Tag Archives: manipulation
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.
I visited a very good friend of mine yesterday. Like me, her mother was a narcissist. A much more malignant narcissist than mine. While we were talking, she mentioned that her mother never gave her the silent treatment. In fact, instead she would fake illness brought on by the stress my friend caused by either disagreeing with her or disobeying her.
I told her what she was missing out on! The silent treatment can be a wonderful thing! It gives you a break from your narcissistic mother’s drama, cruelty, mind games & more. At first, it may not feel good, but after a while, it really feels like a gift from God. Yes, that sounds awful, I know, but it’s the truth!
Many daughters of narcissistic mothers have faced the silent treatment at some point. As young children, it can be devastating! It certainly was for me. I couldn’t understand why my mother wouldn’t speak to me. I would try anything to gain her attention. I even asked what was wrong, & was met with among the most ridiculous responses ever: “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” At first this made me try harder, but I quickly realized that was why she said it, & stopped trying so hard.
As I grew older, I learned some more things about the silent treatment, & I’d like to share them with you to (hopefully!) help you.
- The silent treatment is about control. It is supposed to force you to ask, “What’s wrong?” so your narcissistic mother can tell you exactly what is wrong with you to upset her so much, she had to withdraw from you.
- The silent treatment is also to make you feel inadequate, flawed, wrong, crazy. The more messed up you believe you are, the less likely it is you’ll stand up to your narcissistic mother. You will be easier for her to control.
- The silent treatment really has nothing to do with what you did. Whatever you did was just an excuse to give you the silent treatment. Didn’t do anything? That’s fine too- narcissists aren’t above lying to get what they want.
- Normal, healthy people do NOT use the silent treatment!! Normal people get angry, & may even want a little space from you if you said or did something hurtful, but that space doesn’t last long. It’s only a little time to cool off, & not to punish you.
- The silent treatment shows the person giving it is very immature, selfish, childish.. If your narcissistic mother can’t approach you like an adult to work things out, using the silent treatment instead, she’s behaving like a spoiled rotten little child.
So how does one deal with being on the receiving end of the silent treatment??
- Keep the above list in mind. This will help you to remember that this silent treatment speaks more about your narcissistic mother’s problems than something being wrong with you. Like I said, normal, healthy people don’t use the silent treatment! They speak to the person who hurt them & work things out like mature adults.
- Never, ever ask, “What’s wrong?” If you do, you most likely will open up her narcissistic rage arsenal of weapons. “What’s wrong?” seems to translate to “Now I can really abuse her!!” in the mind of a narcissist. If your narcissistic mother won’t try to work this out, then that is her problem. How are you supposed to repair whatever you did wrong if you don’t even know what you did wrong?
- Remember, refusing to play your narcissistic mother’s games is honorable! Honoring your mother as the Bible commands doesn’t mean play into her manipulation. To truly honor someone means you want the best for them, & the best is for your mother to be a healthy person. Granted, to become mentally healthy, she has to want to become healthy- you can’t make her want that, nor can you make her healthy. However, you can gently push her in that direction by refusing to engage in her games.
- Think of this time without your narcissistic mother as a break. In all honesty, probably you aren’t getting the silent treatment because you did something bad. Probably, you dared to have your own opinion, didn’t praise your mother enough, didn’t jump through some ridiculous hoops that she wanted you to jump through. Why beat yourself up over something so stupid? Instead, just think of this silent treatment as a reprieve. Enjoy the peace & quiet for however long it lasts! Besides, most likely your mother will contact you soon anyway, as soon as she needs something from you.
- Take care of yourself. Refuse to think about “What did I do wrong?” or feel guilty. Instead, do nice things for yourself. Get a mani/pedi. Get yourself a new book you’ve been wanting. Spend a day relaxing with herbal tea & good movies.
It probably will take you some time to stop feeling guilty & to start enjoying the silent treatment. And then, you may feel somewhat guilty for enjoying it. I know I did at first. But, that doesn’t last long once you realize how peaceful your life has become!
I have realized that the last few times my mother has given me the silent treatment, it took me a while to realize it was happening! Weeks would go by, when suddenly I realized she hadn’t called me. Quite an improvement over fretting about how to get her to start speaking to me again & feeling guilty for being such a terrible daughter, don’t you think?
