Mirroring a narcissist isn’t for the faint of heart because you’ll need to use the same awful and ugly habits they’ve developed. This can also be called “giving them a dose of their own medicine.”
A narcissist relies on the information you’ve provided to be used against you and keep you submissive. They feel they’ve learned your habits and what to expect. They know what buttons to push. They know when the silent treatment drives you nuts, how you hate going to bed angry, etc.
When you mirror a narcissist back, your goal is to bamboozle them. They temporarily lose the control they so desperately need to keep their fragile facade in place.
According to Sam Vaknin, the author of “Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited,” a narcissist utilizes the information you’ve provided against you to maintain control over you. They are aware of your habits, what triggers you, and what buttons to push. However, when you mirror a narcissist’s behavior, you can temporarily disarm them and cause them to lose their grip on control.
As Vaknin suggests, you need to go down to the narcissist’s level to penetrate their thick defenses. By mirroring their behavior, such as having a rage attack if they do, you can provoke their fears of being abandoned, which could lead to a sudden shift in their mood and behavior. This approach could be unsettling and seem eerie, but it may ultimately help you gain the upper hand.
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Examples of Mirroring a Narcissist
When you choose this tactical response, you should know it will put you out of your comfort zone, but it’s a true survival skill anyone involved with a narcissist needs to know.
Don’t Let the Door Hit You From Behind
A narcissist will inevitably use abandonment or a disappearing act to get you back in line. This tactic is built around the hope you’ll beg for them to return. They get your attention and submission in one act. Turn the tables by not contacting him and living your best life, even if you’re hurting.
Eventually, he’ll send some “flying monkeys” to find out why you aren’t begging him to return. You say things like, “I hadn’t even noticed he was gone,” or “It’s a weight off my shoulders.”
Face the Fire-Breathing Dragon
A narcissistic personality knows what upsets their loved one and habitually tries to resolve or avoid it. Whether he loves the silent treatment or goes into a shouting match with his arms flailing, you return in kind. If he preys on your body image issues, fire back about his saggy behind.
“If he leaves the house, you leave the house too. Disappear on him,” Vaknin adds. Just be sure that he knows you left, it’s unclear when (or if) you’ll return, and that you are better for having done so.
Be as Suspicious as He Is
Narcissists are generally unable to be monogamous because the most incredible person eventually bores them. If he comes home late smelling of brandy and perfume, tell him you need to “run an errand” and be gone an hour or two. When he asks where you went, be as suspicious as he was. Bonus if you don’t give a rat’s arse where he was.
Pros and Cons of Mirroring the Narcissist
There are short and long-term benefits to mirroring a narcissist, but it’s a tough road, and not everyone is cut out for it.
- He (temporarily) stops the bad behavior. At his root, a narcissist fears rejection and exposure of his misanthropic self. When mirrored, he’ll try to win the victim over again with love bombing.
- You gain control (for a moment). You’re learning a great lesson in tactical response and how to turn the tables. Without your predetermined response, the narcissist expects, he no longer has you emotionally chained.
- You have an epiphany. With ongoing mirroring of a narcissist, you’ll see the relationship as the flimsy fabric it really is. Whether you need one or a million of these moments, eventually, you’ll have the determination to escape.
- The power is short-lived. You can win the battle but not the war with a heartless and emotionally vapid human. They are wired to do this after years of practice. You are a novice.
- It will get worse. Especially when it comes to mirroring outrage or shouting, it can easily escalate to violence. A step too far and someone could get hurt, or you could be charged with assault (and they’ve got a bunch of lies stored up to make you guilty).
- You’ll feel bad about yourself or eventually crumble. Narcissists attract people who are already “people pleasers” and lack self-love, so either this will push you further into self-despair or cause you to admit what you’ve been doing. They’re back in control and ready to punish you accordingly.
Shattering a narcissistic mirror will likely mean shattering a relationship, even if it’s with a parent or sibling.