Immediately, I picked up the phone and called her to confront her. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have given her the satisfaction – but I didn’t fully understand what I had been dealing with at the time. Anyway, when I told my mother that I knew what she had done, she began to scream and yell and rage. I pretty quickly told her never to call me again, and I hung up the phone.
At the time, I didn’t understand the concept of “going no contact with a narcissist,” but I would later learn that I had somehow instinctively made the right decision in that moment.
Over the next couple of weeks, I learned through the grapevine that the extended family was talking about me in some pretty interesting ways. It seemed that they believed I’d be back – and that at the very least, they’d see me for the holidays. They reportedly said I was just being dramatic and begging for attention.
In reality, I was done. And I still am. But at the time, they were apparently in denial, or so I thought. Later, I’d learn that my mother was playing the victim. She acted like she had absolutely no idea why I’d stopped talking to her, and she told people she was afraid I’d come and physically hurt her, despite the fact that I’d never even raised a hand to her or even been verbally aggressive. She of course omitted the fact that she had been very physically aggressive to me until I was 18.
A few weeks passed by and I learned that my mother had planned to send my brother to my home without notice, as a sort of “sneak attack,” to apparently “straighten me out” or confront me for having gone no contact. When I learned this, I sent a quick email explaining that he wasn’t welcome and that the police would be called if he showed up.
A couple of months after that, someone told me that my mother had been using my name in a newsletter that was sent out to around 300 people by mail – saying that I had “mental health issues” and that people should pray for me. That was taken care of with another quick email and a brief reminder that I happened to have had a much bigger audience than she did, some of which included her people. It turned out that the threat of exposure was enough to stop the smearing in this case.
So, why did this narcissist behave this way? What was she thinking and what was the one thing that she just couldn’t accept? It seemed that I had somehow managed to do the number one thing that narcissists just can’t accept. What was it? What exactly was the thing I did that made her act like that?
If you have been profoundly impacted by one or more narcissists in your life, whether it was a parent, an ex, or a friend, or even a co-worker, you might already know what to expect from them. And you are well aware that there are many things that a narcissist will not and cannot accept. You know they will not accept being confronted or criticized, they will not accept you living your own life on your terms, and you know that they won’t tolerate you speaking up for yourself.
They most definitely cannot stand being humiliated or embarrassed. And they can’t imagine what would happen if they were to be exposed for what they truly are – the idea of it is so painful for them that they literally lie to themselves about who and what they are.
But none of those things are as big of an issue for a narcissist as the one we’re discussing today.
So, what is the number one thing that narcissists can’t accept?
It’s simple: a narcissist will never accept rejection. They just can’t. That’s right. Rejection is the one thing that narcissists cannot accept.
What does rejection mean to a narcissist?
Fearing and disliking the feeling of being rejected isn’t just a narcissistic thing – nearly everyone has this fear. But for narcissists, feeling rejected can happen in any number of situations. Obviously, if they are turned down when they ask you to be with them, they’ll feel rejected. Or if a friend or family member refuses to speak to or see them due to a decision to go no contact, they will feel rejected. If they don’t get the job they wanted, they’ll feel rejected. And I think all of those things are fairly normal. We can all relate to that.
However, a narcissist might also feel rejected if they simply don’t get what they want, or if a situation doesn’t go their way. They’ll feel rejected if they call you and you don’t have time to talk, or if they want to see you and you’re at work and can’t leave. They’ll feel rejected if you’re spending time with your kid and you make that a priority over them. They might feel rejected if they see you in public but you don’t see them. Or if you decide to go out with your friends one night and ask them to stay home and take care of the kids.
They might feel rejected if you win an award, because they didn’t win one too. Even if the award is for something they’re not involved with – like your job or a particular talent you have that they don’t. They’ll even feel rejected if they don’t know the answer to a question and someone else does. Or if they misspell a word and are called out on it. Or if they fail at literally anything at all.
