Narcissists are obsessed with procuring narcissistic supply, which is anything that makes them feel good about themselves. Even negative attention can provide that precious supply, because to be angry at or even hate someone, you have to feel something for that person. (If you feel nothing for a person, they cannot anger or upset you because you simply do not care.) As I have said before, love them or hate them, it is not important to a narcissist. They can handle either love or hate, but never apathy.
One way narcissists obtain their coveted narcissistic supply is by baiting their victims. Baiting is anything done or said to achieve a negative or emotional response from someone. If they can make you angry, they have power over you. It makes them feel powerful and important. It proves to them that they matter. As an example from my life, my mother used to love to pick on my car. (Many of you know the story of my car. It was my Granddad’s, who gave it to my father in 1976. My father sold it to a junkyard rather than repair it in 1979. I stumbled across it in 2005, thinking it was simply a twin. Shortly after getting the car, my father showed me the VIN he had written down in the 70’s from his car. It matched mine – I have the same car that Granddad gave to my father!) My mother knew I was very close to Granddad and I love this car, so whenever she ran out of other ammunition, she said things like, “I wonder how many junk cars like yours are still on the road,” or, “I would NEVER own a car your granddad owned!” (Even though she did for 3 years). The first couple of times she said such things, I admit, I got angry. Livid even. Until I realized that was the goal. When I started to yell at her, she actually got a glimmer in her eye. She wanted me upset so she could show herself and any other witnesses how horrible and crazy I really am. Here we were once, in a restaurant where one of my former teachers worked, and I was yelling at my elderly, innocent looking mother. I stopped immediately. I refused to give her that supply!
If you too have been baited by a narcissist, know you are not alone. I think it is one of their favorite tactics, especially as they get older.
There are several ways a narcissist can bait a victim. Some examples are:
You are accused of doing something outrageous and out of character, such as cheating on your spouse, doing drugs, or abusing your children.
Insulting something or someone you love.
They damage a piece of your property, usually claiming it to be accidental.
Baiting triggers your body’s fight or flight response, usually fight. Your adrenaline kicks in and heart rate increases in preparation for a fight. As a result, you do not have as much control over your responses. You do not think of good ways to respond until much later, once you have calmed down. Your body is using its resources for physical fighting rather than mental, which is why this happens.
There are some successful ways to deal with baiting. To start with, always remember what this behavior is. It is designed to elicit a negative reaction from you to provide the baiter with narcissistic supply. It really is not personal against you – it is to make a sick person feel better about him or herself by having so much control over you that you get very angry or burst into tears.
Do not fall into the trap! Stop for a moment to take a deep breath, then respond. DO NOT REACT!! Immediate reactions are never good. A response works much better because it means you have put some thought into what you say or do. Reactions happen without any thought. For more information, check out this link: Responding vs Reacting
Leave this person’s company or hang up the phone. Why tolerate being in this position if you do not have to?
Most importantly, show no emotion at all. Act is if this person said she was going to pick up a loaf of bread at the grocery store later rather than something so cruel, it cut you to the quick. The less reaction you have, the less likely it is for the narcissist to use this to hurt you again or continuing trying to bait you in this area.
Once you are out of this person’s presence, vent. Get your anger and hurt out. Pray. Cry. Journal. Talk to a supportive friend or relative, maybe even a counselor or pastor. Honestly, what is said when someone baits you is hurtful, otherwise it would not be bait! While you should not let the person baiting you see your pain, that does not mean you need to carry around that hurt and anger. Get it out of you – you deserve so much better than carrying it around!