How Narcissists Make You Feel Bad About Yourself (Explained)

How Narcissists Make You Feel Bad About Yourself (Explained)

Welcome to our article on narcissistic manipulation, where we delve into the tactics that narcissists use to make you feel bad about yourself. Narcissistic behavior can cause significant damage to your self-esteem and emotional well-being, leading to toxic relationships and long-term effects on your mental health.

Gaslighting techniques, emotional abuse, and psychological manipulation are just a few of the tactics narcissists employ to exert control and elevate their own self-esteem. It’s crucial to identify these behaviors and understand how to overcome narcissistic abuse.

Key Takeaways:

  • Narcissists use various tactics to make their victims feel bad about themselves.
  • Gaslighting, emotional abuse, and psychological manipulation are common tactics employed by narcissists.
  • Identifying narcissistic behavior is the first step towards overcoming narcissistic abuse.
  • Rebuilding self-esteem and surrounding yourself with supportive individuals are essential in the healing process.
  • Setting boundaries and practicing self-care contribute to overcoming the effects of narcissistic abuse.

Artificial Self-Confidence

Narcissists are masters at projecting a false sense of self-confidence. They go to great lengths to criticize others and make themselves appear more knowledgeable or experienced than they actually are. Through lies and manipulation, they convince others of their expertise, all while undermining the self-esteem of those around them.

“I’ve never met anyone as knowledgeable as I am in this field. Everyone else is just clueless,” says the narcissist, belittling the genuine experts in the room.

This tactic of criticizing others and appearing confident allows narcissists to maintain their illusion of superiority. They use this false confidence to gain control, manipulate situations, and deceive others into believing their lies.

Ultimately, the goal of their artificial self-confidence is to make their victims feel inadequate and dependent on the narcissist’s supposed knowledge and expertise. By convincing others of their superiority, they elevate their own sense of self-worth at the expense of those around them.

Effects of Artificial Self-Confidence:

  • Undermines the self-esteem and confidence of others
  • Creates a power dynamic where the narcissist holds all the knowledge and control
  • Leads to manipulation and deception for personal gain
  • Prevents others from recognizing the narcissist’s true lack of expertise

Recognizing this tactic is essential for identifying and protecting oneself from narcissistic manipulation. By understanding the ways in which narcissists create a false sense of self-confidence, individuals can begin to reclaim their own self-esteem and break free from the toxic influence of these individuals.

Tactic Description
Criticizing Others Narcissists undermine the confidence of others by finding faults and flaws.
Appearing Knowledgeable or Experienced They portray themselves as experts to gain credibility and control.
Convincing Others Through Lies Narcissists use deception to make others believe in their false sense of self-confidence.

Instilling Self-Doubt and Gaslighting

Narcissists are masters of manipulation, using various tactics to make their victims doubt themselves and question their own reality. This insidious behavior is known as gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse that invalidates the victim’s feelings and distorts their perception of reality. Gaslighting can have devastating effects on the victim’s self-esteem and mental well-being.

Gaslighting often begins subtly, with the narcissist making small comments or engaging in behaviors that undermine the victim’s confidence. They may invalidate the victim’s feelings, dismiss their emotions as overreactions, or twist their words to make them doubt their own memory and sanity. Over time, these tactics erode the victim’s self-esteem and confidence, leaving them feeling confused, helpless, and trapped.

Narcissists also exploit their victims’ vulnerabilities and insecurities to further instill self-doubt. They target the victim’s weak points, using them as ammunition to chip away at their self-worth. This can include mocking their appearance, intelligence, or abilities, constantly criticizing their choices or achievements, and comparing them unfavorably to others. By constantly belittling and invalidating the victim, the narcissist reinforces their own sense of superiority while diminishing the victim’s self-esteem.

The Cycle of Gaslighting and Self-Doubt

The cycle of gaslighting and self-doubt is relentless and damaging. The victim becomes trapped in a toxic dynamic where their reality is constantly undermined, leaving them feeling isolated, confused, and powerless. This constant state of uncertainty and self-doubt takes a toll on their mental and emotional well-being, leading to anxiety, depression, and even trauma.

