Tag Archives: manipulation
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.
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.
Some covert narcissists are what I think of as the consummate victim. They are the ones who are always wronged, always the victim, & never at fault for anything. Some examples of their behavior are as follows.
The narcissist says something cruel. You get angry, & rightfully so. She claims she never meant to hurt your feelings. She was just trying to help & had no idea what she said would upset you. She then stops speaking to you for weeks, even if you apologized.
The narcissist tries to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do. Naturally, you refuse to do it. She claims you don’t love her. How could you refuse to do this one little thing for her, especially after all she’s done for you?!
The narcissist is your elderly parent who expects you to come at their beck & call. You tell your parent you only are available one day a week to do what she needs. She tells your family how you refused to help her, & they attack you for being a bad daughter, ungrateful, a spoiled brat & more.
Narcissists who claim life is so unfair to them or that they are mistreated when people confront them on their abusive behavior are also consummate victims. There are also those who blame their victims for their abusive behavior. They are also consummate victims, as are those who complain about their problems, yet refuse to do something to change the situation.
Dealing with these people is incredibly frustrating, I know. 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. When I refused to take his call when he called at 10 one evening, he called my in-laws & a cousin who lives almost 500 miles away. He told both he was so concerned about me for not answering the phone, & asked them to have me call him immediately. Another time, I was angry with my mother in-law because she had snooped through my purse yet again. She asked my husband why I was angry, & he told her. I overheard the conversation. She claimed not to know what she did would be upsetting to me.
Both situations were similar. As a result of my father’s & mother in-law’s actions, my husband & I got into an argument about his mother & my cousin & I argued about my father. Being the typical consummate victims, their obnoxious behavior caused problems for the real victim while making themselves look good.
There are some things that you can do that can help you if you must deal with this behavior in covert narcissists.
Always rely on God to help you in this situation. He will be glad to help you discern the truth & strengthen you to do whatever you need to do!
Remember the type of person that you’re dealing with. No matter what you do, this person will twist the situation around to make you look bad & them look like the innocent victim of your cruelty. Expect nothing else because this person has no desire to behave any other way.
Also remember that there is nothing wrong with you setting boundaries or confronting this person on their abusive behavior. Both of those are good things to do. They are healthy & show you have self respect.
Consummate victims are very skilled at recruiting flying monkeys. When you set those boundaries or confront the narcissist about her behavior, no matter how gently & reasonably you do so, it’s a safe bet someone will tell you how cruel, unreasonable, wrong, etc. you are. When this happens, ignore whatever these flying monkeys have to say. They don’t know the truth, only what the narcissist has told them. Also, it’s best to refuse to discuss the narcissist with them.
Lastly, it’s also important to remember that consummate victims may project their status on their real victims. It can be easy to believe their lies since narcissists are talented actors who give very convincing performances. To avoid believing their lies, remember that you are NOT a consummate victim if you are angry about being abused, setting healthy boundaries or refusing to be manipulated.
If you are faced with a covert narcissist who portrays herself as a consummate victim, you can cope. You have the knowledge & strength to handle this ugly situation.
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.
Since my last post was about red flags in those who write about narcissism, I thought I’d make today’s post about fellow survivors.
Most people who have survived narcissistic abuse are good people who are trying hard to recover. Naturally they have issues, but at least they’re working on them & working on getting healthier. They also are willing to share what they learn to help others in similar situations, & do so without any arrogance. They’re also open to input from other people, because they realize they don’t know it all- there is always more to learn on this topic.
Not every victim is this way, however. Some turn abusive.
I don’t know why some victims try to heal & why some become abusive but it does happen sometimes. If you’re going to interact with other victims through online support groups, reading blogs or on social media, you need to be aware of some red flags.
The biggest red flag to watch out for is narcissism. Many of you know the signs already so I won’t repeat them here. I’ll just share a link to the page on my website where I wrote about it if you care to check it out: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Narcissistic-Personality-Disorder.php
There are other red flags, too. If a person gives advice too freely, for example. While most victims want to help others, they also realize how rude it is to give unasked for advice. They also realize sometimes a person just needs to speak things out loud to help them work through a situation, & that doesn’t mean they’re looking for advice.
If a person is bossy or demanding with their advice, that’s another red flag. Most people realize that all people are individuals. What worked for them may not work for another. They realize it’s not a good idea to try to force someone to follow their advice & let the other person decide for themselves whether or not to follow it.
