Why am I never satisfied with my achievements? Why do I keep wondering whether I am good enough or will I ever be good enough? If these questions sound familiar to you, you may be the child of a narcissist parent. Indeed, this questioning about your abilities, doubting your right to be truly happy, may be the result of years of being on the receiving end of a conditional parental sentiment.

We all had a significant figure in our upbringing. Usually (but not always) is a family member but it could also have been someone close to us. This person had a strong impact in forming our thoughts and way of being. They helped us building our self-esteem, reaching out our potential and believing in who we really are. However, if this person had a narcissistic behaviour, then our self-beliefs may be shaky.

How do I know if my mother, father or a significant other, had narcissistic traits?

The first thing to know is that these types of people are more preoccupied with themselves rather than with others. They see you as an extension of their identity, not as an individual with your own unique characteristics and most of the time you feel invisible in their presence. Typically, they:

  • are easily hurt and irritated by perceived criticism
  • are obsessed by what things look like or how they appear rather than what’s really going on or what they feel like
  • blame others for whatever goes wrong because nothing is their fault
  • divert most topics to talk about themselves
  • must have things their own way
  • lack empathy for others’ feelings
  • when something happens in their child’s life (marriage, separation, dismissal from work etc.), are more preoccupied with how it will affect them rather than their child.

And now, what’s next?

If you recognise some of most the traits detailed above, this may be the start for finding an answer to that question … Will I be ever good enough?

You may want to explore this aspect within counselling sessions, where you could experiment with expressing your own subjectivity and have it entirely recognised (maybe for the first time). Indeed, one of the main aims of counselling is to encourage clients’ subjectivity to emerge. It can be energising and liberating to re-claim your own sense of self, to acknowledge who you truly are (not what you were expected to be) and to find out that indeed you are good enough to your True Self.


McBride, K. (2008). Will I ever be good enough? New York: Atria.