Narcissists have this way of making us feel responsible for their happiness. After dealing with one of these toxic people for years, you might even allow yourself to feel responsible for keeping them emotionally safe – or at least for making sure they have whatever they want and need at any given moment. And, if you’re anything like I was, you might even have gone to extremes to do so.
For me, this was true even when I had to do something that I didn’t want to do, like pay my bills late in order to make sure my ex had the money he needed to pay for his hobbies or whatever he wanted. Or sometimes, it would mean doing something that is even further outside of your personal ethical standards – and I won’t elaborate here, but I can’t tell you how many people have shared stories like this with me. And I have a few of my own that would knock your socks off, if I’m being honest.
The same thing happened with my narcissistic parent, but in a bit of a different way. In this case, I knew what was and was not acceptable and I’d do whatever I could to try to fit in the mold that she had created for me. Often, this was to my detriment. For example, she would cook food that she knew I did not like, and she would act upset if I refused to eat it – to put it mildly. By the time I was 8 or 9, I had taken to pretending to like food that literally made me sick to my stomach in order to please her. Worse, I would later go sneak into the fridge and eat stuff that I DID like, which would also get me in trouble. And this would lead me to a lifelong struggle with my weight.*
*Side note, I am not blaming anyone but myself for my struggles – and I’m working on getting that under control. But the truth is that my weight issues could cause serious health problems (and have, in the past), and at least the psychological part of them are partially related to the situation I described.
Does any of that ring true for you? Whether you had a narcissistic ex, or a narcissistic friend, or a parent, did you find yourself feeling the need to keep them happy? And if so, have you ever wondered exactly why? What exactly caused you to try to keep them satisfied even if that meant going above and beyond at your own expense?
Logically, if you think about it, it makes sense that you (or anyone who found themselves at the mercy of an abusive narcissist) would, right? Because you knew that if you did not give the narcissist what they wanted and needed, you would face whatever consequences they might enact. You would be the focal point of their narcissistic rage and the narcissist would even devalue you even more. That is a terrifying thought that haunts anyone who has ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist.
But starting the moment you realize what you have been dealing with, you’ll start to change. It will seem slow, but before you know it, you will get to the point where you begin to understand that you have been abused. You’ll realize that your boundaries have been violated over and over again by the narcissist.
That will be right around the time when you reach a point where you know that something in your life needs to change – and fast!
That’s When the Narcissist Will Snap.
The narcissist snaps because they lose control – of YOU. See, your understanding of this person and their personality issues will get clearer and more comprehensive as you study them and their typical narcissistic behaviors, checking them against videos and podcasts like this one. As this happens, you’ll find yourself thinking a little differently, and you might even stop trying to coddle and protect them from the disappointment or anger that will inevitably come when they notice you’re no longer tolerating their childish behavior.
When you realize that you’ve been actually enabling the narcissist by giving them narcissistic supply, you might even get a little angry. Your anger might propel you forward and you might cut their source of supply off, whether you do this in a “cold-turkey” fashion or you use a more subtle “fade-away” kind of method.
What to Expect When the Narcissist Finally Snaps and Loses Control
In any case, when you do finally have enough of the mind games and manipulation, you’ve got to know it won’t sit well with the narcissist. They feel like they cannot function without you at this point, and even though you have given of yourself to the point that it has caused you a lifetime of mental and emotional exhaustion, not to mention the possibility of physical health problems, all the narcissist knows is that they aren’t getting what they need. The fact is that there is literally nothing you could possibly do to actually be “enough” for the narcissist anyway.
But they’ll be happy to keep draining you forever if you allow it. And if you don’t – well, that’s when the narcissist will often snap and lose control. If you’ve been there, you already know how scary that can be. And what should you expect when this happens? Well, let’s talk about it.
Narcissistic Injury, Followed by Narcissistic Rage
The very thing that causes the narcissist to snap is when they endure narcissistic injury – which is a painful reminder that they are not as good as they believe. Then they become desperate for more supply. See, in any case where a narcissist gets upset, hurt, or offended – or when they don’t get special treatment or favors – or literally, anytime they don’t get what they want, they will demonstrate narcissistic injury to guilt you into doing what they want.
And once you’ve realized who they are and you’ve stopped trying to please someone who will never, ever really be satisfied…well, that’s when the narcissistic rage will set in.
