Tag Archives: subtle

Microaggression & Narcissists

Everyone knows about aggressive forms of abuse, such as hitting others.  There is another form that is much lesser known called microaggression.  Microaggression is a term that originally referred to subtle actions done or words said to convey hostility, anger or some type of negativity towards others in particular those of other races or sexual orientations.  I believe that narcissists use microaggressions as well, & not always towards people of other ethnicities or orientations.

Covert narcissists in particular prefer subtle ways to abuse their victims rather than relying on the “in your face” style of overt narcissists, so it’s no wonder they enjoy microaggressive behaviors.  These behaviors are hard to detect, so those employing such behaviors easily can fly under the radar.  As an example, if someone says, “You’re fat!” it’s obvious that is an insult.  However, if someone says, “Do you really want that second cookie?” it can appear as an innocent question.  After all, the person asking the question didn’t say “you’re fat” so it isn’t necessarily an insult.  It could be an implied one, however, depending on the person who asked the question & his or her relationship with the one expected to answer the question.  In this situation, an outsider may think the person who feels insulted is overreacting or reading into an innocent question.  While that can be true of course, when narcissists are involved, that is rarely the case. 

Such ambiguous statements aren’t the only form microaggressions can take.  A narcissist can “accidentally” forget things such as to invite their victim to a party that many other mutual acquaintances are invited to or forget their victim’s birthday as a way to let their victim know they aren’t important enough for the narcissist to remember. 

They also ignore their victim or even give them the silent treatment to tell their victim that they aren’t worth the narcissist’s time or attention. 

They may insult their victim for doing the exact same thing they brag about someone else accomplishing.  This is to let the victim know they’ll never be good enough in the narcissist’s eyes. 

They also like to give backhanded complements, which are an insult wrapped in a complement.  An example could be, “You look so much better since you lost weight!”  or, “Wow, I can’t believe you actually passed that test!  Congratulations!” 

Invalidation can be another form of microaggression, such as when you tell a narcissist about a problem, & they act as if you said nothing or change the subject as their way to communicate to you that your problem means nothing to them. 

Offensive jokes are another way for narcissists to hurt their victim in a subtle way.

In these situations, if a victim says something to the narcissist about their behavior, the narcissist won’t apologize.  Instead, they blame the victim for being upset because they are too sensitive, read into things too much, can’t take a joke or other similar statements designed to shame the victim into tolerating the abuse quietly. 

They also deny meaning anything offensive.  My ex husband was clearly disgusted by my weight, even when I was very thin, but not once did he ever call me “fat.”  It was implied, & if I said anything to him about it, he denied calling me fat.  He was right, he didn’t say that word, & I felt ashamed of myself for being oversensitive. 

Microaggression is incredibly passive/aggressive, so it should be treated the same way you treat someone exhibiting any passive/aggressive behaviors. 

Educate yourself on what behaviors the narcissist exhibits that demonstrate microaggression so you understand what is happening.

Pretend not to notice their behavior.  Ignore their games as if you noticed nothing out of the ordinary in their behavior. 

Refuse to be manipulated.  Whatever the behavior is trying to accomplish, don’t do it!  If it’s supposed to get you angry, then show no anger at all.  Hurt?  Don’t shed one tear.  Naturally it’s best to deal with your emotions, but do so later once you’re away from the narcissist.

Never ask the narcissist why he or she said or did that.  That only opens an ugly door for you to be insulted, shamed & otherwise treated badly by the narcissist.

If you’re struggling in this area in any way, never forget to ask God to give you wisdom.  He will do so & gladly.  Let Him help you!

5 Comments

Filed under Mental Health, Narcissism

Covert Narcissists Are Poisonous

A member of my Facebook group shared a meme made from a quote from author & life coach Lisa Romano.  I don’t remember the meme, but one of her comments on it said this:  “Narcissism at its finest is like carbon monoxide. Your inner world will become chaotic and every aspect of your life will become suffocated by dysfunction, but you will not know from where the poison is coming from.”

Having suffered both narcissistic abuse & carbon monoxide, I really related to this comparison.

While narcissistic abuse is often thought of as loud, sometimes even physically abusive & basically easy to identify, that isn’t always the case.  Overt narcissists are that way of course, but coverts aren’t.  They are so much more subtle.  They can abuse undetected.. much the same way carbon monoxide can injure or even kill.

Carbon monoxide has absolutely no smell whatsoever.  You don’t see it hanging in the air like you would smoke, either.  It silently & subtly does its damage, & you don’t even realize it until the damage has been done.  The day I survived carbon monoxide poisoning, I knew I felt bad, but I didn’t know why.  The thought of calling 911 or my husband for help also never crossed my mind.  The poison ruined my ability to think clearly or recognize what the problem was.

Covert narcissists are much the same way.  They aren’t like their overt counterparts who yell & scream to get their way.  They’re often soft spoken.  They come across as unassuming & meek, sometimes even not very intelligent.  They may help people by donating to or volunteering with charities.  They may be active in their church.  If they are financially comfortable, they’re the first one to give money to someone they know who is struggling.  People not close enough to the covert narcissist to see behind the make usually think they are really good, kind, generous people who will do anything to help someone in need.  This allows covert narcissists to fly under the radar, abusing however they like.  Even If someone does recognize a problem, most likely they’ll excuse the abuse because they claim the person meant well or doesn’t know any better.

