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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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Ways Narcissists Gain Attention

Narcissists love attention, & many must be the focal point of everyone’s attention at all times.  Overt narcissists are naturally more brazen in how they command attention than their covert counterparts, but covert narcissists love attention too.  There are countless things they can do to draw all attention to themselves, but this post addresses some of the more commonly used tactics.

Narcissists have no manners whatsoever.  Add that in with their insatiable desire to have everyone’s attention, & you have a person who WILL interrupt whoever is talking.  When a person interrupts, they naturally become the center of attention, so it’s a useful & very commonly used tactic for narcissists.

Overt narcissists can be loud in how they interrupt people.  They usually will talk over people.  Covert narcissists, as usual, are more subtle.  They will try to have the final word in any conversation.  There is also a trick my covertly narcissistic father used.  As I would start to speak, he’d act like he was going to speak.  Naturally, I’d apologize & let him talk.  Eventually I realized that was his goal.  He didn’t want to hear what I had to say.  He wanted to shut me up so he could talk, & knowing I hate bad manners, I’d be polite & let him talk.

And, if a narcissist is hard of hearing, interrupting becomes easier yet.  Many have what I call selective hearing.  While they may indeed have diminished hearing, they also use the excuse of not hearing a person when it fits them.  If they want someone else to stop talking so they can talk, they can just start talking & claim they didn’t hear the other person talking.

Another way narcissists gain attention is by turning a conversation back to themselves.  After all, if people are talking about something that isn’t the narcissist, that means the narcissist isn’t the center of attention.  They will spin the conversation around to themselves in such a way that no one will have a clue how that happened.

Narcissists also gain attention by telling stories about you to other people, preferably in a group of which you also are a part.  Not good stories like how you got that big promotion at work or were your high school valedictorian, only stories that embarrass you.  This tactic is especially popular with narcissistic parents, but spouses also may use it, especially if the narcissist is older than the victim.  Telling embarrassing stories makes a person feel shamed & foolish, which makes a person easier to control, so that is an added bonus to the attention the stories gain.  And, the narcissist may spin the story so it looks like he or she rescued you somehow.

If the narcissist has some sort of pain like back pain, arthritis, or even a short term problem such as a broken leg, the problem will be used to his or her advantage.  You can expect this person to claim unbearable pain when not receiving all attention.  A similar scenario can happen if the narcissist has an illness or disease.  If this narcissist isn’t the center of attention, suddenly he or she will claim symptoms are flaring up, or maybe that he or she must lay down or go home immediately.  In either scenario, most people will focus on the narcissist & try to help, returning him or her to the center of attention.

Shock value is another favorite way narcissists gain attention.  My mother literally crashed my late father in-law’s funeral in 2018 to get her precious attention.  She drove to the graveside as the funeral was just starting & wouldn’t get out of her car.  People were shocked, & staring.  It worked as she wanted.  Other shock value tactics may include things like burping or passing gas loudly, or saying something totally outrageous such as gory details of how someone was murdered.  Shock value naturally stuns people, & they focus all attention on the narcissist, as was the goal.

When the narcissist in your life behaves this way, deprive them of that attention.  If they interrupt you, talk over them or talk to someone else.  If they change the topic back to themselves, change it back to the original topic.  If they use embarrassing stories, pain or shock value, ignore them.  Depriving a narcissist of attention means that action won’t be used again because it doesn’t work.

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When Narcissists Ignore Their Victims

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Another Weapon In The Narcissistic Arsenal

One weapon narcissists use is to tell their victims “I know you better than you know yourself.”  While it may sound rather innocuous, that phrase, especially when said by a parent to a child, can be devastating to the self esteem.

My mother said this to me my entire childhood.  I ended up feeling like I was stupid (how can a person not know themselves after all?!) & like I had to look to her to know what I liked & didn’t like, my opinions on things, what I should & shouldn’t do.  I was so insecure, & partly because of that stupid phrase!  Even now, in my mid 40’s, I have issues sometimes with figuring out what I really like & don’t like.

Have you heard this insidious phrase from your narcissistic parent too?  If so, you’re not alone!

The key to letting go of the insecurity caused by hearing this phrase is to pay attention to yourself.  Get to know you.  The real you, the person God made you to be & not the person your narcissistic parent tried to make you into.  Notice how you truly feel about everything.

Chances are, when you first start to do this, you’ll feel some guilt, like you’re going against your narcissistic parent’s wishes.  That is normal.  Just remind yourself that you are allowed to be an individual.  God created you to be an individual.  You were made to be you, not some cheap imitation of you & certainly not some lump of clay molded by a narcissistic parent only concerned with their wishes.

As you begin to know yourself, your narcissistic parent will disapprove.  Don’t let that disapproval discourage you. The disapproval doesn’t mean you’re wrong or a bad person at all!  It means the narcissist is disappointed in you for not continuing to allow her to control you.  If your narcissistic parent attempts to make you feel bad, wrong, guilty or ashamed because you’ve changed, pretend you don’t notice.  Ignore the comments!  You do what is best for you, NOT the narcissist!

