A beginners guide to what you're really being told when the Narcissist in your life says:
You're so difficult.
You've always been difficult.
You were such a difficult child.
Narcissistic Translation:You should agree with me all the time, my view of the universe is the only correct one, you are not a real individual with any actual feelings or needs which might be different from mine, or actually make me have to think about you, why wont you learn that?
It is so annoying to have to keep reminding you that you are just a two dimensional character in my story.
Shut up and get back in your box.
You were alright until you turned 3, or 5, or 7, or 13 or 16...then I don't know what got into you.
I remember a time when you were just like a little extension of me and I didn't have to do any work at all to be close to you. You were all adoration (Narcissistic Supply) and I was your God. The more you realised that you were an individual the less I liked you.
You take after ( insert name of ostracised relative here)
You are doing something that is annoying to me. This is an example of what happens to people who do not please me. You could be ostracised too, don't forget this, I want you to keep this example of a fall from grace clearly in your mind and I will use this relative as a trigger to keep you in you place .
Why can't you be more like... (Insert name of golden child here)?
Narcissistic Translation:You are not currently attempting to please me enough for my satisfaction.
I have spent a lot of time creating a competitive and dysfunctional relationship between the two of you. The whole purpose of this is to get each of you to do as much as possible for me to compete for scraps of affection. I have perfected this system now and just using these few words will send you into a frenzy of working to please me. Off you go then.
I always said you'd :
Never amount to anything
Get in with a bad crowd
Get into trouble one day
Turn out badly.
You deserve everything that's coming to you.
Don't come running to me when it all goes wrong.
Narcissistic Translation:I am not going to take any responsibility for anything bad that ever has , is happening, or will happen to you. By using this catch-all and predicting that bad things "could happen" I have passed all the responsibility for any of it to you.
You should therefore have worked on ways of stopping anything bad ever happening to you without any help at all from me.
This all became your responsibility when I warned you, and you therefore have no right to look to me for support of any kind. I also include bad things that could be done to you by other people in this.
Supporting other people through crisis is such hard work and I don't wannnaaaaaaaaa!
You were always ( insert derogatory word here ) at school.
You can't do, wear, be, look, like that, what will the neighbours think?
Narcissistic Translation:I am feeling challenged and I feel the need to assert that people other than myself share this low opinion of you in order to keep you in your place.
I don't know why you bother.
That's not for the likes of you.
I don't think you can do that.
Narcissistic Translation:Look, I have told you you place in life and the pecking order and I am frustrated that you wont just accept what I say as valid. I have a role for you and have told you what you are capable of so just get back in that box.
You are embarrassing me by being seen to even try for something that you might not achieve. If you fail at something then it will reflect badly on me.
I don’t actually understand the nature of what you are trying to achieve.. I don’t believe people should think differently than me and I don’t want to have to think about the universe extending beyond my understanding, so stop it! Its making me uncomfortable.
What you need is... ( Insert some third rate crummy thing, career, lifestyle choice), that would suit you down to the ground.
Its alright I suppose but not as nice as (insert name of anybody, including made up people if they don't know anyone who's actually got one)s.
Weeell it wouldn't do for me.
Narcissistic Translation:You can have things that I think match your role in life. They will not be as nice as things that I have, because you don’t deserve that, and if they are as nice or nicer than I think you deserve I will see if I can find faults with them, that they must have.
You can obviously only have things that are as good as you actually deserve. But note: they will not be so awful that they will reflect badly on me by association.
I think of you like a character in a movie, and I occasionally match up items with my internal idea of what that character would own. As you are not as real as me and this is my story, I will make sure you comply with my story and my description of your character on those odd occasions I care to think about you at all.
Why do you have to be so stubborn?
Narcissistic Translation:You are making getting your compliance for what I want hard work. I am now going to have to move up a gear into into hurting you to get you to comply. We both know that I will win, I just wish I could crush you more easily sometimes. This is harder work than I would like.
You know what's wrong with you don't you?
