Tag Archives: control

Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

Since the holiday season is officially upon us, I thought it would be a good time to talk about dysfunctional families & the holidays.

The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time of year, & spent with those you love the most.  Instead, for people with dysfunctional families & in-laws, it is the most dreaded time of year. 

These families make unreasonable demands, have their own traditions that allow no room for change & have no tolerance for anyone who doesn’t go along with their traditions & demands.  They turn a joyful time of year into one full of stress, anxiety, hurt feelings, & anger for anyone who doesn’t go along with their “one big happy family” charade. 

Clearly this is very common with narcissists, but those who are simply dysfunctional can behave in the same way.  Their motivations are different than their narcissistic counterparts.  It is usually done to make them feel as if their family isn’t dysfunctional.  After all, they always get together at the holidays, so they must be a close, happy family, right?

Whichever is your situation, you are in a frustrating, difficult & exasperating position.  I understand it all too well since I have been there more years than I care to remember with both dysfunctional people & narcissists.  I’ve learned some things that I think can help those of you who are currently in this situation.

Remember, as an adult, you aren’t obligated to do what your family or in-laws tell you to do.  Just because they think you need to obey their wishes & celebrate their way doesn’t mean that you need to do as they say.  Not doing as they want will upset them, & they will hurt you.  Think about this… is it worth wasting your time being miserable to appease them to avoid them basically pouting like a spoiled child?  Hopefully you feel you can handle their temper tantrum & spend the holidays as you want.  If you do, chances are you are going to feel guilty & hurt when they are mad at you, since that is normal.  When that happens, just remind yourself that you are a grown adult, & no one has the right to dictate how you spend your holidays.

If you opt not to spend your holidays with these people, then be sure to do something you enjoy doing.  Spend the day with friends instead of family.  Go on a trip.  Start your own traditions that don’t involve them. 

If you don’t feel you can avoid doing what your dysfunctional family & in-laws want you to do though, hope is not lost!  Rather than do everything they want, set some boundaries.  If they want you to spend all of Christmas day with them, say you only have a couple of hours to spend with them.  Or, offer to spend Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas with them.

I know setting boundaries with narcissists & very dysfunctional people can be hard, but you can do it!  If the suggestions I just made feel like too much, start small.  If this person wants you to be at their house at 11, say you will be there at noon.  If they want you to bring three dishes for dinner, offer to bring two instead.  Moves like this are small, but significant.  They help you take back some of your power.  Often, those small steps lead the way to setting bigger boundaries with confidence.

I also learned that after years of ridiculous holiday expectations of demanding dysfunctional people, I absolutely detest holidays no matter what I try to do to enjoy them.  The narcissists & dysfunctional people in my life ruined almost all of the holidays in my adult life.  Even though they are all gone from my life now, I still hate holidays.  I’ve spoken with other people who have been in similar situations who feel the same as me, so I am left to assume this is normal.  If this happens to you, don’t beat yourself up over it.  You can’t help how you feel.  Dysfunctional people made you feel this way, & there is nothing wrong with you for that.  Many people can’t understand feeling this way & can be quite hurtful with their judgments.  Don’t pay any attention to what they say.  Their opinion isn’t important.  Your feelings aren’t damaging their life in any way so you just be yourself & don’t worry about them!

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Forever The Victim – A Narcissistic Tactic

Some covert narcissists are perpetually a victim.  They are the ones who are always wronged, always the victim of mean people, & never at fault for anything.  Here are some examples.

A narcissist says something cruel, which naturally makes you angry.  She claims she never meant to hurt you, was just trying to help & had no idea that would upset you.  She may even stop speaking to you for a while after this, even if you apologized for being upset with her.

Or, the narcissist tries to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do.  When you refuse, he claims you don’t love him.  He asks how could you refuse to do this one little thing for him, especially after all he’s done for you?!

Maybe the narcissist is your elderly parent who expects you to come at their beck & call.  You tell your parent you only are available on Tuesdays & Saturdays to do what she needs.  She tells your family how you refused to help, & they attack you for being ungrateful, a spoiled brat & more.

Narcissists who behave this way, those who claim life is unfair to them, that they are mistreated when people confront them on their abusive behavior, those who blame their victims for their abusive behavior & those who complain about their problems yet have no real interest in change are also the perpetual, consummate victims. 

My late father & late mother in-law were both covert narcissists & consummate victims.  I repeatedly asked my father not to call after 9 at night.  I refused to take his call when he called at 10 one evening.  His response was to call my in-laws & a cousin who lives almost 500 miles away.  He told both he was so worried about me because I didn’t answer the phone, & asked them to have me call him immediately.  Regarding my mother in-law, I was angry with my mother in-law once because she had snooped through my purse yet again.  She asked my husband why I was angry.  I listened to their conversation.  He told her why I was angry, & she claimed not to know what she did would be upsetting to me.

Both situations are almost identical.  As a result of my father’s & mother in-law’s actions, my husband & I argued yet again about his mother, & my cousin & I argued about my father.  In typical forever victim fashion, their behavior caused problems for the real victim (me) & made them look good.

 When you must deal with this dreadful behavior, there are some things you can do.  I firmly believe that relying on God is the first & best step you can make.  He will help you to understand what they are doing & come up with ways to most effectively deal with this toxic behavior.

Never ever forget the type of person you’re facing.  No matter what you do or don’t do, they will make the situation look as if you’re being cruel to them.  Expect nothing else because that won’t happen.

Remember there is nothing wrong with you setting boundaries & confronting this person.  Both show you have self respect.  However, also know they may backfire in a sense & make your situation worse.  These narcissists are very talented at recruiting flying monkeys to protect them & also chastise the victim.  When faced with those flying monkeys, ignore what they say.  Don’t discuss the narcissist with them at all. 

Lastly never forget that no one is truly a victim who is angry about anyone setting healthy boundaries with them such as refusing to be manipulated or abused.  Anyone who is angry that someone won’t tolerate their abusive behavior is toxic, period, & not a true victim.

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Narcissists Make Their Victims Feel Stupid

Some obvious forms of abuse are things like threatening, intimidating, accusing, name calling & controlling.  There is absolutely no doubt that the person acting this way is intent on causing harm to someone.  There is also on doubt the abuser is in control of the situation because he or she is making the victim submissive.  A person afraid of another hurting them will naturally become very submissive.

There are other forms of abuse that are just as aggressive & effective, yet not nearly so obvious.  These abusive tactics include things that give the message that the abuser knows best & the victim knows nothing.  Some tactics are disguised as being helpful such as being critical, offering advice that was not asked for or questioning another’s motives.  While there are times such things are done as a sincere yet somewhat awkward attempt to help, that is never the case with narcissists.  Such behaviors from them are done to belittle, shame or control a victim.  The underlying message is “I know better than you.”  Such behaviors make a victim feel incredibly stupid & that they must rely on the narcissist since they clearly know best.  These behaviors create a victim to be very dependent on the narcissist & very easy for the narcissist to control.

This happened to me in my first marriage.  My ex seemed to be convinced he was extremely smart.  The truth though is he was fairly smart, but not nearly as smart as he thought he was.  At the time however, I was unaware of that.  I was also very insecure about my own intelligence.  He used my insecurities to his advantage.  He made me feel as if I was stupid & he always knew best about everything.  I also felt that I had to believe everything he said since he clearly was so much smarter than me.  I honestly never thought of his behavior as abusive at the time.  It was just how he was & I should listen to him, or so I mistakenly thought. 

I think because the worst of the abuse I went through with my parents at that time was at the hands of my overtly narcissistic mother, it was very easy to think this way.  Not so obvious forms of abuse are easy to overlook in situations like mine.  A screaming, raging lunatic is clearly abusive, so when abuse isn’t like that & a victim is accustomed to being abused, subtle abusive behavior can be deemed acceptable.  At least until one learns better, that is.

My point in saying this is to remind you that abuse isn’t always obvious.  It’s often very subtle & even difficult to detect.  If someone you’re in a relationship with makes you feel inferior to them in some way, or as if you are stupid then it’s a sign you need to question this relationship.  It’s only normal that in some areas, others will be smarter than you.  You also will be smarter than them in some ways too.  It’s a balance & in a healthy relationship, no one is upset by it.  Anyone who is clearly is dysfunctional if not abusive.  Don’t let their dysfunction make you feel badly about yourself & don’t let them control you. 

