Why Children Of Narcissists Have Trouble Setting Goals

As children, we’re supposed to figure out what we want to do when we grow up & plan for it accordingly by the time we graduate high school.  Many plans change but at least most kids have an idea of what they want to do with their lives.


I didn’t.  I never could figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I didn’t even know if I wanted to get married or not, but I assumed I wouldn’t because my mother told me no man would ever want me.  I’ve kind of fallen into things rather than having a plan to get there my entire life.


I’ve thought this was strange since it seemed to me everyone else I knew growing up had some goals.  They knew if they wanted to get married, have kids, travel the world, go to college, & what kind of career they wanted.


Recently I realized something.  I believe this is because when you grow up with a narcissistic parent (or two), you learn early on that you’re wrong about anything & everything.  What you think, feel, like, don’t like, want, believe, etc. is all wrong.  So, if you believe you’re wrong, how can you set any goals?  The goals will automatically be stupid, bad, wrong, etc. because you set them.  Why bother even trying to set goals that are going to be so bad?  It’s a waste of time.


Plus, many of us with narcissistic parents were told by that parent that they knew us better than we knew ourselves.  Believing this lie would also inhibit us from making goals because obviously we are too stupid to know what we should do & what we want to do.


Even realizing this, I still have trouble setting goals but am improving a bit at it.  I have learned I’m not the stupid, ugly, fat, horrible, useless person my mother told me I was growing up.  I have also learned she has absolutely no clue who I am, so saying she knows me better than I know myself was an absolute lie.  I know me much better than she ever has & ever will.  Learning these things have helped me some in this area as well as healing my virtually destroyed self-esteem.  Realizing these truths about yourself can help you too.   Talk to supportive, loving & safe people.  Write in a journal.  Those things will help you to discover the real you, the good person that you are as well as what you want to do with your life.  They also will help you to see that maybe what your narcissistic parent said you wanted, liked or didn’t like was absolutely wrong, & enable you to figure out what makes you truly happy.


Dear Reader, if you have this same problem with setting goals, know you aren’t alone.  You aren’t crazy or stupid for not being able to do so.  It is simply one more side effect of growing up with a narcissistic parent.  Focus on healing your wounded self-esteem, & I believe goals will become more natural & easy to set in time.  Ask God for help, too- He will not let you down!


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

16 responses to “Why Children Of Narcissists Have Trouble Setting Goals

  1. I don’t disagree with anything you said, but I’d add that when you are in survival mode 24/7 for years, especially the formative years, it’s difficult to set goals for the future. It’s also next to impossible to plan for anything when you’re deeply depressed, which is so often the case with the children of narcissists. Depression is paralyzing, and so is poverty.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I started following your blog because I am trying to find advise and research for my daughter. I was married for 15 years to her father which is a narcissist, she is 10 now. 3 years ago I left him because he was being abusive to our son which is older, when I wouldn’t give into his every whim. I had to leave. Unfortunately the court system is so screwed up and since he had not directly physically abused her they let him have half custody of her. Our son does not go at all. As you probably already know he is very controlling to her and since he doesn’t have his wife nor son to lash out at. It is quite tricky for her. She is like his prize possession until she does something he doesn’t like and poof it all changes for her. I try to guide her the best I can. I dealt with him for a very long time. However it is different from wife to child in ways. Do you have any advise I could give her. She has very low self esteem. The weeks she is with me I build her up and show her all the love and confidence I can however when she comes back from him she is a low and depressed. She doesn’t want to be there but until she turns 13 there isn’t anything I can do. I have tried! Broken hearted for my little girl


    • What an awful situation!! No wonder you’re broken hearted for your daughter!

      As for how to help her.. is there anyone she might feel comfortable talking to? An aunt, older cousin, grandparent, pastor? Just thinking.. she might feel more able to be open to someone else & also might take their praise & such more seriously. (You’re mom- you have to say those nice things, yanno?) Do you two pray together? That might be good too- it’d bond you two closer & asking God for help is never a bad idea anyway. Beyond that, I’m not really sure.

      If you’re interested, I have a Facebook group. (It’s closed so only members can see what is said in there.) Some members have been down the road of coparenting with a narcissist. They would have better ideas & insight on this than me. It’s called Fans Of Cynthia Bailey-Rug. You’re welcome to join if you like. No pressure, of course. If you do want to join, please just let me know it’s you when you answer the questions on the request to join page so I know to let you in right away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do not have a Facebook, I kind of got out of social media going through all that I did. I have considered opening up one because it seems there is alot on it. And not all bad. If I do I will let you know. Thank you for the advise, faith is most important. One problem I do face with that is, he is very active in church and puts on a great mask there. I do read with her and pray, although maybe I should look into praying more for the situation with her. She knows that Faith got us to safety, and i would not be where i am with them if it wasnt for God giving me the strength he does. Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to your posts so i greatly appreciate you sharing. I know it’s not easy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I understand.. lots of people who have dealt with narcissists have gotten away from Facebook I think. If you opt to get back into it, you’re welcome in my group anytime. 🙂

          Oh man… that is rough when they fool people in the church.

          Good idea! It’ll show your daughter she can go to God about even this problem & give her ideas about how to pray about it too.

          Thank you so much for what you said.. you’re very kind. ❤ I wish you the best with your situation!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote

    Reading this, I felt like your mother and my mother must have gone to the same Narcissistic Charm School.

    So, your mother knows you better than you know yourself, and she predicted that no man would ever want you? Yup, same here. When I came home from a date and rushed to tell my momster the news that my boyfriend had asked me to marry him, she said: “He only thinks he loves you because he doesn’t really know you. After he has lived with you for awhile and has gotten to know you, he won’t love you any more.”

    Nice, huh? When he started beating me within three months of our marriage, for things like over cooking the sausage, accidentally sitting on the pack of cigarettes that I did not realize he had set down on my seat in the car, and ignorantly ironing a double seam on the leg of his welding uniform pants (I was not quite 17 when we married and had never been taught how to cook or iron), I thought that what my mother had predicted was true. He had gotten to know me better and decided he did not love me. I especially believed it, when I discovered that he was cheating on me.

    But the truth is that all I had done was marry someone who was a lot like my parents. Because that’s what we tend to do, until we get some healing.

    I now know that my mother was projecting all of her disowned evil onto me. When she looked at me, she saw a reflection of the ugly hatefulness that was in her own heart.

    I have no doubt that your mother has done the same thing to you. She’s the one that no reasonable man would want, if he could see all the hidden evil in her heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Narcissistic charm school.. LOL! I love that!

      Ugh… your mom sounds like such a peach. Not. Pretty sure they did attend the same charm school. Our ex husbands too. Mine didn’t beat me physically, just verbally & for stupid little things too.

      That is the truth- until we get healing, we marry people like our parents. It’s familiar & all we know. And that is also true that they projected their evilness onto us. God forbid, they self examine & work on themselves!

      Since no man would ever want me, I’ll let my husband know this when he takes me to dinner in a few minutes… lol Oh, & where we’re going? Last time we went, a patron there apparently didn’t realize Eric & I were together or notice my wedding ring & flirted with me. Another one of those men who’ll never want me, I take it.. sheesh.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Scarlett

    I have always struggled with decision making because of my parents as well. I was always told I didn’t need to set goals for my future because, as a Mormon, my one goal was to have babies one day. It would have been SO selfish of me to pursue anything outside of this. I am going to therapy now and STILL have hangups about making goals, it’s a really hard thing to change in your mind! I am a very curious person and love to read and learn but did horribly in school growing up because my narcissistic dad told me it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, school wouldn’t make me a better wife or mother one day. (Insert eye roll)


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