Narcissists love projection.
Projection is when a narcissist accuses the victim of the same behavior they are doing, yet the victim is not doing. Some examples are:
- Your narcissistic mother lies frequently, yet calls you a liar.
- Your narcissistic husband has a girlfriend on the side, but accuses you of cheating even after years of proven fidelity.
- Your narcissistic father calls you disrespectful, even though to your knowledge, he is the one who never has treated anyone with respect.
Projection is a dysfunctional yet common coping skill as well as a weapon for narcissists. Coping skill because it enables them to get angry about their faults while not accepting responsibility for them. Weapon because it not only hurts a victim (something narcissists enjoy doing), but it also makes a victim work hard to please the narcissist.
Once you learn about projection, it can be a helpful tool in dealing with narcissists. If you listen to what the narcissist is saying, you will see what the truth really is. When I was growing up, my mother called me fat so much that I developed anorexia at age ten. I was not overweight, which made this accusation ridiculous, yet I was convinced I was incredibly fat and disgusting. As an adult, I realized that was her way of coping with the fact she has always been quite overweight. That realization helped me to release her warped, cruel view of me and to look at my own weight in a much healthier way. If my mother was to criticize my weight now, I honestly would not even care because I know she is simply trying to put her own issues on me rather than dealing with them.
When first learning about narcissism, I know this can be difficult to do. You are so accustomed to accepting the criticisms as truth, but they are not true! You need always to remember that they are what the narcissist believes about him or herself, not actual facts. Ask God to help you remember this if need be. He will!
When the narcissist says something cruel, stop for a second and take a deep breath. This gives you a moment to gather your thoughts, and the breathing physically helps you to remain calm. As you breathe, remind yourself that this is nothing but projection, not the truth.
Ask God to tell you the truth when you need help. He will! And, it will be good, not something to tear you down. He loves you so much, and will be glad to help you.