Your average victim of narcissistic abuse also isn’t judgmental or critical. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged & criticized so harshly, so they don’t inflict that on anyone else. Some victims turned abusers, however, can be extremely judgmental & critical.
Some victims also become very arrogant. They seem to think because they found success in doing something that helped them, that everyone should follow in their footsteps & if they don’t, they’re foolish.
These same people are also usually the first ones to shame people who, “don’t just go no contact.” They make it clear they don’t believe there is any reason not to go no contact, & they offer no compassion to anyone who wants to but it unable to or is trying to find another option.
Abusive victims also make excuses. If they are short with someone, it’s always for a reason like they’re having a bad da, as one example. They don’t apologize or accept responsibility for the hurtful things they do.
And, if you call a person like this out on their actions, they WILL be furious. They may offer a non apology. They may offer lame excuses for their behavior. They also may get mad at you. That in particular is a big red flag, because most victims of narcissistic abuse apologize easily & often. They don’t get mad when called out on their bad behavior. They usually get mad only when someone is accusing them of something they didn’t do.
One other red flag is a smear campaign. This is very common on social media. If someone feels the online support group they participated in wasn’t a good environment for example, social media is an easy way to let the world know how you feel about it. That is pretty normal behavior, I think, but if a person posts about that group in a way that really trashes it, that is a red flag.
The last red flag is stalking or harassing another person online. With your average victim of narcissistic abuse, they may have a dispute with someone then either stop speaking with them or even block them entirely. A victim who is also abusive however, may harass or stalk someone who disagreed with them. They may leave nasty comments on their page or join groups the other person is in & harass them in the group. This nonsense can go on for a very long time, especially with narcissists.
The best advice I can give in these situations is the Gray Rock method. Don’t react to their outrageous behavior or show them that what they do bothers you. Remain calm & ignore their behavior. Don’t defend yourself to their smear campaigns. Instead, simply block them wherever you can. Most people like this will get bored easily & leave you alone at this point. Narcissists may not be so simple to get rid of however. They may bother you for a long time. Never, ever respond to them- instead keep blocking them & their flying monkeys.
Narcissists love using shame as a weapon. Not only does it make them feel superior, but it takes attention off of their bad behavior while simultaneously discrediting their victim. It also makes a victim easy to control. Shame is a very effective weapon.
There are various ways narcissists use shame.
Narcissists reinvent the past. They tell stories differently than they actually happened. They either claim to be the reason someone succeeded or twist the story so the other person looks stupid, like a failure, etc. Since narcissists speak with such certainty, this can make a victim doubt their own memories & feel ashamed for something they didn’t even do.
They tell embarrassing stories about their victim. Narcissistic parents in particular seem to love this one. They tell stories that the victim would rather people don’t know about. My mother used this one with me, telling stories (usually in front of other people) of when I was a child & did stupid things. When I said I didn’t want her discussing these stories, she would shame me for how I felt, saying I was wrong & shouldn’t feel the way I did. It took a long time to realize that I wasn’t wrong- my feelings were just & this was nothing but an attempt on her part to make me feel shame.
Playing the role of victim. No matter what a narcissist does to a victim, they have the amazing ability to spin the situation in their favor, so they look like the victim, & the real victim is abusive. This can create shame in a victim very easily unless the victim is well aware of this game.
Religion can become a weapon. No true narcissist can be a Christian at the same time. Narcissism is diametrically opposed to the beliefs of Christianity. However, that doesn’t mean a narcissist won’t use Christianity to shame victims. Growing up, my mother told me I was going to hell for how badly I treated her. Later in life, a flying monkey said I was a bad Christian for treating my parents as I do & claiming to be a Christian. Thankfully, I also have a good enough relationship with God to know what they said was utter nonsense. If I didn’t, that comment would have caused a great deal of hurt & doubting my salvation!
“I was only joking!” “You’re too sensitive!” Nasty comments said to a victim followed by, “I was just kidding!” “Can’t you take a joke?” “You’re so sensitive!” & the like are also designed to make a victim feel ashamed for being righteously angry that they were offended by the narcissist’s cruel words. The goal is to make you feel ashamed of yourself for not realizing the narcissist was only kidding (which they weren’t) or being so sensitive you were offended by their “joke.” Don’t fall for it. You aren’t wrong!
