Call It First

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


Whoever calls it first gets it, right? The baseball catch, the last piece of cake, the front passenger seat, the check at the restaurant, the parking place. We name it and claim it. Somehow, being first seems to grant control.

Politics is a great place to see this game. Blame the other party for something you are doing or want to do. As long as you call them on it first, you control the narrative. Then you can do whatever it is you wanted to do and all the complaining of the other only looks like sour grapes.

In these days when narcissism has become a popular word, it shouldn’t surprise us when the narcissist calls others “narcissists.” I have heard this more lately. Someone will write to me saying that an abuser has referred to the writer as a “narcissist.” Yet, when more information is gathered, it is plain that the abuser is the narcissist.

“You’re a narcissist!”

“No, you’re a narcissist!”

Which has the stronger position? See what I mean? The second response might be the right one, but it sounds childish.

This is called projection, a subject we have considered before, but it is aggressive projection, kind of a first-strike projection. This kind of preemptive combat is common for narcissists. Accuse the other person, let them fluster in their own defense, then do whatever you accused them of. When they complain, the narcissist can refer to the original accusation as fact and remind others. That way the others will assume that the victim is the one doing the projecting.

Confused? You are supposed to be. That’s how it works.

And this serves as a reminder that the narcissist’s ways are probably not your ways. Who thinks like this? Narcissists do. They are always thinking ahead, at least when it comes to their plans and manipulations. Because they have to be right (and seen as acceptable or superior) they have to find ways to cover their “sins.” Sometimes they do that by blaming you—even before they do the nasty deed.

I know of narcissists who accused their spouses of lying in front of the court, when the narcissists were the ones lying. The victims were shocked and effectively silenced, just so they wouldn’t look weak in response. I know of co-workers who accused other co-workers of some less-than-acceptable practice, and then set out to do the same thing themselves. If the deed was discovered, it would be the victim who would be investigated.

There is some power in this tactic, if for no other reason than it is so ruthless and unexpected in normal relationships. But that’s the point. The narcissistic relationship is not normal—and you need to be ready for anything. Projection is one of the more difficult narcissistic tactics to overcome, especially when others are involved.

How can you protect yourself? First, understand that the narcissist does not play fair. You will be abused in the process. Narcissistic relationships hurt. If the narcissist accuses you before he/she does something, you may not be able to do anything right. So maybe there is nothing for you to do, at first.

Second, don’t accept the blame for something you did not do. Most of us have been taught to accept guilt when it comes our way, whether we deserve it or not. If someone says that we are doing something wrong, our minds go quickly to any compromise in our lives, and we start to feel guilty. We stammer and try to explain and make ourselves look both guilty and weak. Instead, just say no. If it is not true, say it isn’t true. Whether people believe you or not, this will be the strongest position for you to take.

Third, call the narcissist on the tactic. Let him/her and others know that you understand what is happening and will not accept the game. The narcissist knows what he/she is doing, but the others probably do not. Identifying the tactic might help them to see the truth.

Fourth, point out behavior by example. Be specific. Don’t get into a name-calling exchange. Don’t even get angry. Just be prepared to point out where the narcissist did what he/she accused you of. (This is one good reason to keep a journal, just so you can remember the details, although I would not reveal the existence of the journal until the narcissist can’t get to it and destroy it.)

So the conversation might go like this:

“You’re a liar!”

“No. And I understand what you are doing. You call me a liar to deflect from your own lying. You didn’t work at the office that night. I know where you went.”

I suspect that the narcissist’s tactics will change at about this point in the conversation. You will be attacked in a different way, of course. That’s how this works. But you will probably not be called a liar again.


Filed under Narcissism

11 responses to “Call It First

  1. Batya Ahul

    Oh how wonderful and timely your post are Pastor Dave!

    It’s a very long and painful story but my managers husband is terminally ill (very sad) and now the narcissist underling who’s been covertly been running the show for some time has been “put in charge” . What you’ve described in your post is her tactics in a nutshell.

    The problem is not everyone can see it, and that’s how she gets away with everything. She manipulates the shift pattern to her advantage, picks and chooses which tasks she wishes to carry out, allocates blame as far away from herself as possible, is incredibly lazy but always looks busy and projects her insecurities and poor capability onto others. I wish I was kidding when I say 2 former members of staff had their contracts terminated mainly because of her (one extremely capable and one not so but not helped by said N).

    Fortunately several other colleagues know her game and we intend to keep our heads down and get on with it out of respect for our managers terrible situation. We’ve agreed to keep records and if necessary to go to senior management to report N’s behaviour (I have done so previously & although little has changed at least senior management are aware). It can be difficult when an N’s behaviour is so covert.

    You would never believe we’re a team of nurses (and yes said N is a nurse). I guess rather than the central focus of caring, which drew me to the profession, it’s the ability to control and manipulate both patients and co-workers, which drew her (N) to nursing. How incredibly sad, but I know I’m not alone here in this experience.

