Toxic people such as malignant narcissists, psychopaths, and people with antisocial traits engage in maladaptive behaviors in relationships that ultimately exploit, degrade, and hurt their partners, family, and friends. They use a plethora of diversionary tactics that distort the reality of their victims and deflect responsibility. Although those who are not narcissists can employ these tactics as well, abusive narcissists use them excessively to try to avoid responsibility for their actions.
Here are the 20 diversionary tactics toxic people use to silence and demean you.
1.Make gaslight or ‘gaslighting’
It is a form of psychological abuse that consists of presenting false information to make the victim doubt his memory, his perception or his sanity. It can consist of simple denials by the abuser, in the sense of whether certain events occurred or not. ‘Gaslighting’ is perhaps one of the most insidious manipulation tactics in existence, as it acts to distort and erode your sense of reality; It robs you of confidence in your ability to trust yourself and inevitably prevents you from feeling justified in reporting abuse and mistreatment. When turned on by a narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath, you may be prone to gaslighting yourself as a way to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that may arise. Two conflicting beliefs fight: Is this person correct or can I trust what I experience? A manipulative person will convince him that the former is an unavoidable truth, while the latter is a sign of dysfunction on your part. To resist this, it is important that you focus on your own reality. Sometimes writing things down as they happen, telling a friend, or reiterating your experience to a support network can help counteract gaslighting. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you away from the distorted reality of an evil person and back to your own inner guidance. Sometimes writing things down as they happen, telling a friend, or reiterating your experience to a support network can help counteract gaslighting. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you away from the distorted reality of an evil person and back to your own inner guidance. Sometimes writing things down as they happen, telling a friend, or reiterating your experience to a support network can help counteract gaslighting. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you away from the distorted reality of an evil person and back to your own inner guidance.
A sure sign of toxicity is when a person is chronically unwilling to see their own shortcomings and uses everything in their power to avoid being held responsible for them. This is known as projection. Projection is a defense mechanism used to shift responsibility for one’s negative behaviors and traits by attributing them to another person. Ultimately, it acts as a digression that avoids ownership and responsibility. Narcissistic abusers love to play the “blame game.” Goals of the game: they win, you lose, and you or the world at large gets blamed for everything that’s wrong with them. In this way, you can take care of his fragile ego while he pushes you into a sea of doubts. Fun, right?
Narcissists at the extreme end of the spectrum generally have no interest in self-vision or change. It’s important to cut ties and end interactions with toxic people as soon as possible so you can focus on your own reality and validate your own identity. You don’t have to live in the cesspool of dysfunction.
3. Pointless conversations from hell
Evil narcissists and sociopaths use circular talk, ad hominem arguments, projection, and gaslighting to throw you off if you ever disagree with them or challenge them in any way. They do this in order to discredit, confuse, frustrate and distract you from the main issue and make you feel guilty for being a human being with real thoughts and feelings that may differ from theirs. In your opinion, you are the problem. Spend even ten minutes arguing with a toxic narcissist and you’ll find yourself wondering how the argument even started. You simply disagreed with them about their absurd claim that the sky is red and now all your childhood, family, friends, career and lifestyle options have been attacked. That’s because your disagreement took into account their false belief that they are omnipotent and omniscient, resulting in narcissistic injury. Remember: toxic people don’t argue with you, they essentially argue with themselves and pick up on your long, exhausting monologues. They thrive on drama and live for it. Every time you try to provide a point that counters their ridiculous claims, you give them supply.
Malignant narcissists are not always intellectuals, many of them are intellectually lazy. Instead of taking the time to carefully consider a different perspective, they generalize anything, making sweeping claims that fail to acknowledge the themes in their argument or that take into account the multiple perspectives they have paid tribute to. Better yet, why not put a label on it that rejects your prospect entirely?
On a larger scale, generalizations and blanket statements invalidate experiences that do not fit into society’s unsupported assumptions, schemas, and stereotypes. They are also used to maintain the status quo. This form of digression exaggerates a perspective to the point where a social justice issue can be completely obscured. Stand by your truth and resist generalizing the statements realizing that they are actually black and white illogical thought forms. Toxic people who handle general statements do not represent all the richness of the experience, but they represent the limit of their singular experience.
