7 things a narcissist will casually say to diminish your confidence and self-worth

Navigating relationships can be tricky, especially when you’re dealing with a narcissist. These individuals have a knack for subtly undermining your confidence and self-worth with seemingly casual remarks.

The challenge lies in recognising these comments for what they are: calculated attempts to make you question your worth. The first step to countering this is understanding what these phrases are and how they’re used.

In this article, we’ll delve into some of the things a narcissist will casually say to diminish your confidence and self-worth. These aren’t just simple criticisms or jokes at your expense – they’re insidious comments designed to erode your self-esteem over time.

So, let’s get started, shall we? By the end of this piece, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to spot these manipulative tactics and protect your self-worth.

1) “You’re too sensitive”

Navigating the world of relationships, especially with a narcissist, is often like walking on eggshells. One of the most common phrases you might hear is “You’re too sensitive.”

At first glance, this might seem like a harmless comment. However, it’s a classic manipulation tactic used by narcissists. The goal is to make you question your feelings and reactions.

This phrase is essentially gaslighting — making you doubt your own experiences and emotions. The narcissist uses it to deflect blame, making any argument or disagreement your fault because you’re “too sensitive.”

It’s a way for them to maintain control and keep you off balance. After all, if you’re always second-guessing your reactions, you are less likely to challenge their behavior.

Understanding this tactic is the first step to countering it. Your feelings are valid and it’s okay to express them.

2) “I only want what’s best for you”

Surprisingly, one of the most undermining phrases a narcissist will use is “I only want what’s best for you.”

Seems caring, right? But don’t be fooled. This is a covert manipulation tactic. The narcissist uses this phrase to justify their controlling behavior, making it seem like they have your best interests at heart.

In reality, what they’re saying is that they know what’s better for you than you do. It’s a subtle way of dismissing your thoughts and opinions, making you dependent on their judgement instead.

This phrase can really shake your confidence and self-worth over time because it constantly undermines your ability to make decisions for yourself. Be aware of this tactic and remember: You’re capable of deciding what’s best for you.

3) “You’ll never be able to do that”

A phrase I’ve heard from many clients dealing with narcissists is “You’ll never be able to do that.” This is a powerful tool used to undermine your confidence and self-worth.

Narcissists use this phrase to plant seeds of doubt in your mind about your abilities. The goal is to make you feel dependent on them and to limit your personal growth. It’s a way of controlling you by making you believe you’re incapable and need their guidance or help.

This is one of the tactics I delve into in my book, Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship. But let’s focus on this point right now: if someone tells you “you can’t”, it’s often because they are afraid that you can.

In reality, their fear of your potential success reveals more about them than it does about you. Don’t let their insecurities shape your belief in yourself. You are capable and worthy of achieving your goals.

4) “I don’t remember saying that”

Another common phrase a narcissist might use is “I don’t remember saying that.” This is a classic gaslighting technique, designed to make you doubt your own memory and perceptions.

The narcissist uses this phrase to deny any responsibility for their hurtful words or actions, making you question your own version of events. Over time, this can seriously damage your self-confidence and self-worth.

I’ve personally had conversations with clients who have been at the receiving end of such manipulative behavior. It’s an exhausting place to be, constantly questioning your own reality.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This quote resonates deeply with me. It’s a reminder that while a narcissist can try to manipulate our feelings and memories, it’s ultimately up to us whether we let them succeed. Keep this in mind the next time you’re doubting your own recollections because of someone else’s denial.

5) “I’m not perfect, you know”

This is a phrase that I’ve heard time and again in my professional practice: “I’m not perfect, you know.” It might seem like a narcissist is admitting their flaws with this statement, but don’t be fooled.

In reality, this phrase serves two purposes. Firstly, it’s a deflection tactic to avoid taking responsibility for hurtful behaviors. By stating they’re not perfect, the narcissist sidesteps any blame or criticism.

Secondly, it’s a veiled attempt to make you feel guilty for holding them accountable. The implication is that you’re being unreasonable or unfair for expecting them to behave in a respectful or kind manner.

As someone who has had first-hand experience dealing with narcissists, I can tell you it’s crucial to remember that everyone makes mistakes. But using imperfections as an excuse to repeatedly hurt or undermine someone else is not acceptable behavior. It’s manipulation, plain and simple.

6) “You’re just overthinking”

One phrase that narcissists often resort to is “You’re just overthinking.” It’s a subtle way of dismissing your feelings and concerns.

By telling you that you’re overthinking, the narcissist invalidates your worries and makes you second guess yourself. It’s a clever way of maintaining control, as it encourages self-doubt and lowers your self-esteem.

I’ve seen this tactic used countless times in my line of work. It can be incredibly damaging, making you question your own judgement and worth.

But remember what Albert Einstein once said: “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Your concerns and questions are valid. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

For more insights into dealing with narcissists, I invite you to follow me on Facebook. I regularly share articles and resources to help you navigate the challenges of complex relationships.

7) “Can’t you take a joke?”

This phrase, “Can’t you take a joke?” might seem harmless, but it can be a devastating tool in a narcissist’s arsenal. It’s often used as a cover-up after they’ve said something hurtful or offensive.

By framing their insult as a joke, the narcissist shifts the blame onto you. You’re made to feel like you’re overreacting, being too sensitive, or lacking a sense of humor. In reality, they’re using humor as a disguise for their cruel remarks.

I’m going to be raw and honest here: this is not okay. It’s not your fault if someone else’s ‘joke’ hurts you. You have every right to feel upset and to express your feelings. Don’t let anyone use humor as an excuse to belittle or demean you. You deserve respect and kindness, always.

Before we part…

Reflecting on the intricate dance of human behavior and relationships, it’s clear that dealing with a narcissist can be a challenging experience. The subtle ways they undermine your confidence and self-worth are often masked behind seemingly casual remarks.

Recognizing these tactics is the first step to countering them. Once you understand what’s happening, you can start to rebuild your self-esteem and regain control of your life.

But remember, it’s not just about understanding narcissists. It’s also about nurturing your own self-love and resilience. You have the strength within you to rise above their manipulative tactics and thrive.

To dive deeper into this topic, I suggest you watch the following video by Justin Brown. He explores new age spiritual narcissism where he questions some of the groupthink in new age circles.

This video is very good for people who are interested in pursuing a spiritual path, finding meaning in life, but who need some encouragement about the importance of doing this by finding your own way, not following spiritual gurus or copying others:

Finally, remember that it’s okay to seek help if you’re dealing with a narcissist in your life. Whether it’s a counselor, a trusted friend, or a supportive online community, don’t hesitate to reach out. You’re not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to help you navigate through it.

Stay strong and remember – you are worth more than their words.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

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

8 subtle behaviors that show someone is a bad person, according to psychology

The 10 biggest life lessons most people learn too late, according to psychology