9 subtle ways a narcissist will chip away at your confidence

Isabella Chase by Isabella Chase | February 21, 2024, 6:15 am

Narcissism is tricky. It’s often subtle, and it can slowly eat away at your confidence without you even realizing it.

That’s the hallmark of a narcissist. They are experts at undermining your self-esteem, all while maintaining a charming exterior.

I’m going to share with you 9 subtle ways a narcissist will chip away at your confidence.

Hold on tight, because this might be an uncomfortable ride.

But by the end of it, you’ll be much better equipped to spot and handle these situations.

1) Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a term that originated from a 1944 movie called “Gaslight”, where a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s going insane.

In essence, it’s a form of psychological manipulation where a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in you, making you question your own memory, perception, and sanity.

The worst part? It’s incredibly subtle.

A narcissist might say things like, “You’re remembering it wrong,” or “That never happened,” when you’re absolutely sure it did.

They may also question your abilities or belittle your achievements, leading you to doubt your own worth and abilities.

It’s a slow and steady chipping away at your confidence that leaves you feeling lost, confused and questioning your own reality.

Remember this: Trust yourself. You know what you’ve experienced and achieved. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

2) Subtle put-downs

Narcissists are experts at delivering a compliment that’s really an insult.

It’s so subtle that you might not even realize it’s a put-down until much later.

I’ll never forget the time I shared a personal accomplishment with a narcissistic friend of mine.

I was thrilled to have landed a new job I had been eyeing for months.

Instead of matching my excitement, she said, “That’s great! It’s so brave of you to take on a job even though you’re not really qualified.”

At first, I was taken aback. But then, I realized what she was doing. That wasn’t a compliment; it was a subtle way to undermine my confidence.

These disguised insults can make you second-guess your achievements and capabilities.

Watch out for them , you know your worth and capabilities better than anyone else.

3) Playing the victim

Narcissists are really good at playing the victim.

They have an uncanny ability to twist a situation around and make themselves appear as the wronged party, no matter what.

You see, narcissists are incapable of feeling guilt or remorse, as they lack the ability to empathize with others.

This comes from their exaggerated sense of self-importance that makes it impossible for them to see any fault in their actions.

Here’s a thing, it’s not your job to constantly appease or apologize to someone who refuses to take accountability for their actions.

Stand firm in your truth.

4) Constant interruption

Ever tried to share a story or express a viewpoint, only to be interrupted mid-sentence by a narcissist? It’s not accidental.

Narcissists use interruption as a tool to diminish your confidence and importance.

By constantly interrupting, they subtly imply that what you have to say isn’t important or interesting.

They effectively silence your voice, making you feel unheard and insignificant.

This can slowly chip away at your self-esteem and make you feel less valuable.

Don’t forget: your voice matters. Don’t let anyone silence your thoughts and perspectives.

5) Negative comparisons

Narcissists have a knack for comparing you unfavorably to others. They do this to make you feel inferior and to boost their own ego.

Whether it’s your achievements, your appearance, or even your personality traits, they always seem to find someone who does it ‘better’.

The goal is to make you feel inadequate and to keep you striving for their approval – something they’ll ensure you never quite reach.

6) Invalidating your emotions

It’s deeply hurtful when someone you care about dismisses or invalidates your feelings.

Narcissists often do this, brushing aside your emotions as if they’re inconsequential.

“You’re being too sensitive,” or “You’re overreacting,” they might say.

Such comments can make you feel like your feelings aren’t valid or important.

But here’s the truth: your emotions are real. They’re a part of who you are. They matter.

7) Using your insecurities against you

Narcissists have a way of finding out your insecurities and using them as a weapon against you.

It’s a cruel tactic designed to make you feel small and powerless.

I’ve experienced this firsthand. I used to struggle with body image issues, something I confided in a close friend.

Instead of offering support, this individual would often make subtle remarks about my appearance, knowing it was a sensitive topic for me.

It took time, but I realized that their comments were more about their own insecurities than my perceived flaws.

If a narcissist uses your vulnerabilities against you, remember, it says more about them than it does about you.

8) Taking credit for your achievements

Narcissists love the spotlight, and they’re not above stealing it from others. This includes taking credit for your achievements.

Whether it’s a project at work, a creative idea, or even a personal accomplishment, they’ll find a way to make it about them.

They’ll downplay your role and inflate their own, leaving you feeling overlooked and undervalued.

Your accomplishments are yours alone. Don’t let anyone steal your thunder. Stand up for yourself and ensure your contributions are recognized.

9) Emotional withdrawal

Narcissists are known for their hot-and-cold behavior. One moment, they’re showering you with attention, the next, they’re cold and distant.

This emotional withdrawal is a control tactic. They withhold affection and attention to make you work harder for their approval.

It’s a cruel game designed to keep you off-balance and constantly seeking their validation.

Your worth isn’t defined by someone else’s validation. You are enough, just as you are.

Final thoughts: It’s about self-preservation

Navigating a relationship with a narcissist can be a daunting task.

Their subtle tactics can erode your confidence, leaving you feeling insignificant and powerless.

But remember, their behavior says more about them than it does about you.

It’s a reflection of their insecurities, their need for control, and their inability to empathize with others.

You are not the problem.

The journey to self-preservation may be challenging, but it’s necessary.

It’s about embracing who you are and refusing to let anyone make you feel otherwise.

At the end of the day, it’s your life. You have the power to decide who influences it and how.

And that, in itself, is an empowering thought.