Lets play a game! lets see how many many nasty things I can get you to accuse yourself of without me having to do any work at all, and then we'll have a little session of you trying to disprove all of them by being really really nice to me. The nastier your hidden thoughts of me are, the more you will try to please me to prove you really are a nice person . This is my favourite game. I cant loose you cant win - getting other people to beat themselves up for my approval - bliss.
I wasn't allowed to behave like that when I was your age.
We were brought up to respect our elders.
I can't think why you you thought that.
Don't talk to me about.. (insert anything that xx doesn't want to discuss here) you don't know the meaning of (repeat phrase from earlier)
Narcissistic Translation:Don’t you dare to challenge me, I will not let mere facts stand in the way of my being right.
I will claim to be right because of anything I can point at which does not require proof or thought.
I can claim to be right because I am different than you and can therefore invalidate you as a person.
I can also claim to be right because of:
Claims to experiences which I will not share to inform my point.
Because you don’t know how to behave because you behave differently than me.
Because you only think you know things but really don’t. if I don’t know them they are not real.
Because I can stop you talking and therefore your thoughts cannot exist any longer.
Leave it ! Wait until someone proper comes to do it.
That's a nice photo, have you bought a new camera?
You look nice, what have you done?
Who told you that would suit you?
You were never very good at (insert actual talent here) not like (insert name of talentless golden child here).
What's this then?
What's this supposed to be?
What do you call this?
I wouldn't do it like that.
You have just done something which appears competent. This is deeply uncomfortable for me because my view of you does not involve this competence. I need to invalidate it immediately in order to re-impose my correct version of everything.
This is all your fault.
It was all your fault.
I blame you, you know.
How could you?
How can you?
How dare you?
It is for your own good.
Something has gone wrong and I am uncomfortable and angry I know that you are to blame. I know this partially because when I blame you, you absorb and acknowledge the blame, so I know I must be right.
My desire to treat you as a scapegoat for my uncomfortable feelings also proves that you are to blame for the way I feel.
I would not spend so much time correcting you if you were not so wrong and always to blame. I am going to use up my rage on you until I feel better and you apologise. I am doing it for your own good, so you can be a better person, more like how I know you should be.
The fact I will feel better after raging at you and explaining why it is all your fault, shows I am right to blame you and behave in this way.
It will make both of us better people. See what a good parent I am?
It was for your own good.
Oh here we go, that same old story haven’t you got over that yet?
Everybody used to... ( insert vile thing that happened to you that was never socially or morally acceptable here), they were different times in the 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s etc
Narcissistic Translation:I do not accept any blame for anything, I am a very good person and I have always acted like the best example of a whatever role I am in ( e.g.. parent, partner, child) If I do not feel uncomfortable about something then there is nothing to feel uncomfortable about and although I might be able to consider that there are snapshots of our past where my behaviour might not currently be seen as ideal. That doesn’t however mean that at the time they weren't in fact ideal, and it is just the warped way you are looking at the past that is the problem.
My litmus test of bad behaviour is that I would feel bad if I had behaved badly, and I don’t, so I couldn't have.
You know your sisters cousins third nephew twice removed is a doctor now, and so is everybody else outside the M25. (sniff)
I'll never know why you dumped ( insert name of abusive ex boyfriend here) he's married to (insert name of poor downtrodden woman here) now they have three children, he's a doctor and lives outside the M25, he treats his mother like a saint, 3 foreign holidays a year they all go on.
You have failed to be as pleasing as other peoples children are to them, you need to try harder to please me. Today this is my baseline for acceptable achievement in this area. I swear you barely even try and sometimes you even give up opportunities to please me! You are very unsatisfactory for bragging about. Try harder. You are inadequate.
I always say... ( insert some mindless piece of intolerance here)
I would find it comforting if this was true, in fact now I think of it, it is true, it must be , I wouldn’t repeat something that wasn’t true. The act of my repeating this makes it true. This is comforting to repeat because it makes it more true every time I repeat it.