Of course, the biggest rejection for a narcissist is the moment you decide you’re done with their abuse and you go no contact. You refuse to see or speak to them. You block them on social media. You actively avoid them. This makes them feel like they’ve absolutely lost control of you – and they have. But you’ve also taken away their source of narcissistic supply, maybe for good.
What Happens If You Reject A Narcissist?
The first thing you need to know here is that rejecting a narcissist, if you ask the narcissist, is practically the kiss of death. It just isn’t acceptable in their world, because their ego cannot handle the emotions associated with it. Plus, if you ask them, they’re the ones who get to do the rejecting – NOT you or anyone else.
If you reject a narcissist, you’re essentially cutting off a source of narcissistic supply. And my friend, you can expect to deal with a very unpleasant reaction from the narcissist. For all the bravado and grandiosity, you would think that narcissists are practically indestructible. But the truth is that a narcissist will feel like their word is ending at even the tiniest “slight” that an average person would just let roll right off their back.
Let’s discuss the primary reactions you can expect from the narcissist after you make it clear that you want nothing to do with them again.
1. Narcissistic Injury
No matter what actually happened that caused you to reject them, the narcissist will quickly change the narrative of the situation to cast themselves as the victim. They will also talk about you mercilessly during this time, focusing on spreading lies to everyone they know about how you victimized them in some way. This is what we call a smear campaign, and it’s how the narcissist sort of “advertises” their “victim status” – and at the same time, how they try to get their narcissistic supply needs met. This is very difficult to imagine for your average person – we don’t see things the same way as a narcissist. Maybe this will help you see it a little more clearly. Think about how you feel if you unexpectedly stub your toe in the dark. It throbs with pain! You might find yourself cursing and screaming about it. Well, the narcissist will react the same way to being rejected – it almost feels like a literal injury to them.
2. Narcissistic Rage
If the narcissistic injury doesn’t work, the narcissist will inevitably become enraged. They are feeling a mixture of anxiety, shame, and depression as they turn the rejection inward. And when that happens, they will direct their narcissistic rage towards you or anyone who rejects them. They will scream, yell, hurl insults, and more. They’ll call you names. They’ll tear you down as a person. They’ll dig at you on every single sensitive topic they can think of – whether it’s how you are in bed, what kind of parent you are, how you keep the house or how bad (or good) you are with money. Or, if they’re more covert, they’ll go passive-aggressive on you. They may behave vindictively by sabotaging you in ways that can really mess up your life. For example, let’s say you have an interview for your dream job. The narcissist might send screenshots of the photos your friend posted on Facebook that one time you got drunk 5 years ago, hurting your chances of getting the job.
3. Hoover and Reject
This one might be the most painful way a narcissist could react to being rejected, but it’s not uncommon. See, in this case, the narcissist will hoover you – as in, do anything they can to get you back on board with the relationship, whether it’s a romantic one, a family connection, or a friendship. In the story I told at the beginning, it didn’t work. But I’ve experienced it in other relationships and have heard it from many clients. Essentially, in order to get you back, the narcissist will say all the things you’ve always wanted them to say. And they’ll bend over backward to convince you that THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT! This time, they’re REALLY serious and they’re TOTALLY going to follow through with all of the promises they’ve made you. You’ll doubt them at first, but eventually, you might give in – either out of exhaustion or hope. In either case, hold on to your hat, because once they’re sure you’re 100 percent committed to them again, they’ll do something you won’t be expecting: they’ll reject YOU. And then you’ll be back to square one, wondering what is wrong with you and posting in your narcissistic abuse recovery support groups about how you can’t believe you fell for it yet again. You’ll doubt your own intelligence and you’ll feel humiliated and embarrassed. They, however, will – at least temporarily – feel vindicated because they “got you back” for rejecting them in the first place.
When you are dealing with a narcissist, you might find yourself feeling powerless. Thanks to their various manipulation and gaslighting tactics, you might also question your own sanity and doubt your own reality. But what if you have something on a narcissist, such as catching them in a lie? What if you make it known that you know? What if you question them or push them?
