5 Phrases the Narcissist Uses to Blame Shift
It is fundamental that we remain unaccountable for our actions. One of the most effective ways of avoiding this accountability, provoking you and leaving you exasperated and stunned is to engage in blame-shifting. We are the blame shifters who will always use this form of manipulation in our ceaseless quest to maintain the upper hand.
Not only is it the case that we believe we are entitled to complete immunity for what we say and do, occasioned by our innate superiority, we also believe it to be necessary for us to be able to gather fuel as often and as effectively as we do. If we were slowed down by having to make meaningful apologies, explain ourselves, account for what we have done and accept responsibility for the consequences this would absorb time that would be far better spent in the pursuit of fuel. Hampering us in such a way would result in us becoming weaker since we would not be able to gather as much fuel as usual. It is therefore necessary, so we remain sleek, effective and light of foot, for us to never be concerned about accountability and also to never allow responsibility to rest with us. As with many of our machinations, this approach also allows us to gather fuel in itself by the imposition of blame on others, usually you and the astonished and outraged emotional response which then flows from this staggering act of walking away scot free. As ever, words are our best allies when it comes to throwing off the attempt to make us assume the mantle of responsibility. Here are five of our favourites.
- What do you expect me to do about it?
A delicious subtle piece of blame-shifting to begin with. We do not even state that we regard it as your fault, your responsibility or your liability with this question. Nevertheless, the implication is clear – we expect you to do something about it because we do not ‘do’ responsibility, your role is to clear up after us and you signed up to that role when you accepted our overtures. Did you miss that term of the contract? Don’t blame us, that’s your own fault.
I regularly brag about how brilliant and special I am. That I have many talents and if I so chose I could remedy many situations within moments, but notwithstanding this being the stance that I adopt to the world at large, I am not going to do that with you. Not a chance. I am not here to pick up the pieces after you, although I expect you to do so for me repeatedly. I can do as I like and you are obliged to make good the damage that I cause – collect the broken pieces of crockery, apologise to the shell-shocked friend after an outburst, try to solve the financial headache that we have left. If you have caused a problem, and let’s face it, it is always your fault anyway, you cannot expect me to do something about it. I am above such menial tasks. I have important and bigger things to attend to. Such as? I don’t have to explain myself to the likes of you. If I caused the problem (which in reality is usually the case) I am not going to do anything about it.
- Deal with it.
That’s the way it is and you had better get used to it. This haughty declaration is par the course for our sense of entitlement to do as we please. We bulldoze through everything and you just have to put up with it. You can’t walk away; we will not allow that to happen. Issuing this barked instruction at you is an effective way of upsetting you. It is telling you that you are useless and you should just be getting on with the situation rather than complaining about it. You shouldn’t be complaining; you should have already guessed that you needed to sort the situation out. Don’t ask me for help because I just do not have time for this mickey mouse nonsense.
- You caused this to happen.
We like to maintain that we act with the omnipotence of a god but how many times have you found that you have somehow caused something to happen so that it would suggest that you exercise the powers of a deity? My late arrival was down to you. My failure to remember something was caused by you. My infidelity for the sixth time was wholly as a consequence of what you have done. At its most brutal this declaration is issued without any explanation as to why it is that you caused the problem to arise. We say that it is the case therefore that must be right. Does this exchange seem familiar?
“Why is that the case?”
“It just is.”
“Because I say so.”
Other than our kind, who comes out with such assertions bereft of reality or explanation? That’s right, children. That tells you all you need to know about our mentality when we accuse you of being the one who has caused the problem. If you are “fortunate” enough to be given some kind of explanation it makes perfect sense when viewed from our perspective, although it will not from yours. That is deliberate. We want you to feel astonished, bewildered and annoyed at our sheer audacity to make the connection between our wrongdoing and your causation.
“If you were more loving I wouldn’t go elsewhere.”
“What do you mean by that? I couldn’t be anymore loving towards you.”
“Oh that’s right, deny it is anything to do with you and make me out to be the bad person.”
“Well, it is you who had the affair.”
“Caused by you.”
“I have already told you and if you cannot accept that then there is no point continuing with this conversation.”
You get no answer no acceptance of blame. All you get is a tenuous (in your world but not ours) explanation as to why our wrongdoing is all down to you.
- Why do you have to spoil everything?
