Today, we’re going to talk about narcissists and gaslighting and whether or not it can be intentional. If you’ve ever had a friend, family member or co-worker who is a narcissist or who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), chances are you have been the victim of gaslighting, which is a manipulation technique they often employ to get what they want.
In case you’re new around here, let me define gaslighting for you. Used by most narcissists, gaslighting is a pervasive and highly-effective tactic meant to manipulate you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity. Or, in layman’s terms, gaslighting is when a toxic person intentionally messes with your head to make you doubt your reality and your sanity. And, if you haven’t already guessed, gaslighters make you feel crazy because they act like your reactions to their abuse are not rational.
But is it intentional? Are narcissists and other toxic people using gaslighting on purpose? Do they think about it first, or is it just in their nature? Do people who are utilizing gaslighting tactics even know they are doing that?
Can gaslighting be unintentional?
In the examples I gave, do you think that the gaslighting was done on purpose or by nature? Were the narcissists I talked about calculating or was this just the way their minds work? Well, let’s discuss that. It could go one of two ways.
In some cases yes, a narcissist can be well-aware of what they’re doing. Maybe they don’t call it “gaslighting,” but they have studied you and long-practiced the strategy and how it works in order to manipulate others. It is all about gaining control. The ones who intentionally manipulate and do so in a calculated, focused way tend to be more intelligent as well as higher on the cluster B spectrum. They’re more likely to qualify as sociopaths and psychopaths.
However, in other cases, there are abusers and narcissists who utilize gaslighting tactics without even realizing it as well.
In those instances, they are still wanting to gain control to manipulate others, and when that happens, gaslighting is one of those tactics they use. But that does not mean the gaslighting is intentional. It just comes with the territory. In many cases, children who were raised by narcissistic parents or one narcissistic parent would have learned those tactics along the way by watching what the parent does. It can just be their nature, or a learned behavior. It might look like a bad habit.
For example, if the parent had an addiction and they did not want the children to tell anyone about it, they would use gaslighting tactics to keep the child quiet. This would involve some form of manipulation by the parent. Another common gaslighting tactic that toxic parents use is that they do what they can to alienate the child from the other parent. Especially when the parents are separated or divorced as they will depict the other parent as the ‘deadbeat’ even if that is far from the truth.
The worst part is that oftentimes children who are abused and manipulated sadly repeat history. Some realize that they need to break the cycle so they don’t do that to their children. This can ensure that the toxic legacy doesn’t continue. But those who do pick up those tactics will be more likely to be manipulative towards others even if they are unintentionally gaslighting. They still are doing it to get what they want. And whether or not the manipulator is aware of gaslighting, they both are a pathological way of cruelly manipulating the mind to get what they want. They don’t care if you get hurt in the end.
Bottom line: it is true that gaslighting can be unintentional. But remember this: that does not make it any less problematic than those who are intentionally doing it to you.
Are you dealing with someone in your life who is spreading rumors and lies about you? Are you feeling like everyone’s against you because of these lies? Is someone exaggerating the truth or just plain making up stories about you in order to make people think you’ve done something to hurt them, or that you deserve to be punished or ignored?
Are you dealing with a narcissist’s smear campaign?
Narcissists have a funny way of doing anything they can to maintain appearances to people who aren’t really very important in their lives, while at the same time, caring very little about how they’re perceived by the people closest to them. One way they show this is through the liberal use of smear campaigns used against loved ones as part of their relationship cycles. The worst part is that people often believe the lies the narcissist spreads and this can lead to the complete destruction of your life as you know it.
What is a smear campaign?
A smear campaign is a manipulation tactic in which the narcissist spreads rumors and lies about you in order to socially or otherwise isolate you, as well as to get additional narcissistic supply in the form of support or pity from those who are hearing their latest “sob story.” Smear campaigns are most often used by the narcissist when you have discarded them (or they have discarded you).
For instance, if you cut your narcissistic mother out of your life, then she will go around telling the extended family and others in the community what a terrible person you are. She might say that you had stolen from her (which you never have done), and did everything you could to cause damage (which you never did).
They will tell plenty of lies about you (which the narcissist actually might see as “truth,” as they can be quite delusional).
They will ruin you in order to protect their image, hide their insecurities, and they never hold themselves accountable for anything they do. Any victim of a narcissist will be a scapegoat.
Why do people fall for the narcissist’s smear campaign?
There is one basic reason that people will fall for a narcissist’s smear campaign. That is due to the fact that narcissists are extremely manipulative and convincing to the point that they are excellent liars. Narcissists know exactly how to make you look like the bad one and will get others to believe their lies about you.