Narcissistic rage is a tactic the narcissist uses when they know they’re wrong but won’t admit it, or when they don’t get what they want, or when people don’t treat them different or more special than others, or when their sense of entitlement is threatened. Basically, anytime things don’t go their way, they will get inconsolably angry in an attempt to bully or coerce you into giving them what they want.
So, once they see you won’t budge and you won’t do whatever they’re demanding in any given moment, they snap and fly into that narcissistic rage, which is also a sign of them losing control of their emotions. You can compare it to a toddler having a violent tantrum – and while they may be relatively intelligent in other ways, narcissists are about as emotionally mature as that toddler. When they are feeling unhappy, upset or angry, or put-upon in any way, they will spin out of control and stomp their feet and hold their breath, proverbially speaking. Even literally in some cases.
Devalue and Discard
When the narcissist is losing control, you can expect to deal with them tearing you down in any way they can. The devalue phase will be in full effect. This is they will beat you down emotionally, insult you (outright or covertly), and make you doubt yourself and your self-worth.
This is a typical part of the narcissist’s cycle of abuse and when they do it effectively, it can cause you to believe you don’t have a chance of finding someone better, or that you’re not worthy of love or consideration. Don’t fall for it, my friend. The narcissist chose you for a reason – probably because you really are the amazing person they thought you were in the beginning when they were idealizing you.
In fact, it is common for narcissists to use devaluation to keep you from leaving. See, by implanting such ideas in your head, they hope you’ll feel like they’re your last resort. Again, do not fall for it! (And let’s be honest – if you’re anything like me, you realize that being alone would be far less difficult than continuing to be with someone who makes you FEEL alone.)
Loss of Narcissistic Supply Leads to Next-Level Narcissistic Abuse
Now, don’t misunderstand me here. The fact is that the narcissist will devalue you even when they are receiving ample supply from you. But if you cut it off, or even if you simply express that you also need to care for your own needs, that is enough to make the narcissist snap. And that’s when you can expect them to get REALLY mean, while they attempt to further devalue you.
When the narcissist is losing control, expect them to throw a list of insults, mistakes you’ve made, and anything else they can think of to hurt you, at you as they dig deep into your insecurities, saying anything they can think of to hurt you. Remember: there is no level to which they won’t stoop.
Inevitably this will lead to you being discarded, whether they actually leave you or not. Either literally or figuratively, the narcissist will sort of “throw you away,” as in push you out of their life. This can happen as part of a rotating cycle of abuse that can go on for decades if you let it – or it can be a final “break-up” – a sort of “showdown” of sorts which will hopefully represent the ultimate end of a toxic relationship. And despite the fact that you might think otherwise right now, trust me when I tell you that this would be the best possible outcome. Other things that might happen are far more ominous – and yes, that includes that you might actually end up staying with them or getting back together.
And, if you’re still in the relationship or you’re freshly out of it and still hurting, believe me – I know it might not feel that way now. It will feel like your life would be over if you really lost this person completely. But, listen…I promise you that one day, when you finally do get away and you start to heal, you will remember this very moment and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll know I was telling the truth.
Do you need help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery process?
How can you get support in your healing from narcissistic abuse? Start with your friends and/or family members who may understand and be willing to support you. If you don’t have supportive or understanding people around you, which is often the case for survivors of narcissistic abuse due to the fact that narcissists have a tendency to isolate you, you may need to look at some other options. Here are a few to consider.
Loving a narcissist is hard, and honestly, it hurts. I know from personal experience. See, I’ve dealt with several narcissists in toxic relationships in my life – family members, friends, and even a spouse. One thing I recall vividly from each of those relationships is that I felt a deep, profound love for each of them. I remember in each case the exact moment when it became very clear to me that they did not have the same affection for me, and let me tell you, it was painful.
Can you relate? Do you have a narcissistic spouse, friend, or family member? If you do, and you’re anything like I was, you can’t help but love them. If you’re being honest, your love for them runs deep down to the core of who you are – or at least it used to. They are or were a part of you because of it. You love with your heart and soul, with every part of your being.
Sometimes they confuse you, though, because they can be so mean and so hurtful. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get through to them. They always seem to have some issue with you and even when you think you’ve finally figured out how to make everything okay with them, they never fail to hurt and disappoint you. Sadly, despite your sincerity and your genuine desire to just make them happy, they can’t even seem to muster up politeness for you – much less actual love. You might even start to wonder if you’re the problem.
