7 Spiritual Lessons From Your Narcissistic Mother-in-Law
Having a narcissistic mother-in-law is no picnic. It's not like having a "bad" boyfriend: you can't exactly break up with her. But there is something you can do, and that is: learn from her.
Because the truth is, she has important spiritual lessons to teach you. If you pay attention, you will learn a lot about yourself, and become a stronger, happier, wiser person. If you ignore her lessons, you'll be stuck in a perpetual cycle of hurt, resentment and misery.
Astonishingly, not everything is about you. When you take everything personally, you're feeding into the idea that you are the center of the universe, and, therefore, everything that happens around you is about you. That in itself is a little narcissistic, don't you think?
What your mother-in-law says or does is not about you; it's about her. You are just a mirror that reflects her own dysfunction, so she lashes out. Don't take it personally.
2. Healthy Relationships
Once you had an unhealthy, toxic relationship with someone, you'll never mistake it for anything else. You'll see the red flags from a mile away, and you'll be more aware of your own unhealthy relationship tendencies. We all have them...
That is a very important and valuable lesson that will help you have better relationships. It may not be with your mother-in-law (a healthy relationship with a narcissist is impossible) but it will make your other relationships deeper, closer and more sincere.
She's human. She's not perfect. Neither are you.
Just as you feel that she is intrusive, controlling and manipulative, she feels that you are hostile, ungrateful and argumentative. Or that you're trying to turn her son against her. Or that you're not listening to her valuable advice when it comes to her grandchildren. The list of grievances from both sides can go on and on, and it only proves one thing: we're all human. We all feel insecure at times. We all feel lonely. And we all have a deep need for love and appreciation.
Are you a people-pleaser? Then you might find it incredibly difficult to be assertive with your mother-in-law. Yet this may be what your MIL is teaching you - respect yourself enough to set boundaries for how you want to be treated. If you learn to do so, it can be very life-changing.
As you set a new standard for what you will and will not accept, you will feel empowered to change other areas of your life for the better.
Most in-law relationships are so wrecked with animosity and blame, neither side is capable of forgiveness. Which is exactly what creates an emotional entanglement - holding on to grudges, inflating the ego, victim consciousness etc.
So if you truly want to create distance from your narcissistic mother-in-law, forgive her. Holding on to hurt feelings ties you to her and you keep dragging her with you even when she's not around.
You may feel like forgiving your mother-in-law is contrary to self-love and standing up for yourself. But it's actually an act of self-love, above all else.
It's ok to be angry, frustrated or hurt; but don't dwell on those feelings. Holding a grudge is detrimental to your mental and spiritual health. So whenever you can, forgive and forget. But be sincere about it! Forgiveness is a powerful spiritual tool, but only when it's sincere.
6. The Power of Perception
Have you ever heard the expression: "Perception is reality"? Make it your mantra.
You have a choice - to come from a perspective of a victim ("She did this to me, she ruined my life, she ruined my marriage, she turned everyone against me") or the perspective of a soul on a spiritual journey ("This is meant to teach me important spiritual lessons and to aid in my evolution, I'm grateful for the experience").
What do you choose?
7. Emotional Mastery
Your mother-in-law won't change, but you can. Change the way you react to her, and you will acquire a priceless skill that will serve you in nearly every difficult situation. Your own peace is in your hands. Don't let her take it from you.
When you're in control of your emotions, you're in control of your life. That doesn't mean being fake or suppressing your true feelings. Rather, it's recognizing your "hot buttons" and not allowing other people control you by pushing those buttons.
If you learn to shift the energy when your narcissistic mother-in-law is trying to get a rise out of you, you will be well on your way to be the creator of your whole life experience.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
My mother-in-law is a full-blown hoarder. She also wears the pants in her marriage; always has. She is mean and manipulative. Is there a link between hoarding and whatever else she is? I can't entirely put my finger on it, but she definitely will never apologize for her bad behavior, and has her favorites in the family. She recently cut off my husband and I "until further notice." I'm just trying to understand how or if these issues tie in together.
That's an interesting question. Your mother-in-law definitely has narcissistic tendencies, and hoarding can be a by-product of narcissism. There's significant overlap with: the need to control, selfishness, emotional regulation, playing the victim, disregard for other people's needs and well being, angry lashing out when confronted, etc.Helpful 41
How do I put a stop to mo mother-in-law's abuse?
Well, if you've read this article, you know that it talks about a spiritual...purpose, if you will...of having a toxic mother-in-law. Basically, this is about gaining a different perspective that will allow you to see her behavior in a different light. Not making excuses for her, no, but having a less personal approach to it and understanding where that behavior comes from.
What I'm saying is: she will never change, but you can.Helpful 27
My relationship with my mother-in-law is very toxic, as are all of her relationships. We've had no contact with her for about six months. My husband and I feel great about not having her and her negativity in our lives. What I'm struggling with: is keeping her out of our life and burning the bridge forgiving? I feel like I'm still holding onto things by doing this, but also that I'm protecting myself.
You can forgive her and still keep her out of your life. In fact, it's the only way to really keep her out because holding on to hurt feelings ties you to a person and you keep dragging them with you even when they're not around.Helpful 24
How do you find a balance between self-love and forgiveness when it comes to dealing with mother-in-laws?
I don't think it's a choice between self-love and forgiveness. You can forgive your MIL if you want (or not), but it has nothing to do with you standing up for yourself. At the end of the day, the most important relationship you're ever gonna have is with yourself. So don't let your MIL treat you we anything less than respect. She doesn't have to like you, but she has to respect you.Helpful 21
How do you deal with toxic inlaws - MIL, SIL, BIL after spouse's infidelity?
You don't. If you're dealing with infidelity and not sure about the future of your marriage, this is a time for them to support you, or at the very least, to leave you alone. Take as much time as you need, and if you do decide that infidelity is a deal breaker and you want to move on, this is your decision and it should be respected, no matter what.
So if your in-law family is trying to get involved with "advice," politely express your thoughts to them and ask to respect your privacy and your decisions.Helpful 19
© 2017 Lana Adler