What few people see is that covert narcissists wear a very convincing mask.  Behind that mask is someone who rules their family with guilt, shaming, feigned helplessness, or exaggerating or even faking sickness.  These weapons are every bit as effective, if not more so, than an overt narcissist’s screaming & raging while appearing innocent.

Often, these covert narcissists even control their overtly narcissistic spouse by quietly pushing their buttons until the overt narcissist snaps & attacks them either verbally or physically.  Covert narcissists love this, because any witnesses to this see the covert narcissist as the long suffering, wonderful spouse of a crazy & even abusive person.  They also get pity, which they love.  Also in this situation, children of this narcissistic couple automatically side with their covertly narcissistic parent, & become protective of him or her.  They never question why their parent expects their protection when it’s really parents’ job to protect their children instead.  This behavior stays well into adulthood, which usually causes problems in the adult child’s marriage.  Narcissistic parents are usually terrible in-laws.  They expect their adult child to keep them first priority, not their spouse or children.  When the spouse says something, the adult child often protects their covertly narcissistic parent, as they’ve always done, which causes strain in the marriage for which the spouse is blamed.

While there are carbon monoxide detectors to help protect us from that terrible poison, there aren’t such detectors to help us identify covert narcissists.  There are ways you can protect yourself, though.

Pray.  Ask God to give you discernment & wisdom.  Then if you meet someone who you get an inkling about that something isn’t right, pay attention to the feeling!  If their actions seem innocent but leave you feeling guilty or angry, chances are good that you’re in the presence of a covert narcissist.

If you discover you are dealing with a covert narcissist, again, pray.  You’ll need all the wisdom you can get, especially if that covert narcissist is a parent of your spouse.  Remember the Gray Rock method.  When you & your spouse discuss the problem, stay calm, stating only the facts as calmly & logically as you can.  Stick to your boundaries, too.  Showing your anger will make your spouse more protective of that parent & angry with you. 

Remember, just because covert narcissists come across safer than overt ones doesn’t mean they are safe.  They really are like carbon monoxide- they may not appear dangerous, but they absolutely are!

8 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

How Narcissists Abuse Without Lifting A Finger

4 Comments

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

Subtle Abuse

Many people think  abuse is something loud & cruel, such as screaming obscenities at another person.  This certainly is one type of verbal abuse, but for the most part, it is much quieter & more subtle.

Ignoring someone is abusive.  It can create anxiety or avoidance when it happens enough, especially when it happens to children.  It makes someone feel insignificant or even invisible to be ignored, especially by someone important such as by a parent or spouse.

Normalizing abuse is also abusive.  Everyone needs to know that abuse is NOT ok.  When someone doesn’t know that, they tolerate abuse because they don’t know it’s wrong.  This is one reason abusers try to make their victims think the victims are the problem, rather than the abuse being the problem.

Constant criticism is abusive.  While everyone needs constructive criticism from time to time, no one needs abusive criticism, in particular when it is non stop.  The difference is constructive criticism is meant to help a person be better, while abusive criticism is meant to manipulate, control & destroy a person’s self esteem.

Failure to give someone praise & support is abusive.  While people are drastically affected by constant criticism, they also can be affected by a lack of praise & support even without the constant criticism.  My mother used to brag to me about how one time in my entire childhood, she told me she thought I was “kinda pretty.”  That along with her constant criticisms made me incredibly insecure about my looks for my entire life.

Shaming someone is abusive.  To make someone feel shame doesn’t always have to involve saying things like, “What is your problem?!”  “You need some therapy!”  It also can involve laughing at someone, rolling your eyes at them or making them the butt of jokes.  Toxic shame makes a person feel there is something wrong with every single thing about them, which destroys self esteem & makes a person easy to control.

Criticizing someone harshly claiming that it was done, “for your own good” is abusive.  My mother was hyper critical of every single thing about me when I was growing up.  Whenever I would say something about how critical she was, she told me it was for my own good.  I needed to know my faults so I could change them.  I couldn’t argue with that logic as a child.  As an adult however, although I do agree that everyone needs to be aware of their faults, they also need to be equally aware of their good qualities too.  Only being aware of their faults can destroy one’s self esteem.

Similarly, saying or doing cruel & saying it’s “tough love” is abusive.  When my mother’s abuse hit its peak, she said everything she was doing to me was tough love, because I wouldn’t learn any other way.  This made me feel like something was wrong with me, I was the problem in our relationship & I made her abuse me.  A victim in such a situation usually believes the way I did.

Last but not least, gaslighting is extremely abusive.  Gaslighting is when an abuser subtly makes a victim doubt their perceptions of reality.  It isn’t hard to gaslight children in particular, but anyone can be a victim.  An abuser doesn’t have to raise their voice to accomplish it.  All they have to do is convince their victim that what happened didn’t happen the way the victim believes it did or didn’t happen at all.  That can be accomplished easily by instilling doubt in a victim & stating the lies with extreme confidence.  An abuser may even feign concern for a victim for being so confused as to think things happened the way they did instead of the way the abuser says things happened.

Abuse comes in many different forms.  Many of those forms can be hard to recognize at first.  I hope this post will help you to be very aware of them so you don’t fall prey to an abusive person who behaves this way!

12 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism