Tag Archives: conflict

Ways Narcissists Shift The Blame From You To Them & How To Cope

As anyone with experience with a narcissist knows, they accept no blame for anything they have done.  Ever.  You can confront them about something terrible they have done, then later walk away wondering why you just apologized to them instead of them apologizing to you.  This post will help you identify some of the common blame shifting behaviors so you won’t fall for them in the future.

Probably the most common thing that narcissists do to shift the blame is to play the victim.  This is especially common with covert narcissists, but overt ones will do it as well.  The narcissist will turn your legitimate concern around in such a way that you feel as if you’re being too hard on that person, overreacting or being too sensitive.  After all, they never had any idea that what they said or did would hurt you, they say.  Or, they may bring up some (probably imaginary) thing you did in the past, claiming that is abusive, & turning the topic of the conversation to that incident rather than your topic.

Closely related to playing the victim is the guilt trip done to shift blame.  They may tell you about something painful that they experienced in their childhood or say things like, “Why are you yelling at me?  I didn’t mean to hurt you!”  Before you know it, you’re comforting them even though they hurt you!

They often accuse their victims of bad or even abusive behavior, but especially during the times when they are confronted.  This is an effective way to shift the blame from the narcissist to the victim.  My mother did this to me when I was growing up.  She said I made her do something bad to me because of how terrible I was acting.  On my seventeenth birthday, she destroyed my gifts that my now ex husband gave me, then made me clean up the mess she made.  She said because I was “acting so snotty”, which is what made her destroy those gifts.  The truth was when I took the gifts from school to her car at the end of my day, I was terrified what she was going to do to me because she hated my ex, & was quiet.  I wasn’t “acting snotty”- I was acting terrified!

Narcissists also minimize the feelings of their victims to shift blame to the victim.  Basically, this shifts the blame to the victim for how they responded to the abuse rather than the abuse itself.  They may say things like “You’re too sensitive,”  “You’re crazy,” or “I was just joking!”

When you’re talking with a narcissist & these things happen, then you can be certain they are attempting to shift the blame off of themselves.   The best thing you can do is to redirect the conversation back to the original topic, as calmly as you can.  Wait on the narcissist to finish whatever she is saying, then calmly say something, “Ok, but that isn’t what we were talking about.  We will address that later.  We’re discussing ____ at the moment.”  You may have to do that a few times, but keep doing it.  If that doesn’t work, try saying, “We’ll talk about this another time when you are ready to talk,” then leave or hang up the phone, & approach her another time in the very near future.

Unfortunately with narcissists, there is never an easy answer.  Doing what I suggested may not work at all for you in the sense of being able to hash out the problem at hand.  However, the good thing is it will let that narcissist know that you aren’t going to be fooled by the blame shifting nor will you be pushed around.

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

When You’re Upset In The Presence Of A Narcissist

You know it’s best to be as emotionally neutral as possible around narcissists because they use your emotions against you.  As hard as you try though, there still may be times when you can’t keep your emotions in check around a narcissist.  You try your best, but no one is perfect.  You may be having a bad day or their cruelty hits you especially hard because you’re fed up.  So what can you expect during those times?

 

Narcissists have various reactions to their victims being upset in their presence, but all of their reactions are designed to let victims know their problem isn’t important.  They may mock you by saying things like, “Awww… the poor baby is upset!  WAHH!”

 

Or, they may be invalidating, saying you have nothing to be upset about, get over it, or they don’t see what the big deal is.

 

They may be blatantly insulting, telling you how stupid you are for being upset.  They may even go from insulting to downright shaming, telling you something is wrong with you for feeling the way you do.  If you’re upset at the narcissist, chances are good they not only don’t want to hear what you have to say, but will be very shaming to you for feeling that way.  You have no right to feel that way, they may say.  After all, you made them do whatever it is they did.

 

Another reaction they have is to be ice cold, clearly showing you they don’t care you’re upset.  They may even act bored as you cry.  I once watched my narcissistic maternal grandmother act completely bored as one of my cousins cried to her, hurt over things she had done.  My own narcissistic mother has done the same with me- act completely bored with me when I’m clearly suffering.

