The narcissist’s reality’s and our reality are often entirely different.
As narcissists feel entitled to get all their needs met when they don’t get their own way, they can throw major tantrums until they do, they can intimidate us, or they can invalidate us, to put us in our place, to put down. Then they seem happy again, when those around the narcissist feel down, the narcissist then feels better as they feel superior, which is why once they’ve provoked us and got a reaction from us, they seem ok. Like that special occasion everyone is looking forward to, a narcissist can and will go all out to put everyone else down, then as soon as everyone is down, they seem like nothing happened and we are the problem, often saying things like ” why do you have to ruin everything?”
Yet instead of us seeing it for what they’ve done, as they twist all the blame, through their manipulative gaslighting and projecting their behaviour onto us, we end up blaming and changing ourselves.
Why do they do this? What it does to us, and what we can do if we are not able to go no contact.
Narcissists believe that rules do not apply to them, that they can stomp all over peoples lives and boundaries, without a care as to who they hurt, so long as their needs are being met.
Anything you say to them that goes against their thoughts, feelings, opinions or beliefs they class as criticism.
Cognitive Distortions explains more on why they can be so negative, so self-entitled why they go around destroying others, they also explain why when around manipulators our minds can convince us of a reality that simply is not true. These thoughts are usually used to convince our minds of negative thoughts or emotions, explaining to ourselves that things sound accurate and rational, yet in reality, only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves or to keep us trapped in negative situations.
So how do cognitive Distortions affect our thinking when around manipulative people? How does this affect the narcissist? What can we do?
Psychologist has identified at least 50 types of cognitive distortions; here are ten examples of how these could affect both the narcissists and our thinking.
1. Always being right.
Being right to a narcissist is more important than others thoughts or feelings, that with their lack of Empathy, means for us going against what a narcissists truth is, can lead to devastating consequences for us, sometimes why when they are Gaslighting us they do it so well, as to them it is their reality and their truth, and they shall not be swayed. To most narcissistic people, “They didn’t say that.” And “That never happened.” To them “You are being sensitive.” And “You are the one going crazy.” In their eyes and minds, it’s their truth, often why their Smear Campaigns are also done with such truth-telling lies. Yet because we are open to perceptions and opinions, we can understand people make mistakes, their gaslighting then makes us question ourself, blame ourself, and as we care for them, we then forgive them for their wrongdoings, why when we are walking on Eggshells doing as they please they can treat you so well, giving us that intermittent reinforcement, so when they treat us wrong, with their blame-shifting, we start to internalise and begin to blame ourselves, as reality is showing us how well they can treat us. Yet, the reality is also showing us just how wrong they treat us, however when we question them over something that we believe them to be wrong about. They think they are right. They will go to great extremes to prove themselves right and prove us wrong—causing that Cognitive Dissonance within your mind over the mismatch of realities and beliefs that we are now living under the narcissist’s spell.
As a narcissist is also most likely lacking in Cognitive Reflection skills, meaning once they’ve made their truth up, they can not look back and reflect, they’ve made their minds up that they are correct and all others are wrong. Narcissistic people continuously try to prove others wrong with various manipulation tactics, to a narcissist who always believes they are right, being wrong is unimaginable for them, they just can not and do not get it, they will go to extreme lengths just to prove they are right. Why there is simply no point explaining yourself or arguing with a narcissist, they simply can not and will not see your point of view.
2 Negative filtering.
Negativity breeds negativity and we as a person with empathy towards others, an open mind that can see others points of view, with the help of their projection, which is a mix of their blame-shifting and gaslighting, we end up taking their behaviour, their negative thoughts on as our own, ending up blaming ourselves and in a state of confusion, often questioning if we are the narcissist.
Their reality is distorted by only the facts they want and those beliefs they hold so true to themselves; they slowly Manipulate these onto those around them. When we take everything personally and are around people that are so critical of us, it destroys who we are, so we either have to learn not to take their words and actions personally and know our truths and who we are, except that’s how they want to think or feel, and remember we don’t have to feel that way and simply leave them to it, some are extremely dangerous, so no contact is the only way to go.
The narcissist will often, take the one negative thing you have done, filtering out anything that happened before or anything they did to cause this. They will focus solely on that one negative thing you did when in a disagreement with them, they will then Twist it onto that one single thing you did by blame-shifting, and then gaslighting it all onto you, the whole False apology of “If you hadn’t I wouldn’t.” And as they believe they are right that is their truth, and no matter how much you try to explain or defend yourself to them, they are not listening to your point of view, they have theirs, and to them theirs is final.