For many, you will look like the bad one that the narcissist successfully portrayed you to be. Some people may always believe them. However, eventually, the narcissist’s true colors will shine right through. Some people will see that the narcissist is just that, a narcissist which will make them think twice about what they had said about you.
So, if you are planning to cut a narcissistic parent out of your life, or separate from a narcissistic partner or friend – be prepared. Know that they will create a smear campaign about you that can easily ruin your reputation. However, the decent people who may believe them at first will eventually see the truth once they see the narcissist’s true colors.
Who is Involved in the narcissist’s smear campaign?
You guessed it – narcissists don’t usually “go it alone” when it comes to smear campaigns. They have a special group of people who help them do their bidding. This can be a group of one or more – and we call them “flying monkeys.” Flying monkeys, for the record, are those people who willingly or otherwise do the narcissist’s bidding and support their agenda. They are essentially the enablers of the narcissist.
Truthfully, there is very little you can do once the smear campaign has already started. But don’t waste your breath trying to defend yourself. If the narcissist gets to someone who you trust, give them one chance to hear your side of the story – and if they don’t understand and/or believe it, you might want to back off for a short time (or longer) until this whole thing blows over. But those who know and trust you should stick with you. Those who don’t might not have been your people in the first place. This video offers a “don’t get mad, get even” technique for how to deal with the narcissist’s smear campaign.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
You might say that narcissists have their own personal harem dedicated to being dedicated sources of narcissistic supply.
In fact, when we are talking about a “narcissistic harem,” we are talking abt a group or “collection” of friends/admirers (AKA sources of narcissistic supply) that a narcissist gathers up to keep them topped up on their daily supply of love and admiration.
Since no single individual person could ever fill the void that is the hole inside a narcissist’s soul, they seek to fill it with whomever they can – and often these relationships are interchangeable.
How does “narcissistic recycling” work?
The narcissist has their group of “options” – AKA their little harem – and while there may be an occasional new addition or temporary member of the group, there are a few who remain in place for years or even decades.
But in any case, the “re-idealization” part is often facilitated by the hoover maneuver.
You might think that it’s over – but very often, the narcissist has other ideas. in fact, more often than not, the narcissist will do something to suck you back into their drama – or even fully back into the relationship – using a technique called hoovering.
What is hoovering?
Hoovering, named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, is what we call it when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after you’ve left them or ended the relationship, or after they have discarded you. They may use some kind of personal problem or dramatic issue to pull you back in, or they may use love-bombing. Hoovering is always an attempt to obtain more narcissistic supply from you, and in many cases, it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship. It can also just be a manipulation tactic used to get you to break no contact.
What are the signs of a hoovering narcissist?
The first thing you need to remember here is that there is no level to which a narcissist won’t stoop – nothing is off-limits for them. Here are a few ways narcissists might engage in hoovering you. (Details on each are included in this video)
Finally saying that one thing you’ve been dying to hear.
Is there such a thing as a monogamous narcissist? Why do narcissists want monogamy when they really want attention from everyone else? Today, I’m answering a question for a viewer, Shawna, who asks: “Please do a video on why narcissists attempt monogamy when they really want attention from so many different people. I don’t understand their over the top fixation on one person but playing the field.”
“You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life that lights you up. Don’t ever forget that.” ~Coco Calla
Going through narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship is one of those situations that steals your soul, in a way. What I mean is that it teaches you that you don’t matter and that your thoughts and feelings aren’t as real or relevant as other people’s thoughts and feelings. You might think you don’t deserve to have “nice things” in your life, and that you are, in general, just not as “good” as other people. You might feel broken, damaged, or even somehow inferior to literally everyone else. You might feel like a fraud – like everything you are is fake, even if you can’t be sure why you feel this way.
But there’s something you need to know if this resonates with you: those feelings are inaccurate. You matter. Your thoughts and feelings are real and relevant and they are worth hearing. You are a real person and you absolutely are as important and as good as everyone else. You may have suffered some traumas, and that doesn’t make you bad. You might have a lot of healing to do, but that doesn’t make you less real. You might still be trying to figure out who you really are – and that is a beautiful thing if you allow it to be.
And when you think that you don’t deserve “good things” in your life, you’re thinking thoughts that, in a way, aren’t even your own. See, you most likely came to believe this because of the narcissists (and other toxic people in your life) who told you that you weren’t good enough in so many different ways.
Narcissistic Abuse Changes You
Being with a narcissist changes who you become in some pretty big ways. It changes you from someone who might have been a happy, confident, secure person into someone who doubts their worth and their value every day. It takes away your ability to have a healthy, full life and causes you to hyper-focus on it as you try in vain to resolve it, repeatedly, over and over again.