Comparisons. If you & the narcissist have done similar things, you can guarantee the narcissist has done it better, at least if you listen to her side of the story. Everything with narcissists is a pissing contest (sorry to be crude- that’s the best term I know of to describe this situation). If you found a cure for cancer, they found it first, but didn’t want to brag like you’re doing! See what I mean? If they can make you feel badly for not being as good or as talented as them, that sows a seed for shame in you.
Talking down to others. Even a narcissist that isn’t overly intelligent can make a very intelligent victim feel stupid, & ashamed of being so stupid. Narcissists love to talk in circles & use big words (often that they don’t know the proper definition of & not in context). If you leave a conversation with a narcissist & your head is swimming, it’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because narcissists are masters of talking in circles, which is also known as word salad.
Acting as if the narcissist is the adult, the victim the child. This is very common among narcissistic parents. They’re all about keeping their children, children, no matter their child’s age. A person who thinks they’re immature & not wise like the narcissist is very easy to control. Narcissistic parents may continue using a tone of voice that intimidated their children when they were growing up well into that child’s adulthood. They may call victims immature or mock them with phrases like, “You’re such a baby/child!” “You’re so immature!” “You need to grow up!”
Remember this post if you’re faced with these behaviors. You do NOT need to feel shame! No one should put that on you, but narcissists will try to. If they do, never accept it. Ask God to tell you the truth. Also, look at your situation objectively & you will realize the truth. Write about it in a journal, too, since writing often gives a great deal of clarity that speaking can’t. You can deal with this unhealthy behavior in a healthy way!
One especially devious, creative ways narcissists abuse their victims is cementing facts in their brains. What I mean is, a narcissist can imply something once, then reinforce what they said by their actions instead of words. The result is you feel a certain way, & if you say anything to the narcissist, they will say they don’t know what you’re talking about or deny that they ever said anything in the first place.
As one example from my life, I have a terrible time admitting when I don’t feel well, taking time to recover or asking for help. I feel like I need to be OK at all times so I don’t upset anyone or burden anyone by asking them for help. I even question myself, wondering if I really have whatever problem I am dealing with at the time, even when my symptoms are glaringly obvious.
Do you have some false belief cemented in your mind too? If so, you’re not alone! This sort of thing happens all the time to children of narcissistic parents. There are some ways to cope.
As always, I recommend praying as the first step. Ask God for wisdom, to help you heal & anything else you can think of.
When it comes to healing, I firmly believe in getting to the root of the problem. It’s the most effective way to resolve the problem permanently. To do this, try to remember the earliest time in your life when you felt a certain way, & then deal with it from there. To explain it, I’ll tell you what I did.
When considering how hard a time I’ve had admitting I have health problems, I thought back over my life, present to past, during times I was sick or injured. I remembered many, many times when my mother didn’t believe I had a health problem unless it was something very obvious, like a bad case of the flu. As a child, she complained when she had to take care of me when I was sick. When I was only 5 years old, my mother woke me up one morning by tickling me. In trying to get away from her, I slipped & hit my head on the big wooden headboard. Long story short, the result was a trip to the ER & several stitches in my scalp. Afterward, my mother took me to the mall & bought me a coloring book & crayons, something she complained about buying for years. During the experience, my mother didn’t comfort me. She was upset & I felt completely responsible for that.
These experiences taught me that I shouldn’t burden anyone with my health concerns, I should be “ok” at all times so as not to upset anyone & my problems aren’t important.
To undo this warped thinking, I found it very helpful to look at things very logically, ignoring feelings for the moment. Here are some things I came up with:
- Why did my mother take me to the mall after a trip to the hospital?! I had a head injury! I should’ve been home, resting quietly. She could’ve called my father & asked him to pick up the coloring book & crayons on his way home from work, or asked a friend or neighbor to do it.
- My mother should never have complained to me about how hard that incident was for her or having to take care of me when I was sick. That is what parents do. It’s a part of the job.
- Why has my mother not believed me or blamed me about health issues as an adult? Since narcissists love projection, it makes me think it’s because she has either exaggerated or even faked her own health problems & thinks other people do the same
I can’t honestly say that I’m 100% ok now. I can say though, that since thinking about these things, I’ve already gotten better at admitting when I don’t feel well. I haven’t needed to ask anyone for help yet, but I am certain that will be easier too. It seems to me that when you face things, they lose much of their power over you. When you examine them & realize how wrong they were, they lose even more power.
