Living under the hypnosis of a covert narcissist (CN) can baffle the mind. Your perception of reality is distorted, your self-esteem is battered, and your sense of self is lost. But it’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there is a way out. Reclaiming your mind from a covert narcissist is a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It’s about understanding the tactics they use, recognizing the impact they’ve had on you, and taking steps to heal and rebuild your life.
What is a Covert Narcissist?
Covert narcissists are masters of disguise. Unlike their overt counterparts, they don’t seek out attention or admiration openly. Instead, they operate in the shadows, using subtler tactics to manipulate and control those around them. They may come across as shy, victimized, or come off as fairly normal, so their disguise doesn’t come off. Beneath the surface, however, lies a deep sense of entitlement and a fragile ego.
Common Tactics of Covert Narcissists
Gaslighting: Making you question your own reality by denying or twisting events to fit their narrative. Here’s where they will tell you one thing, and then later say they never said that. Or, they will oppose most things that you say (maybe not in front of others), making you wonder about your sanity.
Victim playing: Portraying themselves as the victim in any situation to gain sympathy and deflect blame. They might tell you a story about someone you don’t know and how that person hurt them.
Projection: Blaming you for their own flaws and shortcomings. They might call you a narcissist if you disagree with them. They can never take responsibility for anything, so they need to blame someone. You’re there, so you’ll do.
Guilt-tripping: They make you feel obligated to do what they want by manipulating your emotions. This might be acknowledging that you won’t get a raise or promotion because your supervisor told you that they are disappointed because you won’t do everything they ask.
Silent treatment: Withdrawing affection or communication as a punishment. If you don’t agree with them, they will ghost you. (Often times, they are plotting against you when they are silent.)
Triangulation: pitting you against others to create conflict and division. The covert narcissist that I knew would try to create division by telling me lies about people who weren’t even alive anymore or who I didn’t know in order to back up another lie about someone I did know. This person was very creative.
The Impact of Covert Narcissistic Abuse
Living with a covert narcissist can have a devastating impact on your mental and emotional well-being. You may experience:
- Confusion and self-doubt: You may constantly question your own perceptions and memories.
- Low self-esteem: You may feel worthless and unlovable.
- Anxiety and depression: You may experience chronic stress and emotional turmoil. It’s not uncommon for someone who has been around an overt or covert narcissist to seek out therapy and anxiety medication.
- Isolation and loneliness: You may be cut off from your support system. They might be creative in getting you to be all right about moving away from your family.
- Difficulty trusting others: You may develop a general distrust of people. Many become hypervigilant about making sure this doesn’t happen to them again.
Reclaiming Your Mind and Your Life
If you are in a relationship with a CN, it is important to remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. Here are some steps you can take to reclaim your mind and your life:
- Educate yourself: Learn about covert narcissism and the tactics they use. This will help you recognize and understand the abuse you’ve been experiencing.
- Set boundaries: It is crucial to establish clear boundaries with the narcissist. This may mean limiting contact or ending the relationship altogether.
- Seek support: Surround yourself with supportive people who can validate your experiences and help you through the healing process.
- Practice self-care: Prioritize your own well-being by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities you enjoy.
- Rebuild your self-esteem: Reconnect with your strengths and passions. Remind yourself of your worth and value.
- Seek professional help: A therapist, hypnotherapist, or recovery coach who specializes in narcissism (especially covert) can be an invaluable resource for healing from narcissistic abuse. A specialist can help you process your experiences, develop coping mechanisms, and rebuild your self-confidence.
Remember, reclaiming your mind from a covert narcissist takes time. There will be setbacks and challenges along the way, but with time and effort, you can heal and rebuild your life. You are not alone, and there is hope for the future.