I’m here to tell you that not only are you NOT the problem but that the narcissist in your life unquestionably IS. The painful truth is that a narcissist just can’t love you back because they are not capable of actual love. In fact, while they might understand the concepts of love and empathy on some level, the truth is that they can’t feel these things because in so many cases, their emotional development stopped during toddlerhood. At best, you’re looking at an emotional preteen.
In any case, this lends to their extremely egocentric nature and their lack of concern for the feelings you and others have. Without intense healing and therapy to address their “core wound,” narcissists will never be able to grasp the concepts of unconditional love and empathy for others. Unfortunately, I have never heard of a narcissist who has successfully changed – nor has anyone else I’ve interviewed or worked with in the past.
The bottom line here is that when you love a narcissist, you love someone who is not capable of loving you back, and it hurts. It hurts down to your soul, causing a deep ache that is nearly indescribable. Loving a narcissist hurts in a way that most people will never truly understand. And that’s part of the reason that when you try to discuss your relationship with people who haven’t been there, they never seem to quite get what you’re talking about. They’ll either minimize your concerns or even try to help by offering “standard relationship advice” – which can be quite unhealthy for someone who is dealing with a narcissist in many cases. For example, if you’re feeling unheard in a healthier relationship, the standard advice might be to sit down and have a conversation about it, or even to go to counseling together and work it out. But if you do these things with a narcissist, they will use the opportunity to manipulate you (and the counselor, given the opportunity), and this can just reinjure you and make you feel even more miserable.
When you’re dealing with a narcissist, chances are that you’ve put up with your fair share of verbal and emotional abuse and manipulation from them, to say the very least.
Maybe you have a narcissistic parent who favored your sibling and taught them how to torment you as well. They were in it all together. Perhaps you have an aunt, uncle, or cousin who is a narcissist. Or you’re married to a narcissist, or in some other way involved. But in any case, whoever the narcissist in your life happens to be, you probably already know by now that you absolutely cannot trust them. A narcissist will never have your best interest at heart, even if they’re your parent or spouse – and that’s because they are completely and only focused on their own needs being met at any given moment. Your needs don’t even come second – they literally do not concern themselves with what you want or need at all.
Now that you understand all of that, I’m going to share with you 10 reasons it hurts to love a narcissist.
1. Repeated Episodes of Abuse and Manipulation
Narcissists are creatures of habit and they are quite predictable. Sometimes, you might even wonder if they have a narcissist playbook because they all seem to have nearly identical patterns. If you’re dealing with a romantic partner who is a narcissist you might have initially thought they were your soulmate. After all, it seemed that they liked everything you liked, wanted the same things as you and that they totally just “got” you. If it was a friend or family member, you may have initially assumed they had your best interests at heart or at least that they loved and cared about you unconditionally. But as time went on, and life happened, you saw that was far from the case as you began to see their true narcissistic colors. Narcissists treat you terribly and will condemn you in a heartbeat if it serves them to do so. Even looking at them the wrong way seems to provoke them into a narcissistic rage. As one of their primary sources of narcissistic supply, you also become an emotional garbage dump for them. They will take out their anger and frustration on you, whether or not it’s related to you, and they’ll do it over and over again. But you don’t walk away because you love them. It hurts to love someone who is abusive to you and who is cruel to you in every way.
2. Narcissists Kill Your Dreams
Despite the narcissist’s best efforts, something in you secretly (or otherwise) has desires and things you want to make happen in your life. I other words, you have dreams and wishes like everyone else. Let’s say you want to move to a tropical island after retiring. You plan and scrimp and save to make it happen, but the narcissist will not hesitate to laugh at it and to tell you to stop living in a fantasy world. Even though they don’t support your dreams and just do the opposite, something in you believes them – maybe you are just being immature and imagining things that are impossible, you think to yourself. Ultimately, the narcissist’s negativity is often enough to destroy any hope you have for the future, and that hurts like hell.