What false beliefs are cemented in your mind? I would like to encourage you today to face them. No, it isn’t easy, but it is possible. The things I mentioned earlier did hurt me when I first thought about them, & made me angry. However, I’m still glad I did because that enabled me to remove the false beliefs I’ve carried around my entire life & replace them with healthier beliefs. I firmly believe the same thing can happen to 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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you know someone who is passive/aggressive? Passive/aggressive behavior is when someone is upset with you, but rather than try to work it out, they deny being upset. Instead, they do things to hurt or anger you.
Over a year ago when my parents came to my home, my mother wanted me to do something for her. As usual, she ordered me to do it, rather than asked. For the first time in my life, it ticked me off. I’m her daughter, not the hired help & I don’t like being treated as such. So, I responded with “since you asked me so nicely, of course I’ll do it.” She didn’t say anything, but apparently it sank in.
A few days later, my mother called me, wanting me to look something up on my computer for her. Rather than her usual demand, she asked me nicely, so I looked it up. Small victory for me! I quickly realized though that she wasn’t happy about asking rather than demanding, because she became passive/aggressive. Her hearing isn’t the best, but she also uses that when it benefits her to do so. While I was on the phone with her yesterday, about every other sentence at first was “What did you say? I can’t hear you Honey!” (Interestingly she only calls me Honey when she is playing deaf, which is how I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what she is up to.) I was practically screaming into the phone before she suddenly heard me. However, as the conversation went on, her hearing suddenly became better. I could speak fairly quietly & she heard me. Why? I think partly because I let her ramble on- she gained her narcissistic supply, which pleased her- & partly because she felt that she had satisfactorily let me know she wasn’t pleased with being forced to ask me to do something rather than demand it.
During the conversation, my mother also slipped in snide comments about how much she hates scary movies/books. She doesn’t understand how anyone can like such awful things! Why was this mentioned out of the blue? No doubt because she knows I love scary movies & stories. This is a way to scold me for my “poor choices” without directly doing so. A way to say I’m wrong without using those exact words.
There are other ways a person can exhibit passive/aggressive behavior, such as:
- being sarcastic.
- withholding praise, affection or intimacy.
- giving the silent treatment.
- running late.
- either not getting around to doing something asked of him/her, or doing it very poorly so you are forced to do it yourself if you want it done right.
Does any of this behavior sound familiar to you?
A lot of people are passive/aggressive. It’s a very common phenomenon with narcissists, but I think with non-narcissistic people as well. It’s a very immature type of behavior, & since there are a great deal of immature people in the world, it’s no wonder it’s quite common.
So how do you deal with a person who behaves this way?
First, you need to be able to recognize it. If you don’t recognize passive/aggressive behavior, you’ll end up enabling it. You’ll ask the person what is wrong, try to make them happy, do what they seem unable or unwilling to do.
Next, refuse to play along. If the person wants to behave badly, that is his/her choice. If someone is constantly late when you are supposed to get together, tell the person that the next time they are late, you will do whatever you are supposed to do together without that person. Then follow through on it. Or, if the person is obviously upset, ask what is wrong. If she says nothing is wrong, let it go. Don’t try to pry it out of her- she is an adult & can behave as such if she wants to resolve the issue.
Be happy. Pretend not to notice the other person sulking. Go on with your day in peace. It will annoy the other person that her behavior isn’t working as she wanted it to, so she may give up on it.
Passive/aggressive behavior is very common on social media. Vague posts about how “some people” behave or think just after you had a disagreement on that topic, or posting things showing a person is for something you aren’t or vice versa are all too common. Social media is great, but it can be a useful tool for narcissists & passive/aggressives. When these things happen, ignore them. Obviously the person posting what they have wants to make a point without discussing it with you in an adult manner. Opting to try to discuss it with them would most likely only frustrate you. Just ignore them. Unfollow or unfriend them.
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.
A very common tactic of narcissistic parents is to make the child & everyone else believe that the child is the problem behind the family’s dysfunction. This tactic of discrediting & blaming the child serves a twofold purpose.
