Narcissistic people use various manipulation techniques to convince everyone around them that they are the victim. They want other people to believe they are a charming person and a good person and that they are the ones who are being subjected to emotional abuse.
Their lack of empathy makes it impossible for them to understand how their narcissistic abuse affects other people. Therefore, they will engage in all kinds of bad behavior to distort reality.
Narcissists will use something called projection to convince you that you’re the narcissist. They are essentially projecting their abusive behavior onto you. Their mental health condition won’t allow them to accept blame for anything, so they project their narcissistic traits onto you.
There are many emotional abuse tactics a person with narcissistic personality disorder will use to manipulate their victims. They will try to distort your sense of reality by gaslighting you, they fly off the handle in a narcissistic rage, and they will use projection to make you think you’re to blame. Read on to learn all about it and what you can do.
Why a Narcissist Tries to Convince You You’re the Narcissist
Narcissistic personality disorder is a Cluster B personality disorder, along with borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder.
Cluster B disorders are grouped together because they share the traits of dramatic, often overly emotional, and unpredictable thinking and behaviors. This video explains more about it.
Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Attention-getting behaviors
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- Exaggerated achievements
- An attitude of superiority created by a falsely inflated self-esteem
- A preoccupation with grandiose thinking and fantasies of power, success, beauty, or ideal love
- A belief of being special and of only being understood by similarly special people
- A need for excessive admiration
- An exaggerated sense of entitlement
- A lack of empathy
- Is exploitative of others
- Envies others
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes
Part of the reason narcissists exhibit these symptoms is that they failed to develop a strong sense of self. They are filled with shame and self-loathing because they believe their true self is hopelessly flawed.
In the place of a true egoic structure, which they buried to hide from the world, they construct a false sense of self and infuse it with grandiose ideas of superiority. But that egoic structure cannot support their grandiose beliefs.
For that, they need other people, and they learn to manipulate them to get them to admire and adore them. They cannot admit to any wrongdoing, no matter how minor, because people might not continue to admire them and give them the supply of adoration they need to feel good about themselves.
To manipulate people into continuing to think they are perfect, they will often project their flawed traits onto others. This is why they might call you a narcissist. Additionally, anytime you focus on yourself, to them, that is narcissistic because they want you to focus exclusively on them.
How Does Projection Affect a Narcissistic Relationship?
Any kind of relationship that involves a narcissist typically starts off with idealization. The narcissist idealizes their victim and, as a result, sets up unrealistic expectations for them.
When they fail to meet those expectations, as is inevitable, the narcissist begins to show their true colors and devalue their victim. The devaluation stage is followed by the discard, either by the victim or the narcissist.
In such an abusive relationship, the narcissist frequently uses projection as a manipulation tool. They will accuse you of being the one who is narcissistic or abusive.
This serves two purposes: it shifts the blame for their bad behaviors onto you, and it distracts from the truth. Abusive people like narcissists are constantly shifting blame from themselves onto the people around them.
Remember, they crave narcissistic supply. This is why they are projecting and gaslighting you.
– Dana Arcuri, Certified Trauma Recovery Coach and Author
Projection is also a tactic used by a narcissistic partner in a romantic relationship to distract you from the real issue. They will often accuse you of the same thing you’re accusing them of to get you off-topic.
Moreover, projection is a form of gaslighting wherein an extreme narcissist will try to convince you that you don’t really know what’s going on. In reality, narcissists are the abusive partners in the relationship who can’t accept responsibility for their own mistakes.
They also exhibit anger issues with outbursts of narcissistic rage and control issues as they attempt to preserve the image they believe they’ve created. Here is a video that can help you gain a deeper understanding of the topic and what they might say.
How Can You Combat Projection?
Most decent people will think about what someone is accusing them of doing or being. You look inside yourself to see if you can determine whether what the other person is saying is true or not.
You’re trying to understand their point of view, but the problem is that you’re involved in a narcissist’s hateful game driven by their deep-rooted issue of self-loathing. Their gameplaying is difficult to fight against, and it’s complicated by the fact that they often do this kind of thing in situations where it would be awkward for you to defend yourself.
Still, remaining calm is important, and refusing to accept their projection is critical. Their mental illness is not your mental illness. It may require that you speak up even if you’re in an awkward situation.
That will set a boundary that will only benefit you. Depending on the type of narcissist you’re dealing with, this may be enough to get them to back off. A malignant narcissist, however, gets pleasure from your discomfort, so it may take more for someone like that.
It’s important to realize, however, that you can’t help fix them. You can only set boundaries for what you will and won’t accept. For a narcissist to really heal, they usually need to meet with a mental health professional for intense therapy over a long period of time.
When you’re dealing with extreme narcissism, however, it’s probably the best solution for you to go no contact. Such people are often alcoholic narcissists or suffer from some other kind of substance use disorder.
They have a deep-seated sense of victimhood that try to soothe with self-medication. Being in an interpersonal relationship with them is almost impossible if you want to remain healthy and not give in to their manipulation.
A relationship with a narcissist, even a covert narcissist, is a veritable minefield. They are manipulative control freaks who need someone else to blame for their flawed personality traits. They can’t face their inner turmoil; they can’t accept their mistakes because they are filled with shame and self-loathing.
It’s sad to see someone struggle with such a problem, but it’s also not your responsibility to fix them. You might want to, but only intense psychotherapy can do that. Sometimes, even a mental health professional can’t get results because narcissists refuse to accept that anything is wrong with them. To do so would cause an emotional breakdown known as a narcissistic collapse.
Instead of focusing on helping them, you have to focus on helping yourself. Get away, process your emotions, and spend time with supportive friends. It’s also important to realize that you can also go no contact in extreme cases. That may be your only course of action.
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