    I try to forgive her for her behaviour and pray for her to know the light & love of Christ, but Lord it is difficult.

    I know from an amateur psychology perspective if we grew up in a narcissistic family home (as I did) we draw N’s to us like ” moths to a flame” as we’re subconsciously trying to “fix” the broken parent child relationship in another setting/context. I thank The Lord I’m now aware of this pattern & have broken years of repeated unhealthy relationships (friendships with N women not men Praise Him) and can now recognise these behaviours.
    But they still seem to be there and such as in this case it feels like an imminent threat both professionally & personally. It’s exhausting especially with a young family.

    All your prayers are appreciated:)

  2. Dave Lesniak

    another excellent article, Dave. thank you for sharing. God bless you and your’s! Dave

  3. This kiind of projection is painful because it is so malicious. The malice is so well hidden, and it’s the part that really matters.

    Aside from that, it hits the victim in more than one way. There will be the obvious accusation, but then there is the smear aspect. The victim loses credibiliity regardless of how well the accusation is handled. Then, especially when the projection continues, there is the isolation. People who believe the lies regard the victim with contempt (often even while they are sweet and smiling). AND the victim eventually loses the strength and energy to engage people.

    Try telling people your wife does this… even more contempt.

  4. mls

    I think I understand a little better now.But it was different. He used to store things I had discovered about him previously, only to accuse me of them later, though I had not done these things. HE HAD. It was so odd. As if now he owned the rights to accusation from that point on. Lige with a narcissist is absolutely crazy making. I believe they are completely deluded or insane.

    • KayJay

      Agreed, mls! There seems to be a complete, inexplicable disconnect between their”reality” and REALITY. It’s crazy- making, all right!!

  5. Annette

    Collecting evidence to counter the lies of the narcissist might also be a good idea.

  6. Cecilia K

    This isn’t directly related to this topic, but I just stumbled onto a blog site that claims to be written by a narc that describes in disturbing detail how a narc thinks. I only read the first few blog entries (starting in August 2015), and it was rather chilling to read how aware he (I’m going to assume it’s a he, as he refers to an ex-girlfriend, although I’m aware that the author could still be a she) is of what he is doing and how unaffected he is by his cold, callous, insidious actions.

    He claims that he started the blog on a recommendation by a doctor who his family, apparently, either forced him to start seeing or at least strongly pressured him to see. If you are interested in getting inside the mind of a narc, the site is It’s completely understandable if you don’t want to feed his need for supply by reading his material, and if you don’t want to allow this post, Pastor Dave, I understand.

    It’s entirely possible that this person is just someone posing as a narc and basing their writing on what they’ve read/heard about narcs, but the posts are rather convincing, from what little I’ve read. And at the very top of the page, is a large image of the word “EVIL” enveloped by a ring of fire, which I think was in the shape of a heart, maybe? Interesting that he acknowledges that’s what he is, or maybe it’s just an acknowledgement of what his victims claim him to be.

    • Hi CeciliaK! I have approved this, but surely want to caution people about it. This blog smells phony to me. It consists of one trigger after another, so please – everyone – be careful! This will be hard to read and have little benefit. You have already learned a great deal about how your N thinks. This will probably not teach you more. But IT WILL UPSET YOU.

      This person might be a narcissist, but remember that the narcissist really doesn’t care. When this person writes, he/she sounds like what we think a malicious narcissist might sound like. That’s a huge clue that this blog may be phony, in my mind. The real N does not think like you think he thinks. You think he is dedicated to hurting you, but he is just dedicated to pleasing himself. Hurting you means nothing to him. He doesn’t understand or accept the reality of your pain. He simply does not care.

      If I had to guess, I would say that there are two possibilities. First, that this is a narcissist who has been told that he is an abusive or malicious narcissist and is writing to punish whoever told him that. He is taking what he has learned about narcissism to the extreme and writing as many triggers as he can think of just to punish all victims of narcissistic relationships. In other words, those who dared to call him a narcissist have made him angry and he knows just how to repay them. “I’ll show you!” he says.

      But, I said the N doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about you. He cares about himself. If you dare to challenge him, he will destroy you just to make himself feel better. Attacking you justifies him, in his thinking. And if hundreds of readers are hurt when he lashes out against his accuser, he still does not care.

      Another possibility, of course, is that this is being written by a victim. It sounds like that. There is an anger in the writing against the victim for being so stupid, but a hatred for the narcissist. It is the N that is evil in nearly every paragraph of the blog. The disdain for the victim is the self-condemnation almost all of us have felt for trusting and caring for the NS in our lives.

      Stop and think. Would your narcissist ever write a blog like Why not? That is probably your clue that this blog is not what it pretends to be.

      In any case, you will learn little or nothing from this blog, except to realize that you still are vulnerable to a lot of triggers.

    • mls

      I don’t believe this is written by a narcissist. And personally, I don’t believe they understand themselves well enough to take this type of a perspective of their actions.

  7. KT

    Too much work and emotional energy! If they are not a relative, ax them! Period.

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