Specifically, that means that narcissists who face injury to their egos will go into a state of rage. They may not show that they’re visibly angry, especially if they’re a covert narcissist. However, covert or otherwise, they will feel vengeful – and if their first response (rage) doesn’t get the kind of reaction they want or expect, chances are that they’ll go into the “poor me” thing – also known as narcissistic injury, or the victim role.
Types of Behaviors You Can Expect from a Narcissist Who Feels Threatened
Here are 5 common things that narcissists do when they feel threatened.
1. They’ll Put Your Job On The Line
Your average narcissist would actually go as far as calling your boss and telling them a lie about something you have done. For instance, they could tell your boss that you have been saying defamatory things about them. There is no proof but they can always become quite creative and make something tangible up. They may also call your workplace over and over again and become a nuisance, which many survivors report has caused them to lose jobs or to at least be reprimanded.
2. Get Involved With Your Relationship
If the narcissist isn’t your partner, they might take it upon themselves to tell your partner that you have been cheating on them, and in some cases, they might even create fake “evidence” of this fictional affair. They could get extremely creative with making it appear believable which can easily cause a breakup to happen. And if the narcissist IS your partner, they may cause drama or trouble in your friendships and other relationships in order to further isolate and control you. The more people they push away from you, the better they feel they can control you.
3. Ruin Your Reputation
Narcissists that feel threatened would do a great job of ruining your reputation. They could spread rumors that are defamatory and can do this online and offline. Some narcissists have been known to create sockpuppet accounts to leave you a lot of bad reviews on your business Google or Facebook page. They hope that any potential future business will fizzle out if they see any bad reviews on your pages. Alternatively, they might tell all of your friends and family members lies and exaggerated stories about you, or they might publicly smear you on social media. We call this the smear campaign.
4. They Will Isolate You From Supportive Friends and Family
As I mentioned earlier, narcissists want to isolate their victims in order to maintain control over you. This is why they tend to push anyone who might be supportive of you away. Threatened narcissists will find a way to contact your friends and family and convince them to turn their backs on you. It may or may not work, depending on whether they trust you or what the narcissist tells them. If they believe the narcissist over you, then that shows that they did not have true faith in you as it was – and like I always say, they weren’t really your people to begin with.
5. They Will Destroy Your Favorite Things
Narcissists don’t pay attention to what interests you (unless it benefits them to do so), but they sure are paying attention to what you value. When they feel threatened, they might target those things you cherish most and ruin them. This could mean they could destroy a painting you love, or vandalize your car, or anything that is dear to you.
Threatening a narcissist is almost never a helpful act. Rather than threaten them, your best bet is to use the gray rock method to manage your emotions when they’re around. If you need help and guidance as far as how to stop a narcissist in their tracks, you’ve got to start by taking away the one thing they really want and need: narcissistic supply – as in your emotional reactions to their behavior. If you want to get revenge on a narcissist the best thing you can do is to ignore them and live your life well WITHOUT them, despite their efforts to be the center of your world.
Narcissistic Injury is often referred to as the “poor me” act, and it’s what is displayed when a narcissist gets upset, hurt or offended about being treated like a normal person, or when they don’t get special treatment or favors, or literally anytime they don’t get what they want. In other words, narcissistic injury is a narcissistic manipulation tactic often used in combination with narcissistic rage to get what they want from a target or source of narcissistic supply.
What Causes Narcissistic Injury?
Any threat (real or imagined) to the narcissist’s grandiose self-perception – or the false self – as perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing, and entitled to special treatment and recognition, regardless of their actual accomplishments (or lack thereof).
In other words, the narcissist is always seeking attention, compliments, admiration and power over others in order to fill their endless need for narcissistic supply and boost their tiny little ego. This means that they could always be rejected, ignored or feel criticized.
So, in a way, it causes the narcissist to be surprisingly dependent on the compliance of the people in their life in order to feel “normal,” and without this kind of narcissistic supply, they feel like they might implode.
This is a weird conundrum for the narcissist: they need people to love, admire and respect them, but they also tend to dump their emotional garbage on these same people – usually, those closest to them.
