~Author’s note: This is Part II in the series: “Tools of the Narcissist”. The various behaviors of a narcissist (narc), someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), often have well-known names and identifiers. As we discuss this behavior you may in fact be familiar with some of these terms, or they may be altogether new to you. Either way, we will be naming and explaining these behaviors in a series of articles for further education and awareness about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). While not an exhaustive list, this series will address many common behaviors, their names / identifiers, as well as explanations of what the behavior ‘looks and sounds like’, and the driving narcissistic motivation behind the behavior. This is the Part II, the second installment of the series, discussing Ignoring, Blaming, and Shaming.~
“When we work to understand a narcissist’s (narc’s) behavior we must remember narcissists do not process the world, and those of us in it, in a normal and healthy way. Most, if not all, of a narc’s behavior is driven by the need for power, control, to feel superior (as a cover up for deep inferiority), and a constant need for attention and admiration. When we keep these motivations in mind, we can better understand why narcissists act the way they do.” Best, L.A.
As we move through this series, the behaviors discussed will likely sound and feel familiar. All narcissists employ many of the same behaviors actually – almost as if they have a handbook they follow. It is through just this pervasive ‘set of abusive behaviors’ we are able to identify, name, and understand said behavior. Throughout my years of research, it has been established time and time again that narcs are nearly predictable with their actions and reactions – the very way they ‘handle’ the world and those of us in it. Three of these abusive behaviors are discussed below, and are widely accepted as emotional abusive tactics.
- Ignoring: At some point, the narc will start to ignore you, your questions, and your statements. If what you are saying or asking doesn’t interest them, they often ‘can’t be bothered’, and will remain silent. It is common for a narcissist to act like we are not even in the same room, if what we are doing or saying has no interest to THEM. It makes NO DIFFERENCE that what we are doing or saying is of interest to US; the narc does not care what is of interest to US. Their only interest is in what is affecting THEM, their lives, their wants and needs. You could be exuberantly discussing something that is so important to you that it nearly takes your breath away, only to be ignored by the narcissist sitting in the same room with you – as if you don’t even exist. I cannot tell you how many times this happened in my narc relationships. To a narc, you DON’T exist unless you are serving them in some way. Talking about your own interests does NOT serve them, therefore it has NO VALUE to the narc. This also shows you they are attempting to diminish your importance to them as a HUMAN BEING, while boosting their very fragile ego, and their need for control and power. What better way to show someone they don’t matter than to ignore them? What better way to show you have power over someone than to ‘pretend’ they don’t even exist? Sadly, the victim in this relationship dynamic will likely work harder and harder to be ‘heard’, listened to, validated, and may even ‘blow up’ at the narc for being ignored. The narcissist will then turn around and say, “Why in the world are you acting crazy?”, after you have shown them you are upset for being ignored. The narc’s response to YOUR rightful anger at being ignored takes the focus off their bad behavior (deflection is discussed in Part I of this series), and puts the focus on you – and paints you as the “crazy one”. This is common in narc relationships, and should not be tolerated. Nothing in a narc relationship should be tolerated.
- Blaming: A narcissist will blame you, stress, life events, you, health concerns, work, other people, the house, the sun, the moon, YOU, the weather, family members, friends, the car, the grass, and the trees (get the picture?) for their bad behavior. Most often, they will blame YOU, with statements such as, “If you hadn’t made me mad, I wouldn’t have had to (abuse you in some way)” or “If you would have just done what I said/asked, I wouldn’t have (abused you in some way).” DO NOT STAND FOR THIS. Do NOT accept this backward ploy of trying to UNDERMINE YOUR RIGHTS. A narc will pull a ‘switch’ here, given any opportunity, and it is up to us to NOT stand for this abuse. A narc is UNABLE to authentically admit their shortcomings or when they are wrong, because they are not able to feel GENUINE feelings of vulnerability, or of being humble, even if they ARE able to fake these things at times. If they are able to squeeze out some small apology it is only a means to an end; they are attempting to keep you hooked, while not truly feeling remorse. Do not stand for this behavior. Unfortunately, narcissists have an extremely fragile, tenuous sense of self, and actually feel very inadequate internally, which does not allow the authentic responsibility-taking for their bad behavior. They cannot admit to themselves, nor others, how awful their behavior truly is. They overcompensate here, as with every other area of their lives, as a ‘cover up’ for their empty and hollow souls. Therefore, they live to blame others as it is much easier to blame you, stress, life events, health concerns, work, other people, the house…. well, I know you get the picture.
- Shaming: Shaming is coupled with all of the above ‘tools’, again in an effort to control the victim, cause unstable and unbalanced emotions, to put the victim in the hot seat, and to feed the narc’s need for power and superiority. Shaming someone for something in their past – having nothing to do with the current topic at hand – is one of the very worst types of emotional abuse anyone can employ, and narcissists are MASTERS at this tactic. What a horrible interaction it is for us, when attempting to discuss something important from the HERE AND NOW, to have the narc throw in our face something from our past (that they likely didn’t have anything to do with in the first place). (Note: This tool / tactic is also an example of using ‘information as ammunition’, another behavior to be discussed further in our series.) A narc will bring up something from your past, some piece of very sensitive information, or a sensitive event you have gone through, in response to something YOU have attempted to discuss. – throwing it back into your face, as punishment. Along with punishing you in this way, there is a willful attempt to SHAME YOU; wanting YOU to feel badly about what it ever it is they have brought up. They WANT YOU TO FEEL BADLY, guilty, and shamed. This deflects the topic onto YOU, takes the focus off them (deflection), and hurts you deeply in the process. The narc is trying to make YOU feel badly, instead of taking responsibility for his/her bad behavior. THIS IS DONE INTENTIONALLY, purposefully, with the goal to make YOU feel very badly about yourself, when in fact, you are trying to discuss something THEY have done in the here and now. This is emotional abuse. Do NOT stand for this!
So, here we are. These three tactics, tools if you will, are COMMON behavior from a narcissist. How sad it is indeed, that any human being is so filled with FALSE PRIDE they are unable to authentically talk about the topic at hand, then work tirelessly to ignore you completely at times to destroy your own sense of worth and importance, blame you instead of being able to accept responsibility for their own behavior, and then finally, the SHAME you, instead of bowing to the shame THEY should in fact, be feeling. Everyone, this is abuse. Emotional, mental, and devastating abuse. Please accept these tools for what they are; insidious and devastating attempts at eroding who you are, and take away your self-worth. These things are what you will get in a relationship with a narcissist, and this is NO way to live. Over time, being exposed to these things take a significant toll on our mental and emotional health, which can indeed lead to physical ailments. Do not stand for this abuse; you are worth so so much more. Best, L.A.