It is important for victims of gaslighting to recognize the manipulation tactics being used against them and seek support. Therapy can be a crucial tool in healing from gaslighting and rebuilding self-esteem. A therapist can provide validation, guidance, and help the victim regain a sense of reality and self-worth. In addition, setting boundaries and surrounding oneself with a supportive network of friends and loved ones can help counteract the effects of gaslighting and provide a safe space for healing.

Overcoming gaslighting and self-doubt is a challenging journey, but with the right support and self-care, victims can reclaim their sense of self and rebuild their lives free from the toxic influence of narcissistic abuse.

Acting Entitled

Narcissists have a deep sense of entitlement, believing that they are superior to others and deserve special treatment. This entitlement leads them to mistreat and demean those around them, leveraging their power, wealth, or social status to assert dominance and control. They have no qualms about abusing others to elevate themselves and fulfill their selfish desires.

Whether it’s belittling someone’s accomplishments, disrespecting boundaries, or using manipulative tactics to get what they want, narcissists consistently prioritize their own needs above the well-being of others. They exhibit a complete lack of empathy and are willing to exploit and demean others to maintain their sense of superiority.

By exerting their entitlement, narcissists create a toxic environment where the mistreatment of others is normalized. This can lead to long-lasting emotional and psychological damage for those on the receiving end of their abuse. It’s important to recognize these behaviors and protect ourselves from individuals who display such entitled and abusive tendencies.

Narcissistic Abuse Tactics

When it comes to mistreating others, narcissists have a range of tactics at their disposal. Some common strategies they employ include:

  • Belittling and demeaning: Narcissists use derogatory language and insults to undermine the self-esteem of their victims, making them feel small and insignificant.
  • Gaslighting: They manipulate and distort reality, making their victims doubt their own perceptions and experiences.
  • Exploiting vulnerabilities: Narcissists identify their victim’s weaknesses and exploit them for their own gain.
  • Controlling behavior: They exert control over their victims through manipulation, isolation, and emotional blackmail.

These tactics aim to reinforce the narcissist’s sense of entitlement and dominance while eroding the self-worth and confidence of their victims.

Protecting Yourself from Narcissistic Abuse

Recognizing and protecting yourself from narcissistic abuse is crucial for maintaining your emotional well-being. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and communicate your limits with the narcissist. Stick to these boundaries and don’t allow them to be violated.
  2. Practice self-care: Prioritize your own well-being by engaging in activities that bring you joy and reduce stress.
  3. Seek support: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or a therapist who can provide guidance and support.
  4. Limit contact: Whenever possible, minimize contact with the narcissist to protect yourself from further harm.

Remember, you are not responsible for the narcissist’s behavior or their entitlement. By recognizing their tactics and taking steps to protect yourself, you can regain control over your own life and rebuild your self-esteem.

Tactics of Narcissistic Abuse Effects on Victims
Belittling and demeaning Undermines self-esteem
Gaslighting Creates doubt and confusion
Exploiting vulnerabilities Causes emotional harm
Controlling behavior Leads to dependency and isolation

Blaming and Projecting

Narcissists have a habit of never taking responsibility for their own wrongdoings. Instead, they prefer to blame others for their mistakes and shortcomings. This tactic allows them to shift the blame and avoid feeling guilt or shame. By blaming others, narcissists can maintain their self-image as faultless and superior individuals.

Denial of wrongdoings is a common strategy employed by narcissists. They refuse to acknowledge any mistakes they make, even when confronted with concrete evidence. This denial serves to protect their fragile ego and maintain their facade of perfection. Narcissists will go to great lengths to distort the truth and manipulate others into believing their version of events.

Another way narcissists avoid accountability is through projection. They project their own negative traits and behaviors onto others, making it seem as if those around them are the ones at fault. By doing so, narcissists can avoid facing their own flaws and insecurities. They also use projection as a means of gaslighting their victims, causing them to doubt their own reality and internalize the blame.