 

Some narcissists also try to say what they think they should say when you’re upset.   For example, many years ago I was upset with my mother in my narcissistic mother in-law’s presence.  Since my husband was with me, I’m sure she wanted to give him a good impression, so she hugged me tightly & said, “Don’t be upset!  I’m your mother now!!”  Maybe that sounds nice, but truthfully, it didn’t feel nice.  It felt creepy!  She always seemed to want me to pretend I had no family & morph into hers.  Remember the Borg from “Star Trek”?  That’s how it came across to me- I was to Borg into her family & this gave her an excuse to verbalize her wishes.  Resistance was futile- I would be assimilated.  lol

 

These scenes are incredibly frustrating.  Normally, you might want to scream or cry louder, trying to get the narcissist to understand you.  That isn’t a good move though.  If you can remember it, try to remember to simply disengage.  Walk away.  Hang up the phone.  The more you try to convince the narcissist you have a right to feel as you do, the more they will try to hurt you or even make you look like you’re crazy.  This only hurts you more.  When you feel things starting to elevate, try your best to stop for a second & take a deep breath.  Ask God for help during that moment.  Ask Him to help  you to remember to disengage before you get to this point.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissists & Conflict

Narcissists deal with  conflict in odd ways.

 

Many narcissists proudly claim they are neutral in the situation even in extreme situations.  If their adult child is going through a break up or divorce, for example, they stay on friendly terms with the ex even when there aren’t grandchildren involved or any other reason to stay in relationship with that person.  Even if he beat his wife or she cheated on him, the narcissistic parents stay friendly with the ex, not caring that this hurts their child or the child’s new spouse.  In fact, they may sing the praises of the ex to the new spouse.  Been there with my late mother in-law & sisters in-law, in fact.  The mother in-law told me not long after we got married how disappointed she was my husband married me instead of an old girlfriend.  His sisters loved to mention this lady to me frequently & kept my husband current on what happened in her life for years after we were married.  (I’m not sure if they still do that or not- after me getting mad about the last time (we’d been together for 12 years at that point, married for 10), my husband probably wouldn’t tell me if they did.).

 

If they are a witness to a conflict, many narcissists avoid getting involved.  If someone is being hurt physically or mentally, it’s not their problem as far as they are concerned.  That conflict is between those two people, period, so they ignore it.  Many won’t even simply call 911 upon witnessing a crime.  I heard a story once about a lady who was killed outside of her apartment building in the 1950s’s.  38 people claimed to have heard her screaming for help, some even saw the attack from their apartment windows, but only 2 called the police.  Every other person said they didn’t want to get involved, even though they knew this lady was in danger.

 

Other narcissists are afraid if they get involved, someone will end up angry with them, so they stay out of the conflict.  For example, my mother once told me of seeing the husband of a friend of hers & my father’s with another woman.  I asked if she told the woman, & she said “Oh no!  I couldn’t do that!  They might get mad at me.”  (Seriously?!  If that was my husband, I’d want to know & would NOT be angry with the person who told me- my anger would be reserved for my husband at that point. Pretty sure this is how almost anyone would feel in this position!)  She asked if I’d tell if I was in her position & I said absolutely I would.  It’d be hard, but this lady has a right to know so she can figure out what to do about this.  My mother looked at me like a deer in the headlights.  She clearly had no concept of what I was saying.

 

Sometimes narcissists will get involved, trying to rescue the victim, in a limited capacity, if they think it will make them look good.  In junior high school, a girl threatened to beat me up.  I’m not sure why.  I was afraid, but after growing up with my mother, had learned that if you don’t stand up to a bully, they’ll run right over you.   Backing down wasn’t an option in my mind.  I told my mother about this girl.  The next day, my mother went to the principle.  During class, the girl yelled at me for telling on her, but at least she left me alone.  (A good thing- she was a lot bigger than me!)  To this day, my mother tells how she saved me from getting beaten up.  According to her, I wanted to stay home to avoid that girl, but she wouldn’t let me.  She made me face my fears & she talked to the principle, & if it wasn’t for her, I would’ve been beaten up.  As usual, her version was very different than reality.

 

People who don’t have Narcissistic Personality Disorder but have some narcissistic tendencies also may behave this way.  Perhaps they grew up with at least one narcissistic parent, so they learned that this is how you are supposed to act. My husband told me years ago that his mother & I not getting along was not his problem, it was all mine. I needed to deal with it & leave him out of it.  Interestingly, his father’s mother never liked his wife, & his father never did anything about that.  My husband learned by example of his narcissistic parents.

 

In any case, the narcissist responds in the passive/aggressive the way they do for one reason only- themselves.  As with everything else, the situation comes back to them.  They’re all that matters to themselves, period.  Will they look good if they rescue someone?  Can they get involved & people will still like them?  Or, will they look better not getting involved?  After all, what if someone got mad at them?  GASP!!  The horrors!!

 

Being aware of this behavior in narcissists will help you not to expect help from them in the way a normal, healthy person would give it.  Also you’ll know they may completely ignore your crisis entirely.  When that happens, you can chalk it up to typical narcissistic behavior.

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Filed under Mental Health, Narcissism