Why Does the Narcissist Take Everything So Personally?
Because the narcissist is always watching for anything that could be perceived as an insult or slight, any type of criticism (even constructive) can be seen as a personal attack. The narcissist will feel humiliated and rejected, which leads to a strange kind of all-consuming paranoia. In the worst cases, this can even cause them to create made-up rules and crazy ideas, which they expect their “circle of narcissistic supply,” or the people closest to them, to follow and agree with – without question.
Their defensive reactions and extreme emotions cause the people close to them a great deal of emotional pain. The narcissist isn’t concerned with this and in fact, is oddly detached – perhaps to avoid narcissistic injury.
The first line of defense, of course, is to emotionally beat down (or devalue) anyone who has the nerve to criticize (or who the narcissist perceives might criticize them). This could also apply to someone who makes a joke or comment that the narcissist thinks is somehow “against them.”
The narcissist will look down their nose at anyone who dares to make them feel less than amazing – anyone who dares to peek behind the mask of the false self. With blatant contempt and a rising feeling of superiority, the narcissist feels better about themselves and minimizes the feeling of inferiority. This leads to cognitive dissonance and literally causes the narcissist to lie to themselves.
What is Narcissistic Rage?
While narcissists might seem to be the most put-together people we know, calm, poised, and good at managing their stress levels, anyone they feel comfortable around knows that it’s all an act.
Though it would seem like narcissistic rage is always a reaction to narcissistic injury, the truth is that narcissists see it as something that is inevitable, something that was “done to them” by the person who disagreed with or was critical of (or joking about) them. This leads us to logically assume they are illogical, unfair, and outright mean – especially during the rages.
Normal anger is different than narcissistic rage. Everybody gets angry. It’s normal and human. But healthier people will either work through it and use it to propel them forward into positive change, while narcissists will stew in it and let it infect anyone who has the nerve to get close enough.
Feeling threatened is just one way the narcissist will get angry. They’ll also react with rage to real or perceived injustice against them, to feeling uncomfortable or being inconvenienced, and to any sort of disagreement. To be fair, when we are angry, it can be hard for anyone to think and act logically, and this doesn’t exclude the narcissist or their rage.
This certainly inflates the lack of empathy that is a hallmark for a toxic narcissist. Some psychologists will tell you that narcissistic rage is just something that happens and that the narcissist is actually angry at themselves, but anyone who has ever been the subject of this rage will know better.
How Does Narcissistic Rage Manifest?
The narcissist may express rage through blatant, explosive verbal, or even physical attacks, using psychological abuse to minimize and invalidate anyone in their path. Or, they may go passive-aggressive – using sneaky, pervasive techniques like the silent treatment to control their circle of supply. To those in its path, narcissistic rage is scary and angst-causing. It feels like nothing you can say, do, think, or feel could possibly be right in the moment, and even though some narcissists will issue a weak apology later, it’s clearly perfunctory and means nothing – because they’ll ALWAYS do it again when it suits them.
When the preferred emotional dumpster (aka closest source of narcissistic supply) is unavailable, the narcissist will rage against random people they consider unimportant – customer service representatives on the phone, waitresses, the check-out lady at Walmart.
“Some people aren’t loyal to you, they are loyal to their need of you. Once their need changes, so does their loyalty.” ~Unknown
Ever have a “frenemy” – you know, the “friend slash enemy” combo, all neatly wrapped up into one friend, relative, co-worker or acquaintance? Not sure? Well, let me ask you another question.
Have you been just SHOCKED at the level of betrayal to which someone subjects you on a regular basis? Whether it’s a friend, a family member or even a co-worker, a “frenemy” is also often a narcissist, which is officially defined as “apersonwhoisoverlyself-involved,andoftenvainandselfish.”
Do you know and/or love a narcissist? If so, have you ever had one tell you that he or she “knows you better than you know yourself?” How about being told that your feelings and thoughts aren’t real or legitimate? And depending on the point in your life in which you met the narc and the intensity of his manipulation, you might even believe him.
