Do Narcissists Really Know What They Are Doing?

The answer is a resounding YES!!!


Narcisissts are absolutely aware of what they are doing & the damage they cause.  And, they are well able to control their actions.


Anyone who has spent time around a narcissist knows that they act entirely differently around people they want to impress versus people they don’t care about impressing.  That is painfull obvious.  The fact is though that they also are very aware when they have gone too far over the top in their actions.


Recently, I posted about my narcissistic mother’s fake concern, get well card & cookies for my (also narcissistic) mother in-law, even though she knows perfectly well that I haven’t spoken to the woman since 2002 due to her abusive ways.  (I posted about that here).  This betrayal by my mother & her flaunting it in my face hurt me more than it usually does when she feigns concern for my mother in-law’s failing health.  It made me physically sick for over a week.  I also ignored the phone several times since then when my mother called, which I normally don’t do. (periodically yes, but not several in a row).  Apparently, she noticed, & this made an impression…


I finally took my mother’s call yesterday.  She tried to be pleasant. Even attempted to give me a complement.  She also mentioned something hurtful her mother told her once.  The call was quite odd to say the least.  I was thinking about it & I think it was to “apologize” to me for her behavior regarding my mother in-law.  She is very aware of when her behavior is too over the top, like most narcissists.  Besides, I realized I’ve seen this kind of thing before with my father.  At one point, when I didn’t answer his call, he called my cousin who lives 450 miles away & my father in-law looking for me.  I was livid & let him know that.  After, he began being gentler & kinder with me, & even mirroring me in an attempt to regain my trust.


This is very typical of narcissistic behavior.  They know when they have gone just too far, & rather than take responsibility for their behavior & apologize (like normal people), they engage in various behaviors.


  • Mirroring: People naturally feel most comfortable with those who share many similiarities. Narcissists will mirror your behavior & likes/dislikes in order to regain your trust.  (“See how much alike we are?  How can you be mad at me??”)
  • Minimizing or temporarily foregoing the criticisms:  In order to get you to forgive & forget their bad behavior, they will stifle their nastiness temporarily until they believe you have forgiven them.  (“See what I nice person I am?  You can’t be mad at me- I’m too nice!”)
  • Feigning thoughtfulness:  The narcissist will call you to let you know a movie you like is coming on TV shortly, for example.  They will perform small acts of showing they were thinking of you to prove how nice they are.
  • Giving you distance, respecting your space: For the narcissist who insists on constant attention such as an engulfing narcissistic mother, this is the hardest thing for her to do.  However, she will do it if it will get her back in your good graces.  If she calls you daily or near daily, she will skip calling for a few days after the incident, then call you, acting much meeker than usual.  She will employ one of the above tactics during that conversation.  If she believes that you have forgiven/forgotten her, this is the last pleasant conversation you will have with the narcissist.  If she believes you’re still upset, the routine will happen repeatedly until she believes you are over what she has done to you.


Always remember- the narcissist in your life upsets you, remember- do NOT tell her!  Explaining your hurt feelings to a narcissist only gives them ammunition to hurt you further.  However, if you become angry & the narcissist picks up on your feelings, be aware- the games will begin!  Remember these things & you can be prepared for what to expect.





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

10 responses to “Do Narcissists Really Know What They Are Doing?

  1. Reblogged this on Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD and commented:
    Great blog from a dear friend ❤
    It is always important to remember that narcissists and sociopaths are 'unwilling' – not 'unable'….to have empathy and to accept their behaviours are harmful.
    It is planned and it is intentional.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret Morris

    Thanks for this knowledge Cynthia. For a very long time I thought that my mother couldn’t possibly know she was hurting my brother and I so much. However, after reading your website I have shared all this valuable information with my brother and it has helped us understand more about our mother’s actions and the terrible truth that she DOES know what she is doing.

    For a positive spin on this, I had a very substantial “win” against my mother in October. My brother and I worked very hard to sell our 92 year old mother’s house so we could buy her an apartment in an aged care facility. The day of the auction we were so happy with the price of the sale and were all on a high. After the auction my brother and I drove to the aged care facility our mother was in to share with her the fabulous news. As soon as I walked in, mother screamed abuse at me for not ringing her the moment the house sold. I, in turn, yelled back at her and left.

    Later that day the manager of the aged care facility caught up with me and was horrified at the vindictive anger my mother yelled at me as mother always acts like a “wonderful little old lady” to everyone at the aged care home. The manager had no idea my mother was so terrible to her children.

    I went back to my mother’s apartment and told her just what the manager had said and that her bad behaviour was going to be news to everyone at the place. Mother was really taken aback because it’s the first time someone other than her immediate family that has witnessed her shocking abuse.

    The result of this story is that my mother actually apologised to me for the first time in my life!!! She was caught out big time and since October has not tried to bully or abuse me. My brother and I are not sure how long her “good behaviour” will last but we are hoping for a much happier Christmas this year than last year with her.

    Cheers to all for a Happy Christmas. Margaret.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Margaret!!! That is wonderful!!! I’m so happy for you! However long it lasts, I know you’ll enjoy the peace! I hope it lasts for a long time! ❤


      • Margaret Morris

        Thanks Cynthia for your wonderful advice. The family are hoping the peace lasts for all our sakes. Mother is ‘on notice’ to behave over Christmas as everyone is coming to my house for the celebrations. You have a peaceful and joyous Christmas too. Cheers Margaret.


        • Good! Narcissistic mothers need to be on notice! Too often they are given a free pass to act any way they want. It’s ridiculous. I hope you & yours have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas! Thank you for your kind words! ❤


  3. Reblogged this on Blog Of A Mad Black Woman and commented:
    “Anyone who has spent time around a narcissist knows that they act entirely differently around people they want to impress versus people they don’t care about impressing.” ~ Cynthia Bailey-Rug


  4. Hi Persia, I will again try to leave a comment. You have really seemed to nail how a narcissist is. Thank you, and please keep your life going forward.


  5. My mother’s pattern of behaviour suddenly makes sense now! I don’t know whether I’m more horrified or relieved.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s