5.Deliberately misunderstanding your thoughts and feelings.
In the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath, your differing opinions, legitimate emotions, and lived experiences translate into character flaws and evidence of their irrationality. Narcissists create incredible stories to reframe what they are really saying as a way to make your opinions seem absurd or outrageous. Let’s say you bring up the fact that you’re not happy with the way a toxic friend is talking to you. In response, he or she may put words in her mouth, saying, “Oh, so you’re perfect?” Or “So I’m a bad person, huh?” When you have done nothing but express your feelings. This allows them to override their right to have thoughts and emotions about their inappropriate behavior and instills in them a sense of guilt when they try to set limits.
Simply saying, “I never said that,” and walking away if the person continues to accuse you of doing or saying something you didn’t can help set a firm boundary for this type of interaction. As long as the toxic person can blame himself and deviate from his own behavior, they have managed to convince him that he should feel “ashamed” for giving them any kind of realistic feedback.
6.Move goal posts
The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism is the presence of personal attack and impossible standards. These so-called “critics” often don’t want to help you improve, they just want to stand out, take you down, and scapegoat you in any way they can. Abusive narcissists and sociopaths employ a logical fallacy known as “moving goal posts” to ensure that they have every reason to be perpetually dissatisfied with you. That’s when, even after you’ve provided all the evidence in the world to validate their argument or take action to satisfy your request, they set another expectation on you or demand more evidence. Don’t be fooled by this. If someone decides to repeat an irrelevant point over and over again to the point where they don’t acknowledge the work you’ve done to validate or satisfy your point, their motive is not to better understand, but to further provoke you and make you feel like you have to test you constantly. Validate yourself. It’s enough and you don’t have to constantly feel inadequate or unworthy in some way.
7. Change the subject to evade responsibility
This type of tactic is what I like to call the “what about me?” syndrome. It’s a literal digression from the actual topic that works to redirect attention to a different topic altogether. Narcissists don’t want you to be on the subject of holding them accountable for anything, so they redirect discussions to benefit them. Complaining about your negligent parenting? They will point out a mistake you made seven years ago. This type of fun has no limits in terms of time or subject matter, and often begins with a phrase like “What about the moment when…”
Don’t go off the rails. You can exercise what I call the “broken record” method and continue to state the facts without giving in to their distractions. Redirect their redirect by saying, “That’s not what I’m talking about. Let’s stay focused on the real problem. “If they’re not interested, switch off and spend your energy on something more productive.
8. Covert and Overt Threats
Narcissistic abusers and otherwise toxic people feel very threatened when their excessive sense of entitlement, false sense of superiority, and grandiose sense of ‘me’ are challenged in any way. They are prone to making unreasonable demands on others, while punishing you for not living up to their impossible expectations.
If the reaction of someone who sets limits or has a different opinion from you is to threaten you into submission, it would be a sign of someone who has a high degree of entitlement and has no plans to compromise. Take threats seriously and show the narcissist what you mean.
The lowest of the low resort to narcissistic rage in the form of insults when they can’t think of a better way to manipulate their opinion. Insults are a quick and easy way to put you down, degrade you, and insult your intelligence, appearance, or behavior while invalidating your right to be a separate person entitled to your point of view. Insults can also be used to criticize your beliefs, opinions and points of view. A well-researched perspective or informed opinion suddenly becomes “dumb” or “idiotic” in the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath who feels threatened by it and is unable to make a respectful and convincing rebuttal.
10. Destructive conditioning
Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and other toxic people do this because they want to draw attention to themselves and how they are going to please them. If there is something outside of them that could threaten their control over your life, they seek to destroy it. They must be the center of attention at all times. In the idealization phase, you were once the center of a narcissist’s world; now the narcissist becomes the center of you.
When toxic people can’t control how you see yourself, they begin to control how others see you; They play the martyr while you are labeled as the toxic one. A smear campaign is a preemptive strike to sabotage your reputation, so you won’t have a support network to fall back on, lest you decide to break up and cut ties with this toxic person. They may even harass and harass you or people you know as a way to supposedly “expose” the truth about you. This exposure acts as a way to hide your own abusive behavior by projecting it onto you.
