Narcissists are manipulative by their very nature, and it is not a cakewalk to derail them into a state of confusion.
Narcissists lack emotional empathy, but they work hard to learn from others how to come across as empathic people in different situations.
Over time, they become good at predicting how people will react to a given situation.
So, how can you throw them into confusion?
How To Confuse A Narcissist (And Drive Them Nuts)
Narcissism means self-admiration and unrealistic illusions about one’s own greatness. Narcissists arrange their lives such that everyone around them praises and obeys them in a predictable way.
To confuse a narcissist, you have to push them into an unpredicted situation.
Nudge them into a state in which they are not sure how to respond, and they get utterly dazed.
Here are a few ways to confuse a narcissist:
1. Ask them an unanswerable question.
A way to confuse a narcissist can be to ask them an unanswerable question:
“Were you always this self-centered or you became this recently?”
“Have you ever considered suing the empathy part of your brain for non-support?”
“Do you still love yourself, despite what it did to you?”
Build a list of unanswerable to use against them in different situations,
2. Give them an ambiguous insult.
A narcissist’s self-esteem is almost non-existent. Because of this, they are extremely sensitive, easily hurt, and do not tolerate criticism toward them.
You could toss them these nasty, confusing taunts:
“Anyone who told you to be yourself couldn’t have given you worse advice.”
“I don’t mind you talking for so long, as long as you don’t mind my not listening.”
“I don’t think you are a narc. But then, what’s my own humble opinion against thousands of others?”
They realize that these insults demean their self-esteem, but the cognitive dissonance they create in their minds makes them befuddled.
3. Play the Gray Rock game.
Using the “gray rock” technique with a narcissist means you do not respond to their provocations, accusations, or reactions.
Turn all your responses to their questions and requests as if they were coming from a gray-colored rock that is sitting bored.
Show them little to zero reaction to their questions and behaviors.
The last one is the Sound of Silence, something no one can misquote.
Your gray-rock act will puzzle them and make them react with anger.
It may seem somewhat fearful to stand non-responsive in their dominating presence, but stay expressionless through their fear-mongering tactics.
If you have to talk more than monosyllables, then keep your talks strictly transactional. Don’t share anything more than necessary.
Your gray rock technique also baffles them because they no longer see what they are used to seeing, and you burst out in emotions to their behavior.
4. Go “No Contact” with them.
Stop talking to them. Block them everywhere.
Stop going to places where they usually hang out.
Demolish all channels of communication between them and you.
Just do not let them contact you via any mode, themselves or through their flying monkeys.
This confuses them because going “no contact” is what narcissists are known to do in a passive-aggressive treatment of you.
5. Say “No” to everything they say.
Narcissists train people to praise them and do things for them.
They get extremely upset when any of their “pets” abandon them because they have to train another one.
So, they get confused when you, their “yes-guy,” start refusing their demands and requests.
They are more confused when you decline to accept their gifts, compliments, and favors.
You can say “No” with your actions too.
Suddenly break contact and walk out of their presence. Leave the room mid-sentence, whether it is you or they talk.
6. Set and enforce boundaries with them.
Boundaries in a relationship are rules that prevent one person from invading another’s personal space.
Without boundaries, we risk mistaking our needs and desires for those of the other person, leading to codependency.
Codependency is an unhealthy relationship in which one person makes excessive efforts to meet the needs of the other, often at the expense of their own well-being. They can sacrifice their own needs, feelings, and desires to please the other person.
The truth is that a healthy relationship cannot exist without clear boundaries. Building strong boundaries is about being the gatekeeper of your life, to keep yourself safe and well.
Narcissists hate boundaries because boundaries take away their influence on their victims. It makes their victims no longer codependent on them.
In fact, they love to trample over the normally understood boundaries of any relationship.
Grandiose narcissism is associated with heightened use of assertive but not defensive self-presentation tactics. Vulnerable narcissism was associated with heightened use of both assertive and defensive self-presentation tactics – Hart, Adams, & Alex (2016)
So, set strict boundaries for the narcissist in your life. This will confuse them to no end since they always thought that you were accessible to them whenever they wanted.
Get them to repeat they understand what they must not do. Otherwise, they will breach your boundaries bit by bit over time.
Remember, setting a boundary is not just instructing them to not do something. It must also involve telling them what you shall do if they violate your instruction.
I have had a case in which the woman was woken up at odd times in the night whenever her husband had to go to the bathroom. He would switch on all the lights, bang against things, and swear out loud until she woke up startled. Over the years, she had become a light sleeper, always waking up at the slightest sound.
Can we control a narcissist’s pattern of thinking so that they are unable to manipulate us?
It is not entirely safe or possible to control a narcissist’s thoughts or behaviors, especially if they have an underlying Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). People with this condition have a distorted sense of self and an inability to empathize with others, which can make it difficult for them to appropriately sense and respond to the feelings of others.
If you’re in a relationship with an abusive narcissist, the best thing you can do is to focus on taking care of yourself and protecting your own emotional well-being. Seek support from a mental health expert who can help you understand the dynamics of the relationship and ways to cope with the challenges both of you are facing.
It’s also important to set boundaries with the person and make it clear that you will not tolerate their manipulative or abusive behavior.
Suppose my friend is a narcissist, then how can I talk to them so that they do not feel bad?
If your friend is a narcissist or has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it’s important that you approach them with empathy and compassion.
Narcissists find it difficult to understand and empathize with the feelings of others because of faulty wiring in their brains. When talking to your narcissist friend, remain patient and non-judgmental.
Avoid trying to confront them or challenge their beliefs, as this can often escalate the situation and make things worse. Instead, focus on listening to them and trying to understand their perspective.
Let them know that you care about them and are there to support them, but also make it clear that you are not going to be an “enabler” for their unhealthy behavior.
If you’re unsure of how to handle the situation, consider seeking support from a relationship expert trained in narcissism who can guide and support you to handle your relationship.
How to convince a narcissist that we are interested in them without actually being interested in them?
It is not healthy or moral to try to manipulate someone, whether they are narcissistic. It is important, to be honest, and authentic in your relationships, and trying to deceive someone about your feelings is not a good foundation for a healthy relationship.
If you’re not interested in a person, it’s best to be straightforward with them about your feelings, or the absence of your feelings for them.
If you’re concerned about how they may react, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional who can help you navigate the situation.
To be fair, trying to confuse a narcissist is not entirely healthy or constructive. They may interpret your tactics as a provocation to get hostile.
Narcissists show more aggressive behavior than normal persons (Penney & Spector, 2002). It has also been shown that narcissists are only aggressive when provoked (Baumeister, Bushman, & Campbell, 2000).
Trying to confuse or manipulate them may push your relationship into a dangerous and cruel abuser-victim dynamic.
Three reasons to beware of provoking a narcissist:
- First, a narcissist could have an undiagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is a serious mental health condition that requires professional therapy.
- Second, you might throw them into a fit of narcissistic rage, and then be running for your own safety.
- Third, it is unfair to play their dirty game of manipulation.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, seeking support from a mental health professional can be a helpful first step.
They can help you both analyze the situation better and diagnose their condition. They will also provide you with the tools and support to cope with it as a relationship,
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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