Giving gifts can be a wonderful thing. It makes the receiver feel loved because someone would listen closely enough to know what gift would make the receiver happy, then spend the time to pick out this gift, spend the time to wrap it up pretty & all this shows that they cared enough to want to do these things. The giver is also blessed because there is a great joy in seeing someone’s face light up when they get a special gift that you are responsible for picking out.
Unfortunately with narcissists, this isn’t the case.
For one thing, narcissists are notoriously terrible at giving gifts. To give a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself. You have to listen to what the receiver says about their needs & wants. You have to know things about them, such as their favorite color, the size clothing they wear, styles they like, their favorite author or singer. Narcissists can’t be bothered with such “trivial” matters, so they will choose what they like or what they think you need instead.
Narcissists also give you gifts in order to try to make you more like what they think you should be. Clothing in a color or style that they think you should wear instead of clothing you like, or a CD from a band they like instead of from a band you like. Probably fifteen years ago or so, during a conversation with my mother in-law that took place not long before Christmas, I mentioned the fact I don’t like to cook. I do it of course, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. For Christmas that year, she & both of my sisters in-law gave me a lot of cooking paraphernalia. I got spoons, spatulas, cook books, food & the largest, ugliest pasta dish I have ever seen in my life (I did find a good use for it eventually. When the roof leaked, in the short time before it was fixed, I used that ugly dish to catch the rain water that leaked into the attic ..lol)
And of course, in true narcissistic fashion, when they give gifts, the purpose is self-serving. Giving makes them feel like they are good people. See how caring they are? They gave someone a gift! Yay for the narcissist!! My mother gives me things constantly, often things she has gotten as gifts but didn’t like, clothes she wants rid of, clothes she will buy for me because she likes the color/style (not that I like them), or things she has received in return for donating to a charity. For the longest time, I felt like I should hold onto these things, I think because on some level, I thought these gifts meant she actually cared for me. Once I realized that she was giving me things not to bless me, but to serve her own agenda or clean out her own junk, I didn’t feel that need any longer to hold onto her gifts. Some, yes, but not many.
There also may be another motive when receiving gifts from a narcissist. They may want something from you. They may want you to do something for them, so when they ask for you to do that favor, they can say, “How can you say no after I gave you that great gift?” My in-laws are like that. Gifts come with strings attached. They give my husband birthday & Christmas cards with money, & in return, he is to help them with whatever needs they have, no matter how ridiculous. (Not that he shouldn’t help out his aging parents of course, but when they call him to take one of them to the emergency room rather than 911 in an emergency, something is very wrong!) Have they ever spelled this out? No. It is an unspoken rule, as many narcissistic families have.
Some narcissists also give to others in the hopes of making themselves appear to be the martyr, taken advantage of by ungrateful people. This often makes the recipient of the gifts feel as if they are taking advantage of the giver, & they offer to repay the “generous” narcissist somehow.
If you receive a gift from a narcissist, just be forewarned- the gift probably has some pretty hefty strings attached to it!
Good evening, Dear Readers!
I had an interesting experience a while ago…
My mother called me under the guise of telling me about a Stephen King movie coming on TV tonight. I knew about it already, what with him being my favorite fictional author, as many of you know. Plus it’s a new one based on a story in his book “Full Dark, No Stars” which I really enjoyed.
Anyway she took this opportunity to remind me (as she has probably thousands of times before) that she doesn’t understand what is wrong with me- why do I like scary stories? She certainly doesn’t like them & has no idea where I got my taste in such things! And did I know she saw the movie “Psycho” at the drive in when it came out, & it terrified her? Have I ever seen it? Yes, & it’s among my favorite movies. “GASP!! I just don’t understand what’s wrong with you!”
Same speech, different day. As usual, it annoyed me.
I finally thought to ask God why did she feel the need to do this? More attempting to shame me for liking an author she doesn’t approve of (even though he’s been my favorite since I was 8 & read “Night Shift” for the first time)?? He showed me that the motivation is to spoil my fun in watching this movie. Often her comments are made to shame me, yes, but when she calls to let me know one of his movies is coming on TV soon, it’s to spoil my fun in the hopes that I’ll give up liking this “horrible” author’s works & start liking the more happy, light & fluffy authors she likes.