A cousin of the third shirking above but with an added layer of blame. In the above example, you have caused the problem although you may not necessarily have intended it. With this statement we are telling you that not only is the problem not of our doing, it is your fault and guess what? You meant to do it because you are such an awful and horrible person. Our rampant paranoia causes us to believe that you are out to get us, to topple us and that you are plotting to unseat us as a consequence of our behaviour towards you during devaluation. This is why whenever anything goes wrong you are the architect of that misfortune as you have purposefully set out to cause a problem for us, driven by your innate nastiness and jealousy.
- Why do you make my life so hard?
Poor us. Put upon by you and your terrible behaviours. This is often thrown at you when you begin to wise-up to our manipulations and either through choice or out of sheer exhaustion you are no longer engaging with our provocations and machinations. What we are actually saying to you here is, “Why do you make it so hard to extract fuel from you?” Your failure to play ball and do what we want is causing us to expend more energy in order to get the negative fuel from you and in accordance with our outlook as a victim, you are doing this on purpose. We need to get that fuel and you should be helping us, not hindering us, no wonder we lash out at you as we do because you are horrible and you make our lives far more difficult and harder than you should or once did.
Understand more about Blame Shifting here
Understand more about whether a manipulation is taking place here
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23 thoughts on “5 Phrases the Narcissist Uses to Blame Shift”
A couple of days ago, I came across a short award-winning film (6.45 minutes) about emotional abuse which was made in April this year. I thought it went well with the article about blame-shifting.
It is not perfect (no mention of narcissism at the end, or of the fact that the abuser will never change), but I reckoned it was still worth viewing, for the visualisation of emotional abuse:
And we wonder why normals don’t understand. Hell, I don’t understand that. Still. After all these years.
That’s definitely NOT love !
Thank you for bringing this video to our attention, I kept watching more right up to Richard Gannon and Sam Vaknin, it’s worth continuing
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
Thank you dear Bubbles.
The video came up as a suggestion from YouTube, and although it is extremely rare for me to listen to anything other than HG’s videos (besides music), this one caught my attention because it was a short film. I found the gradual appearance of the marks on her face and neck quite apt. I thought it was also worth noticing, although of course it is annoying, that the end describes the abusive behaviours but falls short of stating what those behaviours are typical of.
So, in short: incomplete information, as is often the case – so I can see for myself now – but apt visual illustration of the topic as far as short films go, and this is what I thought was worth focusing on. It reminded me of what HG wrote in an article, that words can hurt as much as physical blows.
Thank you for your appreciation, Bubbles ×.
Oh boy. That was painful to watch.
Powerful, relatable and hits very close to home. Thank you for sharing the film Fiddleress. XO
Krisitin, lovely to ‘see’ you around.
Thinking of you, especially at this time of year. I wish you all the very best.
Big hugs to you, Kristin. x x
You are so kind and I appreciate it very much, your sweet words warmed my heart. I am here every day and it is always so nice to see you and your posts! Have a wonderful holiday and a fabulous new year 💝
Fiddleress, I have taken the time to watch this now and thought it was excellent.
Initially I thought it was my imagination and I had missed something at the start as the marks began to appear on her face. That was very effective in showing how the abuse is having an impact even if it isn’t physical. But it could also be physical. I loved the end where she ignores his calls and finally changes the writing on the mirror to recognize who is the truly ugly one in the relationship. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, LET! It is exactly why I thought it was cleverly done: I too thought I had missed something at first as the marks started to show and I couldn’t remember seeing them.
Glad you liked it.
Glad I wasn’t the only one who was second guessing themselves with that video, and maybe it’s also highlighting an aspect of gaslighting in that sense, or I could certainly relate to it in that manner now that I think about it some more. I not only liked it, I thought it was exemplary.
In fact, I have just thought of something, thanks to you writing “But it could also be physical”: besides making visible the normally invisible marks of emotional abuse, these marks could either be a reference to what goes on behind closed doors between them, and to what it is they have to ‘work through’ (as the guy mentions), or a foreshadowing of what often follows the emotional abuse.
Thanks for getting me thinking further, lickemtomorrow!
No worries, Fiddleress, and I share similar thoughts on the before and after. It’s great to see this kind of work being done and opening up the opportunity for further discussion.
The last narc used all of those phrases with me. I couldn’t ask him about anything. If I tried, I didn’t get very far as he would lose it.
December Infinity, ditto! Never saw what was so wrong with just asking a question!
