10 phrases narcissists use to blame others for their own failures

Narcissists seem to share their own sneaky, covert language when it comes to evading blame and mistreating others.

They say one thing but mean quite another…

Being on the receiving end of these verbal attacks might just mean that you’re dealing with a true narcissist.

Their wiley way with words and all the undercurrent meanings hidden under their seemingly innocent speech can often leave you feeling flabbergasted, frustrated, or even guilty for something that’s not your fault. 

Because the unfortunate truth is that narcissists have a very unique and artful way of twisting words and situations to their advantage.

And what better way to arm yourself against their cryptic communication methods than to learn what they say and why they say it?

So without further ado, let’s reveal the top 10 phrases narcissists commonly use to deflect responsibility for their own failures. 

1) “I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t…”

This one turns the tables on to you pretty quick. By suggesting that they only performed a certain action or chose a certain route because of you, it becomes all your fault…

(At least, that’s how they want it to appear.)

Narcissists are known for being exceptionally skilled at shifting blame onto others. They have a knack for making you believe that their actions – no matter how callous or hurtful – are a direct result of something you did or didn’t do.

So look out for this phrase. It’s a classic example of how they deflect responsibility for their own failures and instead blame the nearest person (most likely you).

Forget owning up to their mistakes; they’ll attribute their actions to your behavior and paint you out as the bad guy.

So, the next time someone uses this phrase to justify their missteps, remember it’s not your fault. 

They’re merely using manipulative tactics to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions, when really, you’re not at all responsible for another person’s choices – they are.

2) “You’re just overreacting.”

Boo you! 

Can you not just be cool?

Be chill?

Learn how to relax, for goodness sake…

(Said in the chilling words of a narcissist, no doubt.)

If you have ever been told you’re overreacting when you express concern or discomfort, it’s likely you’re:

  • Dealing with an insensitive and emotionally unintelligent human being,
  • Dealing with a narcissist,
  • (Maybe overreacting, just a teensy tiny bit).

And if it’s C), that’s also okay. You’re allowed to feel hurt and unrest upon hearing things that upset you.

However, truly empathetic and caring individuals will cater to your sensitivities and avoid upsetting you (at least intentionally.)

A narcissist, on the other hand, will try to invalidate your feelings especially when they upset you. Instead of apologizing or learning how to avoid sensitive topics, they’ll merely ridicule you for being upset in the first place.

So remember: it’s not overreacting to expect respect and consideration from others. Your feelings are valid, and no one should make you feel otherwise.

3) “I only did that because you made me angry first.”

A continuation of the blame game, this phrase again makes you the perpetrator of all the narcissists wrongdoings.

They wouldn’t have acted out, mistreated you or hurt you, had you not done something to warrant it first…

Like a dog who is beaten for begging for scraps, you’re suddenly the villain once again.

This phrase being another classic narcissistic deflection of blame, they use it to justify their actions by pinning their reactions on your supposed provocation.

The idea behind this is to make you feel guilty and responsible for their actions, even if the actions are obviously hurtful and nasty. 

Instead of owning up to their inappropriate behavior or reaction, they put the blame on you, making you the cause and them the victim. 

A funny way to evade blame, right?

So, if you encounter someone who uses this phrase to justify their actions, remember it’s not because of you or your actions in the slightest. 

It’s a deflection tactic, one often employed by narcissists to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

4) “I’m not perfect.”

No one is perfect! Hopefully you know this by now.

Hence why this phrase seems innocent enough… 

However, when employed by a narcissist, it’s another very clever way to deflect blame.

Narcissists often use this phrase as a way to brush off their mistakes or failures. 

By claiming they’re not perfect, that everyone is human and makes mistakes, they’re essentially saying they cannot be held accountable for their actions.

And should you even try to consider standing up for yourself, you by default appear inflexible and unsympathetic to what they paint out to be an unintentional mistake.

But here’s a catch – in psychology, this technique is known as minimization.

Minimization is a type of deception whereby the perpetrator downplays their own actions and provides ample excuses to make it seem never as bad as it truly is.

So, when someone uses this phrase to dismiss their failures or harmful behaviors, remember it’s not an admission of guilt but another way of avoiding accountability.

5) “You’re too sensitive.”

Now, this one can sting. 