If the person you’re in a relationship with truly is much more intelligent than you, that shouldn’t be a problem.  I’ve had extremely intelligent friends in my life who never made me feel “less than” them because I wasn’t as smart.  That is how it should be.  People should appreciate each other in a relationship, treat each other as equals & accept each other’s differences, not treat each other badly simply because one may be smarter than the other.

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Some Things (& People!) Are Valuable Even Though Narcissists Disagree

Those of you who know me know I love cars, in particular the classics.  My husband, too.  In fact, our newest vehicle is my late mother’s 2002.

As a result, so many people have asked me why I drive old cars.  Some are downright rude & tell me I should get rid of my old cars & get something new, even though there is no valid reason to do so. 

The fact is that aside from preferring old cars, they also can be a good investment.  Many classic cars are well loved.  If you don’t believe me, go to a car show or watch an auto auction on TV.  Those so called worthless old cars can sell for thousands more than they were when new.  And that brings me to my point..

Just because someone fails to see the value doesn’t mean something has no value.

This statement isn’t true only about classic cars, but about people as well. 

Narcissists do their level best to convince their victims that they are worthless human beings, they are ugly, stupid, lack any real talents or skills & much more.  The goal is to destroy their victims’ self esteem to make those victims easier to control, to make the victims willing to tolerate any abuse & to make the victims stay in the relationship because they feel unable to find anyone else who would tolerate them.  Narcissists do NOT say these things because they are true.

If you have been the victim of narcissistic abuse, please remember this!  Whatever the narcissist said about you wasn’t said because it’s true.  They say these things to further their own agenda, period.  What they say has nothing whatsoever to do with the truth.  In fact, chances are excellent that the narcissist in your life recognized something good or even special in you, which is another reason that he or she tried to destroy your self-esteem.  You clearly outshined the narcissist, & no narcissist can tolerate that.

Please remind yourself of this often!  Don’t let the narcissist succeed in making you feel as worthless as many people see beat up old cars.  You deserve so much better than believing those terrible lies!  Instead, remind yourself that you aren’t worthless just because the narcissist said you were.  You’re even more valuable than even the most pristine & beautiful classic car.  God made you in His own image & loves you tremendously!  Try to remember that & forget what the narcissist has said to you about yourself.  Ask God to tell you the truth about yourself & your situation, too.  Then listen.  What He has to say may surprise you & it will bless you greatly!

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

How Narcissists Use Silence As A Weapon

One thing I have noticed about narcissists is very few are quiet.  They often are very extroverted, engaging with many people.  Even the few more introverted ones can be surprisingly talkative for introverts.  Because of this, one thing you can be sure of is when a narcissist is quiet, there is trouble brewing.

Many people are simply quiet by nature.  I’m one of them.  I am not usually very talkative even with people I love & am close to.  When I get especially quiet, even those close to me may not notice it right away because it’s not terribly abnormal.

Silence in a person who is normally talkative, however, is very easily noticed.  When that normally talkative person suddenly stops being talkative, you simply can’t help but notice.  Narcissists & other manipulative people are aware of this, & use this to their advantage.

Their silence causes you to focus on them.  This inadvertently hands narcissists a degree of control over their victims, which, of course is the goal.

Their silence is one way they express contempt for their victims.  Refusing to speak to their victim is one way they say, “You are so disgusting I refuse to waste my time & my breath speaking to you.”

Their silence is a tool they use to make victims willing to jump through any hoops to regain favor with the narcissist.  When a person is unaware of the wicked manipulation that is the silent treatment, it can be downright humiliating what they will do to try to make the narcissist forgive their supposed wrong doing & speak to them again.

Their silence is also used to keep a victim mentally off balance.  There is never any clear indication of how long the silent treatment will last.  It often begins & ends without warning.  There are also many times when there is no explanation.  The narcissist simply stops speaking to the victim, then later begins speaking to them again as if nothing happened.  My mother did this.  Her silent treatment once lasted for eighteen months.  Suddenly, she called one evening & talked like the previous months hadn’t even happened. 

Sometimes their silence isn’t so obvious.  It shows up in subtle ways, such as “forgetting” to meet a victim for an important engagement or “forgetting” their victim’s birthday.  Similarly is when the narcissist enters a room with you & other people, then proceeds to greet others warmly while ignoring you.  These silent snubs are subtle ways to tell a victim that he or she isn’t important enough to remember or acknowledge.

It is vitally important to your mental health to recognize the differences in healthy & unhealthy silence.  Healthy silence is normal.  Some people are naturally quiet & not naturally good at reaching out to others, even others they love.  When someone is struggling & is the type to retreat into themselves during hard times, their silence is healthy & normal.  The same if someone is particularly busy for a season.  Unhealthy silence is nothing like this, & you need to be aware of that so you can protect yourself from those who practice this cruel type of manipulation.

When it happens to you, & it will at some point since it’s such a popular weapon of manipulative people, remind yourself of what is happening.  Even if you have done something wrong, a healthy, functional person would talk to you about what happened if they truly wanted to work things out.  Or, they might end the relationship with you entirely.  Either way, they would not try to manipulate you with their silence.

If this happens repeatedly in a relationship, I believe it’s a sign that you need to reconsider the relationship.  Ending it is likely a healthy option for you.  If you are unwilling or unable to do so, then never forget what is happening & refuse to give the narcissist what they want.  Do NOT ask “What’s wrong?” because that only lets them know their manipulation is working.  Besides, they won’t give you an honest answer anyway.  Instead, pretend you are unaware of their silence & live your life enjoying the reprieve!

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About Passive Aggressive Behavior

Many narcissists use passive aggressive behavior to get what they want.  It is a very effective weapon, after all.

Passive aggressive behavior is when someone says they are fine yet clearly something is bothering them.  Their behavior & words fail to align.  This leaves their victims confused, & wanting to do whatever they can to make this behavior stop.

Some examples of passive aggressive behavior are:

  • The silent treatment, which is refusing to speak to or acknowledge someone.  When confronted, the person giving the silent treatment often says everything is fine or they don’t know what the other person is talking about.
  • Deliberately being irritating.
  • Running late, in particular when the victim is naturally punctual.
  • When asked to do something, passive aggressive people will procrastinate do the task poorly or “forget” to do it at all.
  • Sabotaging things important to their victim, such as spilling something on the victim’s shirt as they leave for a job interview.
  • Mean comments or teasing followed by “I was just joking!”
  • Deliberately making themselves sick or if they’re already sick, making it worse to punish victims for something.
  • Feigning weakness or incompetence to gain sympathy or to force others to do things for them.

Basically, passive aggressive behavior lets a person be angry without admitting it so they don’t look “bad” for being angry.  It also is a means of controlling a victim, because unless you are well aware of this sort of dysfunctional behavior, the confusion will be uncomfortable enough to make you want to do anything you can to get the relationship to return to its status quo.

There are ways to cope with this sort of behavior.

Examine the behavior before assuming it’s passive aggressive.  Your best friend may not have returned your call because she is busy or she simply forgot, not because she’s passive aggressive.  If she frequently doesn’t return your calls or shows other passive aggressive behaviors though, that demonstrates a pattern of passive aggressive behavior.

Remember you can’t change this person.  Passive aggressive people act this way because it gets them what they want, which means they don’t want to change.  Nothing you can say or do will make them change, in particular if the passive aggressive person in question is a narcissist.  You need to adapt your behavior to deal with them.

Don’t get sucked into the behavior.  Remind yourself what they are doing & why they are doing it.  Their motivations are not about you, they are about this person not being willing to act like a mature adult to resolve the problem.  If you do what they want you to do or show that you are upset about their actions, they realize this behavior gets them exactly what they want, so they will continue doing it over & over.  Whenever possible, don’t do what they want you to do.  And, don’t let them know it bothers you.

Look at the situation realistically & preferably with a little humor if possible.  My mother used to give me the silent treatment on a regular basis starting in my teen years.  Naturally at first, it was terribly upsetting.  In time, I realized how ridiculous & childish it was, so it upset me less.  I also began to look at it as a break from her drama & abuse, so I thoroughly enjoyed the silent treatments.  They also struck me rather funny because she was trying to punish me, yet I was enjoying my “punishment.”

Give consequences for their behavior when possible.  As an example, if the person in question shows up late as a passive aggressive behavior, stop waiting on them.  If you’re going somewhere together, leave without them if they are late.  If you’re doing something scheduled such as seeing a movie & the person shows up late, go watch the movie without them.