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Subtle Tactics Narcissists Use To Abuse

When most people think of narcissists, they think of someone loud & obnoxious, who is obviously abusive.  That isn’t always the case however.  Some tactics narcissists use to abuse their victims are very subtle.  So much so that when they happen, a victim may not give them a moment’s thought.  That doesn’t make these tactics any less abusive.

 

Trying to “fix” your appearance.  This can be done in very subtle ways, such as suggesting what foods you can eat to help you lose weight or what clothes would look better on you than what you normally wear.  It’s a way to shame your looks disguised as offering helpful suggestions.  It’s also a good way to make someone look like what the narcissist wants that person to look like.

 

Isolation.  Whether the narcissist in your life is a parent or spouse, it’s a safe bet that person wants to isolate you.  They may say things like, “She isn’t really your friend.  If she was, she would/wouldn’t ….”  “I heard he said …. about you.  It was a terrible thing to say, especially since he’s your brother!”  “They don’t like me.  It really hurts me you’d be friends with people who obviously hate me.”  The fewer people in your life, the easier you are to control.  You won’t be able to talk about your situation with anyone, so no one can tell you what he or she is doing is wrong.

 

Disrespecting your boundaries.  It starts out small.. a little compromise you don’t object to.  Then it’s another, slightly bigger compromise, then another & another.  Before you know it, you aren’t allowed to have any boundaries.  The old saying, “give him an inch, he’ll take a mile” is the absolute truth with narcissists.

 

Making you doubt yourself.  “Are you sure you said that?”  “No, I don’t think you really want that.  I think you’d prefer….”  Subtle phrases like this are nothing but gaslighting.  They make a person doubt their perceptions, feelings, & opinions.  It’s a very subtle way of tearing a person down mentally & emotionally.

 

Using anger to control you.  In romantic relationships, they hide their anger until they are comfortable that you’re in it for the long haul, then they start using their anger suddenly.  Overt narcissists often will scream & rage, sometimes for hours.  Covert narcissists give quiet displays of their rage- they give the silent treatment, give disapproving looks, tell other people how cruel you are to them & play the victim.  Some narcissists will punch walls or take their anger out on inanimate objects as a way to intimidate you.  My ex husband did this & told me how lucky I was he took his anger out on our microwave instead of me.

 

If someone is doing these things to you or someone you know, it’s abuse, plain & simple!  You have every right to protect yourself from this type of behavior, no matter who is doing it.  Take back your power!  Set & enforce your boundaries.  Leave if the person becomes angry, especially if you’re afraid for your safety.  Rekindle old friendships the narcissist forced you to abandon. Start a journal if you don’t currently have one, & keep track of the things the narcissist says- seeing things in writing may give you more clarity.  Most of all pray.  Ask God what you should do in this situation.  He will guide you & give you creative ways to handle it or the strength to go no contact.

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Ignoring Narcissists

Do you know the one thing that makes a narcissist’s head practically explode?
 
Ignore her.  It’s that simple.
 
Love her or hate her, either is fine- both mean you are giving her some attention, & as long as the narcissist gets attention, that is all that matters.  Positive or negative attention isn’t important- only that she is receiving attention.  But ignore her as if she doesn’t even exist?  Pay her no attention at all no matter what her games?  She simply can’t handle it.  She will ignore the other person at best, or will do her level best to discredit the ignoring person or take revenge at worst.  (It can be quite the show!)  
 
The reason for her outrageous behavior is what is called narcissistic injury.  Anything (real or perceived) that threatens a narcissist’s self-esteem is what is known as a narcissistic injury.  And, rejecting a narcissist, even when it is done simply to protect yourself from her harmful behavior rather than to be mean, is a threat to her self-esteem.  She won’t care why you don’t want to speak to her- she only cares that you are rejecting her.
 
There is a possible result a narcissistic injury that anyone dealing with a narcissist should be aware of, & that is what is known as a narcissistic rage.  Narcissistic rage ranges anywhere from refusing to speak to the one who inflicted the narcissistic injury, hurling cruel insults, slander, screaming, sending others to “talk sense into” the offender or even physical violence.  Remember, with narcissists, the only thing that matters to them, is them.  You, your feelings, desires, life, friends or family mean absolutely nothing to them.  They will do anything to take care of themselves, & if that means hurting you in any way to do that, so be it.
 
I’ve been the object of narcissistic rages many times in my life, & I have noticed that ignoring the narcissist is what creates the worst rages.  I’ve also noticed that the more “valuable” you are to the narcissist (you listen when they want to talk, do what they want you to do, etc), the more potential for an especially nasty rage.  The less “valuable” you are to the narcissist, the more likely the rage won’t be bad, or they may even walk away quietly.
 

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