3. Black and white thinking.
This is why most narcissists will Project all their failures and faults onto others, as to them they are entitled. They are superior, any mistakes made, or any achievements missed, they will place that blame onto someone else, being around this on a continued basis leaves us feeling like we are at fault, as all their projection is slowly drip-fed into our minds, also why we are somewhat too forgiving as we can see what we believe to be the good in them, often with all the blame-shifting when the bad comes out, we are led to believe this to be our fault, it is never your fault.
A narcissist has no grey area, to them, it’s either good or bad, there is no room for mistakes or errors in judgment; to them, it is all or nothing. They can only see things as either good or bad, as they themselves must be perfect, they place all blame onto others for situations or problems they might have caused, without cognitive reflection they can not look back to see what might have led up to a bad situation and without empathy they can not see how someone else might be feeling, most have a cognitive understanding of empathy so they can think how they feel. They use cognitive empathy to guilt-trip those around them into doing what the narcissist wants. Yet, can simply not put themselves into someone else’s shoes, to feel or care how they are making someone feel.
4. Jumping to conclusions.
So where your instincts might be trying to tell you something, instead of jumping to a conclusion, you go and discuss it with them, and your instincts are most likely correct. However, they will not validate your feelings as real as they are the narcissist has made their minds up that, in fact, to the narcissist, you are “Insecure.” to distract you from the truth. When actually, it’s their behaviour that they’re hiding from you, making you feel this way, yet as you’ve not made a conclusion, not got evidence, hoping they’re faithful as they future faked and falsely promised with their added false apology, that they wouldn’t do it again. You are most often left questioning yourself, as to whether you are indeed insecure? If you are pushing them away? When in fact a good person would listen to you and work it out together, always trust your instincts even when you are unsure as to what they are telling you as most often they are right.
A narcissist might even say “I’m a great judge of character.” They believe they know exactly what others are thinking or feeling, and they are not interested in finding out otherwise, also why they Gaslight with. “You’re too sensitive.” As they believe you are too sensitive and as they’ve made their minds up, they are unable and unwilling to listen to your explanation, as they are only interested in their own.
This is usually what happens to us once we’ve been around narcissistic, toxic or negative people for a long time, as they drip-feed our minds, and our subconscious sucks it all in, we are then on constant watch from their next negative mood swing, for the next smear campaign, for the next game they will play to bring is down to their level, we can both magnify their good behaviour, with the help of their toxic words and we can minimize their bad behaviour, often as we’ve been led to believe it was our fault, leaving us on edge and walking on eggshells around them to meet all their need so we don’t set them off, leaving us with Anxiety as we are so concerned about how they will act and become less and less concerned about what we can do to save ourselves, as we want to help other we slowly destroy ourselves, when in reality we did not cause it, we can not change it, and we can not control it, they are who they are, and no matter what action we take they have a disorder and that is who they are, which in reality means no matter what we do or don’t do for them, they are a ticking alarm clock waiting to go off, that will go off as and when they please, if they feel wronged, if they feel criticism, there is absolutely nothing we can do to change this for them, it’s who they are, it’s how they want to think, it’s how they want to behave, nothing you say or do will change this, the best course of action is to leave them to it, especially those on the lower end of the spectrum, leave them to be who they want to be, and you be who you want to be, those on the higher that are dangerous, no Contact.
The narcissist catastrophises by minimising or denying their negative or bad behaviour, distracting us away from it and magnifying anything that goes well to get you to focus on their right side. They minimise anything you do good, and they magnify anything you do that they perceive as wrong, and once they’ve made their minds up, that is their truth, and nothing you can say will shift this.
If we feel controlled by outside events, especially when mass smear campaigns hit, we see ourselves as helpless, the victim and the “Why is this happening to me?” Or “Why are they doing this?” Once we take back control of our lives, those outside situations no longer impact us. Without our own internal control, we take on the responsibility, of the happiness, of those around us, in reality, we are responsible for how we feel only, and others are responsible for how they think. As they Gaslight, Intimidate and Invalidate us, we slowly lose control of our minds and our lives, not knowing what is truly happening to us, and trying our best to please others, not understanding that as nice as it is to help others, it’s all about helping those who a willing and able to help us, walk away from those who are not, also that it’s ok to be selfish and put our own needs first, with good intentions there is no wrong way or right way to live your life only your way.