Purpose #1 is to be sure that all attention is focused on the child so the narcissistic parent can abuse her child unnoticed. People are so busy looking at the child’s bad behavior, they don’t notice what the parent does to the child to make the child act out. They also won’t believe the child if she says anything about what the parent does to her. After all, the narcissistic mother has everyone convinced the child is a liar, disobedient, rebellious, etc. so why would anyone believe what that child has to say?
Purpose #2 is to create so much doubt in the child, that she doesn’t have time to focus on what is being done to her. She spends so much time thinking about what her narcissistic mother says she is doing wrong, how she can change, what she can do to please her narcissistic mother & more, that she doesn’t question the abuse that is being done to her.
I went through this with my mother as a teenager. Her friends who once liked me suddenly wouldn’t even make eye contact with me anymore. One so-called friend of my mother’s even gave me a lecture one day on how lucky I was to have a mother who loved me so much. I needed to start behaving myself for a change & stop making her life so hard. (Interestingly, just before that call, my mother had been screaming at me, accusing me of terrible things that I didn’t do. I sure didn’t feel so lucky!) I knew I couldn’t say anything to any of them about what my mother was doing to me, because they believed her.
At the time, it hurt me badly. I liked some of my mother’s friends, & was hurt when they no longer liked me. In time though, I realized that although it hurt, it wasn’t a bad thing to lose such people. Normal, intelligent people wouldn’t blindly have believed my mother. I’d always been a well-behaved, quiet child, so why didn’t anyone question my mother when she said I was doing such outrageous things as taking drugs or having sex with the entire high school football team? Such things were completely out of character for me- you would think someone would have said so to her, or maybe questioned me. Neither happened however. Losing people who so readily believed the worst of me really wasn’t a big loss.
If this has happened to you, please think about what I said in the previous paragraph. I know it can hurt when people assume you are the problem, but truly, losing people like that isn’t always a bad thing. You need & deserve people in your life who love you, not people who blindly believe something bad about you then judge & criticize you. In a way, your narcissistic mother did you a favor. She helped you to weed out the unsafe people in your life. Looking at the situation that way can help to take a great deal of the hurt out of the situation.
Narcissists love to accuse their victims of awful things. Crazy, stupid, selfish & more- there is no end to the hateful things a narcissist will call you. And, like everything else they do, there is a motive behind doing this.
Calling you these awful names doesn’t mean they actually believe you are crazy, stupid or selfish- instead, it gives them power & control.
How, you ask? Because if you are told you are selfish, for example, you are going to work hard to prove that you are not selfish. This gives the narcissist power over you because by saying what she did, she made you work harder for her. She feels better about herself at this point because you working hard to please her shows she has power. Plus, when she sees that she is able to make you do things, that makes her feel better about herself.
When someone tells you awful things about yourself, you need to think about it. Constructive criticism is said gently & to help you. Narcissists however, don’t say things nicely or to help. They say things cruelly or they imply things rather than say them outright, so if you confront them, they can say something like “I never said you were *fill in the blank*” “You read too much into things!” “You have such a vivid imagination!”
The person saying these things.. do they often criticize you? Do they often try to control you?
If you are having trouble determining what is really happening, ask God for discernment on the matter.
You do not deserve to be mistreated! If someone is telling you terrible things about yourself that you know are untrue, always remember that it says more about her than you. Normal people don’t tear down other people, but encourage & empower them instead.
I realized something interesting during a recent visit with my parents that I thought I should share with you, Dear Readers.
My mother has become increasingly controlling lately. My father wanted to visit me alone recently, & she told him & I both that “his days of doing that are over.” She comes along, period. My father has some serious health problems & was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so you might think this is a caring gesture on her part, not to let him drive or be out alone. However- he goes to his doctor appointments alone, because she claims he won’t let her go with him. So obviously, this is about control, not concern for his well being.
As she has seen her tactics working with him, she is attempting to be more controlling of me as well. They day my parents came by my home, she started showing this before they left their house. She called on their way out to tell me I needed to be waiting outside for her so we could go to lunch. I needed to watch for her car to drive past then go outside (from their place, you have to drive past my house, go to the next traffic light & make a U turn then drive about 1/4 of a mile to get to me). I listened to her give me my orders & promptly ignored them. I’m 44 years old- too old to be bossed around by my mother! While they were at my house later, she tried little things to let me know she was in charge. For example, I always sit on my love seat, usually alone or with a couple of cats around me. She insisted on sitting beside me, crowding me a bit. She is very fond of stealing my seat- I think it gives her a feeling of power, like if she sits there, it means she’s now in charge in my home.