“Blaming others and denying their own wrongdoings is a classic narcissistic tactic. By projecting their negative traits onto others, narcissists can manipulate the narrative and evade accountability.” – Dr. Jane Smith


When narcissists feel threatened or mistreated, they can resort to narcissistic rage, which involves direct attacks aimed at undermining their victims. These attacks can take various forms, from verbal assaults to physical violence. The goal is to make the victims feel powerless and insecure, further fueling the narcissist’s sense of superiority.

Narcissistic rage often manifests as explosive anger, where the narcissist unleashes their fury without any regard for the consequences. They may yell, scream, or engage in physical assault, using intimidation and fear to control their victims. This volatile behavior can be traumatizing and leave lasting emotional scars.

In addition to direct attacks, narcissists are also skilled at plotting sabotage and engaging in character assassination. They may go to great lengths to ruin their victims’ reputation or manipulate others against them. This can involve spreading false rumors, sabotaging their professional or personal relationships, or seeking revenge in any way they can.

The consequences of these attacks can be devastating, with victims experiencing profound emotional and psychological harm. It is crucial for victims to seek support and develop strategies to protect themselves from further harm.

Narcissistic Tactics Examples
Narcissistic Rage Yelling, physical assault, threats, destruction of property
Plotting Sabotage Spreading rumors, attempting to get the victim fired, involving others in the drama
Character Assassination Ruining the victim’s reputation, manipulating others against them

Surviving and Healing

Surviving narcissistic attacks requires developing coping strategies and seeking professional help. Here are some steps victims can take to protect themselves and begin the healing process:

  1. Establish boundaries: Setting clear boundaries with the narcissist can help limit their ability to attack and manipulate.
  2. Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional support and guidance.
  3. Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote healing and well-being.
  4. Consider therapy: A therapist experienced in narcissistic abuse can provide guidance and support throughout the recovery process.
  5. Document evidence: Keep records of any attacks or instances of abuse, as this can be helpful if legal action becomes necessary.

“Surviving narcissistic attacks requires strength, resilience, and the willingness to seek help. Remember, you are not alone, and healing is possible.”

Taking Credit

Taking credit for others’ work is a common tactic employed by narcissists to elevate themselves and minimize the efforts of those around them. By stealing credit, they undermine the achievements of others and use them for personal gain. This behavior can have detrimental effects on the self-esteem of the individuals whose work is being stolen, making them feel undervalued and insignificant.

Minimizing others’ efforts is another way narcissists manipulate situations to make themselves appear superior. They downplay the contributions and hard work of others, often dismissing their achievements as insignificant or unimportant. This tactic serves to boost the narcissist’s own ego while diminishing the self-worth of those they are minimizing.

Using others’ accomplishments for personal gain is yet another strategy narcissists employ to maintain their inflated sense of self. They leverage the achievements of others to further their own agendas or gain social status. By appropriating the successes of those around them, they seek validation and recognition while disregarding the impact it has on the individuals whose accomplishments they are exploiting.

Narcissist’s Tactics Impact on Victims
Stealing credit Makes victims feel undervalued and insignificant
Minimizing others’ efforts Diminishes the self-worth of victims
Using others’ accomplishments for personal gain Exploits victims and their achievements

It is important for individuals to recognize when narcissists are taking credit for their work or minimizing their efforts. By identifying these behaviors, victims can take steps to protect themselves and their self-esteem. Setting boundaries, asserting their contributions, and seeking support from trusted individuals can help counteract the negative impact of narcissistic manipulation.

Remember that the behavior of narcissists says more about their own insecurities than about the worth or value of their victims. Rebuilding self-esteem after experiencing the effects of narcissistic abuse is a process that takes time and support. Surrounding oneself with positive influences and focusing on self-care can aid in the healing journey and allow individuals to regain a sense of self-worth.

