcissists can be harder to spot, which enables them to manipulate the people around them without being detected.
The Most Common Characteristics of a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother
A grandmother who exhibits covert narcissistic behaviour can wreak havoc on family dynamics due to their tendency for manipulation and lack of empathy.
The following are some of the most common characteristics of covert narcissistic grandmothers and how to recognise them in your own life.
Traits of a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother – Passive-aggressiveness
A covert narcissistic grandmother will often express her feelings through passive-aggressive behaviour. This might include subtle forms of manipulation or criticism, such as gaslighting, lying, or withholding information or resources from you while providing them to others. She is also likely to constantly play the victim and never acknowledge any mistakes or wrongdoing.
To top it all, she will behave in a hostile or unapproachable manner when confronted. These behaviours are designed to make you feel like you are crazy or at fault for any issues between you – when in reality it is the grandmother’s manipulation and narcissistic tendencies that should be addressed.
Traits of a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother – Need for Constant Validation
Covertly narcissistic grandmothers are usually overly sensitive to criticism and tend to seek constant validation from those around them. This often manifests itself as a need for constant attention, compliments, and praise – both directly or indirectly. They are also overly sensitive to perceived slights, taking any criticism to heart and escalating matters unnecessarily.
Traits of a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother – Controlling Behaviour
A covert narcissistic grandmother feels the need to maintain control in all aspects of the family dynamic, particularly when it comes to decision-making and how people interact with each other.
Despite attempts to appear kind and generous, they will always try to manipulate the situation in order to suit their own needs and desires. This may come in the form of making decisions for others without considering different points of view, criticizing others for their behaviour or opinions or using guilt to make people do as they wish.
In some cases, they may even go as far as isolating family members from each other or play them off against each other in a sick game of triangulation.
Traits of a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother – Projection of Negative Qualities onto Others
If a covert narcissistic grandmother is feeling insecure or anxious about something, she may respond by projecting her negative qualities onto someone else in an attempt to blame them for her own shortcomings.
This can take the form of verbal abuse such as belittling comments, insults and ridicule, or even physical abuse if left unchecked. It is important to not engage in this type of behaviour and instead to recognize it for what it is – an attempt by the narcissist to shift the blame for their feelings away from themselves.
Traits of a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother – Emotional Manipulation
Grandmothers who are covert narcissists are experts at emotional manipulation, often using guilt or shame as weapons against anyone who dares challenge them in any way. They may do this by blaming others for their own mistakes, making subtle comments designed to undermine someone’s self-esteem, or telling lies in order to get what they want. This can leave the other person feeling powerless, helpless and ashamed of themselves, unable to stand up for themselves or fight back.
Traits of a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother – Lack of Empathy
A covert narcissistic grandmother lacks the ability to truly understand the thoughts and feelings of those around them due to her inability to emotionally connect with them on a deeper level.
While they may profess empathy for others, it’s not genuine. Instead, this is simply a tool used for manipulation purposes – by appearing to understand or sympathize, they can more easily manipulate the emotions of their victims and gain control over them. They may use this power to make demands or keep others from challenging their authority.
Protecting Yourself from Your Covert Narcissistic Grandmother
Dealing with a covert narcissistic grandmother can be an emotionally draining and exhausting experience. Learning how to protect yourself from their manipulative behaviour is critical in maintaining a healthy relationship with them, and the following five key tips will help you to do just that.
Recognize the Signs and Behaviour
Be aware of your grandmother’s potential for narcissism, as understanding is key to protecting yourself. Becoming familiar with the recognizable signs and behaviours of covert narcissism can help you recognize if, when and how it manifests itself in your relationship with them.
These signs may include an inability or unwillingness to accept responsibility for their mistakes or bad behavior, a tendency to blame others for any problems they have, a need to be in control at all times, and a self-centered disregard for the feelings of those around them. It is important to stay alert and recognize these red flags so that you can be protect yourself when necessary.
Build healthy boundaries
An important way to protect yourself from a narcissistic grandparent is to set clear boundaries with them, both emotionally and physically. Establish what kinds of behaviours you will not tolerate, such as emotional manipulation or criticism of your life choices, and let your grandmother know that these boundaries should be respected.
Let her know that you are an individual with your own thoughts and feelings, and that you do not accept being treated any other way. It is important to be firm and consistent in the implementation of these boundaries, or else your grandmother may try to take advantage of any perceived weakness on your part. Stand up for yourself and refuse to allow her to control or manipulate your emotions.
If your grandmother starts engaging in manipulative behaviour or tries to start an argument, don’t take the bait. Being assertive without lashing out is key here. Calmly remind her of what you won’t stand for and then change the subject if possible.
This can be difficult if your grandmother is especially controlling, but it is important to maintain your composure and remain firm in your conviction that you will not tolerate emotional manipulation from her.
If necessary, take a break from the conversation and come back to it when you are feeling calmer and more composed, as maintaining your emotional balance can help stave off any attempts at manipulation or emotional abuse on her part.
Don’t feed their ego
Narcissistic people often thrive on attention and validation so try not to give them too much of it, especially if they are trying to manipulate you into giving them more than they deserve!
Be polite but detached in order to maintain healthy distance between you two. Avoid engaging in lengthy conversations regarding their actions or opinions, and be careful not to react negatively or feed into their need for attention.
Refrain from pleading or making excuses for them. Instead, show your respect by remaining polite yet detached. Being assertive without attacking is key here. Do not let the narcissist sway your emotions away from your boundaries and principles.
Seek support elsewhere
It’s important to have a strong support system of other family members or friends who can provide encouragement when needed. Having an outlet where you can process your thoughts and feelings about dealing with a narcissistic grandparent can be an invaluable way to manage any difficult moments that may arise in your relationship with them.
Reaching out for help from outside sources can also be beneficial, as it allows you to gain valuable insight regarding how best to handle the situation without giving in to the narcissist’s tactics. A strong support system of loving people who understand your struggle can give you the strength and courage to stand up for yourself and your boundaries.
Final Thoughts on Dealing with a Covert Narcissistic Grandmother
Dealing with a covert narcissistic grandmother can be an incredibly difficult situation to navigate. Understanding the signs and behaviour associated with covert narcissism is key to protecting yourself from their manipulation and emotional abuse. It is also important to build healthy boundaries, avoid arguments, not feed their ego, and seek support elsewhere to assist with managing your relationship.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that you are not responsible for how your grandmother behaves, and you are not responsible for her unreasonable demands, no matter how difficult the situation may seem.
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