3. The Relationship Is Not Reciprocal
You find yourself giving everything you have to the narcissist and they just take, take, and take. They never give back. They almost literally can’t give back. And if you ask a narcissist to do you a favor in any way, they will do it only if there is something for them. So, they will do you a favor, but only under certain conditions that benefit them. They have to get SOMETHING out of it or they most definitely will not do anything for you. And, of course, these conditions are often not ones that you can realistically meet. For instance, if you ask them to watch the child you have to together for an hour so you can go to the salon, then they will only agree to it under one condition. And it’s something much bigger than you’re asking for – so maybe they want to go on a trip with their friends. For a week. That means you will be the single parent to the child while they are having fun for a week. And they probably won’t even call you while they’re gone, unless they call when they KNOW you’re too busy to deal with them. Then, they’ll complain that you never talk to them when they call and say you don’t love them enough…this leads to yet another episode of you bending over backward to prove your love for them, all while managing the house and the kid and the pets alone…meanwhile, they’re sitting on the beach laughing with their friends about how they’ve got you wrapped around their little finger.
4. Your Needs Always Come Last
You are always having to put the narcissist’s needs ahead of yours and whether you intend to do so or not, you have to put your needs on the backburner. In fact, if this narcissist is a family member, you might not even be fully aware that you are ALLOWED to have needs and wants. The narcissist makes it very clear they are superior to you, so much so that they literally will not allow you to take care of yourself at all in some cases since their needs and wants come first, always. It is emotionally, physically, and otherwise exhausting, but often you feel guilty for even wanting to take a shower or to go to the doctor when you’re not feeling well. I recall feeling guilty for wanting or needing anything in my own toxic relationships.
5. Narcissists Are Boundary-Busters
The narcissist does not care if you have boundaries or rules. In fact, they actually feel like you’re not allowed to make choices for your self in many cases. They do not take you or your boundaries seriously at all. They will walk all over you without a second thought, actively and intentionally crossing your boundaries, one by one. Since you love them, you tolerate it – but you don’t recognize that over time, your boundaries are pushed so far back that you have almost none. For example, if you’re married to a narcissist and they suddenly become best friends with someone they are clearly and painfully attracted to (and you can tell this based on the way they act around and about this person), whatever y’all are into, you might have a real (and understandable) problem with this. But instead of understanding that they are crossing an obvious boundary that any married person would have a problem with, the narcissist will tell you to stop being so jealous and insecure, and they’ll say that if you are going to accuse them of cheating on you, they might as well do it – despite the fact that you never accused them of anything but just questioned this so-called friendship. (Of course, they also have double standards, so you won’t be allowed to have a similar best friend.)
6. Smear Campaigns and Secrets Spilled
If you were to go against the narcissist’s wishes, or if you go no contact with them, they won’t hesitate to go out of their way to ruin your reputation, and often your life. They will share private information about you that can be damaging through their social media platforms and they will even contact your boss and tell them reasons why they should fire you. And when it comes to secrets, no matter how much they swear to keep them under wraps, you have to know that you can never confide in a narcissist and expect confidentiality. Even if you did not let them down and they aren’t going to conduct a smear campaign, they will still leak out your secrets. Especially if those secrets are the key to giving them the narcissistic supply they need in some way. They have no integrity. Therefore, you will want to always confide in someone who you are close to, and that you can trust. A narcissist never fits that bill.
7. Narcissists are Pathological Liars
Narcissists are known liars and will never be truthful about anything unless it happens to benefit them in some way. Sometimes they lie just for the sake of lying. If you’re dealing with a narcissist, you might as well always assume that whatever they tell you isn’t true – or at the very least, take everything they say with a grain of salt. Never expect honesty from a narcissistic family member. If you know that they feed you lies all of the time, then you will realize that you cannot trust and believe anything they tell you.
The bottom line here is that no matter what, it hurts to love a narcissist. Remember that even if they promise not to hurt you, they most definitely will. They absolutely do not have your best interest at heart, and they have no idea what that even mean
Narcissists not only cannot love you back, but they leave you battered, drained, and very depressed. The best thing you can do for yourself is to go no contact and break things off with them or to go low contact if you must remain connected due to sharing kids or business together. You’ve got to take care of yourself, my friend, because the narcissist never will. Not in the way that you deserve. What you deserve is to be loved in the same way that you love. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live in a home where you don’t feel fear and anxiety every time they’re around – and even when you know they’re coming. You deserve to have a life that you love. Please, don’t forget.
