Tag Archives: deflection

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

A Different Facet Of Triangulation

Triangulation is a commonly known tactic of narcissists.  It involves the narcissist having a third party try to talk to you about what is bothering her.  For example, if you have set limits on the time you are willing to spend with your narcissistic mother, she may have your father talk to you about how you should spend more time with your parents.

I realized recently that there is another kind of triangulation that is often used with covert narcissists.  It is where the covert narcissist tells you about the terrible things someone else has said about you, & tells them terrible things you have said about them. The things they share aren’t necessarily true.

If you have two narcissistic parents- one overt, one covert- then chances are you are aware of this, even if you haven’t thought about it before. I have experienced this firsthand.  My father, a covert narcissist, tells me anything bad that my overtly narcissistic mother says about me (I’m not sure how much is true of what he has said).  He also has told my mother I’ve said bad things about her when I hadn’t.  For example, he has told me many times my mother has said someone should report me for having too many pets (I have a legal amount of pets & I own my home rather than rent, so no one would do anything if I was reported, by the way).  He also has told my mother that I said she isn’t allowed in my home when I said no such thing.  The truth is I told him I was sick of her insulting my furkids & if she couldn’t be civil to them, she doesn’t need to come into my home ever again.

I’ve heard of other covertly narcissistic parents doing similar things, & I’ve wondered why.  After praying about it, I think I understand.

Telling their child such things, be they true or false, means the child will pull away from the overtly narcissistic parent & be closer to the covertly narcissistic parent.  This means more narcissistic supply for the covert narcissist.

This dysfunctional behavior also causes the child to think poorly of the overt narcissist, & it makes the covert narcissist look good by comparison.  After all, the covert narcissist comes across as concerned for the child (“I thought you should know what your mother said about you..”), unlike the overt narcissist who has said such hurtful things. And, the covert narcissist isn’t the one who said the hurtful things- he only relayed what he has heard, supposedly because you need to know these things.

This form of triangulation is also a type of deflection, because it takes attention off of the covert narcissist & his bad behaviors.  You become angry with the overt narcissist for saying such terrible things, & automatically don’t pay as much attention to the covert narcissist’s bad behaviors since your focus is elsewhere.

Covert narcissists love looking like a martyr, & this type of triangulation helps them to do that as well.  See what terrible things he has to put up with?  He has to listen to his mean wife talk trash about his child!  How horrible for him!  He is often so focused on making whatever was said (or he wants you to believe was said) that it stirs you up so much, you fail to realize at first that he didn’t defend you.  In fact, if you aren’t aware of this tactic, you may even feel sorry for him that he had to be exposed to this.

So how do you deal with this type of hurtful, dysfunctional behavior?

Obviously, setting boundaries in a normal way with any narcissist is futile.  Do not admit that it hurts you to hear these things, or the covert narcissist will realize the effectiveness of this weapon to hurt you, using it constantly.

Instead, show no reaction.  Pretend whatever is said doesn’t affect you in the least.   He may keep pushing the issue trying to get a reaction.  If he does & gets flustered at your calmness, & says something like “Aren’t you upset?” use logic in your response.  I’ve said things like, “Why would I be?  I know she hates everything about me.  This is hardly a surprise.  Besides, I just don’t care what she thinks about me anymore.”  Then I changed the subject as that information sank in.

Change the subject.  Repeatedly.  As often as needed.  Without saying anything along the lines of “On another matter..” or “Let’s talk about something different”, just bluntly change the subject.  Narcissists, overt or covert, don’t like subject changes- they want to be in charge of the conversation.  It will annoy him, but at least he’ll be off the topic.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Narcissism