11 phrases a narcissist will use to chip away at your confidence

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Narcissists want your life to revolve around them.

They want you to desire them, to prioritize them, to become their sidekick, and most of all—to make them feel good about themselves.

One way they ensure this is by making you lose confidence in yourself.

You must do your best to not let that happen!

In this article, I will give you 11 phrases a narcissist will use to chip away at your confidence (and what you can say back).

1) “Sure, if you say so…”

Said with a shrug and a raised eyebrow, of course.

This translates to: “I’m SURE it’s a bad idea but well… go ahead and prove me wrong!”

If you come up with ideas and plans that they don’t approve of, they’ll make you doubt yourself by saying this line.

It’s their way to make you think your plans are obviously stupid. After all, they’re so sure it won’t turn out great.

Pay close attention. They probably have their own personal reasons why they’re stopping you (or not supporting you) from pursuing things.

What to say back: 

“Well, no one can be 100% sure of anything but I owe it to myself to at least try.”

2) “Phew! You really want to make your life complicated!”

Narcissists want to attack your confidence by attacking your personality—especially if you have proof of your “failures”.

They’ll remind you that you’re not the wisest and that you always put yourself in trouble.

They’ll point out how you’ve made reckless decisions because you don’t know how to “listen to them” (aka follow their orders).

It always works because narcs know how to say it with such confidence that if you’re doubting yourself just a little, you’d stop and go “Yeah, nevermind. You’re right.”

What to say back:

“I know I’ve made some mistakes in the past, but everyone makes them. And while some of them made my life complicated, I have to keep trying.”

3) “You don’t want to fail again, do you?”

This is similar to the one above, but this just stings a little more because it’s more direct.

Let’s say you want to date again and they want you to remain single for some reason, they’ll say “You don’t want to be used by a guy again, do you?”

And if you want to find another job and they want you to stay, they’ll say something like “Are you sure? Because you have this pattern of jumping from one job to another!”

They would sound concerned, but they’re just more concerned about themselves, really.

Narcs use this phrase when they’re already desperate. That’s why if you hear this line, it’s important for you to ask yourself “Why are they not supporting me right now?”

What to say back:

“I’d rather fail again than remain in the same place. Thanks for your concern.”

4) “All of this just for that?!”

So let’s say you worked so hard to achieve something—perhaps an essay, or a painting, or a website.

They’ll make sure you won’t feel good about your accomplishments!

Sometimes, they’ll say it in a serious tone, but most of the time, they’ll make it sound like they’re just joking so it won’t be too obvious that they’re toying with your self-esteem.

Deep inside, the narc is just threatened you’d realize what you’re capable of and fly away from them.

What to say back:

“I’m so happy with what I’ve done so far. I hope you’re happy for me, too!”

5) “You’re the best!” 

This can make your heart melt if said in a genuine way. But with a touch of sarcasm? Not so much!

Because that translates to: “You’re definitely NOT the best.”

Narcs say this so you’ll start wondering “Am I really the best?” and of course, this will make you realize you aren’t.

But the thing is, your goal wasn’t to become the best, anyway. You just wanted to do something!

What to say back:

“Well thank you. Honestly, I still don’t think I’m that good but I will be.” *wink*

6) “You’ve always been________.”

If you make rushed decisions they don’t like—say, you want to accept a scholarship in Europe—they’ll say “Not so fast. Think it through. You’ve always been impulsive.”

If you want to quit your day job and go full-time on your passions, they’ll say “Are you sure? Well, you’ve always been happy-go-lucky and impractical.”

They say it like they really know you to the core and that they’re just trying to protect you from yourself.

Nah. Usually, narcs do this so you won’t outshine them and you will remain trapped in their claws.

What to say back:

“I know. And to be honest, I’m fine with who I am. The worst thing that could happen is I go back to zero…and I’m fine with that.”

7) “You’re not thinking straight. You’re too emotional right now.”

This line is used by narcs to gaslight you and make you doubt how you handle situations.

Perhaps you’re having an argument. And the moment you get teary-eyed, they’d use that to invalidate whatever you’re saying.

Or if you’re using your heart in making decisions, they’ll tell you that you’re making stupid decisions because you’re still grieving or in love or angry.

By saying you’re too emotional, they’re saying that the things you do and say are not valid because you’re not thinking with a clear mind.

What to say back:

“I may be emotional, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use my head. But if you prefer to discuss this another time, sure, let’s do that.”

8) “But what makes you so sure you’ll get it right this time?”

We can never be 100% sure of anything, and this can be scary if you really think about it. Everything comes with risks and the possibility of failure.

But when this is uttered by a narc, it becomes ten times as scary because they’re so intimidating and convincing.

They’re saying this so you’d be pressured to prove yourself. And this alone is exhausting to think about.

And if you’re already suffering from low self-confidence, it can be what would convince you to not pursue the things you want.

What to say back:

“I just feel it!”

9) “Are you sure you’re not wasting your time?”

Even the most confident person would pause and think twice when asked this question.

Of course we can NEVER be sure if we’re not wasting our time when we pursue something. We have to do it first to find out!

But narcs would make you feel like you’re wasting time already.

Because it’s not a question. It’s actually a statement which says “I am sure you’re wasting your time.”

Then it will make you anxious and think that yeah, you’re actually wasting your precious time and you should do something else.

What to say back:

“I will find out. The good thing is that I still have plenty of time to waste!”

10) “Are you having some sort of crisis?”

When you talk with a narc, they suck away all your joy. 

Well, that is if they don’t like your plans because it doesn’t benefit them in any way.

If you tell them you’re planning to marry your partner and travel the world, they’ll ask you “Are you sure you’re not having a midlife crisis?”

Or a quarterlife crisis or any existential crisis.

This way, you’ll lose confidence in how you make decisions and hold off your plans.

What to say back:

“Uhhh, what a question. Of course not! Are you?”

11) “Since you don’t want my advice, you do you!”

Translation: “Don’t expect me to rescue you if you fail. I already warned you it’s a bad idea!”

And this can be scary especially if we depend on the narc—like if they’re your parents who are still supporting you financially.

They’re saying this phrase to basically mock you for having a “carefree” attitude.

Why?

Because they want you to always consider them when making decisions!

What to say back:

“ Aw, don’t say that. I will go to you for advice when I need it. For now, I have to do this to find out what’s out there.”

How to protect yourself from a narcissist

  • Examine the potential narcs in your life so you’ll know whose words you should not take too seriously.
  • When you hear the lines above, think “What do they really want me to do?”
  • Read more about narcissistic behaviors.
  • Do things that can boost your confidence daily.
  • Stay away from the narcissist when you’re making important decisions and exploring new things.
  • Don’t engage too much. If they say the phrases above, don’t try to change their mind or get defensive. Just answer them quickly then talk about something else.
  • Don’t make it a goal to prove the narcissist wrong. You’ll never win. The only person you should be trying to impress is yourself.

Last words

Narcissists are very cunning.

You might think their words are “nothing but words,” but words are actually one of their best tools to influence how you think and act.

So whenever they say something— especially if they’re trying to attack your confidence—just let their words enter one ear and exit to the other. 

They can’t influence you if you won’t let them.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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