“A narcissist’s silent treatment isn’t because you hurt their feelings. It’s manipulation to cause you psychological pain so they can further their control over you.”
The silent treatment is another form of psychological manipulation the narcissist uses against others. It is another form of emotional abuse to keep power and control over you, to avoid taking accountability for something they have done, avoid responsibility for their own actions. To maintain their dominance over you. It’s used to punish you for something you have or haven’t done. They believe you are beneath them, and they want to do it, so you conform to their demands.
The silent treatment can last for hours, days, weeks or months. Some people do this because they are genuinely hurt and unable to speak. When they do feel able to talk, it’ll be a two-way conversation. A narcissist uses the silent treatment to punish you. They want you to conform, and there is no give and take.
What silent treatment does to us?
1. The silent treatment hurts the brain, as it triggers pain pathways. Emotions triggered by the silent treatment engages the same part of the brain as physical pain does. The silent treatment hurts. Psychological, emotional pain hurts more than physical pain. If you try to remember the pain when you broke a bone or burnt yourself, any physical pain you have suffered, you know it hurt at that time. Yet, you can not remember the pain, thinking about memories of emotional distress, it hurts until we heal it, and that takes time and work from us, when we connect our emotions to a memory, whenever we think of that memory, it brings us back to whatever feeling we felt at that time.
Sometimes we have to change the meaning to memory, so the memory no longer has a hold over our feelings.
2. We love company, and we are designed to communicate with others. They know how cutting you off hurts deep.
3. It damages our brain. Your short term memory and decision making skills are lowered as it temporarily shrinks your hippocampus, the part of the brain that houses our thought process and grows our amygdala, the part that houses our emotions. With long term abuse, these might stay shrunk and enlarged. Until you get out and start working on yourself, these can be healed.
4. We want to belong, so it hurts, especially when those who are supposed to love and care no longer wish to know Or speak to us.
5. We blame ourselves and look for reasons for what we have done to cause it, blame ourselves and apologise. Make excuses for their behaviour.
The worst thing about excuses is within our mind. They are extremely valid.
7. We become addicted, as they can play nice when you up your game to help them, they might reward, reinforcing in your mind it was your fault, so you try harder to please them, for them to bring you down again, you end up continually seeking how to gain their approval, walking on eggshells around the narcissist, to avoid the silent treatment, slowly losing who you are, while they gain further power and control over you.
8. We reach out to them as it hurts our emotions, the mental pain is draining on us, and we want it to end. The narcissist takes this as winning, and they can keep it up for as long as they please as they don’t have that emotional intelligence.
The three types of silent treatment a narcissist will use.
The present silent treatment. Where they stick around and ignore you, or stop including you. This is used, so you become hurt, confused, angry and upset that they are ignoring you, insecure that they are not including you. To get an emotional reaction from you to them.
The absent silent treatment. Where they just disappear on you, but you can still message and call them, they might not reply. This is used, so you become fearful, confused, upset, concerned and worried about them, and your relationship.
The ghosting. This is where they vanish entirely, their phones are off, or you are blocked, social media shut down, or you’re blocked. No way of contacting them at all. This is usually if they are with a new target, but not always. This is used so you do all you can to get answers and closure. You might reach out to their friends and family. This can help with their smear campaigns against you.
The reason they feel a need to use it.
1. You’ve refused to break down one of your boundaries.
2. You’ve criticised them in some way, most often unintentionally.
3. You’ve not done something or refused to do something for them.
4. When you’ve confronted them over something they don’t want to accept responsibility for.
5. You are no longer filling their needs.
6. They’ve drained you, you need help and support, and you can no longer help them.
They go into silent treatment to break down your boundaries, to get control of you and get you to conform to their demands, to get you to beg, plead, apologise and chase them, to react so they can blame us, to confuse us, so they keep power over us.
We then chase them as we want to end the pain, end the silent treatment, not realising we are giving them what they want. They want you to feel beneath them and work hard to please them.
Remember, they don’t think how we do. They are not looking for compromise. They are looking dominance and control. They are seeking that apology to confirm in their minds they are wrong. They are right. With the attention you give them, they believe they are important.
They don’t have the emotions, and they lack the empathy to care for your thoughts, feelings, fears or tears.
What you can you do?
1. Remember, You don’t need their approval or validation. It’s helpful for others to Value you. You don’t need it. Your value comes from within. Good people will value and respect you.
2. Observers don’t absorb. Recognise it, see what they are doing, don’t look inwards for answers, see this is their problem, that they only do to hurt you.
3. If they want to be silent, they are entitled to be silent. You are allowed to leave them to it, remember you’re not the problem, look for what they are trying to achieve in doing this, what they want or need from you and don’t give it to them.
4. Focus on yourself, turn inwards and find things you love, lift yourself up, find good people to connect with, most importantly, connect within yourself. Think about what you need. No, you don’t need them to help you. They are the ones who are hurting you, exercise, meditate, yoga, go for a walk, watch an uplifting movie, read a good book.
5. Do not get in touch, do not call or message, focus on yourself and doing things you love.
6. Do not let them know it’s bothering you.
7. Remember, if the silent treatment hasn’t worked, they might up their game. Observe their patterns of behaviour, don’t absorb.
8. Remember they have insecurities, shame and fears, instead of dealing with those within themselves, they want to project or provoke you to pass those feelings onto you, you can not help as they don’t see a problem within themselves, you can, however, help you, instead of putting your time energy and effort into them, put it into you.
9. Don’t go to them for answers, and they will not tell you what you want to hear. You are just adding fuel to the fire, and they want you to do this. They’ll wait until you find a reason for what you did wrong. Give yourself the answer, and this is who they are. They are unwilling and unable to change. However, you can leave them be, become wiser and stronger and learn what behaviours you’ll no longer accept for others.
10. Become at peace within yourself. Don’t let others take you down; remove negative people from your life. Saying no to someone over something you don’t like is a significant deal-breaker.
Remember, you are worth so much more than living with these kinds of people in your life. They can try to play games with you if you stop playing and start focusing on yourself. They will find someone else to play with.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
How they control conversations.