Passive aggressive behavior is extremely annoying, but it doesn’t have to control any aspect of your life.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

People Who Believe Their Opinions Are The Only Right Ones

Recently I saw something on facebook.  The post was about how single women without children rank highest in happiness according to some study.  I didn’t read the article to know who did the study or any details of it, but I did notice the comments on the article.  They were shocking to say the least.

Some people said of course they are, because single, childless women aren’t tied down to lazy husbands & bratty kids or similar, very negative comments.  Other people said it’s impossible for a single, childless woman to be happy because God made human beings to be married & make a family together.   People on both sides of the argument were extremely adamant that they were completely right, & the other side was completely wrong.

I’ve noticed this same scenario with other topics, such as eating meat versus being vegetarian.  Frankly, I find it utterly disturbing!  There are many issues like this that aren’t black & white, right or wrong.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with people’s beliefs on either side of many issues.  What is wrong is the fact that some people think it is their right to push their views onto other people as if their views are the only right ones.  It’s controlling, very disrespectful & even typical of many narcissists.  This behavior becomes even more disturbing to me when the pushy person claims to be a Christian.

The Bible states that Christians aren’t to judge other people, according to Romans 2:1 & Matthew 7:1 just to site a couple of examples.  We are only to judge things in a discerning way.  We are to judge if someone or something is good or bad for us.  We are to judge our own words & behavior, doing & saying what is Godly & avoiding things that aren’t.  Judging for the purpose of criticism or as an attempt to change someone however is a big problem.

Clearly it is wrong to judge a person for doing something that isn’t wrong.  For example, if someone prefers to remain single then as a Christian, it isn’t your place to tell this person how wrong & evil they are for their choice!  Their choice is hurting no one, it works well for them, & God isn’t going to condemn this person to Hell for not wanting to get married.  If God doesn’t have a problem with the behavior, people shouldn’t either. 

Romans 14:1-4 in the Amplified Bible explains the best way to handle differing opinions.  It says, “1As for the one whose faith is weak, accept him [into your fellowship], but not for [the purpose of] quarreling over his opinions. 2 One man’s faith permits him to eat everything, while the weak believer eats only vegetables [to avoid eating ritually unclean meat or something previously considered unclean]. 3 The one who eats [everything] is not to look down on the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat must not criticize or pass judgment on the one who eats [everything], for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? Before his own master he stands [approved] or falls [out of favor]. And he [who serves the Master—the Lord] will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” 

I know there are times it can be extremely difficult when someone’s thinking is much different than yours.  Rather than get into a disagreement though, keep in mind what Romans 14:1-4 says.  Let that person have their beliefs without your criticism.  If they opt to criticize you or try to change your thinking, don’t get drawn into a disagreement.  Each of you is entitled to your own opinion.

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Take Your Power Back From The Narcissist

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Not All Causes Can Be Your Causes

Periodically I notice comments on Facebook that get under my skin.  The topic isn’t important, but the message is.  The message is something along the lines of, “If you don’t care about this topic, you’re a selfish jerk.”

In fact, some people have said things to me about issues, expecting my support, but when I don’t give it, they get downright shaming.  One of them was about how disappointed someone was in me for not noticing that one public figure was a narcissist.  Well, the truth is I disagreed with her assessment.  I also had virtually no interest in the arena where this person was popular, so I naturally hadn’t paid a lot of attention to this person.  In her world, apparently none of this was valid.  I was simply a terrible disappointment for failing to notice this person’s supposedly narcissistic ways.

There was a comment that I remember from several years ago when a lion was murdered in a sanctuary by a ruthless hunter.  It broke my heart seeing such a beautiful, wonderful animal murdered for no purpose beyond the hunter’s desire to say he killed this lion.  As I read through comments on a post on the topic, I saw a comment that said something like, “You people get so upset about just a lion, but do you even care about the fact that so many innocent babies are aborted every year?!”

In my younger days, comments like this made me feel guilty.  Honestly, I’ve never been interested in politics or the abortion debate or many other current events issues.  My heart lies more with issues about animal rights, Christian topics & naturally surviving abuse.  I felt I must be wrong for that until I realized something.

This doesn’t mean I don’t care about the country in which I live or the rights of the unborn.  What it means is I feel God wants me to focus more on animal rights, Christian topics & surviving abuse.

No one person can support every single issue!  It’s too much!  No one can afford to donate money to every worthy cause either,  simply because there are so many causes.

Also, no one can emotionally afford to support every single worthy cause.  Strong emotions can drain a person, even when those emotions are positive ones.  Everyone needs breaks, to distribute their emotions wisely & to do so with balance.  Doing this isn’t a bad thing.  It doesn’t make a person selfish or uncaring.  It makes a person human!

If someone tries to shame you for not actively supporting some cause that they support, I hope you will remember the information I shared here today.  Every single person has a unique calling in life & that means they need to support whatever issues they feel called to support.  That does NOT mean they need to support whatever the cause of the moment is.  God gives each person a unique purpose in their life, & the approval of other people isn’t a requirement.  What it does mean is that each person should follow their unique path, supporting the issues closest to their heart, & allowing others to do the same without judgment.

This also means each person should support the issues on their heart however they deem appropriate.  For some folks, it means writing as I do.  For some other folks, this means donating money.  For others, it means picketing in front of large corporations or political offices.  For still others it means working to change laws.  Not one of these is any better or worse than the other.  Different doesn’t equal wrong or bad.  It’s simply different, as each person’s unique walk that God has given them.

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A Passive/Aggressive Way Narcissists Use To Abuse

One passive/aggressive tactic narcissists use to abuse victims is to be sure they know they aren’t good enough.

A common way narcissists do this is to make sure you know that no matter how good you are at something, someone is better than you at it.  Let’s say you own your own interior designing business & the narcissist knows this.  Most people would be impressed by that.  Narcissists are too, just not when it comes to YOUR business.  They may say something like, “Did you know that Sally owns her own interior designing firm?  She is so smart & talented!  She works so hard!  Never takes a day off!”

While the words aren’t said, the message is still clear: “Sally has real talent!  You aren’t as hard working, talented or business savvy as she is!  You aren’t worthy of my admiration like Sally is!”

Another variation on this is when a narcissist says, “Interior decorating is so easy.  Seems like anyone can do it.  Anyone can put up a sign saying they’re an interior designer these days.  I can’t imagine why anyone would pay someone to do something so easy…”  Again, the words may not be said but the message is crystal clear – “You’re nothing special.  Any idiot can do what you do.”

A different tactic is used mostly by narcissistic spouses but also by parents.  They never tell you how attractive you are & they know you’re insecure about your appearance, but they freely complement others.  As an example, a narcissistic husband may fuss over a famous model’s beautiful figure to his pregnant wife who is about to give birth to their child, & who feels fat.  Parents can do this too, though.  My mother never told me I was pretty as a child.  In fact she used to brag that once she told me she thought I was “kinda pretty”, even though I don’t remember that happening.  Yet, when I was young, she’d fuss over how pretty other little girls were.  When I would be upset, she’d tell me I was wrong & shouldn’t feel as I did.

There are some big bonuses for narcissists in treating victims this way.  If you confront him or her, the narcissist knows their comment hurt you.  If you’re angry, all the better for the narcissist, because the narcissist can use your anger to prove how unreasonable & crazy you are.  They’ll say things like, “Don’t be so sensitive!”  “I don’t know how you got that out of what I said!”  “You read too much into things!”  If you’re unaware of what is happening, you easily can feel like the narcissist is right.  You’re crazy, oversensitive, etc.  Believing those lies will make you feel shame & be easier for the narcissist to control.  The narcissist may even use it as an excuse to discard you.

These tactics are attempts for narcissists to diminish anyone they envy, compete with or see as a threat in some way.  They knock a person down a bit by making them feel unimportant, bringing them closer to the narcissists level which also builds up the narcissist.

If the narcissist in your life treats you this way, remember what they are doing.  They’re using a passive/aggressive tactic to try to destroy your self esteem so they can control you.  Chances are, they don’t even mean the cruel things they say.  They’re actually envious of you for being prettier, more talented, more successful or whatever than they think they are.  Rather than try to better themselves, narcissists would rather tear someone else down.  So if the narcissist in your life treats you this way, don’t forget that.  What they say isn’t what they truly feel.  What they feel is the exact opposite.

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The Facts About Coersive Control

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No Win Situations & Narcissists

Setting you up in a no win situation is one of many weapons in the narcissist’s arsenal.  They put you in a situation where you can’t win so they have a reason to be angry with or hurt by you, or to make you do what they want.

In my late teens, my mother’s abuse was at its peak.  She would scream at me so often, it was just a way of life for me then.  She didn’t have any valid reason to scream at me, so she would often make up reasons or put me in a situation where I would be wrong no matter what.   One example that comes to mind took place not long after I met my now ex husband.  Upon seeing him for the first time, my mother hated him & told me to stay away from him.  I liked him so I sneaked around behind her back at work & school to see him. (The rest of the time I was with my mother).  He & I worked together, & often closed the place.  I wasn’t allowed to have a car, so my mother took me to & from work & school.  When my ex & I walked out from work together, my mother screamed at me as soon as I got into the car for spending time with him.  When I walked out first on the next evening we worked together, she screamed at me again for him “hiding from her”, “not having the guts to face her, “& “being a coward”.  Then on the next evening we shared a shift, he left first as I hung back.  Then she screamed at me for him “being so cocky”,  leaving work before me.  There were only three ways to handle the situation & she got mad at every single one of them.  She created the perfect no win situation.  When I tried talking to her about it, she screamed at me for not knowing what she expected of me.  It was devastating to me & made me feel crazy.  It didn’t matter to her it hurt me though- as long as she felt better, that’s all that mattered.  That’s how narcissists are- so long as they benefit, it doesn’t matter who they hurt or destroy.

Unfortunately, I’ve never found a really good way to deal with it.  That’s why it’s called a “no win” situation, I suppose.  All I have learned is not to engage in the behavior.  Let the narcissist have the temper tantrum but you remain calm.  Showing narcissists emotions only gives them supply so you refuse to do that!  Do NOT apologize if you weren’t wrong.  Change the topic.  Leave the room or hang up the phone.

Always remember, this is NOT normal behavior!  The person who puts another in a no win situation is not normal.  There is something very wrong with that person, not you.

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How Narcissists Can Abuse Without Doing Anything

Everyone who knows much about narcissistic abuse knows their tactics.  Gaslighting, invalidation, scathing criticisms, baiting, projection… the list goes on & on.  They also have other ways to abuse their victims that are so subtle, they are often overlooked because the narcissist isn’t doing anything.

Narcissists can instill blind terror into their victims with a  look.  I remember the look from my overtly narcissistic mother when I was growing up.  I knew to stop whatever I was doing or saying right then or else the consequences would be terrible.  Naturally, I obeyed, & didn’t have to face consequences after that look.  My mother was hardly the only narcissistic parent to do this.  Many use it.

There also is a variation on the look that covert narcissists prefer.  The victim knows if they don’t do what the narcissist wants, they are going to be on the receiving end of a horrendous guilt trip.  Since covert narcissists are naturally much more subtle than overt narcissists, they wouldn’t consider scaring their victim in the same way.  Instead, they prefer to make their victim feel so guilty that they never repeat the behavior again.

Both overt & covert narcissists have yet another variation on “the look.”  It’s the look that makes a victim feel like they are the most moronic, disgusting, pathetic creature in the world.  My ex husband perfected this one.  When we argued, I was always wrong, according to him.  To drive his point home, he would look at me with a very smug look.  He never said the words, but his facial expression told me he was convinced I was utterly pathetic, stupid & lucky he was willing to put up with such a disgusting creature as me who was clearly so far beneath him & his highly superior intelligence.

Another way narcissists can abuse without lifting a finger is known as triangulation.  This is when a narcissist confides in another person about the victim.  They usually lie to this person to make the victim look bad & to make the narcissist look like an innocent victim.  When that third person believes the lies, they confront the real victim.  They tell the victim that they need to apologize to the narcissist, stop doing whatever the narcissist said they were doing, or even resume the relationship with the narcissist after going no contact.  The narcissist does nothing while this person abuses the victim on their behalf.

Clearly narcissists have abuse down to a science!

If you face any of these situations when dealing with a narcissist, chances are at some point you will think you’re reading too much into their actions.  You may even think something is mentally wrong with you to think the narcissist meant anything more than simply to look at you or was talking to a friend about your troubled relationship.  Please get such thoughts out of your mind immediately!  You aren’t reading too much into anything!  Every single thing narcissists say & do has a purpose.  You are correct in assuming those looks mean what you think they mean, & that person telling you what you are doing wrong by the narcissist is being used by the narcissist.

When these things happen, the first step I suggest you do is ask God to guide you & give you wisdom & creative ideas for handling the situation.  Also remind yourself that nothing narcissists do is innocent.  Everything has a self-serving motive.  These behaviors really have nothing to do with you.  They’re about the narcissist gaining control over you.  Don’t allow yourself to give into that control.  And, as for the person used in triangulation?  If you can’t remove this person from your life, at least refuse to discuss the narcissist with this person.  You’ll save yourself a great deal of frustration!

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Ways Narcissists Hurt Victims

Narcissists love to hurt their victims.  It gives them a feeling of power, control & superiority to be able to affect victims as profoundly as they do, so it’s no wonder they do it so often.

Narcissists have a vast collection of ways to cause their victims pain.  Following is a list of some of their favorite methods used to accomplish this.  Some of these methods are quite subtle, & may not even seem abusive at first, but they absolutely are.

If you want validation, count on the narcissist to withhold it from you.  Narcissists won’t tell you that you did a good job or that you’re right about something.  Withholding validation is a form of invalidation, & is done to let you know how unimportant everything about you is.

If something important is going on with you, whether it is good or bad, you can expect a narcissist to steal the spotlight somehow.  They may invent a crisis or pick a fight with you.  If something bad is happening to you, they may steal the spotlight by talking about how the event affects them.  My ex husband & father did this constantly.  I ended up comforting them rather than them comforting me.

If you need help with something, you can expect the narcissist to resist.  Either he or she will disappear completely or will help but do things in a lazy, sloppy way.  If this person does help you, the help most likely accompanied by a great deal of complaining or letting you know what a huge sacrifice he or she is making & how you should appreciate it.

If you’re sick or injured, you can count on a narcissist to disappear or act annoyed with your suffering.  Since they lack empathy, they won’t care about how awful you feel.  They most likely will trivialize your suffering on the off chance they acknowledge it.  And, if the narcissist in question is your romantic partner, don’t think your illness or injury will have any affect on your sex life.  You still will be expected to perform as normal, no matter the state of your health.

If you want sex from your narcissistic partner, you can count on the narcissistic partner to claim to be too tired.  They must be in control in every area, & that includes your sex life.  They also don’t care what their victims want in any area.

If you’re talking, chances of the narcissist interrupting you are excellent.  It keeps the focus on them because a person who is interrupted naturally stops talking to let the interrupting person talk.

If you’re lonely, you can expect the narcissist suddenly to be too busy to spend time with you.  The same goes if you need to talk to him or her about something.  If you decide to spend time with someone else, the narcissist will become angry that you didn’t just wait to spend time with him or her.  You will be called unreasonable, impossible to please or something similar.

If you want to drive somewhere when you & the narcissist go out together, count on your driving being criticized either actively or passively, no matter how safely you drive.  Actively criticizing it is easy to spot.  They tell you that you’re driving too fast, tailgating or other similar comments.  Passive criticizing isn’t so easy to spot.  It’s quieter & more covert, such as bracing themselves as you approach a red light or stop sign or cringing as you drive.  I believe the passive criticism is even worse, because if you say something, the narcissist has plausible deniability.  He or she can say things like, “I never complained about your driving!”  “I never said you were speeding!”  Before you know it, you easily can end up apologizing to the narcissist.

When you witness these behaviors from the narcissist in your life, remind yourself that they are abusive!  You aren’t unreasonable or wrong or impossible to please.  The narcissist is trying to hurt you.  Don’t let that happen!  Remind yourself what is happening so you aren’t hurt by their ridiculous & abusive behavior.

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Taking Back Your Power From The Narcissist

Narcissists love to manipulate & control their victims.  One way they control their victims is to make them feel powerless, as if they have absolutely no control over any aspect of their own lives.

Feeling completely out of control & powerless is a horrible way to feel!  It saps your joy & makes you feel utterly hopeless.  Being depressed & hopeless may make you miserable, but it also will make a narcissist feel wonderful.  This is because they have control over you & know you won’t do anything about it.

Don’t let the narcissist in your life get away with doing this to you!  Take your power back!  You can do this!!

As always, I recommend you start with prayer.  God will be glad to give you whatever you need, be it insight, strength, courage or anything else.  Let Him help you!!  You need every advantage you can get where narcissists are concerned, so why not let God help you?