The oxygen mask on the plane, yes it seems selfish putting it on yourself first. If you put it on the wrong person first, they will then leave you to it, put it on the right person first, your oxygen levels might run too low, but they would help you, put it on yourself first. You will be able to run at your best to help others, even those who don’t deserve or appreciate the help, Boundaries are a must, knowing when to say yes, and when to say no, if by you saying yes to someone else means you’re saying no to you, it needs to be a no to that other person, compromise yes, if it’s all their way, you have every right to turn around and go your way.
As you most likely already know a narcissist is all about control, they want and need to be in control, they feel entitled to be in control of those around them and all life events when they are not getting what they want, they will blame others, life is against them, and if it weren’t for someone else, they would be achieving the success they believe they deserve.
7. The blame game.
With all the manipulative blame-shifting tactics, we go the other way and start to blame ourselves for everything, when in reality not everything is our responsibility or our fault, with their Triangulation and silent treatment, we start to look at ourselves to see what we’ve done wrong and how we could be better. This is good news, as this means you have the ability to reflect, to look at past mistakes, learn from them, grow from them, and changes them, the biggest lessons here is to learn who we are, to learn the behaviour we will and will not accept from those around us, learn our own worth, learning to let go of those who only seek to Steal our joy and no longer looking always to blame ourselves, taking responsibility for what mistakes we have made, and passing those we did not back to the rightful owner. Self-awareness is vital.
Those on the disorder blame all others for anything that is wrong with their own lives, meaning they are unable or unaware of what actions they’ve taken towards others, the mistakes they have made, so they can not make changes as to who they are as they simply do not see themselves as the problem.
With us, as we are slowly Manipulated into their negative ways of thinking, it infects our mind. with their gaslighting, projection, blame-shifting, arguments, silent treatments and the rest, we are led to believe it’s us that needs to change, our minds are led to believe this is true, as they often offer intermittent times where they offer that reinforcement and they play nice, and magnify something we did to deserve them being nice to us, so we are left changing who we are time and time again to attract their nice side and walking on eggshells to avoid their nasty side. In truth, they have a disorder it’s who they are, you did nothing to cause it, there’s nothing you can do to change it, and there’s nothing you can do to control it, you can, however, learn who they are, what and why they do what they do, and learn how to handle them, why you don’t need to defend yourself to them, why you don’t need to change for them, no one deserves this treatment, you did nothing wrong, trying to help others is good, just help those who are willing to be helped and leave those who only want to bring you down.
A narcissist does not see why they need to change. As they have a disorder it’s who they are, most often they can not see their own faults, they can only pass them onto others and therefore see all their own problems as to being caused by those around them, believing others need to change to suit them, again the gaslighting Of “If you hadn’t I wouldn’t.” And most genuinely believe that if you hadn’t, they wouldn’t, however most often, you haven’t actually done anything wrong, they will find something, anything you did, then they will magnify this, to put the blame at your door, they will provoke you, to get a reaction out of you, so that they can blame it all on you.
9. Personalisation. With someone on the narcissist personality disorder spectrum, they feel entitled, so to them it’s all about them, in one way they have got something right here, as we should all make sure that we are good within ourselves, there is a difference between a narcissists all about me and self-care, they are in it to win it at all costs, they are most often not interested in what happens to those around them, so long as all their needs are being met, if they believe being nice to someone will meet their needs, they will be nice, if they think being nasty will meet their needs they will be nasty, in reality, it’s about giving to ourselves, then giving to others, if you have £10.00. You need to buy your children food, yet your friends are really struggling, you don’t provide them with the £10.00 while you and your children go hungry, people need to look after themselves, yet if you have more money coming in the next day, so you can split it if you have enough with £5 give them £5. Or if you have plenty and you’re good you might invite them for dinner, provide them with food, provide them with cash, until they are on their feet again. Then they help you out in times of need great. If they leave you to struggle in times of need when they could help, they are not the people for you. A narcissist is all about self so that you could be struggling financially. Yet, they will take your money and happily spend it. Some will even have their own as well as take yours when you ask for it back. They will dent all knowledge, blame you, pity play or cause an argument.
As they believe people are an extension of themselves, they believe whatever others do or say is a direct reaction to them, they take everything personally, if someone achieves it is down to them, if someone speaks against them, they have criticised them, if they are late, they will blame any external source and never themselves, as to them personally it was someone else’s fault.
As they are so fast to shift the blame, those around them are often left blaming themselves for everything that’s wrong that they didn’t even cause.