Especially when it comes from someone you care about. 

Narcissists often use it to belittle your feelings and shift the blame onto you for being too soft and squishy and snowflake-y.

Let’s be clear – being sensitive is not a flaw at all. It means you’re empathetic, intuitive, and capable of deep connections. 

However, narcissists twist something good into something negative to invalidate your reactions and emotions and once again, make it all your fault.

So when they say, “You’re too sensitive,” what they’re really saying is, “Stop making me accountable for my actions.” 

They’re avoiding acknowledging how they’ve likely hurt you and instead make you feel guilty for feeling hurt in the first place.

But recognize that empathy and sensitivity are strengths. 

Don’t let anyone use them against you, and protect what is likely a good and golden heart inside of you.

6) “I was just joking.”

Accompanied with an eye roll.

Narcissists often use humor as a shield for their hurtful comments or actions. 

When they’re called out for their callous remarks, they resort to saying something like, “I was just joking”, making it seem like you’re the one who can’t take a joke. 

You’re the one with the bad sense of humor.

You’re too uptight.

You’re so boring.

This spiteful tactic is used to belittle you and make you second-guess your interpretation of the situation. It’s a way for them to escape accountability for their offensive actions or words by making it seem like you’re overreacting or otherwise unpleasant.

But jokes are meant to be funny and bring joy to people – not hurt feelings. 

If someone consistently hides behind humor to justify their hurtful behavior (usually attacking or belittling you), remember that it’s not your lack of understanding but their unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions.

7) “You’re just jealous.”

If they can’t evade through deflection or blame, narcissists will turn to making out that you’re in some way envious of them. Of their lives. Of their friends. The list goes on…

They use this phrase to deflect blame and belittle your intentions, as by claiming that you’re jealous they can humiliate you and your concerns.

So when you raise a concern, instead of addressing it, they might try to dismiss it by attributing it to your supposed jealousy.

Don’t let this supposed jealousy accusation deter you from expressing your feelings and standing up for yourself. 

Remind yourself: you have every right to voice your concerns without being labeled as jealous.

8) “No one else has a problem with it.”

Narcissists often use this phrase as a way to gaslight you into thinking you’re the only one in the entire world who has an issue with their behavior or actions. 

They try to isolate your concerns as an anomaly, suggesting that since no one else has raised an issue, the problem must lie with you. Much in the same way that you lack humor, that you’re overreacting, that you’re too sensitive etc.

But know that just because others haven’t voiced a concern (to your knowledge), it doesn’t mean they don’t share it. 

Trust your instincts, stand your ground, and don’t let this manipulative phrase make you question your judgment.

9) “You always take things the wrong way.”

Again, a way of deflecting blame onto you and making you the bad guy who can’t communicate or understand things properly…

This statement is a classic narcissistic tactic to shift blame and discredit your feelings

By implying that you’re misinterpreting their actions or words, they evade accountability and place the fault on you. They’re then squeaky clean and void of any part in the issues arising.

But trust that your feelings and perceptions are valid. You don’t always take things the wrong way at all, and you’re allowed to feel things the way that you do.

And especially when it comes to interactions with a narcissist, things are just sometimes hellishly wrong.

10) “It’s your fault.”

Wrapping things up, we can safely conclude that narcissists are experts at least trying to avoid being at fault. At all times. At all costs.

Hence why they use this hurtful phrase to blame others for their own failures. It’s a direct and extremely harsh attempt to shift all responsibility onto you whilst they escape scot-free.

The reality is, we’re all accountable for our own actions, decisions, and failures. 

The sooner we learn to accept our part in things and own up, the better.

No one else can be blamed for the choices we make, nor should we accept blame for other people.

Catching a narcissist red handed

Hats off to you if these phrases sound familiar. 

(Hopefully not in your own vocabulary.)

But if you do recognize someone close to you using similar phrases, keep an eye out and be on your guard.

Narcissists make for difficult friends and partners, and will often act sweet and saccharine until it comes to accepting blame or using others to their advantage.

Yet, hopefully you can leave a little more educated on the wiley ways in which narcissists manipulate others and play mind games.

With knowledge of the above phrases, you’ll also be far more equipped to spot a narcissist in their tracks and outmaneuver yourself from under them.

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