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Making a narcissist angry is a skill that doesn’t require much practice, but figuring out how to avoid their ridiculously overblown reaction to anything you say, think, or feel? Well, that takes some real strategy. There are plenty of documented reasons for this, but it all begins with the fact that narcissists tend to have inflated, but outrageously fragile, egos.
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a toxic narcissist, then you already know that there are plenty of things you can say to anger a narcissist. You can even just look at them the wrong way and tick them off pretty good, right? And my guess is that you already know how easily narcissists can fly off the handle.
And, if you’re anything like I was before I healed, you’d like to avoid this as often as you can. After all, when a narcissist is enraged, they will fling insults at you, digging deep and actively poking at the things that hurt you the most. They want you to feel bad about yourself in that moment, and on some level, they are projecting their own emotions on to you. Let me explain.
The concept of narcissistic rage plays a big part here. See, narcissistic rage is what we see when a narcissist knows they’re wrong but won’t admit it, or when they don’t get what they want, or when people don’t treat them differently or more special than others. It can also happen when a narcissist’s sense of entitlement is threatened – and basically, anytime things don’t go their way. They get inconsolably angry in an attempt to bully or coerce you into giving them what they want. And, when this doesn’t work well enough, they’ll often switch to a similar tactic where they slip into victim mode. We’ll talk more about that part later.
You might also be aware that your average narcissist is far from rational, especially when they feel insulted, belittled, minimized or in any way attacked. This can feel pretty ironic, given that they actively insult, belittle, minimize and attack the people closest to them.
In any case, though, if you’re dealing with a narcissist, you probably want to avoid saying the things that are guaranteed to upset them, at least if you want to avoid the drama and upset that goes along with making a narcissist angry.
7 Things You Can Say To Trigger a Narcissist’s Anger
1. “I am so impressed with that skill someone other than you has that you also have…”
Complimenting someone else on a skill or talent that the narcissist is going to go over like a lead balloon, especially when you do so without also acknowledging the narcissist’s own talent. And heaven forbid you should do so without somehow implying that the other person’s skill is in any way superior to the narcissist’s (or that it isn’t actually inferior if we’re being honest). Narcissists are insanely jealous by nature because of the fact that they are so insecure. So, if you were to ever compliment someone else for having such talent in something that the narcissist also has, that not only makes them angry but also makes them feel as though you have personally and directly insulted them. No kidding. Even if what you say is benign and you are not comparing them to the person you are talking about in any way. Narcissists have to believe they are the best and the very best at what they do, even if there is obvious and documented evidence to the contrary.
2. “The food at the restaurant you chose just isn’t for me…can we try something else next time?”
You can never tell a narcissist you don’t like or want something THEY like or want. I remember this exact situation with my ex. He would literally get offended when I would not enjoy the same food or movies or whatever that he did. I’d always think to myself,
“Geez, it’s not like you MADE the food or the movie or whatever.” But like all narcissists, he took everything personally. And that’s the thing. Narcissists need you to agree with everything they say, think and feel, and if you don’t, you’re wrong and also doing something they see as offensive. The narcissist expects you to follow their path no matter what – or at least the path they’ve laid out for you. If you say you don’t want to do something they want you to do, or you don’t like something that they like – that will definitely make them mad. Why? Because narcissists need to be in control, which means they expect you to want and like the same things that they do. Otherwise, you can expect a bunch of illogical and overblown narcissistic rage.
3. “I need to go to the doctor or the salon, or I need to take my medicine, or I need to do anything at all that involves self-care.”
Narcissists do not see you as an actual person. Rather, you’re an extension of them, as far as they’re concerned. That’s why, if you express to a narcissist that you are in dire need of self-care, and it goes against their plans and wishes, you can expect the narcissistic rage to show its ugly face. If they haven’t decided that you need whatever form of self-care you’re talking about, they’ll see it as selfish and unnecessary. The only time they might NOT behave this way, in this case, is if showing some kind of humanity might benefit them – as in they have something else to do during that time or they are going to get some benefit out of being nice to you at this moment. It’s never about YOU, but always about them – and since they have no empathy whatsoever, they don’t care if you need a break or time to yourself. All they care about is that they are not going to have the narcissistic supply they need if you were to take care of yourself at a given time. How dare you have needs when they need you, right?
