12 phrases narcissists use to belittle and demean others

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Do you suspect someone in your life of being a narcissist?

We use this word pretty loosely when we talk about people who like to look at themselves in the mirror, but this is actually a disorder that’s characterized by grandiosity, entitlement, and a lack of empathy.

Narcissists are almost always users. 

They have very limited thinking about other people’s roles. To them, others are people who can admire them, people who can help them to be admired, or people who can be pushed down into the muck to be stepped on.

They try to manipulate how they’re seen by the first two groups so they can receive attention and admiration. 

At the same time, they feel they can use and abuse the third group to suit their needs.

So here are 12 phrases narcissists use to belittle and demean others that you might be able to recognize.

And if they’re really familiar, you might want to get as far away from that person as you can!

1) “It’s all your fault!”

Some narcissists are cleverer with people they’re trying to manipulate, while others don’t hold back at all.

This is one of the phrases that’s straight to the point and packs a punch.

Of course, the narcissist is never wrong, so no matter what the problem is, it must be the fault of someone else.

They might use this phrase to transfer the blame for something they’ve done, or they might use it to blame someone else for their state of mind or feelings.

One thing is sure: they’ll never take responsibility when there’s someone else around who they can blame.

2) “I’m the victim here.”

This is the first of many examples of gaslighting phrases that narcissists love to use to manipulate others.

Gaslighting is a type of coercive control that manipulators use to try to deny reality and get a person under their control.

Phrases like this are one way they can do it.

If you’re upset with a narcissist, what will they do?

Certainly not accept the blame!

Instead, they’ll try to turn the table so that you look bad, and they end up playing the victim.

It’s Machiavellian, ingenious, and also quite demeaning.

3) “You’re so insecure.”

People who can express their emotions in a healthy way are still targets for narcissists to belittle and demean.

They love flipping the script to make others look bad, and themselves look good by comparison.

So if you decide to talk to a narcissist about a problem, something like, “I don’t like when you talk about me behind my back,” they won’t sit back and be criticized.

Oh, no.

They’ll go on the offensive and attack you with this kind of phrase, saying you’re insecure.

It turns the negative focus right onto you and off of them, which is a perfect example of manipulation.

4) “They’re jealous.”

Once again, the narcissist uses deflection to avoid criticism.

Imagine you’re this person’s boss, and you have to tell them, “We’ve had some complaints about your behavior from the other staff.”

This is very likely the kind of thing they’d answer.

Rather than be open and listen to a critique, they’re going to be dismissive and demeaning.

Since they can’t accept that their own behavior has any flaws, it must be the other people. And it makes sense they’d be jealous because the narcissist is amazing, right?

5) “You’re overreacting.”

Telling someone that their emotional response is disproportionate to a problem when it absolutely isn’t is like Gaslighting 101.

You basically deny their reality and attempt to replace it with confusion or self-doubt.

That way, you take the wind out of their sails and deflate any criticism coming your way.

Genius?

If you’re trying to get a gold star in manipulation, always tell others that the negative emotions they feel are misplaced or out of proportion.

6) “You’ll never find someone who treats you as well as I do.”

This phrase is really juicy, and there’s a lot to unpack here.

When would a narcissist use it?

Probably in the context of a relationship with a partner, they’re trying to control.

Narcissists are classic users, and, unfortunately, they attract codependents like moths to a flame.

And because a codependent person needs to feel useful, the narcissist can give them that in small doses.

But those doses are interspersed with belittling comments and treatment that helps to keep their self-confidence low and the risk of them leaving minimal.

No matter how badly the narcissist is treating their victim, they flip it around and essentially tell the victim that this is even better than they deserve, so they shouldn’t complain.

7) “You’re being selfish.”

I had to laugh even while I wrote this one since narcissists are, by definition, the most selfish people around.

This is yet another brilliant technique they use to manipulate others. We’re seeing them flip things around to blame the victim.

If you were in a relationship with a narcissist and said you don’t feel like they respect you or spend enough time with you, this is the sort of answer you’d get.

After all, they’re perfect, right?

I’m reminded of my friend’s ex-wife, who would tell him this exact thing when he asked her to reduce her spending. He was working hard doing 14-hour days offshore, and she was at home with a nice house, flashy cars, and no job.

She felt entitled to all that luxury and never gave a second thought to how it was afforded. But when he asked her to spend less, it was he who was being selfish!

8) “Don’t be stupid.”

This is quite a demeaning phrase, isn’t it?

It’s also one that narcissists love to use with their partners and hangers-on (I won’t call them friends since narcissists don’t really have friends).

I mean, we all probably say this once in a while and often in a light or joking way.

But for the narcissist, this is a common weapon in their war of attention-seeking.

They always have to be the best, the most beautiful, and, of course, the most intelligent person around.

By casting doubt on other people’s intelligence, they think they look smart by comparison.

Sadly, this often works since low self-esteem is mandatory for the people they keep around themselves.

9) “That’s not how it happened.”

Gaslighting once again.

What this phrase means is, “You remember things in a way that makes me look bad? You must be wrong.”

Narcissists are perfect (in their minds), so when anyone says something that makes them seem otherwise, they have to attack that reality and replace it with their own.

So, they’ll gladly re-write history to erase their shortcomings. If you remember things any other way, be prepared to face their wrath!

10) “You have trust issues.”

A narcissist wants to be admired, and this includes being trusted and respected.

But look at their patterns.

Emotional manipulation. Gaslighting. Rewriting history.

There’s not a lot going on here that builds trust.

And if you ever call a narcissist out on how they’re making up their own reality, it’s you who will be attacked.

You’re the one with a problem, not them, of course.

11) “I’m sorry if you feel that way.”

This classic phrase used by politicians is never an admission of guilt. 

Instead, it’s an incredibly clever way to do many things at once.

First, it sounds like an apology because it starts out with “I’m sorry,” but it definitely isn’t one.

Second, it blames the victim once again, this time for them having negative feelings.

And third, it works to gaslight the other person with that sneaky “if” that calls into question the reality of the other person’s grasp of the entire situation.

Though normally, it’s not explicitly followed by “But you’re wrong,” this is the underlying message the narcissist is sending here.

12) “No one else would put up with you.”

This phrase actually sends a chill up my spine because of just how incredibly manipulative it is.

Again, this is the sort of phrase a narcissist would say to a partner, a hanger-on, or even (almost unbelievably) one of their children.

While we know that narcissists are users, they also manipulate the people around them to make sure they stay around.

After all, a user needs victims to trample on and abuse.

This phrase is so demeaning while, at the same time, it cleverly paints the narcissist in a positive light. No matter how badly they’re treating the victim, this phrase makes it seem like that person’s fault and like they should be happy the narcissist still cares for them.

Well, they don’t. This is manipulation, pure and simple.

Conclusion

These 12 phrases that narcissists use to belittle and demean others are often brilliant in their sneakiness and deception.

If you encounter them often, you’re very likely dealing with a user and a person you should get away from as quickly as possible.

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