*sigh* Yea, that ain’t happening. lol
Suddenly I realized she’s done this wet blanket thing so many times, as has my narcissistic mother in-law. When I got my first car, a cute little Buick Skyhawk, my parents took me to the dealer. Since I only had my learner’s permit at the time, my mother rode home with me, & complained the entire way (about 10 miles). “This car is too small!” “There’s no leg room!” & other untrue & snarky comments. It spoiled my very first drive in my first car. When my husband & I first started dating, his mother suggested she & I go to lunch & shopping. I said fine, when? Her response? “You WILL be taking Eric’s car instead of yours, right?” I was surprised & said “No, I’ll be driving mine.” (she doesn’t drive). She said “Oh.” & changed the subject. This exact conversation happened a total of 3 times before she gave up since I wasn’t taking his car & insisted on taking my own. It also set the stage for 8 long years of nasty comments about how awful my Oldsmobile was, how expensive it was to maintain & how I should just junk it, all because it simply needs a paintjob..
There were many other similar incidents with both of them, but I’m sure you get the point.
Amazing isn’t it? Amazing how narcissists think they know best what you should like. And, they can’t accept the fact that you might like something they don’t or vice versa. They act like it’s a crime, or a direct attack on them if you are different than they are, or have an interest they don’t. And, by golly, you better straighten yourself up & only be interested in what THEY deem worthy!
It’s amazing to me that any human being can be so insecure that they will hurt, anger & try to mold another person into liking/not liking the things that they do. How is it a threat to them if you like something they don’t?! Who cares?! Everybody is different, it’s a simple fact of life, so why does this even affect a narcissist?!
They are simply that insecure.
While narcissists may appear overly self-confident, the truth is that behavior is to convince not only other people but also themselves that they are wonderful, special people, & not the lowly, unworthy person they really feel like they are deep down on the inside. So, if you don’t like something they do, then they take that as you don’t approve of them. On the opposite side of the same coin, if you like something they don’t, they also take that as you not approving of them or you thinking you are better than they are.
Narcissists simply can’t see this situation as 2 different people having different tastes.
Remind yourself of this next time the narcissist in your life insults you for not liking something she likes, or for liking something she doesn’t. As always, her behavior speaks volumes about her, not about you! ❤
Good day, Dear Readers!
Over the last few years, I have reached the end of my tolerance for dealing with abusive, selfish, manipulative or narcissistic people. Having dealt with a couple of people like this recently, I thought I’d share some ways to recognize safe people vs. unsafe people. So many people who have survived some type of abuse often attract unsafe people, & have trouble recognizing safe people. I was that way too, but have learned the difference. I hope this post will help you to learn the difference!
Safe people respect your time- they don’t assume you are going to wait for them to call or show up at a certain place. Unsafe people, however, have no respect for your time or life.
Safe people ask, rather than make demands. Unsafe people are entitled, believing they deserve whatever they want or need, even at the expense of others.
Safe people do not jump to conclusions. For example, if you don’t answer the phone, they don’t call you back 15 times in a row. Safe people assume you are unavailable, & either wait for you to call them back or they call you back several hours later or the next day. Unsafe people call you back repeatedly, assume you didn’t answer the phone because you are mad at them, or try to make you feel guilty or get mad at you for not answering their call. That is a control tactic- forcing you to deal with them on their terms.
Safe people aren’t judgmental & critical. They don’t say things like, “well if I were you, I would-” or judge or criticize you for decisions you make, things you like, etc. Those are invalidating behaviors are cruel!
Safe people help & support you, rather than mock you or tell you how your problem affects them. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, as I have experienced this many times. The day my dog, Danya, died suddenly & unexpectedly, while my husband & I were trying to gather his body (he was over 100lbs- not easy to move him!) to take him to the vet’s for cremation, my mother called. I told her what happened & what we were doing. She went on & on about how upset she was over his death, not asking once how my husband, I or our pets were doing.
Safe people don’t expect you to be their “trash can.” What I mean is when a person dumps all of their problems on you, & expects you to listen to whatever they want to talk about while ignoring anything you have to say. That is being a trash can. Unsafe people do this trash can thing all of the time.
I hope this helps you to recognize the safe, good people in your life. Remember, you deserve to be surrounded by safe, loving, compassionate, empathetic people. You do NOT deserve to be abused & mistreated!