Why Do Narcissist’s Use The Silent Treatment?

Just because they don’t put their hands on you, doesn’t mean they’re not abusive.

The narcissist’s silent treatment is an act carried out by the narcissist who refuses to communicate with someone who is willing to communicate with them. It’s to completely ignore someone because they feel contempt, as they feel the person is beneath them or worthless as one of the characteristics of the disorder is superiority.

Your no contact is an act to free yourself from someone unwilling to communicate with you effectively, someone reluctant to compromise.

The silent treatment is another form of psychological manipulation the narcissist uses against others. It is another form of emotional manipulation for them to keep power and control over you, as they feel entitled to do so. It’s so the narcissist can 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 they are superior and want you to conform to their demands.

The silent treatment can last for hours, days, weeks, months and in some cases years, some people do this as a one off isolated incident, that can go too far because they are genuinely hurt, and unable to speak, when they do feel able to talk, it’ll be a two-way conversation. With a narcissist, it’s often a repeat pattern of behaviour with you or others around them, as they use the silent treatment to punish you. They want you to conform, and there is no give and take.

The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive form of manipulation, where it’s done covertly, so we don’t understand the true reason why or the damage it causes.

The three types of silent treatment a narcissist will use.

The present silent treatment. Where they stay around and ignore you, making no eye contact or acknowledgement of you, or they just 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 or answer. 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 a narcissist feels a need to to use it.

1. You’ve not done something or refused to do something for them.

2. You’ve criticised them in some way, most often unintentionally.

3. You’ve refused to break down one of your boundaries.

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.

7. They feel like you’re not giving them the attention they believe they are entitled to.

8. You asked the a question, and they believe you questioned their authority to do as they please.

9. To bait us into reacting to them, especially in front of others so they can use our reactions in their smear campaign against us.

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 you 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 silent treatment does to us.

1. The silent treatment hurts the brain, and it triggers pain pathways, emotions triggered by silent treatment engages the same part of the brain as physical pain does. The silent treatment hurts. Psychological, emotional pain hurts just like 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 pain it hurts, until we heal it, when our memories are connected to our emotions, anything that triggers a memory triggers that pain until we heal, 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 emotion we felt at that time.

Sometimes we have to change the meaning to a 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. When you get out and start working on you, these can be healed.

4. We want to belong, the attachment system is opened when we have those deep conversations in the idealisation stage, our object consistency usually developed around the age of two or three, we have an emotional bond we care, 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 to 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. 

6. We can become angry and aggressive, so they do it so when you then act out in anger, they blame you for the problems, with their projection and blame-Shifting.

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. In contrast, 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 silent treatment makes us feel, invalidated, powerless, invisible, confused, intimidated, guilty, angry, frustrated, hurt, lonely, depressed, anxious and insignificant.

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. Those you need in your life will value and respect you for who you are, those who don’t, you don’t need.

2. Observers don’t absorb. Recognise it, see what they are doing, note they are using the silent treatment to hurt you, to disarm you, what are they wanting to achieve from this? 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 want or need from you and don’t give it, as soon as you do, they’ll fall silent the next time you say no if someone doesn’t respect your values, beliefs or boundaries, that’s on them not you.

4. Focus on you, turn inwards and find things you love, lift yourself up, find supportive 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 you 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, they will not tell you what you want to hear, you are just adding fuel to the fire, they want you to do this, they’ll wait until you find a reason of 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.

11. Do not react, that’s what they want, retreat, rethink and then respond, and only respond if you need to do so.

12. no contact or grey rock.

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.

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