By the time they left, I was livid. Livid how she treats my father then complains to me how she doesn’t understand why he thinks she’s “bossy” (Seriously?!). Livid she thought it was acceptable to treat me more like the hired help than her daughter. And to be honest, still angry that I can’t tell her about my own health problems I’ve had for six months & expect any empathy or understanding.
Later when speaking with my husband about the visit, I had a thought. Since my father is now even more under her control, I think it has given her a tremendous amount of confidence, & she thinks she can control me as well. She fails to realize just because he is weaker now doesn’t mean I am as well. Looking back over my life, it seems like when she increased her control over one of us, the other one had to suffer with more control as well. I wish I’d realized this sooner! I would have been more prepared for her control games on her last visit if I had. Instead, I was taken by surprise.
I don’t know for sure if other overt narcissists are this way or not, but I would guess some are since so many narcissists use very similar means of abuse.
Pay attention to your narcissistic mother, Dear Reader! If she is able to control your father (or a sibling or a friend or anyone) more lately, you may be next in line. Remember to keep & strictly enforce your boundaries! Don’t give her an inch no matter what, or she’ll take a mile (or ten…). Protect yourself & never let her control anything about you. You do not need to be controlled by anyone!
I happened to think of the strangest thing recently…
All my life, I’ve known I never wanted to have kids. Also all my life, this has bothered my mother tremendously. She used to tell me I’d change my mind when I grew up, I wasn’t normal, etc. When I was I think about 16 or 17, it really bothered her I felt this way apparently. She was obviously disgusted with me, & said, “I should’ve made you babysit when you were younger. Then you would want kids.” Does this make any sense to you? It sure doesn’t to me.
My mother tried other things to make me want children. She gave me baby dolls as a child & a toy stroller (which I promptly used to push around my favorite sock monkey..) when I preferred stuffed animals & toy cars. She constantly pointed out pretty little girls or cute little boys when we were in public places, expecting me to agree with her. This only made me jealous, hurt & angry because she never praised my looks (or anything about me), then to add insult to injury, she ridiculed me for my feelings. Her control tactics never had the desired effect on me, although I did try briefly in my late teens to convince myself I wanted a baby. When I started dating a man who said he wanted children immediately, I realized I really couldn’t feel the same way at all.
There have been other ways my mother has tried to change me too. To this day, she likes to give me clothing that is her taste, not mine. She also offers to lend me CD’s from her music collection, even though she knows our tastes in music are vastly different. Even in restaurants sometimes she will strongly suggest I get something to eat when that something doesn’t appeal to me at all.
Do these behaviors sound familiar to you? Did your narcissistic mother try to change you as a child, or does she still now that you’re an adult? Please know that you are NOT alone!! I truly understand your pain & frustration! Not only is it maddening when she tries to change you, it is also yet one more way to let you know she believes you aren’t good enough as you are. The message she sends is that you need to change something about yourself to be acceptable to your narcissistic mother. The sad truth of the matter is that even if you changed into what she wanted, there would be something else she would want you to change next. Then something else. It wouldn’t end, because she never will be satisfied.
I have learned the only successful way to deal with this frustrating situation when it arises is to be calm, cool & collected while firmly sticking to my boundaries. I show no emotions (even if I want to scream), while saying something like “Thank you, but I don’t need any new clothes”. Better yet is offering no explanation at all, because, as we all have experienced, any information you give a narcissist can & will be used against you. For example, the music my mother wants me to listen to? When she offers to let me take a CD home, I just politely say “No thank you.” Then change the subject.
The especially important part of this is to show no emotion, because showing your frustration & hurt feeds the narcissist. If your narcissistic mother sees she has hurt you, she will continue to pick at you until you’re in tears. If she sees she has made you angry, then she will push you until you are raging at her, while she sits back quietly, acting like the innocent victim. By refusing to show emotions, you take away her opportunities to do such things.
Another important part of showing your mother no emotions is to hold them in only until you are away from her & can safely express them! Holding in emotions is so unhealthy, but unfortunately, doing so temporarily a necessary survival skill when dealing with a narcissist.