Playing the Victim

A key tactic employed by narcissists is their ability to manipulate situations and play the victim when called out on their behavior. Despite their attempts to appear strong and dominant, they have a knack for collapsing into a helpless victim, extracting sympathy from those around them. This manipulation tactic is designed to make their victims feel guilty and further erode their self-esteem.

When confronted with the consequences of their actions, narcissists often twist the narrative to portray themselves as unfairly treated. They paint a picture of themselves as the innocent party, wronged by others who simply don’t understand them. By manipulating the emotions of those around them, they seek to extract sympathy and deflect attention away from their own harmful behaviors.

This victim mentality allows narcissists to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and evade accountability. It effectively shifts the focus away from their own wrongdoing and onto the perceived wrongs done against them. By presenting themselves as victims, they hope to manipulate others into feeling sorry for them and further entrench their control over their victims.


Narcissists employ various manipulative tactics to make their victims feel bad about themselves while boosting their own self-esteem. Recognizing these narcissistic tactics is the first step in overcoming the abuse and rebuilding one’s self-esteem.

It is essential to understand that the behavior of narcissists is a reflection of their own insecurities rather than a reflection of the worth or value of their victims. By surrounding oneself with supportive and loving individuals, setting healthy boundaries, and prioritizing self-care, victims of narcissistic abuse can heal and regain their sense of self-worth.

Overcoming narcissistic abuse is a journey, and it requires patience and self-compassion. It is important to seek professional help if needed and to remember that healing takes time. By focusing on personal growth, building resilience, and learning to love oneself again, it is possible to break free from the cycle of abuse and create a brighter future.


How do narcissists make you feel bad about yourself?

Narcissists employ various tactics such as gaslighting, criticism, manipulation, entitlement, blaming and projecting, attacking, taking credit for others’ work, and playing the victim to make their victims feel inferior and elevate their own self-esteem.

What is artificial self-confidence and how do narcissists use it?

Artificial self-confidence is when narcissists exhibit a false sense of confidence and pretend to be knowledgeable or experienced in certain areas. They criticize others, lie, and portray confidence to create an illusion of superiority and expertise.

How do narcissists instill self-doubt and use gaslighting techniques?

Narcissists manipulate their victims by using gaslighting techniques to make them doubt themselves and their perception of reality. They invalidate their feelings, manipulate their perception, and play on their insecurities and weak points, leading to self-doubt and damaged self-esteem.

What does it mean for narcissists to act entitled?

Narcissists have a sense of entitlement and believe they are better than others. They mistreat and abuse others, leveraging their power, money, social status, or other advantages to demean and elevate themselves.

How do narcissists blame and project their negative traits onto others?

Narcissists never take responsibility for their own wrongdoings and instead blame others. They constantly project their negative traits onto others and accuse them of the things they themselves are doing. This tactic allows them to shift blame and make their victims feel bad about themselves.

What kind of attacks do narcissists resort to?

When narcissists feel threatened or mistreated, they can resort to narcissistic rage, which involves direct attacks such as yelling, physical assault, threats, or destruction of property. They may also plot to sabotage their victims, further damaging their self-esteem.

How do narcissists take credit for others’ work?

Narcissists never admit their faults but are quick to claim credit for others’ work. They steal credit, minimize others’ efforts, and use their accomplishments to further their own agendas or gain social status, making their victims feel undervalued and insignificant.

Why do narcissists play the victim?

Despite their attempts to appear strong and dominant, narcissists often play the victim when confronted or called out on their behavior. They portray themselves as unfairly treated and seek sympathy from others. This manipulation tactic aims to make their victims feel guilty and further erode their self-esteem.

How can I overcome narcissistic abuse and rebuild my self-esteem?

Recognizing the tactics of narcissists is the first step in overcoming narcissistic abuse and rebuilding self-esteem. Surrounding yourself with supportive and loving individuals, setting boundaries, and focusing on self-care are crucial in healing and regaining your self-worth.

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