7 clever tactics narcissists use to make you feel crazy

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Ever been around someone who always seems to twist your words, making you question your own sanity?

Hello, welcome to the world of narcissists.

Dealing with a narcissist can feel like navigating a mind-bending maze.

And trust me, it’s not you, it’s them. The way they can have you second-guessing your own thoughts is nothing short of a cleverly orchestrated strategy.

It’s like playing chess with a grandmaster, always two steps ahead and leaving you floundering.

In this article, we’re going to unravel the strategies narcissists use to make you feel crazy. And no, it’s not an episode of a psychological thriller. It’s real life for those entangled with narcissists.

I’ll be sharing some insights on 7 clever tactics they use, not to scare you but to arm you with knowledge. No one should feel like they’re losing their mind when all they’re doing is interacting with another human being.

1) Gaslighting

Ah, gaslighting. The narcissist’s favorite tool.

Ever had a conversation where someone flat out denies something you know happened? Or they tell you that you’re remembering it wrong? That’s gaslighting for you.

Narcissists use this tactic to distort your perception of reality. They make you question your memory, judgement, and even sanity.

The aim? To gain power and control.

One moment, they might be showering you with affection. The next, they deny that it ever happened or insist that you misunderstood their intentions.

This keeps you off balance, always second-guessing your interpretation of events.

But remember this – your memories and feelings are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

2) Emotional manipulation

Let me tell you about a time I fell into this trap.

I had a friend named Alex. Alex was charming, charismatic, and everyone loved him.

But there was something about Alex that left me feeling drained and upset after every interaction. It took me a while to figure out what it was – emotional manipulation.

Alex had this uncanny ability to make every conversation about him. If I was having a bad day, somehow, he’d flip the conversation to his problems. My feelings always seemed to take a back seat.

And if I ever confronted him about this, he’d turn it around on me. He’d say things like, “You’re overreacting,” or “You’re being too sensitive.” Making me feel guilty for having emotions.

That’s emotional manipulation in action. Narcissists use this tactic to control and dominate the relationship, making you feel like your feelings don’t matter. But guess what? They do. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

3) The blame game

I remember a time when I was in a relationship with a girl named Lisa. She had this uncanny knack of shifting blame onto me for everything that went wrong.

One day, we had planned to meet for dinner at a restaurant. Unfortunately, I got caught up at work and was running late. I called to let her know, and she seemed understanding on the phone. But when I finally arrived at the restaurant, she was fuming.

Rather than express her disappointment, she launched into a tirade about how I always kept her waiting, how I never respected her time. The issue escalated to the point where I found myself apologizing for being late, feeling guilty for something that was beyond my control.

That’s when I realized what was happening – she was playing the blame game.

Narcissists often use this tactic to make you feel responsible for their happiness. The aim is to create a sense of guilt in you, to make you feel like you’re always at fault.

But remember this – it’s not always your fault. You’re not responsible for someone else’s happiness or dissatisfaction.

4) Negative reinforcement

Ever noticed how some people seem to have a knack for pointing out your flaws? How they’ll zero in on your mistakes, ignoring all the things you do right?

This is another classic narcissistic tactic – negative reinforcement.

Narcissists use this method to undermine your self-esteem, making you feel inadequate or incompetent. The more you feel this way, the easier it is for them to control and manipulate you.

It’s like being in a boxing ring, where every round leaves you more bruised and battered. But here’s the thing – it’s not a fair fight. They’re hitting below the belt.

Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

5) Triangulation

Picture this. You’re in a room with two other people, and suddenly, you feel like you’re on the outside looking in. Like they’re in their own world, and you’re just an intruder.

Welcome to the world of triangulation.

Here’s something you might not know – narcissists love to create triangles. It gives them a sense of power and control. They’ll often bring a third person into the dynamic to stir up jealousy and insecurity.

It’s like being in a twisted love triangle, where the narcissist is the coveted prize, and you’re left feeling like the loser. But it’s not a love story – it’s manipulation.

6) Silent treatment

There was a time in my life when I lived in constant fear of silence.

Not the peaceful kind of silence you enjoy with a good book and a cup of tea, but the oppressive kind that leaves you feeling anxious and alone.

I was dealing with someone who used silence as a weapon. If I said or did something they didn’t like, they’d shut down, refusing to talk or even acknowledge my presence. It was their way of punishing me, their way of asserting control.

This is known as the silent treatment, a tactic commonly used by narcissists. It’s a form of emotional abuse designed to make you feel invisible and insignificant.

But here’s something I learnt – your voice matters. Your feelings matter. Silence should never be used as a weapon. 

7) Love bombing

Here’s the kicker. Narcissists don’t start out as the villains they end up being.

In fact, they often come across as the most charming, attentive, and affectionate individuals you’ll ever meet. This is known as love bombing.

They shower you with compliments, gifts, and attention, making you feel special and loved. But once they have you in their grip, the mask slips, and the manipulative tactics begin.

The purpose of love bombing is to make you dependent on their affection and approval. It’s a setup for the emotional roller coaster that follows.

The most important thing to know is this – real love doesn’t require manipulation. It’s not a game of control and dominance. It’s about mutual respect, understanding, and equality. Anything less than that is not love.

Final thoughts

Recognizing these manipulative tactics can be a hard pill to swallow. Especially if you’ve experienced them firsthand. But remember, knowledge is power.

Being aware of these strategies is the first step towards protecting yourself. It helps to distinguish between genuine affection and manipulation, between emotional support and emotional abuse.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve fallen prey to these tactics in the past. It’s not your fault. Narcissists are master manipulators, and it’s easy to get caught up in their web of deceit.

But now you know better. You understand their game plan. And this understanding is a potent weapon in your arsenal.

Think of it this way – you’re not a victim, you’re a survivor. You’ve come out stronger, wiser, more resilient.

And remember, you are not alone. There are resources and support systems available to help you navigate through these challenging times.

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With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

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Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Hack Spirit! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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