12. Love bombing and devaluation
Narcissistic abusers do this all the time: They devalue their exes to their new partners, and eventually the new partner begins to receive the same kind of abuse as the narcissist’s former partner. Ultimately, what will happen is that you will also receive the same abuse. You just don’t know yet. That’s why it’s important to be on the lookout for love bombing whenever you witness behavior that doesn’t align with the sweetness a narcissist subjects you to. As life coach Wendy Powell suggests, slowing things down with people you suspect may be toxic is an important way to combat love bombing.
13. Pretend Toxic
and abusive people exaggerate their ability to be kind and compassionate. They often say that you should “trust” them without first building a solid foundation of trust. They may “perform” a high level of sympathy and empathy early in your relationship to fool you, only to reveal their false mask later on. When you see his false mask begin to slip periodically during the devaluing phase of the cycle of abuse, the true self is revealed to be cold, unfeeling, and cruel.
Genuinely nice people rarely have to persistently display their positive qualities. They know that actions say much more than simple words. They know that trust and respect is a two-way street that requires reciprocity, not repetition.
Bringing another person’s opinion, perspective, or suggested threat into the dynamics of an interaction is known as “triangulation.” It is often used to validate the toxic person’s abuse while invalidating the victim’s reactions to the abuse. Triangulation can also work to make love triangles. To resist triangulation tactics, keep in mind that whoever the narcissist is triangulating is also being triangulated by her relationship with the narcissist. Everyone is essentially being played by this one person. Reverse “triangulating” the narcissist by gaining the support of a third party who is not under the influence of the narcissist, and also seeking your own validation.
15.Bait and feign innocence
By “baiting” you with a comment, they may start playing games with you. Remember: Narcissistic abusers have learned about your insecurities, the troubling phrases that interrupt your confidence, and the troubling themes that play up your wounds, and they maliciously use this knowledge to provoke you. After you’ve fallen in love, with the hook line and sinker, they’ll pull away and innocently ask if you’re “okay” and talk about how they “didn’t mean” to shake you up. This false innocence works to catch you off guard and make you believe that they really didn’t mean to hurt you, until it happens so often that you can’t deny the reality of their malice any longer.
16.Limit test and deception
Narcissists, sociopaths and toxic people continually try and test your limits to see which ones they can cross. The more violations they can commit without consequences. This is why survivors of emotional and physical abuse often experience even more serious incidents of abuse each time they return to their abusers.
Abusers tend to trick their victims with sweet promises, false regrets, and empty words about how they will change, only to abuse their victims even more horribly.
17. Aggressive fists disguised as jokes
Covert narcissists enjoy making malicious comments at your expense. They are usually disguised as “just pranks” so they can get away with saying scary things while keeping an innocent and cool demeanor. However, every time you are outraged by an insensitive and harsh comment, you are accused of not having a sense of humor. This is a frequently used tactic in verbal abuse.
18. Condescending sarcasm and tone of voice
Belittling and degrading a person is the forte of a toxic person and their tone of voice is just one more tool. Sarcasm can be a fun mode of communication when both parties are engaged, but narcissists use it chronically as a way to manipulate and demean you. If you react in any way, you must be “too sensitive”.
Whenever you come across someone who speaks with a condescending attitude, say it in a firm and assertive manner. You don’t deserve to be talked to like a child, nor should you silence yourself to meet the expectation of someone else’s superiority complex.
“You should be ashamed of yourself” is a favorite saying of toxic people. Although it can be used by someone who is not toxic, in the realm of the narcissist or sociopath, shame is an effective method that targets any behavior or belief that might challenge the power of a toxic person. It can also be used to destroy and lower a victim’s self-esteem. If a victim dares to be proud of something, shaming the victim for that specific trait, quality, or achievement can serve to diminish their sense of self.
If you suspect that you are dealing with a toxic person, avoid revealing any of your vulnerabilities or past traumas. Until they have proven their character to you, there is no point in disclosing information that could potentially be used against you.
20. Control Toxic
people love to maintain control in any way they can. They isolate you, keep control over your finances and social media, and micromanage every part of your life. However, the most powerful mechanism they have to control is to play with your emotions.
The more power they have over your emotions, the less likely they are to trust their own reality and the truth about the abuse you are enduring. You have to know the manipulation tactics and the way they work. You also have to develop a plan to regain control over your own life and away from toxic people.