4. “So, my friends and I are going to hang out … or my friends are going to come over…”
The narcissist does not want you to see your friends, and if you attempt to do so, you can fully expect that they’ll drop some rage on you. Why should this be the case? Well, it all goes back to the narcissist needing to be in control of you. That, and the fact that if you are seeing your friends, two things might happen – one, you might actually have some emotional support that could result in your getting stronger and therefore more able to see that they’re actively psychologically manipulating and abusing you – and two, you might not be there if they happen to want or need something fro you. And if you have the nerve to tell the narcissist that you want to see your friends or family without them? They expect you to be there for them, and only them as you are not allowed to have time in your schedule, space in your life, or energy for anyone else.
5. “It’s not all about you, you know.”
Because of course it always IS all about the narcissist, right? It’s almost funny when you think about how self-centered a narcissist can be. But when we are talking about the toxic type of narcissist who is prone to psychological abuse, it’s less funny and more alarming. Telling a narcissist that it’s not all about them is just like saying to them that they absolutely do not matter. For example, let’s say it’s your wedding day. Your best man or maid of honor is your best friend, and your narcissistic mother has a problem with this person for some reason (probably because they take away from the narcissistic supply you give your mother if we’re being honest, but anyhoo…). For weeks, your mother has complained that you won’t remove this person from your wedding party. She doesn’t even think they should be invited to your wedding. After all, why would you do that to HER? Doesn’t she matter? She guilt trips you and says things like, “Oye, you’re killing your mother!” Normally, you’d totally cave, just to shut her up. But gosh darn it, you think, this is my WEDDING day, and I want my best friend with me! And now, on the big day, your mother texts you that she’s not going to make it to your wedding since you obviously think your friend is more important than she is. Oh, and since your BFF is so important, she adds, you can have them pay for the part of the wedding your mother promised to pay for.
6. “Wow, you’re really playing the victim here…”
Ever try to call out a narcissist on the victim act? If you have, then you know exactly what to expect: they will absolutely act as though you’ve just pooped in their cheerios. In other words, they’ll ramp up the narcissistic injury factor. See, 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 – they default to the victim mode. Often, this tactic is used in combination with narcissistic rage to get what they want from you. In the case of calling them out and pointing out this tactic, you can expect them to make you feel so bad about yourself that you’ll be begging them to accept your apology – and while you’d be considered the victim of psychological abuse in this situation by any logical person who knew the whole story the narcissist will use this as a way to tell everyone how much you have hurt THEM – and the worst part is that you might even believe them if they’ve gotten good enough at reading you and pushing your buttons by this point in the relationship.
7. “Have you considered changing this about yourself?” or “Could you maybe try it this way instead?”
Basically, anytime you have the nerve to criticize a narcissist, you’re playing with fire. As you know, narcissists are incredibly insecure and because of his, they cannot and will not accept criticism in any way at all – not even constructive criticism. Even if you were gentle about it. EVEN IF THEY ASK YOU FOR IT! For example, if they’ve written a speech for work and ask you to listen to it before they present it. “Give me your honest thoughts,” they’ll say. “I promise, I won’t get mad. I just want you to tell me the truth!” But if you say anything other than, “OMG, that was so perfect! You should change nothing!” You’re in trouble. The way the narcissist sees it, you are still knocking them down. And if the speech doesn’t get them plenty of kudos at work the next day, watch out! Then they will blame you for NOT sharing whatever it was that they feel they didn’t do right. It’s sort of a double-bind situation if you think about it. Another example: Let’s say you don’t like the soup they made. They’ll expectantly watch you take the first bite and say, “So, what do you think?” If you tell them that the soup is a bit bland and needs more seasoning, you might as well have spit it back in their face – they’re going to be offended and react accordingly. They’ll either tell you that your taste buds are broken, or that you’re just plain stupid (or something of that nature) – or they’ll see it as an attack on their very soul. So what does this mean? Sadly, it means you have to lie to a narcissist sometimes in order to avoid rage.
To say a narcissist is crazy-making is to say the very, very least. What it all comes down to is that saying these kinds of things that you say to a narcissist will absolutely trigger their insecurities – which is exactly why they get angry so easily. And since they have the emotional capacity of a toddler, you can expect them to react in kind. Ultimately, what it means is that you must always censor yourself with a narcissist if you want to avoid their anger. You cannot express your needs, wants, and opinions without facing the consequences – so consider this the next time you have to deal with one of these toxic people.
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.