The Two-Faced Narcissist
I know, everyone’s got a touch of narcissism – it helps us stay alive. Still, some have what might be considered “toxic” levels of narcissism – and one of the most telling signs is when someone from whom you expect (and deserve) loyalty goes the other way and betrays you.
For example, the boss who doesn’t back you up on a project – or the one who steals your idea and takes credit for it. Or the wife who just can’t seem to get it through her head that you are a person with feelings and emotions, too. Maybe it’s your child or your father who is “touched” by narcissism – it could be almost literally anyone you are in any type of ongoing relationship with.
Why do narcissists feel the need to create such difficulties for the people in their lives? It has a lot to do with their need to be in control of every person, situation and thing they come into contact with – at least on some level.
For a narcissist, this is just par for the course – it’s how they manage relationships and how they keep themselves artificially elevated within their own fragile egos- they start by messing with your head.
This might be due to your desire to keep your narcissist happy and avoid another raging episode, or it might just be because you’re so mentally exhausted from dealing with him that you literally can’t deal with anyone else’s issues.
Loyalty isn’t a two-way street when you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.
At some point, you begin to realize that the narcissist’s loyalty isn’t with you or with any one person, but rather with whomever or whatever is offering the attention and validation that he craves, needs, must have to survive.
KNOW THIS: You won’t ever be his first priority unless he needs or wants something from you, or unless someone is watching and he needs to prove how devoted he is. And it’s really not you – it’s him.
You will begin to notice that the narcissist isn’t really a whole person. There’s a very detailed and finely tuned shell there, alright, but the narcissist left alone will begin to wither like a plant without water.
He will grow bored and depressed because he has nothing of his own to hold on to – or if he does have his own “thing,” then he wants you to love that thing too. And if you don’t or won’t? You’re the one with the problem. And he will tell you exactly what’s wrong with you and everything that you are.
How to Deal with a Two-Faced Narcissist
Dear Narcissist: You can’t handle the truth!
Even though you and other people in his or her life can see through the narcissist, there are plenty of “flying monkeys” who can’t. And let’s not forget that the narc can’t ever believe that something isn’t right about him or her self.
So unless you want an exercise in futility, I don’t suggest that you try to enlighten him to the error of his ways. So what can you do?
Stand up and say what needs to be said. While it may cause a narcissistic rage or narcissistic injury situation, sometimes you just have to tell the narcissist the truth and hope they get it – for your own sake. In some cases, you can get through to them temporarily at least – but most often, you’ll find that any concessions the narc makes are just part of his latest manipulation tactic.
Are you an empath? Top 10 signs you are an empath.
In this video, I’ll fill you in on the top 10 traits of an empath, including but not limited to why so many empaths end up with narcissists and other energy vampires.
What is an empath?
Empaths are people who naturally feel the emotions of other people and act in accordance with that feeling. Considered to be the more sensitive, compassionate, and caring partner in relationships, empaths are often targets for narcissists and should take steps to protect themselves and their health.
How do you know if you’re an empath?
Empaths are extremely rare, making up less than one percent of the population. So, how do you know if you are an empath or not? The best way is to test how you feel when in the presence of other people, emotionally and physically even. If you feel drained in certain situations where there are many people in your vicinity, experiencing lots of physical symptoms when stressed out or when in stressful situations, then you are most likely an empath.
What are the top empath traits?
Here are 10 traits of an empath. Do you recognize any of these in yourself? (Watch the video for expansion on each point!)
1. Empaths are highly sensitive.
2. Empaths absorb the emotions of the people around them.
3. Empaths can seem introverted at times.
4. Empaths seem to “know” things.
5. Empaths need time to be alone each day.
6. Empaths don’t always want to be joined at the hip in a relationship.
7. Energy vampires LOVE empaths.
8. Nature can make an empath feel better.
9. Empaths are sometimes seen as oversensitive to noise, smells, or too much talking.
10. Empaths sometimes give too much and end up depleting themselves.