There’s one thing that we can say with a great deal of certainty, and that is that narcissists are constantly in compensation mode. Behind the scenes in their personalities, they have lots of unresolved strains, tensions, and conflicts. Rather than introspect and take responsibility for who they are, they look at their interactions with other people as being in competition with each other. This is true whether you are living with that person, with someone in your extended family, in a social setting, in an organization, or at work. Narcissists are constantly trying to figure out how to make you look like you’re the problem so that they can sidestep the responsibility of having to come to terms with their contributions to the difficulties in a relationship. I want you to be aware of some of the tactics and tricks they use to make you look like a problematic person.
As part of them sidestepping their own responsibility for the difficulty they have, they try to use seven different tricks to make you out to be responsible for them.
- bait you into an argument
The first trick is that narcissists love to bait you into an argument. Let’s suppose that you have something that brings out differences of opinion or a conflict in terms of where you’re going with a certain project. Preferences, needs, or opinions are expressed. Okay, so far, so good. We do need to put our thoughts and feelings out there along with those subjects. But then, as you share your thoughts, feelings, needs, and preferences, here come the criticisms. Rather than the narcissists saying, “Well, let me think this thing through, and let’s understand why you feel as you do,” what they do is invalidate you, tell you that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and become argumentative. Then you bite, and you start arguing right back. You tell them how difficult they’re being, and you talk about how they don’t understand. They’re over there with this really satisfied feeling that says, “Got you going! Look how dysregulated you are right now. How in the world am I going to interact with somebody who’s as problematic as you?”
- insisting that you have to justify yourself
The second trick that they use to make you look like a problem is they insist that you really do have to justify yourself, your feelings, or your actions. You’re talking about whether it’s a project, an opinion, a preference, a feeling, or an impression that you have. It’s like, “Why do you feel that way? Where did you come up with that? Who would think in such a way? What are you hoping to accomplish?” Before you know it, you’re going into this high-justification mode. The narcissist is constantly trying to figure out how to poke holes in whatever it is you’re saying. The deeper you go into that, the more they think, “See, every time you say something, it doesn’t make any sense.” You have to stop and ask yourself, “Do I really have to justify myself that strongly, particularly when it’s with somebody who isn’t paying much attention to what I’m saying anyway?”
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