When we think they should behave in a certain way towards us or our children, or when we believe we should try harder to help them see, we should be able to support them, we should be able to explain and defend ourselves to them, we should be able to make it work, we should be able to communicate and with those not on the disorder we can, working with those on the disorder we can not, as their, feelings, thoughts, opinions, their minds have been made up, and anything you say or do will not change this. It only ever works if they believe something to be their idea and this is hard to achieve on a continuous basis, some are dangerous, so you have to leave them be, others you can teach them the behaviour you will and not accept, by knowing who you are, being nice when they are to you, and leaving them be, giving them no attention when they are mistreating you, again this varies on the severity of the narcissist. When we are full of what we should be able to do, and it doesn’t happen, it leaves us feeling disappointed, let down, hurt, anger and resentment, we have to keep our own standards as high as we want them to be, and our expectations of them extremely low, so we don’t feel offended.
A narcissist might think that they should change, yet this is only in a moment when they are not getting something they want, why we get the false promise of ”I’ll go to counselling.” or they bring you gifts, it’s only temporary to meet a need of their own, they feel shame, so they quickly shift this shame out by changing their mind from black to white, once they have what they want they change there should, to you should. Then their own mindset becomes they shouldn’t have to and you should, as it’s never a must, it’s only ever temporary change when they do play nice. When they start directing these should statement towards others, they will then feel anger and resentment towards that other person, which is when their rage often appears, the smear campaigns and all the other destructive hurtful things they do to themselves and to others.
How to outsmart them, remember your safety comes first, it’s a disorder. They don’t change. They have a disorder, some you have to go no contact, others.
Remember, the best response is no response. Nevertheless, this isn’t always possible, next would be retreat, rethink and only respond if there’s a need to do so, like child arrangements, not for argument’s sake, or trying to compromise, they don’t want to compromise.
Educate yourself on the disorder.
Stay grounded, when they’re coming at you, recognise what part of the disorder is showing in them, are they acting superior? Entitled? Envious? Being arrogant? Wanting attention? Lacking empathy? wanting control ( they always wish to control.) Recognise the part of the disorder they are dealing with at that moment in time that is on them and their disorder, not you, it did not start with you, it will not end with you. You can not change it. They can not change it. You can not control it. They could control it if they were self-aware enough to do so, with lots of therapy and something to keep them accountable, you can not change them it’s who they are, they have a disorder, they’re the whole package it who they are.
Then recognise the game they’re playing to get their own way, are they triangulating, the silent treatment, gaslighting, projection, blame-shifting, baiting, invalidating, intimidating, trying to isolate you? See that game is on them because, one of the characteristic just mentioned is showing, so they need to use the game in accordance with the characteristic of the disorder.
Observing their behaviour not absorbing, like that toxic cleaning solution, if we leave it be, it’ll not harm us, if we drink it, if we absorb it, it well slowly take over our bodies and shut us down. Observe the narcissist for who they are, don’t absorb their toxic behaviour as who we are.
This way, it’s far easier to know your own reality and not allow them to intoxicate you with their negative behaviour, know your own worth, your own truth and your own reality, so they have less impact on your emotions, it’s a learning curve.
Limited contact helps with this as the brain fog lifts.
Disarming phrases are.
When they mock, insult, start name-calling, ridicule or put you down.
” That says more about who you are than it does me.”
If they ask you to explain, or tell you that. ”you’re stupid, that’s dumb.”
” People don’t put down those they care for they build them up, they raise them up, they try to help, they validate each other, they wish them well.”
Or to prevent the possible come back, ”that’s your opinion of me.” or ” I’m not responsible for how you see me.”
When they try to use one of your weakness or insecurities against you, remember their game and respond with.
”You can either leave me be for who I am or accept me for who I am.”
Yes, the narcissist can say this, and it’s true, we either accept someone for who they are, or we walk the other way and leave them for who they are.
When they are trying to twist the story, play the victim, put you down, blame you, guilt trip you.
“We remember things differently.”
”I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Yes, narcissists use this, they use it to invalidate our feelings, we use it to protect our boundaries, the only way to communicate with some people is with the communication that they understand.
When they accuse you of feelings, you don’t have.
“How you think of me is not my responsibility.”
When they accuse you of feelings you have because they’ve done something to cause those feelings, recognising the game, what are they trying to hide? they’re not going to validate how they’ve made you feel as that would mean admitting the truth, validate your own feeling and ask yourself. ” what are my feelings telling me.” Then follow those feelings.
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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.
Some examples of how narcissistic people manipulate you.
What happens to you in a narcissistic relationship.