I know the mind games that narcissists play all too well. I’ve not only seen them, I’ve had to deal with them personally. Narcissists devalue their targets in so many ways but one of the ways that they maintain control over you is through the mind games that they play through particular devaluing tactics. Over time, these tactics can make you feel like you’re crazy. You won’t be able to decipher reality from delusion. You won’t be able to trust your intuitions. These are some of the most insidious and covert tactics that narcissists use to mess with your head.
Passive aggression is what I refer to as death by a thousand cuts. Covert narcissists are especially good at messing with your mind by using this tactic. This is where the narcissist will do and say little things that might be construed as appropriate but are definitely not. Maybe they don’t do something that they say they’re going to do or they do something they said that they wouldn’t do. It’s little things that add up over time. Maybe they go to the store and ask what they can get for you and come home without the thing you asked for and defend themselves by saying they forgot. Narcissists love to behave in this way because when there is an aspect of plausible deniability (like they actually forgot), it can be easy for them to continue doing this over time which will drive you not only nuts but also to a state of feeling so undervalued.
Another way that narcissists mess with your head is through ghosting. Ghosting is where the narcissist suddenly falls off the face of the earth, stops talking to you, and just goes dark without an explanation. They might normally be incredibly responsive and communicative with you otherwise and then all of a sudden, they’re gone. This is a method of manipulation used to get into your head, to make you feel insecure, or to passive aggressively tell you that something is wrong. Remember that this is used to control you and your emotions. If a narcissist ghosts you – try not disengage and observe the behavior for what it is. They will eventually come back around to get more supply from you – whether it’s several hours later or years later. They get narcissistic supply from knowing that they’ve driven you into a tailspin.
Similarly to ghosting, is their hot and cold methodology- where one minute they love bomb you and the next minute they are devaluing you or ghosting you. This is all done in an attempt to mess with your head and to control you by making you crave and seek out the love bombing by doing what they want you to do.
Another way they play mind games with you is through future faking or making empty promises that they have no intention of fulfilling. They do this to keep you around and as a constant source of narcissistic supply. This is used in conjunction with other tactics so that they can control you and your emotions. They might fulfill little promises but will never ultimately fulfill the big promise of a beautiful future or of a generous gift, dream vacation – and especially not if they have promised to change and/or grow. Narcissists are liars. Although they’ve done an incredible job at being believable – it’s important for you to stop and realize that this is a method of love bombing so that they can continue to get narcissistic supply from you.
Gaslighting is the narcissists favorite form of devaluing and manipulating their targets. All narcissists gaslight. Gaslighting is a tactic that is used to try and make people think that they are crazy. The term gaslighting comes from a 1944 movie called “Gaslight.” In the film, the husband was intentionally trying to make the wife think that she was crazy by turning off their gas lights. The wife would turn to her husband and say to him, “Wasn’t that just on?” He would persuasively tell her that it wasn’t. He did this over and over again. Narcissists will do this in many different scenarios so that you eventually start questioning your own judgment and reality. If there’s one thing you will see all narcissists do regularly – it’s gaslighting. If you start thinking that you’re crazy- it’s important to remember that this is what the narcissist wants you to be feeling. You are not crazy. Definitely trust your own intuitions.