These toxic parents, spouses and other partners, family members, and friends would have made you feel worthless, invisible, perpetually pressured, and unimportant, or some combination of these feelings. They would have led you to believe that your value was conditional: you were only “okay” if you were doing exactly what they wanted you to do. But thankfully, that’s not the truth. Those people were WRONG. So, let’s discuss why you DO deserve to have the things, people, and situations you want in your life you want and how you can go about realizing that you are good enough.
Change Your Narrative
Toxic relationships can make you feel like you don’t deserve anything good. Your parents, teachers, school bullies, friends, and other people in your childhood may have made you feel this way with the way they treated you. The beliefs that these people taught us (about both ourselves and the world around us) can be deep-rooted and hard to let go of – but with a little intention and focus, it’s entirely possible.
You’ll be less physically healthy. You’ll be less mentally, psychologically and spiritually healthy, and you’ll find yourself suffering from low self-esteem, a loss of identity and more. When you’re ready to begin to take back your life, you’ll be ready to begin the journey of narcissistic abuse recovery.
What is Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?
In order to understand what narcissistic abuse recovery is, we must first define both “narcissist” and “narcissistic abuse.”
What is a Narcissist?
A narcissist can be a man or a woman, and they will most definitely have a very a high opinion of him/herself. The toxic narcissist will have a sense of entitlement (most often unearned). The toxic narcisist is a verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive person who may have narcissistic personality disorder.
This type of narcissist will show little to no empathy for the people around them and will act from that perspective. They don’t think about or concern themselves with how others feel, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist.
Narcissistic abuse is verbal, emotional and occasionally physically abuse that can be experienced by anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people.
Narcissistic supply may include childen, spouses or partners, parents and other friends, relatives and acquaintences. Those who remain close are often used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person.
Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist.
DID YOU KNOW?
You’ll need to grieve the loss of a narcissist.
Many people assume that going through a toxic relationship with a narcissistic abuser would require no grieving process – no mourning – no grief at all. People assume that you should be glad it’s over.
A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
A belief that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
A requirement for excessive admiration
A sense of entitlement – unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
Interpersonal exploitativeness – taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
A lack of empathy and an unwillingness to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Enviousness of others – along with the belief that others are envious of him or her
A tendency to arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Defined
The process of narcissistic abuse recovery varies for everyone, but with intentional effort and focus on healing, recovery is possible for most survivors of narcissistic abuse. There are four basic stages of narcissistic abuse recovery.
Stages of Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
The Discovery Phase – When you’re first recognizing that you’ve got a problem in a relationship – and maybe for the first time ever, you’re starting to recognize that YOU are not the problem. You might suddenly realize you’re not the crazy one, after all – and if a friend, therapist or family member did not point it out to you, you may have come across a video or article that showed you the light.
The Understanding Phase – You know or are pretty convinced that you’re in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, whether it’s a romantic one, a family one or a friend or coworker one. You are pretty sure you’ve got to leave, or you’ve already left, but you feel stuck and you can’t seem to break free. You’re reading and watching everything you can about narcissists and narcissistic abuse because not only is it helping you wrap your head around what you’re dealing with, but for once, you’re feeling a sense of validation.
The Overcoming Phase – You know or are pretty convinced that you’re in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, whether it’s a romantic one, a family one or a friend or coworker one. You are pretty sure you’ve got to leave, or you’ve already left, but some part of you feels stuck and you can’t seem to break free emotonally and psychologically. Still, you’re in the right frame of mind to take your healing to the next level, and with intention, you will get there.
The Evolving Phase– You’re free of the narcissist and ready to move into creating the life you truly want. You are finding and following your own passions and you’re finally beginning to evolve into the person you’ve always been meant to be. Life is starting to get really, really good.
What stage of narcissistic abuse recovery are you in? Find out now.
Divorce Support– Offers Support for Divorcing a Narcissist, Before, During and After. There is no greater emotional pain that can be inflicted on someone than divorce, whether you initiate it or your narcissistic partner does.
SPAN Book Club – Get your intellectual stimulation and share camaraderie over a shared hobby, while alleviating the typical loneliness and isolation suffered by survivors of narcissistic abuse from the comfort of your home.
Boldly Evolving Empaths (QueenBeeing BEEs) – For those survivors who are ready to thrive and who have passed the discovery and understanding phases and are ready to push forward into the next phase in their lives.
The SPANily Home – QueenBeeing.com’s OFF-FACBOOK private narcissistic abuse recovery and resource center. Closely monitored and managed by our team of certified narcissistic abuse recovery coaches. Pricing starts at $3.99 per month.
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