If you haven’t done it already, start learning about boundaries.  You need to have very clear views on where you end & the narcissist begins, because one way narcissists remove a victim’s power is by blurring those boundaries.  Victims often feel responsible for the narcissist in ways that they shouldn’t.  As an example, narcissists make victims feel responsible for their feelings & actions.  How many times has the narcissist in your life said something like, “You made me do that!”  “I wouldn’t be so angry if you wouldn’t have said/done what you did!”?  I would guess you can think of many examples.  I certainly can.

As you learn about boundaries, you’ll need to learn some new & even creative ways to say no to the narcissist.  Always remember, normal ways to set boundaries don’t work with narcissists, so avoid saying things like, “Please don’t do that.. it hurts me when you do that.”  Admitting the narcissist’s behavior hurts you only provides narcissistic supply which means they’ll do that thing over & over again.  Instead, say things like:

  • I’m sorry.  I have other plans.
  • I can’t do that.
  • I can’t make it that day.
  • I’ll consider what you suggested.
  • That isn’t going to happen.
  • I’m not interested.
  • Thank you, but no.
  • No (without any explanation, simply saying the word).

There are also other things you can do to help yourself to regain some control.  Start small.  Organize your purse, a desk drawer, your car’s glove compartment.  Work up from there onto something larger, maybe get rid of some clothes you no longer like even though the narcissist likes them.  You also could paint a room or replace a piece of furniture.  Keep taking back your power, little by little.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes & the less you’re willing to settle for someone taking away your power.

Naturally as you do these things, the narcissist is NOT going to be happy about it.  Most likely, the narcissist will realize that a rage will make him or her look bad, so that won’t happen.  Instead, probably there will be passive/aggressive behaviors such as giving the silent treatment.  Invalidation is also common.  The narcissist may act as if there is something wrong with you for liking whatever it is you did that took back some of your power.  Criticism certainly is going to happen.  The narcissist will let you know that whatever you did was wrong, stupid, a waste of time & anything else negative they can think to say.

When the narcissist acts this way, always remember that it says more about the narcissist than you.  Normal, functional people encourage others to be independent & have good boundaries.  They also aren’t threatened by such things.  Only unsafe & even narcissistic people are threatened by such normal, healthy, behaviors.

Dear Reader, you can do this!  You can take back your power!

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What Does A Narcissist Mean When They Say, “My Sources Say You Did That”?

One of the most infuriating things I dealt with at the hands of my narcissistic mother when her abuse was at its worst was when she’d say, “My sources say you were seen doing *fill in the blank* today.”  Or, “I was told that you did *fill in the blank*.”  I would ask her who said these things & she would tell me it wasn’t my business, it didn’t matter or it wasn’t important.

It made me feel so paranoid, angry & even betrayed.  Paranoid because I wondered who would tell my mother these things that I hadn’t even done.  Angry that someone would tell her things I hadn’t done & she would believe I was capable of such things.  Betrayed because clearly this person knew me.. what if this was a close friend of mine?  My friends at the time knew about much of the abuse… how could any of them lie to my abuser knowing what happened when she was angry with me?!

Thankfully my mother stopped this after I moved out.  I honestly thought I was over it, too.  That is, until the spring of 2009, when one of my cousins & I had a falling out.  She had invited my husband & I for Christmas a couple of months prior, & I declined.  Apparently some time after, she learned that we took my parents to visit my father’s sister about a couple of weeks before Christmas & assumed that meant I spent Christmas with our aunt.  I explained that wasn’t the case at all, I wouldn’t do that to her.  Her response?  “Why are you lying to me?  My sources told me you spent Christmas with her.”  That was a big trigger for me.  All the old anger I’d felt at my mother came flooding back to the surface.  Apparently I wasn’t over it, & with good reason.

So many narcissists use this type of manipulation.  They accuse their victims of outrageous behavior, & say “my sources said you did it” or, “I was told you were seen doing that.”  When you try to find out who their mysterious sources are, they say it doesn’t matter, it’s not your business or you don’t need to know.  If you’ve been in this position, you know just how infuriating it is.  It’s bad enough being accused of something awful you didn’t do, but not to know who is saying you’ve done this makes it even worse.

You know something though?  The reason they refuse to divulge their “source” is because that person doesn’t even exist!  The accusations came from the narcissist’s warped mind, not another person.  The reason the narcissist is saying they were told you did this thing is to make you insecure, to make you think others are talking about you & ultimately to gain control over you.  It can make you feel as if everyone is against you, & no one would believe you if you tell the truth about the abuse.  I certainly felt that way with my mother.  It makes you lose hope & afraid of disappointing people close to you.  If the narcissist is especially good at this, you may come to believe that you did what the narcissist said you did.  This makes you easy for the narcissist to control.

If you end up in this position with a narcissist, remember what they are doing.  They don’t have “sources”.  They are simply making up lies in order to gain control over you.  Don’t get caught up in defending yourself to them, because they’ll only use that to prove how mentally unbalanced you are.  And question everything they say.  Even say something like, “Really?  What did I do then?!  I want to know!”  If a narcissist wants to act so foolish, then they deserve to be called out on their behavior & to know you know they’re lying.

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About Coercive Control

Narcissists clearly are experts in the area of controlling.  One lesser known tactic they use is called coercive control.  It is most commonly known to happen in romantic relationships, but it also can happen in parent/child relationships.

Coercive control doesn’t always involve physical violence, yet victims wonder if they don’t obey the narcissist, will it turn violent one day?  Fear is a great weapon, & those who use coercive control are well aware of that fact.  Often without so much as touching their victim, they instill a deep fear in them.

There are other signs of coercive control that people need to be aware of abusers using.

Intimidation is a big red flag.  Towards the end of my first marriage, my ex was trying to intimidate me by punching things other than me.  After, he would tell me how lucky I was he was hitting the walls instead of me.  Other forms of intimidation can include showing weapons, blocking you from leaving the room or standing over you in a way as to make themselves look much bigger than you.

“Minor” violent acts.  I hate to use the word minor with violent acts because it sounds like it’s trivializing violence.  That isn’t my intention.  What I mean is acts like pushing, holding you in place or even pinching hard.  These are so called minor violent acts.

Using threats to control.  Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide or hurt your child or pet in order to get what they want fall into the category of coercive control.

Micromanaging a victim.  When someone controls things like how you dress or how you wash the dishes, it makes you easy to control because in time, you feel as if you must ask your partner for permission to do everything.   Some parents continue treating their adult child as if they were young children in need of their guidance well into adulthood.  This is known as infantilization.

Financial abuse.  An abusive partner will keep their mate in the relationship by destroying their credit, spending all of their paychecks or refusing them all access to the couple’s finances.

Isolation is another form of coercive control.  It’s no secret that abusers isolate their victims.  Isolation makes victims easy to control by limiting the information & support they can receive from outside sources.  Abusers may claim their victims’ friends or family aren’t good for them as one way to isolate their victims.

Sex is a very commonly used method of coercive control.  Abusers may violently rape their victims of course, but that isn’t always the case.  Many use shame, saying things like, “Any other woman in the world would do this one little thing for me…” or, “If you loved me, you would do this for me.”  They also may be very good lovers at first to get you hooked on sex with them, then in time, they suddenly lose interest in having sex with you.  When you practically beg them is when they have power over you.  They use the opportunity to tell you what they want from you that will make them regain interest in sex.

When things like this happen, it’s not easy to identify these behaviors as abusive at first.  Abusers get worse gradually, to build a victim’s tolerance to abuse.  This is probably why so many victims stay… it happened so gradually, they didn’t even realize it was happening.  By the time they did, they felt unable to escape.

If this describes you or someone you know, please get out NOW!!!  These behaviors are all signs of a potentially violent person!  Protect yourself & stay safe!  xoxo

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Ways Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse

Shame is a powerful weapon in the hands of an abuser.  It can cause a person to rely on their abuser for pretty much any information & make them easy to control by causing them to think they need someone smarter to tell them what to do.  Narcissists know this, & they have fine tuned many very effective ways to use shame to abuse their victims.

Narcissists will destroy a person’s self esteem in order to create toxic shame in a victim.  They point out a person’s flaws (real or imagined) constantly & tell embarrassing stories about them.  This keeps a victim on their toes, trying to be better, to please the narcissist, & to avoid doing embarrassing things that the narcissist will use to embarrass the victim with at any given time.

