Workplace bullying is painful no matter how to slice it. But for those with narcissistic mothers, workplace bullying can both trigger open childhood wounds and affirm feelings of unworthiness.
In her book Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, author Karyl McBride, Ph.D., says that some high-achieving daughters aka “Mary Marvels” focus on achievement as a way to prove to the world (and to their mothers) that they’re worthy. Struggling with feelings of inadequacy and growing up having to be doers to feel accepted and approved by their mothers, these daughters often didn’t receive validation in early years and don’t learn to validate themselves. “She [a high-achieving daughter] often succumbs to the lure of doing more and trying harder in ways that bring validation from others. This is an unconscious seduction because Mary Marvels are almost highly skilled and competent…. The praise appears to fill the emptiness, but relying on external praise can create anxiety,” explains McBride.
It’s important to note that it’s the narcissism from both the mother and then later a boss or co-worker that cause the problems. While addressing feelings from childhood surrounding maternal narcissism with a trained therapist may help you unravel unhealthy thought patterns, the bullying is not your fault nor a result of personality flaws. Many people with healthy upbringings also experience health harm from workplace bullying. These insights are simply tools for taking back your power.