Translating Narcissist-Speak

by | May 21, 2017

If you love or live with a narcissist, you probably don’t feel very good about yourself. That’s because a narcissist puts you down in the mistaken belief that it elevates him by comparison. He makes you feel bad so he can feel good. And he probably doesn’t have a guilty conscience about it either. That’s because the narcissist in your life—like all narcissists—only cares about himself.

He may pretend to care about you, but only if it benefits him in some way.

The trouble is, you may have no idea your confidence and well-being are being undermined by a narcissist. Especially if this person is your parent and their method of communication is what you’ve known since birth. So it may take awhile to recognize that instead or really communicating, the narcissist uses words as weapons to control you.

Here are some examples:

  • I’m sorry if you feel hurt. This is a classic narcissist come-back when you try to explain how mean he’s been to you, and how much his words upset you. You may think he didn’t understand how cruel he was, but in fact, narcissists often know it but just don’t care. Empathy is not their strong suit. Not only that, this non-apology ‘apology’ twists the knife further—he’s not really sorry and it’s your fault for feeling hurt.
  • You’re so selfish, you only think of yourself. You’ve put up with this person’s self-centered behavior forever, but the moment you express even a small desire of your own, you’re a selfish pig. And the trouble is, you’re so conditioned to kowtow to his every need that you believe him. You might even feel guilty. Narcissists specialize is making you feel that way. This is called projection, a defense mechanism he uses to project how he really is on to you.
  • You can trust me. Believe me. Whenever anyone says that, beware. Honest people don’t usually have to say this about themselves. They demonstrate they are trustworthy by their actions. If a narcissist can get you to buy this line, then he can keep on using you, which is the only reason he has a relationship with you. The moment you catch him in a lie and call him on it, he’ll turn on you. But he keeps on saying you can trust him because it makes him feel good about himself.
  • You are wrong. I never said that. Or never did that. This is gaslighting—manipulating you to get you to question your own sanity. Narcissists use this technique to keep you in a state of confusion. To get you off balance. Because when you can’t believe in yourself, you rely more and more on his version of the truth. And you rely more and more on him. This is how narcissists get you under their control.
  • In actuality, narcissists have low self-esteem, and try to compensate for it by being bigger, better, best. They are flawed so they criticize you. They are weak so they steam-roll you. They are unsure so they bombard you with made-up facts. They can confound you until you realize that they do not respond to logic. And they only way to make sense of them and your relationship is to understand the true meaning behind their words.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:


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