5 Common Mind Games You Should NEVER Fall For (Narcissistic Manipulation)

Gaslighting, guilt-tripping, blaming… These are only some of the mind games narcissists can use on you.

You guys speak, and we listen. A lot of you have unfortunately experienced narcissistic manipulation. We feel for you, and we want to thank you for sharing your stories with us. 

Those of you who have experienced narcissistic abuse may want to avoid it again at all costs. Those of you who haven’t experienced it, let us help you keep it that way!

In a 2019 study from Oakland University, results showed that narcissists tend to resort to manipulation and mind games to get what they want. 

Let’s explore 5 common narcissistic manipulation mind games to keep an eye out for. Read until the end to know what to do when faced with these types of behaviors!

1. THE NARCISSISTIC OVERRIDE

In a previous Psych2Go video, a viewer (username: Angelea) commented that narcissists like to do the “narcissistic override”, which is when someone monopolizes every word in a conversation or argument and doesn’t let the other person speak.

This comment is on point! According to author Preston Ni, this is a behavioral characteristic of a narcissistic communicator.

Narcissists tend to portray self-centered behavior and arrogant thinking. Monopolizing conversations can be their way of proving a point or simply just wanting attention, but sometimes, it may also just be an indication of poor communication skills.

When this happens, try to take a deep breath. You can keep talking to them, but if they continue interrupting you, it may be time to address the issue. If all else fails, give yourself time to calm down. Blowing up is not worth it, and they will likely enjoy the attention.

Have you ever been constantly cut off by someone in your life? Share your experiences in the comment section below!

2. NARCISSISTIC MIRRORING

Another viewer (username: Selena L) commented that narcissists like to mirror their partner’s behavior to manipulate them into letting their guard down.

This is a great observation! It’s called narcissistic mirroring.

You know how Kakashi copies other ninjas’ techniques and uses it against them? It’s kind of like that… but also not really.

According to the American Psychological Association, mirroring is a therapeutic technique used to reflect someone’s words and body language to stimulate a sense of empathy. In Kakashi’s case, he wasn’t exactly after their feelings.

Therapists use this as a tool to develop a working relationship with their clients. For narcissists… well, it’s likely for not-so-noble causes like deception and manipulation.

According to Julie L. Hall, author of Life in the Fun House: Narcissistic Mirroring and Projection, narcissists also mirror due to a lack of personal identity and an inability to feel and portray natural intimacy. Basically, they copy what you say and do since they can’t do it on their own, hence, there is a disconnect.

If you notice someone randomly withholding affection or showing abusive and narcissistic behavior, we recommend putting some space between you and that person. If that’s not possible, then it’s good to have a safety plan as well as a support system to constantly be in contact with.

The following point may be triggering to those who are sensitive to sexual topics. Please proceed with caution.

3. SEXUAL COERCION

Some narcissists, unfortunately, resort to sexually coercive means to get what they want.

This can be backed up by two studies, one from The University of Texas at Dallas and another one from Iowa State University. The first one shows that different dimensions of grandiose narcissism are related to aggressive sexual behaviors and coercion. The second one shows that narcissism positively correlates with sexual-assault beliefs and negatively with empathy for victims of sexual assault.

Sexual coercion is not only limited to physical acts. According to the Loveisrespect organization, it is defined as “the act of using pressure, alcohol or drugs, or force to have sexual contact with someone against his,” – their, – “or her will”. This means that mind games, threats, and manipulation play a huge part in it, too.

Narcissists tend to consider their needs – in this case, sexual needs – above others. Christine Hammond, L.M.H.C, mental health influencer, and author explains the reason behind this in a PsychCentral article, stating that since they like to be in a place of control and superiority, they will likely want to reenact their fantasies, not yours.

Not all narcissists commit sexual abuse, but recognizing these signs in someone may turn out to be a huge help.

Aside from wanting to be in control, why do you think narcissists use sexual coercion? You can comment your thoughts down below.

4. VINDICTIVENESS

Have you ever heard of narcissistic rage?

According to Holland and Jewell, writers of  What Is Narcissistic Rage, and What’s the Best Way to Deal with It? narcissistic rage is when a narcissist becomes intensely silent or angry after feeling triggered or threatened.

They may scream, withdraw, or become selectively silent due to things not going their way. 

Do you know that one Mean Girls clip of Regina George shrieking after eating the Kalteen bar? You guessed it! It was most likely a narcissistic rage outburst. She ate something outside of her diet, and lost it!

After an episode of narcissistic rage, narcissists may get a strong sense of vindictiveness and focus on getting revenge or terrorizing the person who is “responsible”.

In a PsychCentral article about narcissistic vindictiveness, Marie and Casabianca wrote that narcissists may hold grudges, do acts of sabotage, say harmful things, or even bring up sworn secrets as leverage.

So, after Cady’s little stunt with the Kalteen bar,  Regina went home and framed Cady by making it look like the Burn Book was hers. Mean girl? More like vindictive girl!

In a situation like this, the best thing you can do is to set your boundaries and vocalize them. When you tolerate the “tit for tat” game, you’re validating the narcissist and giving them the attention they crave. It may seem like playing along will help, but tolerating the narcissist tells them it’s okay to act this way because you’ll take it. This can create a toxic cycle. 

Have you ever met a real-life Regina George? Tell us about it!

5. TRIANGULATION

Since we’re still on the topic of Mean Girls, do you also remember that three-way phone call attack scene between Regina, Cady, and Gretchen?

That was a classic example of triangulation

According to Dylan Buckley, writer of What Is Triangulation Psychology?, triangulation is a manipulation tactic used to avoid a direct conversation. 

A triangle has three sides, right? Triangulation involves three people, and the narcissist uses the middle person to take advantage of the situation.

In the movie, Regina found out that Cady liked Aaron, her ex. So to sabotage Cady, Regina spurred her to say some offensive things to Gretchen for conflict, even though Cady never intended to.

Arlin Cuncic, psychology graduate and author, states that “In the list of toxic behaviors, triangulation may be the most well-known.” Since narcissists highly value their reputation, it’s no surprise that they, too, may use this diversion tactic often.

Of course, not every triangulation effort is done with malicious intent. Sometimes, people do this because they’re having a hard time with communication or dealing with conflict. The difference between them and narcissists is that narcissists do this to intentionally hurt you.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Being around a narcissist is tricky. It can be easy to begin second-guessing yourself, but that’s why we recommend a safety plan.

We may sometimes play these tricks on others without realizing it. This doesn’t mean we’re bad. If you believe you are doing this maliciously, please reach out to a mental health professional.  Want to get more tips on how to be around a narcissist? You can check this video.

Hope you learn a lot! Thanks for reading. See you next time!

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