Oh, my dad used to use number 1 all the time! Used to baffle me, as I often wasn’t expecting him to do anything, but he always looked horrified at the thought that he might actually have to do something, like provide emotional support!
HG, I have a question, if that’s ok? If I were to show up on my dad’s doorstep crying (and he didn’t know what had happened), his instinctive response would be to pull a disgusted, panicked expression, and he would get very irritable and twitchy, huff and puff and say something like ‘oh what’s happened NOW?’ (just to add, that makes it sound like I am always falling upon him with some crisis or other – this is not the case at all, but he has always responded in this way, just his go-to setting, especially with me). What is the general thought process here – is it simply that he thinks oh no, I may be expected to do something here and I don’t want to?
Unconsciously, assuming he is an unaware narcissist, your appearance which denotes a requirement for compassion and support, seeks to make him accountable to you as his father and threatens his control. His irritation manifests as a provocation to reject your threat to his control and to assert control over you.
Consciously, his narcissism will “tell him” that you are needy, a cry baby, get worked up over nothing, that you are a pain in the backside interrupting his enjoyment of a re-run of Last of the Summer Wine.
Interesting, thanks HG.
The last bit did make me laugh – although he has never been into Last of the Summer Wine, re-runs or originally! The general vibe you mention in the last paragraph – apart from the choice of programme – is spot on how he would react. He makes no attempt to hide the fact that he finds any need for emotional support (no matter how small the need) an imposition and a downright pain in the backside. The mad thing is that he would act like this even though I am not at all needy, a cry baby etc., and would very rarely (if ever) do this. I don’t know why he was so keen to have kids to be honest, given that they are such an imposition.
Wow, this is a great explanation in response to JB. Thanks, HG. You’ve just unlocked another mystery for me.
“Our rampant paranoia causes us to believe that you are out to get us” – indicates a lack of trust / faith.
“Why do you make it so hard to extract fuel from you?” – Greater narcissists are the only ones who would say this (awareness of what they are).
Uneducated empaths don’t know what it is they are “doing wrong”.
I have encountered all these with my two narcs. However, there is another response which I have found to be ore common. It is another form of blaming the victim, but the added layer is that they play the hurt feelings card.
In this response, the narc is faced with an accusation from you, to which they might say “I don’t understand why you would even say that!”, “Thanks for ruining my mood / day!” “You are always complaining. Why do you feel the need to attack me? I think you need therapy. This is abusive!”
A little while ago, my daughter told us of an experience at a teen disco party with the son of our narc (This narc is a family friend). She said something that painted our narc’s son in a slightly negative light. It was a factual statement verified by another friend. When we told the narc about this, her response was “Why would your daughter say that?!” as if to say that he son, and by association her, could not possibly be at fault, and so our daughter must be lying. Her immediate attack on our daughter came without cross-checking with her son about what happened. Later on, her son admitted that our daughter was correct, but even then she tried to make it that this only happened because of something our daughter must have done. The point here is that she implied that our daughter and in turn us, are trying to upset her and make her and her son out to be bad people, and so asked the question “Why would we want to do that?” and so she is trying to play the upset, shocked and hurt feelings card.
As she is very passive-aggressive, all such lines are delivered with the sense of ‘you better no challenge me on this!’ So you are left feeling cheated and frustrated and annoyed.
Peter, it’s mad, isn’t it. They just cannot bear to be at fault, and so will say anything to get and absolve themselves of any blame!
You are correct; it is abusive.
Your factual statement was Challenge Fuel. She is entitled to ignore your “facts” because they conflict with HER reality; in her world, you attacked her so she goes straight to The Narcissist’s Twin Lines of Defence. This demonstrates her lack of Emotional Empathy and she certainly lacks the empathic trait of Truthseeking.
Mom didn’t deny it (First Line of Defence) so her narcissism immediately takes her to the Second Line of Defence: Distract and Deflect. Mom deploys Black and White thinking, compartmentalization and Projection ( “Why would your daughter say that?!”) which incorporates Blame shifting and Gas Lighting and, of course, both mother and son are the victims (Pity Play). Her behaviour indicates that she may be a Midranger.
Her son’s admission “that your daughter was correct” challenged his mother further (possible False Contrition, Triangulation and Facade) so she just maintains the Second Line of Defence. You may want to consider getting off the The Narcissist´s Wheel of Misery and these two articles may prove to be very helpful.