The most confusing thing about narcissistic people is they don’t hurt you all of the time. They don’t mistreat you all of the time. Sometimes they can treat you better than anyone ever has to disguise that they are manipulating and exploiting you. There are many covert methods a narcissist could use to distract you from what they’re genuinely doing to you while getting you to apologise to them, make it up to them, and feel sorry for them. Feel obligated to them, feel grateful towards them, or fear what they might do if you try to step away from their control. Here are several covert narcissistic mind games, that narcissists play to distract you from what they’re doing to you while the narcissist gets their needs met by you.
Gaslighting is where the narcissist wants to convince you of a reality that works in the narcissist’s best interest, so you feel like you’re going crazy, growing forgetful, as the narcissist claims you didn’t see, hear, or feel what you did see, hear or feel, or the narcissist might claim you did see, hear or feel something you didn’t, and they are extremely convincing in doing so.
Blame-shifting, where the narcissist will pass any failing, mistakes, faults, flaws, and insecurities over to you or those around you, so you justify their immoral actions as the narcissist has you questioning yourself or focused on another’s immoral actions. A narcissist will blame you or those around you for their behaviour.
Projection is a mixture of the narcissists gaslighting and blame-shifting, where the narcissist will claim you are feeling or doing what the narcissist is actually doing to you.
Blaming disguised as being the victim.
Calling a narcissist out on their behaviour never goes how we’d like, understanding, communication, closure. Instead, as it questions the narcissist’s power and control, their sense of entitlement, narcissists take great offence to being called out. Therefore to get away with something they definitely did do, they’re going to blame you or those around them while playing the victim to gain maximum sympathetic attention. The narcissists gaslighting, “if you’d had paid me more attention, I wouldn’t have gone elsewhere.” When you catch them cheating on you.
Criticism disguised as advice.
A narcissist will pass judgment or point out flaws in your ideas, thinking, feelings, and plans. They’ll be giving a negative opinion on something you’d like to do, putting you down, however as much as this can hurt, and we can recognise another’s negativity, when it’s a loved one claiming. “I only want what’s best for you.” or “I don’t want to see you making a mistake.” We take their criticism as advice and not the envious destruction it actually is, a simple comment of “I wouldn’t wear that if I were you.” From someone who claims to care for you places that self-doubt within you, as genuine people who care might say these things to you. Those who care about you would try to be supportive of you, not claim “you’re overreacting.” And then ignore you, leave you to go and deal with it. Narcissists will say things such as, “I’m only trying to help.” So you feel bad for hurting their feelings when you try to speak up for how they hurt yours.
Shaming disguised as knowledge.
A narcissist will happily humiliate you by simply stating they know more than you, even if they don’t know much about the topic, the narcissist’s arrogance. A narcissist will go all out to humiliate you while claiming they’re trying to help you, if you ask questions out of interest on a subject, a narcissist will either blatantly make stuff you, change the subject, rage or fall silent, some might just state. “Oh, I’m sorry I forgot you know everything.” So you are the one left feeling bad, afraid to speak up for what you believe in for fear of being made to feel wrong.
Exploitation disguised as helpfulness.
The thing about most narcissistic people is they don’t just straight out hurt you. They don’t make friends with you. They make allies with you under the disguise of a friendship or relationship, they swoop in to save the day, offer advice that turns out extremely unhelpful, yet they do just enough helpful stuff, so you feel gratitude towards them, questioning your instincts because they can treat you so well, narcissists often have that charismatic charm, where you feel inspired by them. They will do something that attracts you towards them. Usually, when you’re at your lowest, they’ll exploit these vulnerabilities by playing your hero, and then when you don’t do as they say, they come at you with. “After all I’ve done for you.” So you feel guilty not doing something for them. They usually have something on you that you’d prefer others not to know about you, to make it harder for you to walk free when they are hurting you. Genuine people will be there for you when they can be. Narcissistic people are there for you when they need something from you, even someone to help enable their behaviour. It’s challenging to believe how hurtful someone has treated another when they’re treating you so well. Always trust your instincts. They know what they’re on about even when you don’t.
Bragging disguised as being humble.
A narcissist can happily play down all they’ve done for you in front of others, so you go overboard explaining to others how helpful, kind and generous the narcissist is, while the narcissist stands there claiming “it’s what anyone would do, it was nothing.” Then when the narcissist reveals their true colours to you, those around you might not believe you, so you fear speaking up for what the narcissist is actually doing to you, often thinking it wasn’t that bad or it doesn’t happen often when it shouldn’t happen at all, some around you might see through the narcissist. Those the narcissist is treating so well might not. They’ll be thinking about how lovely the narcissist is, often supporting and enabling the narcissist, while the narcissist claims they don’t have to, so people believe the narcissist to be humble.
Exploitation disguised as giving.
Some narcissists can be extremely generous. Just like the helpful narcissist, they’re not giving for giving sake. They’re giving to sell people an illusion of who they can be to hide who they are. They might give time, attention, or financial resources, but when they’re giving so much to one person, it’s so hard for that person to see how the narcissist id manipulating someone or withholding something from others. Narcissists give, so later on, they can use what they gave you against you. Some might just say, “after all I’ve done.” others will take back what they gave you or hold over you what they do for you if you don’t do what they want you to.
Sarcasm disguised as humour.
A narcissist will shame, blame, lie, and deny. Criticise, mock, judge and humiliate. Then when you or those around you call the narcissist out, they’ll come at you claiming, “I was only joking.” or you can’t take a joke, so you’re led to believe something is wrong with your feelings rather than something is wrong with the narcissist’s behaviour.
Envy disguised as negativity.
Narcissists can be some of the most envious people you could ever encounter. However, they like to hide this by claiming others get all the luck, or why would you want a car like that? What would you want to go on holiday there for? What would you want to do that for? They’ll bring down the qualities, looks, luck or possessions of others to feel better within themselves, or they’ll play the victim with. “They got help.” to make others feel sorry for the narcissist. To those who will deny any help or support they got, as they believe they are the ones helping others and others are stopping them.
I’m so stupid. Yes, you’re right.
When the narcissist pulls themselves down to get you to pick them up, when the narcissist invalidates themselves to get you to validate them, when you call the narcissist out, they might claim, “Oh, I’m sorry I forgot you were perfect.” So you might start explaining to them why you’re not perfect in the hopes of making them feel better, for one day the narcissist to uses your explanations in some way against you.
How to handle.
Recognising you’re not responsible for other people’s happiness, just because you care for those who hurt you doesn’t mean you allow them to hurt you. Narcissists don’t see themselves as the problem. No matter how much you try to help a narcissist, it’s only going to hurt you. They don’t think they need help. They just look for ways to get away with their behaviour. You can care if you wish to do so. Just care from a distance.
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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.