Narcissists also will invalidate a victim.  If they tell an embarrassing story, for example, & the victim becomes rightly upset, the narcissist will say things like, “I was just joking.”  “You can’t even take a joke!”  My narcissistic mother did this one constantly, & when I got upset, would tell me, “There’s something wrong with you.  You shouldn’t feel that way!  That was funny!”

Narcissists also love to reinvent the past.  They claim to be responsible for their victim’s successes, claim the successes weren’t all that great or even deny they happened.  Regarding their abuse, they will claim the abuse never happened or if it did, it wasn’t as bad as the victim claims or the victim made the narcissist do it.

Narcissists will twist a situation around to make themselves look like the victim rather than the abuser.  They do this in two ways.  They will tell others about how angry their victim is, how he or she yells at them, while leaving out the things they did that got the victim to that state.  They also will use a victim’s own valid reactions to their abuse to prove to the victim that the victim is abusive &/or is mentally unstable.

Narcissists never speak to their victims as if the victim is their equal.  Sometimes they will talk down to their victim, in particular if the victim in question is their child.  They want to maintain that adult/child relationship in order to make their child feel inferior to them, therefore making them easier to control.

Other narcissists will talk in circles, use big words, speak with authority & basically try to talk above their victim, which makes even the most intelligent victim feel stupid.  They may change their body language or physical position so they literally can look down at their victim.

If the narcissist’s victim has any sort of religious faith, the narcissist will not hesitate to use their beliefs to shame the victim.  Many tell their victims things like they are going to hell because of how they treat the narcissist, or they aren’t honoring their parent.  They let their victims know they are a total failure in every way, including their religious beliefs.

Narcissists view everything as a competition, & they will use comparisons to shame their victims.  If a narcissist & their victim have something in common, you can guarantee the narcissist will make sure the victim knows the narcissist does it better or has a better one or is more successful at it.  Whatever “it” is, the narcissist is the master, the victim the failure, according to the narcissist.

When a narcissist behaves in these ways towards you, keep in mind what is really happening!  You have no reason to be ashamed of yourself, no matter what the narcissist is saying.  He or she is only trying  to make you feel that way in order to abuse & manipulate you.  Like everything when it comes to narcissists, it’s all about the narcissist, & has nothing to do with you.  Never forget that!

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Dealing With Guilt Trips

One very popular weapon in the narcissistic arsenal is guilt.  Covert narcissists in particular are very fond of using guilt as a means of control.  It’s understandable it’s such a common weapon considering how very effective guilt can be.  It also is unfair & even cruel.

So how can you cope when your narcissistic parent uses guilt trips?

First, pray.  Ask God for wisdom & discernment so you understand when guilt is being used on you & ways to cope with it.

You also need to recognize what is a guilt trip & what isn’t.  You need to know when someone is saying something to manipulate you or to help you to change & improve yourself.  Statements like, “It hurt my feelings when you said/did….” can help you.  Statements that simply make you feel guilty like, “After all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me?” however aren’t to help you, but to control you.

You also need to be aware of the fact narcissistic supply is at the root of every single thing a narcissist does.  Guilt trips are a part of that.  Being able to control someone via guilt provides supply as does seeing that person upset about the guilt.  The more you allow the guilt trips to work on you, the more the narcissist will use them on you.  The best thing you can do is to pretend not to notice the guilt at all when you’re in the narcissist’s presence.  Later, when away from her, vent to your heart’s content of course, but when in her presence or even on the phone with her, pretend you didn’t notice a thing.  If she realizes guilt trips don’t work on you, she’ll stop using them since she sees they aren’t effective.

Don’t justify yourself or your actions.  If you do, you’re only making yourself look guilty, which could mean the narcissist will get meaner.  Probably my most successful interaction with my late covert narcissist mother in-law involved guilt from her.  She wanted me to do something for her one day but I had plans.  Granted, I could’ve changed them, but I didn’t want to.  Not for someone who hated me & treated me so poorly.  She kept trying to find out what my plans were.  She said things like, “You sure must have something important to do if you won’t do this for me.”  “I guess you’re doing something for your parents since you won’t help me…”  Rather than explain my plans (which weren’t her business!), I ignored her.  Since I didn’t tell her, she got mad, but couldn’t be mad at me without looking foolish in front of her husband & mine.  By not justifying my actions, I protected my privacy, avoided more nastiness from her & she never tried to guilt trip me again.  In fact, I found the entire thing funny because her behavior was so ridiculous.  Much better to laugh than to be angry or hurt!

Remember, if you have done something wrong, you should feel some guilt since it will help you to improve your behavior.  However, if you haven’t done anything wrong, then do NOT allow the guilt trip to work on you.

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How Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse, part 2

 

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How Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse, part 1

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How Narcissists Use Cars To Abuse

Narcissists will use anything at their disposal to abuse & control their victims, & that even includes cars.

If a victim has hurt a narcissist somehow or even simply set boundaries with the narcissist, the narcissist may drive like a maniac in an attempt to scare the victim.  After I broke off the engagement with my now ex husband, we went somewhere together & he was driving very erratically.  It terrified me & I asked him to stop it.  He said it was my fault he drove that way, because after I broke up with him, he didn’t care if he lived or died.

Cars are also an excellent place for a narcissist to have complete control over their victims.  The victim has no means of escaping the narcissist’s car, so there is no choice but to tolerate whatever is done in that car.  In my late teens when my mother’s abuse was at its worst, she refused to let me get my license & a car.  Naturally, this meant she took me to & from school & work.  Each ride was sheer hell for me because she screamed & raged at me the entire ride.  I had no way of escaping either since I needed to get to my destinations, so there was no choice but to tolerate it.

Narcissists also often want to be the driver because this means their victim/passenger only can go where the narcissist wants to go & on her time schedule, not the victim’s.   If they want to go somewhere with their victim, they will tell the victim what time they will pick him or her up, or tell the victim to come to the narcissist’s home so the narcissist can drive them to their destination.  It’s all about control, & all victims know, narcissists love to have control over their victim in every possible way.

There are also some narcissists who don’t drive.  This is most prevalent with covert narcissists rather than overt.  They may play the naive & innocent role, claiming it is just too hard to drive.  Since overt narcissists usually avoid appearing in a way that can look weak somehow, they usually drive.  Again, this is all about control.  If a narcissist can’t or won’t drive, this forces the narcissist’s victims to take care of her by either taking her places or doing things for her.

I’m certainly not saying that everyone who is a bad driver, who prefers to be the one driving or doesn’t drive is a narcissist, of course.  Some people are simply more daring behind the wheel than others.  There are also many people who develop serious anxiety behind the wheel, & they realize they shouldn’t be behind the wheel.  There are others who love driving or who feel safest when they are driving.  These people obviously aren’t narcissists, & you can tell they aren’t narcissists by their behavior.  The daring driver is daring all of the time, not only after someone has upset him somehow.  The anxious person asks for rides &/or offers gas money rather than expects others to help.  The person who prefers being the driver never gets upset when someone says they want to drive or meet them somewhere.

If you have recently met someone, & think the person may be a narcissist, this is one way to help you to figure it out.  Watch how the person is when it comes to driving.

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Ways To Identify Controlling People

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Narcissists Love When Victims Suck Up To Them

Narcissists love to have power over their victims.  To hurt someone either mentally, physically or sexually gives them a feeling of power.  Possibly the only thing that makes narcissists feel even more powerful is watching their victim suck up to them.

When a victim is genuinely repentant & will do anything to make it up to their abuser, this is a huge power trip for the narcissist.  They know they can make that victim do anything at this point.  There also is the added bonus of the victim accepting responsibility for whatever the narcissist did.  This means the narcissist doesn’t have to take any blame at all.  (Not that they would anyway, but at least in this situation, they don’t have to work to pawn that blame off on someone else).

Narcissists are incredibly good at manipulation & gaslighting- making a person doubt their own thoughts, feelings, perceptions & even sanity.  Because of this, it’s no wonder many victims in the midst of narcissistic abuse continually apologize & suck up to their abuser.  I certainly have done my fair share of it before learning about narcissism.  (If you have too, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.  I doubt there is one victim of narcissistic abuse that hasn’t apologized to their abuser at least a couple of times.)

If you’re still in a relationship with a narcissist, I’m sure you’re faced with the scenario at least periodically, where the narcissist is angry with you & demands that you apologize.  Or maybe she prefers suddenly to stop speaking to you, with no explanation whatsoever, in an attempt to make you rush to her side, begging for her to speak to you again.

Having been there, I learned something.  Don’t do it!!!

