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  • Deborah Moyer - CPC

How to Survive a Relationship with a Narcissist - Part Two

Narcissist’s Tools of the Trade

In Part One of this series on Narcissism, I shared my thoughts and concerns about the increasing and seriously scary epidemic of narcissism that’s being played out each and every day throughout this country. I shared some of the why’s behind this behavior and gave some of the key characteristics of a toxic narcissist.

The ultimate goal of a narcissist is to build a ‘follower’ or support network that he or she will then manipulate and attempt to control for their self-benefit.

It could be as simple as just needing a lot of attention or adoration to support their self-image, but it can get a lot messier and more personally detrimental to the people they target if you aren’t aware of just how far their manipulative skills can go.

Frequently, people will sense somethings just ‘not right’ at some point in the relationship, but they can’t put their finger on exactly what that is. That’s because narcissists are masters at distracting you away from the clear behavioral signs your gut is trying to warn you about.

They do this in a number of ways.

In this segment, I’ll give you some insight into a narcissist’s tool bag, the “Go-To” plans they typically use for deflection when a victim starts to get wind of inconsistencies or suspects something’s amiss.

But, before I start, it’s important to point out two key perspectives that narcissists share.


A narcissist will never accept responsibility for any of their actions


First, they will NEVER accept or take responsibility for any of their actions, especially if they’ve done something really hurtful. They will, however, be the first to step up to the plate to take FULL credit for any action that is considered positive or perceived as admirable by others, regardless of whether they are truly responsible for it.

Lack of taking responsibility for an action, or blaming others for it instead, is a KEY trait and a BIG warning sign that you may be dealing with a toxic narcissist.

Secondly, they have an unbelievable talent to aggressively deny, reject, dispute, discourage or outright avoid all attempts by their victims who try to get to the core of the truth behind their actions and intentions.

This first tool in the narcissist bag of tricks is called Projection. It attempts to re-direct you toward some thing or someone else that’s responsible instead. If you’ve had the misfortune of having a relationship with a narcissist, then you’re probably well versed in this behavior.

Ever had a conversation with someone where you’ve caught them doing something they shouldn’t have and instead of taking responsibility for it, they started going off on some weird tangent that had no correlation to the issue at hand?

Psychologists call that type of circular conversation “word salad”. They do this in an effort to thoroughly confuse you. It’s a circular road to nowhere, and by the end of it, you are either thoroughly exhausted or questioning your sanity.

It’s usually accompanied by the next tool in their arsenal, which is called Gaslighting. It starts by them doing their best to confuse you on the facts, even when you have hard proof that they’ve either lied or completely misrepresented themselves.

Gaslighting starts to get into serious mind-bending territory because the narcissist will look you straight in the eye, with an expression that says “you’re the crazy one!” and tell you that whatever it is you are trying to hold them accountable to “Never Happened”. Ever.


If you don’t realize what’s really happening, gaslighting can be devastating because it makes you seriously question your sense of reality.


If you don’t realize what’s really happening, gaslighting can be devastating because it makes you seriously question your sense of reality. If the narcissist is really good at it, and most toxic-level ones are, it means you’re suddenly wondering if you ARE the one at fault.

Narcissists use this tool without a second thought or feelings of guilt towards the damage they are doing to anyone exposed to their mind games, especially if they have taken it to the level of emotional or psychological abuse.

It’s deadly though, because over time, this tool works to wear down a victim’s level of trust and belief in themselves, allowing doubts to surface about whether their abuse is real. Once the victim starts to take on personal responsibility for their own abuse, it’s like handing a narcissist an open license to further expand their abusive control and manipulation which can be life-threatening.

They will usually start to undercut a victims sense of insecurity in small doses with their next tool, which is to negatively “reframe” the facts you present to them and twist them into something unrecognizable, nonsensical and then turn around and use them against you to make you the perpetrator.

This is different than straight forward “gaslighting” where they tell you something never happened. This tool works to boomerang the facts and turn whatever event or action they perpetuated into a whole new story that now YOU are responsible for creating from the get go.

Suddenly, you are the one being held accountable for your own abuse.

Think about it! How much worse can it get than to be blamed for creating your own pain? Not only is it emotionally devastating, but if left unaddressed, it can create high levels of stress that ultimately affect a person’s immune system and physical well-being, let alone their emotional and mental health.

To continue to maintain their hold on their victims, they then move on to their next tool in their bag of tricks. The tool of isolation.

For a victim to continue to believe the “new story” or re-framed reality over time, narcissists will do their level best to isolate their victims by creating situations that alienates them from their friends, family or any other form of social support.

With no outside source to “Fact Check” or ground themselves to, there’s no reality-based benchmark for them to compare the misinformation they are being fed.

They may end up asking themselves… “Maybe he (or she) is right? Maybe I’m just being overly paranoid? Maybe I’m just imagining this?”

Once they get to that crossroad, a terrifying thing happens.

There’s nothing to keep them from finally buying 100% into the narcissist perspective and their attention shifts to fearing they could be in worse shape by potentially losing the relationship. After all, they no longer have any relationships other than the Narcissist and it terrifies them to think of being completely alone.


Narcissists achieve this by consistently undermining any sense of confidence a person has left and replaces it with the message that they can’t successfully live without the narcissist in their life.


Narcissists achieve this by consistently undermining any sense of confidence a person has left and replaces it with the message that they can’t successfully live without the narcissist in their life.

‘Who would want to be with me?” they’ll start to tell themselves. “I’m a bad person!” So, they start to try and please the narcissist to get their approval and acceptance.

Once that transition occurs, you can see how easy it would be for the relationship to quickly spiral into a black hole of never ending misery and pain.

Is there any hope for someone that gets in this deep? YES!

You CAN protect yourself from people with these characteristics who are trying to emotionally undermine or overpower you and I’ll soon be telling you how in an upcoming post!

But, first! There’s more to their tool bag of tricks! In the next post, I’ll continue to share more tips on the warning signs of a narcissistic relationship so you, or someone you love, can protect themselves from this destructive personality.

If you think you’re in a narcissistic relationship that you need a little extra coaching help with, I'm here to help! I conduct coaching sessions by phone or by Zoom session to ensure the health and safety of my clients.

To schedule a private consultation, go to

In the meantime…stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!