Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

How do I improve relations with my self-absorbed mom?

Carolyn Hax on

Hi, Carolyn!

I need guidance on how to improve relations with my mother. While she is loving with me and my siblings, she tends to be extremely self-absorbed and unaware during conversation. She has the uncanny ability to flip even the most mundane conversation into something about her; she will interrupt, speak over, and redirect conversation in her favor. She almost never asks questions about me, my work, life, or partner -- much less about his life.

When I do open up to her about events in my life, she is uninterested and distracted, only to (again) turn the conversation toward her.

Not only is this frustrating, but it hurts. I have previously confronted her about feeling invalidated, and it resulted with her in tears and acting victimized.

Carolyn, how can I help my mother actually listen and understand how I am feeling? I love and respect my mother and want nothing more than to have a better relationship with her.

-- Unintentionally Distant Daughter

 

You can't build a better relationship on hopes that she'll become someone else.

Your mother is self-absorbed, unaware, uninterested, incurious, distracted; doesn't listen, interrupts, talks over, turns all conversations back to herself; and, the killer of all rational hopes, she is defensive.

Defensiveness says, "I am not psychologically ready or willing to see myself as the person at fault and who therefore needs to change."

In casting herself as the victim, refusing to examine either your feelings about her or your requests of her, your mother shows a clear lack of interest in changing.

...continued

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