If you have done something wrong, then by all means, apologize.  It’s just the right, mature thing to do.  Say you’re sorry, make things right if you can, & move on.

If you haven’t done something wrong, then do NOT apologize!  If you do it once, the narcissist will demand you do it again & again.  She will use you & wear you down to get you to make it up to her for whatever horrible thing you supposedly did.

If a person can’t behave like a mature adult by trying to work out a problem, then don’t treat them as if they are one.  Let that narcissist pout like the bratty child she’s acting like while you ignore her ridiculous display.  If she’s trying to make you feel guilty, pretend not to notice.  If she hints for an apology, also pretend not to notice.  Learn to enjoy the silent treatment if you’re on the receiving end of it.  It’s a reprieve from unnecessary drama- why not enjoy it?

Stop trying to make it up to a narcissist who isn’t telling you what you’ve done wrong or who blames you for them abusing you!  It only provides them with narcissistic supply, & the more you provide, the more they will demand from you.

Making it up to someone you have hurt is one thing.  It should be a normal thing for a person to do as well as the one hurt to expect.  However, when someone constantly expects another person to make it up to them without trying to talk things out, or because they abused their victim, something is very, very wrong with this situation.

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When People Say Ugly Things About You

When people tell you you’re stupid, crazy, ugly, etc., there is a reason for it, & it isn’t what you think.

 

A person saying such things to you doesn’t necessarily believe that you are those things.  In fact, most likely they don’t believe it at all.  Quite the contrary, they think you are intelligent, attractive, etc.

 

So why would a person say such awful things to another when they don’t believe them to be true?  There are two very distinct possibilities.

 

Control.  A person with low self-esteem is much easier to control than someone with healthy self-esteem.  The more a person is beaten down, thinking they are stupid, worthless & other awful things, the easier that person is to control because they assume the controlling person knows best.  Also, a person with low self-esteem will work as hard as they can to get love & approval.  This works nicely for the controller because she can get anything she wants from the victim.

 

Projection.  Narcissists love to project their flaws onto others.  If the narcissist is a liar, she will accuse you of lying.  Overeats?  She’ll call you a glutton, pig or fat.  By doing this projection thing, it allows the narcissist to be angry about the flaw while not accepting that they have it.  It is just one in their arsenal of horrible coping skills.

 

The next time someone says terrible things about you, take notice.  There is a very good reason for it, & chances are that it isn’t that they are offering you constructive criticisms in order to help improve you.

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Sloppy Narcissists

Many narcissists are incredibly sloppy.  Their homes & cars are dirty & disorganized.  There are several possible reasons for this.

 

Often, overt narcissists feel they are above doing mundane chores such as washing their car or cleaning their home.  They expect their parent or spouse to take care of such trivial matters.  Covert narcissists will do these things in order to show their lowly status so you will pity them.  See what their overtly narcissistic spouse makes them do??  Poor covert narcissist…

 

Overt narcissists also enjoy the power trip of making someone else clean up after them.  They enjoy the feeling of power they get from making anyone do or feel anything, quite frankly, & having someone clean up after them is just a part of that.  Power in any form equals narcissistic supply.

 

Being messy means people don’t want to come into your personal space.  This can work well for the covert narcissist since they are often more introverted than their extroverted counterpart, the overt narcissist.

 

It can be a show of dominant behavior if someone is messy in another person’s space.  It shows that the narcissist is taking over someone else’s space or is exercising dominance over the space.  My ex husband was incredibly sloppy around our home & cars even knowing how much it bothered me.  He said he didn’t mind the mess, which obviously was all that mattered to him.  No amount of begging & pleading would make him stop being a slob.  Looking back, I believe it was simply a way of extending his dominance.  Also, my mother was a terrible housekeeper when I was a kid.  It bothered my father.  So much so, he once had me ask her to clean the house for my birthday gift (the result was her screaming at me & the house stayed filthy.  He never acknowledged how wrong it was to put me in this position).    I believe this was her way of dominating the home as well as her attitude of being above doing housework.

 

If you’re in a relationship with a messy, sloppy narcissist, make no mistake, it has a purpose.  Everything narcissists do has a purpose, which includes being slobs.  If you’re frustrated by this, that is supply for the narcissist.

 

Unfortunately I have yet to find any way to deal with this behavior successfully.  All I can tell you is to pray about it & ask God for wisdom & creative ways to deal with the situation.  And, remember, it’s ultimately narcissistic supply, so provide as little as possible.  Respond, don’t react.  Hide your anger or hurt in their presence.  The less supply you provide a narcissist, the greater the chance that person will get bored with attempting to upset or control you.

 

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How Narcissists Use Fear Of Consequences To Control

Narcissists are masters of abuse.  They abuse as cleverly as Claude Monet created beautiful works of art.  Sadly, instead of leaving behind beauty as a result of their efforts as Monet did, they leave behind devastation & destruction.

 

A favorite thing for any narcissist to do is to control their victim.  Whether the narcissist is overt or covert matters not in this area, because they all love control.

 

One means to control their victim is to create a fear of consequences.  Naturally, the overt narcissist will use this tactic a bit differently than the covert type, but both use it with equal fervor, & both will send the same messages to the victim: “I’m rejecting you.”  “You’re no good & not worthy of my love.”  “You’re crazy.”  “You will go along with what I want or else face my wrath.”

 

If an overt narcissist wants to control you, she may scream, psychologically abuse or even physically abuse you.  With a covert narcissist, he will give you the silent treatment, attempt to make you feel guilty, attempt to make you pity him or even portray himself as the victim of your abuse.

 

Naturally, victims want to avoid these awful consequences, so they stop whatever behavior triggered the narcissistic abuse.

 

That is how a fear of consequences is born.  Once that happens, the narcissist learns she can repeat those behaviors to control her victim.

 

When a person grows up with a parent doing this, it can be hard to stand up to that parent, even as an adult.  I understand that completely.  However, it must be done!

 

I’m not saying you have to return tit for tat, screaming at your parent or returning their abusive behavior to them (as justified as it might be..).  I am saying that you can & should reject their behavior.  Tolerating it only means you will continue to be abused by that person, which is unfair.  It also sends the message to you & any others who see it that you won’t defend yourself, you don’t matter, it is perfectly acceptable to abuse you & if you will tolerate this abuse, certainly more will also be acceptable to you.

 

With narcissists, often saying something confrontational or even setting a simple boundary isn’t a good idea.  They will use that information to hurt you further by repeating the behavior or they will tell others how cruel you were to them, while continuing the behavior.  You need to know your own individual situation well, so you know when is a good time to speak out, & when isn’t.  Any time I’ve had to deal with my narcissistic parents, I ask God to provide whatever I will need for the interaction.  Wisdom, strength, courage to speak up.. anything He knows I will need.  That has helped me tremendously in knowing when I should speak up & when I shouldn’t.

 

On the times you know in your heart it is best not to speak out, you still can set your boundaries & not tolerate the abuse.  You can hang up the phone or leave the room.  All you have to say is, “I need to go now.  Good bye.”  You don’t owe them any explanations beyond that.

 

You also need to look at their abusive consequences differently.  Getting the silent treatment?  Think of it as a reprieve from drama.  Enjoy it while it lasts!  Is she screaming at you?  Trying to make you feel guilty?  Acting like she’s the victim & you’re the abuser?  Remember, normal people do NOT behave this way!  This just goes to show how messed up the narcissist is.  She is doing these things to make herself feel better by controlling you as well as injuring your self-esteem by putting you down.  If she’s accusing you of being abusive, she is also projecting her own flaws onto you so she can be angry about them while at the same time, rejecting any responsibility for having them.  Looking at things this way helps you not to be as devastated or controlled by narcissistic abuse.  It protects your self-esteem, too, when you understand why these things are being done to you.

 

Also, you need to remember that you are an adult now.  No parent, narcissistic or not, has the right to control their child.

 

And, as an adult, your parent can’t hurt you anymore.  They can’t take away your video games or car keys.  What can that person possibly do to you?  At this stage, they would have to move into illegal actions (stalking, harassment, reporting false claims to Child Protective Services, etc).  Or, they possibly could cut you out of their will so you don’t get an inheritance if your parent dies before you.  Really though, is that a big deal?  It’s only money- you can make your own, & doing that wouldn’t have strings attached to it.  When narcissists give you money, there are always strings attached somehow.  Better to avoid those strings!

 

Dear Reader, if you are still in a relationship with your narcissistic parent, then I urge you to remember such things.  Protect yourself & your sanity as much as you can from your narcissistic parent.  You do not deserve their abuse, & you have every right to protect yourself from it however you see fit.

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Control Tactics

Being raised by narcissists, I learned early in life how to be a good victim.  So good, I’ve been in relationships (friends, romantic & even family) with many abusive people.  Not all were narcissists, but they all shared something in common- their need to control me.

 

Not all controlling people are narcissists, but all narcissists are controlling.  Learning to recognize various methods people use to control others can help you to understand what is happening & react accordingly.

 

Coming on too strong.  When you first meet someone & they immediately want to be your best friend or start talking of marriage right away, this is a bad sign.  I once had a friend who upon meeting said we were going to be best friends, & she was extremely controlling.  The same for a man I once dated who started talking marriage within a month of meeting.

 

They expect you to read their minds.  If the person is acting unhappy, you’re supposed to know why & what they want you to do to make it all better.  If you don’t, you aren’t a good friend, you don’t love them, etc.

 

The silent treatment.  Narcissists in particular enjoy this one.  The silent treatment means refusing to speak to you or acknowledge you rather than discuss the problem.  Withdrawing their love is designed to make you feel as if you have done something terribly wrong, & to make you want to make it up to them.  It keeps you off balanced, & until you realize what is happening, working hard to make the person giving you the silent treatment happy with you again.

 

Talking around the problem at hand.  This distraction technique removes your focus from the real problem & puts it wherever the controller wants it.  Usually on you & your flaws, real or imagined.

 

Constant talking.  Narcissists love to brag about themselves  & never tire of  the sound of their own voices.  Other controlling people talk constantly as well.  This tactic keeps the attention on the controller & the victim giving the controller their full attention.

 

Projection.  Accusing a victim of a behavior that the abuser does is projection.  The goal is to change the behavior of the victim.  For example, if the victim is called selfish, the victim will work hard to prove how unselfish she is.

 

Not “walking the walk.”  A controlling person has very definite opinions of things.  For example, your home should be so clean at all times, when you clean it, it’s hard to tell anything was done because it was that clean before you started.  Yet, their house has enough dust on the tables to write your name in, & don’t you dare say a word about it lest you face their wrath.

 

Using guilt trips.  Guilt trips are supposed to make you feel so bad, you’ll never do that action again.  Healthy guilt is a good thing.  It keeps you from doing things like stealing or cheating on your spouse.  You know doing such things would make you feel miserable, so you avoid doing them.  Guilt trips are about control & not necessarily about you doing something bad.

 

Bullying.  Bullies come across quite scary & intimidating.  The truth however is that they are simply cowards.  They try to make themselves look scary by acting intimidating so they’ll get their way.  Refusing to give in often makes them stop their ridiculous behavior.

 

Urgency.  By creating a false sense of urgency, it means the victim feels she has no time to think about things, she must act & act right now.  Urgency eliminates the chance to consider the situation & evaluate choices.

 

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Subtle Manipulation Tactics

Narcissists are very manipulative.  They project their faults onto their victims when confronted about their bad behavior.  They criticize anything & everything about the victim, destroying their self esteem, until only an empty shell of a person exists.  They gaslight.  They go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde on a moment’s notice to prevent those they want to impress from seeing their dark side.

 

There are some other, very subtle behaviors narcissists do to abuse as well.  This article will discuss some of those behaviors that may have slipped by you unnoticed.

 

Taking on too much control in a relationship.  Whether it’s a romantic partner or a parent, having no say or control can destroy one’s self esteem.  For example, if you grew up with an engulfing narcissistic mother, she probably didn’t allow you to do much because she claimed you couldn’t do anything right.  This easily can lead to feeling extremely insecure as an adult, because somewhere inside, you don’t believe you can do anything right.  Or, for example, if the new person you’re dating insists on driving every time you two go out, over time, this can lead to you feeling anxious about your driving skills.  Especially if you grew up with a narcissistic parent or two & have fragile self esteem to start with.  My ex husband did this to me along with severely criticizing my driving, & as a result, I’m a very anxious driver.

 

Questioning everything.  Naturally, there are going to be times you give wrong information & need correction.  No one is perfect.  But, if your narcissistic parent or partner questions & corrects everything about you, then this is designed to keep you off balance & feeling insecure.  Basically, it’s like telling you that you’re stupid, & the other person knows better.  It worked for Satan in the Garden of Eden.  Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (NIV)

 

Blaming you.  For what?  Everything.  In 2014, I had a bit of a rough patch.  While splitting firewood, my husband accidentally dropped a large log on my big toe, which I’m pretty sure broke it.  About a week after, I picked up a plastic bag.  As I picked it up, it gave & a new can of Lysol landed on the same foot, near the broke toe.  Shortly after, something else heavy landed on the same foot, although I forget what it was now.  When I told my mother about this, she told me it was all my fault- I should be more careful.  Blame for things that aren’t your fault can create a feeling of shame inside.  You begin to think you should’ve known better, or done something differently.  How could you be so stupid as to do whatever you did?!  Blaming creates a nasty internal dialog.

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Another Control Tactic Of Narcissists- Interrupting

As anyone subjected to a narcissist for any length of time knows, narcissists love to control other people.  It gives them a sense of power, which gives them narcissistic supply, in other words, feeds their ego.

 

One tool they use that seems innocuous is interrupting others.

 

Interrupting seems like simple bad manners, but with narcissists, it is much more.

 

Narcissists only care about themselves & procuring narcissistic supply, & interrupting gives them a couple of ways to gain that supply.

 

For one thing, interrupting is often done if the other person in the conversation is not discussing the narcissist or anything about the narcissist’s life.  The narcissist will interrupt & turn the conversation back to what she wants to talk about- herself, her accomplishments, how talented she is, etc.  Most people who have been interrupted allow the conversation to take the new turn, seldom returning to the original topic.

 

Another reason narcissists interrupt is that taking over a conversation gives them a sense of power.  They were able to redirect the conversation, which makes them feel powerful, & provides narcissistic supply.

 

Interrupting may seem not worth fighting over, but anything that provides a narcissist supply can make them want to use you more & more.  That is why it is vital if you’re in any relationship with a narcissist to provide as little supply as possible.  The more supply you provide, the more they will use & abuse you.

 

Interrupting is pretty simple to deal with. My narcissistic mother uses this tactic constantly, & I have learned from her the best way to deal with it is not to deal with it.  I ignore her as much as possible & show no reaction to her.   If I’m talking with someone else & she interrupts, I ignore whatever she is talking about, then when she is finished talking, resume the conversation she interrupted.

 

Sometimes, she uses more unusual methods of interrupting.  Once in a restaurant, my father & I were talking about a topic she wasn’t interested in.  As we spoke, she picked up a napkin, held it to her nose & acted like she was blowing her nose, making loud, gross noises with her mouth.  My father & I stopped talking, & she took the napkin away, & began laughing a very creepy, unsettling laugh.  It was painfully obvious she did this to get attention, & it worked.  Not only were my father & I looking at her, several others in the restaurant were as well.  Thank God, He showed me immediately she just wanted attention, so I quickly resumed the conversation with my father, as if nothing happened.  When ridiculous antics are her interruption tool of choice, I ignore them too.

 

The same goes for nasty comments to interrupt.  When she says something hateful, it’s obvious it’s just to gain attention/supply.  Another example was during dinner with my parents & grandmother once many years ago.  My mother told my father what to order.  He said he wanted a change, & asked what I was going to get.  I said the taco salad, & he decided to try one.  When dinner arrived, he & I were talking.  My mother looked at our plates & loudly said, “It looks like someone threw up on your plates.”  I acted as if she hadn’t said a thing, & continued talking to my father. It annoyed her- my father reacted to her by giving her a shocked expression, but I ignored her.  I’m sure the goal was to get an equal reaction out of me.

 

Ignoring is pretty easy, but sometimes having no reaction can be difficult.  If you remember exactly why this is happening, & how you do NOT want to provide narcissistic supply, that helps you to stay calm.

 

Prayer also helps.  Ask God to help you before you answer that phone or visit your narcissistic mother.  He truly will not disappoint you!

 

Once your visit is done, you’re going to be angry &/or hurt.  Don’t hold it in!  Get it out by praying, talking with a safe person, or journalling.  Maybe a combination of all of them.  Whatever works for you.

 

By staying calm & ignoring your narcissistic mother’s petty interruptions, you are taking back control.  It also will frustrate her, & she will use this tactic less & less frequently.

 

 

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