How to Outsmart a Narcissist

Photo by Eileen Pan on Unsplash

To outsmart a narcissist, you have to understand what makes them tick and what they need to survive (narcissist supply). A narcissist always wants to feel superior and be in control of every situation and they will go to great extents to ensure that’s the case. The default is of course to go no contact and never communicate with them but that’s not always possible for everyone. You may have to interact with a narcissist in one way or the other if you’re co-parenting with them, or if you’re working together or if you’re still in that relationship. That’s where you need to outsmart them because if you can’t they will keep tormenting you, undermining your worth and making your life miserable. Narcissist are difficult to deal with because they don’t view life the same way we do but that doesn’t mean that we cannot outwit them. They’re inconsiderate and only want to cater for their needs. You cannot outsmart the narcissist if you still want to change them, you can only do it if you want to keep yourself safe and understand what’s within your scope of control (which is your actions and reactions). This article is for you, if you understand who you’re dealing with and you just want to always be one step ahead when interacting with the narcissist.

7 Ways to Outsmart a Narcissist

1. Don’t React to their Provocations

A narcissist will always try to provoke you so that they can get that reaction from you. They enjoy provoking you to react as that shows that they’re still in control of your emotions or of how you feel. They also provoke you to weaken you and to opens doors for further manipulation as they seek to supply their needs. To outsmart a narcissist, you need to hide your emotional reactions when they provoke you or when they call you names. Don’t tell them that they’re hurting you because that’s what they want to hear. Just stand firm and be like stone, keep them inside you the moment you’re interacting with them. Then later on when you’re not interacting with them, you can now find healthy ways to channel your anger and frustrations (like journaling or punching a pillow). It’s just about you not showing them your reactions that you’re hurt. They want you to be angry and defensive so that they can label you as crazy or tell other people of your abusive nature. One other thing is also not reacting to their false accusations or lies they might be peddling around in the form of a smear campaign, just stay away and look at them as just plain lies. Do not try to argue out your truth or to clear your name, they thrive more in these environments because of their superficial charm and persuasive nature. In short, do not react or show emotion to their actions and behaviors. To them it’s a game, but you outsmart them by refusing to take part in those games.

2. Be Boring

The other way to outsmart a narcissist is to be boring to the point that they’re so disinterested in you that they choose to avoid you or they choose not to interact with you. A narcissist feeds off drama and love the thrill. They don’t like the mundane boring stuff and will do anything just to escape the boredom. You may avoid sharing your personal experiences and interests and just share the mundane and boring news you can think of. It’s more of presenting yourself as someone who’s so boring that the narcissist doesn’t even want to be seen with. It’s more of making it appear like you’re living the most monotonous life that will bore the narcissist to death and they will choose to end conversations with you because you’re not exciting at all. You can also keep your conversations short and respond briefly to any of their leading statements.

3. Understand Your Triggers

A narcissist will use your weaknesses and insecurities against you. In the course of that relationship, you’ve come to understand how they exploit those insecurities to make you feel ashamed and afraid. When they want something from you, they may pull a certain card which makes you bow down to their demands. To outsmart the narcissist, you must understand what buttons they constantly press to control you. Common triggers might be something like finances, physical appearance, past incidents, beliefs, parenting or just anything that sparks an intense emotional reaction from you and can be used against you. Then once you understand those buttons or triggers, you can develop proper coping mechanisms you can use when they trigger you. This can be something like understanding that they are using your triggers as a way to hurt you or to get something from you and it doesn’t have to get into you. You can even go to the extent of planning your replies in advance so that you can use them when they poke you. The more you understand your triggers and how to cope in a healthy way, they more you’ll outsmart them and they will not catch you off guard. That’s where healing comes in as true healing is getting to the point where you’ve dealt with all your triggers and you deeply understand that what someone uses against you is just a depiction of who they’re and not who you are.

4. Stay away and be aware of the enablers or mutual acquaintances

A narcissist never works alone, they always have people who abuse in proxy. These people may be unaware or well-aware of what they’re doing. To outsmart them, you should be aware that they may use your loved ones to pass a message across or to abuse you on their behalf. Limit communication with those people who ask so much about the narcissist or just set healthy boundaries with them. Your mutual acquaintances may also be passing information to the narcissist out of good faith, that’s why you need to be careful on what you share with them. This is because the narcissist will use every information they have about you just to get into your head and mess you up. In short, if you have some information about yourself which you’d rather not share with anyone or which may make you vulnerable, just keep it to yourself or keep it way from your mutual friends. To outsmart them, you just have to be wary of the fact that those close to you may convince you to get back together or may be an indirect channel of communication between you and the narc.

5. Beware of the Trojan Horse

A narcissist will use ‘caring’ manipulation to get into your head. Once in a while, they may shower you with compliments or just a grand gesture that leaves a mark in your “they still care” about me part of you. They may remember your important days like your birthday or anniversary and even send an expensive gift. This catches most people off-guard as it reignites those feelings and someone may even to choose to reopen their doors as a form of reciprocation. To outsmart them, you’ve got to be aware of that trojan horse and how they may sneak in by caressing some part of your ego that craves to be loved and cared for. The same way you do no react to their negative remarks about you is the same thing you need to do when they make positive remarks about you. If you fall for their positive remarks it will mean that you will also fall for their negatives remarks because it’s coming from the same person. When they bait you with a complement or a gesture just say “thank you” and stop there, do not try something else. There is an intention in their every move. That’s why “caring” is their trojan horse for them to get back into your life and then continue their abusive ways. If you become so watchful of their every move, you will be far much ahead in this game and you’ll even enjoy some “free gifts” without worrying about being indebted to them.

6. Set and Enforce Clear boundaries

Outsmarting will never be successful when you do not understand your boundaries, which is what you are comfortable with and what you cannot tolerate. When you have healthy boundaries, you know your worth and you’ll be laughing at a distance when the narc tries to manipulate you. Boundaries will protect you from being taken advantage of by the narc or from those people around you who side with the narcissist. You will be able to walk away with ease without feeling guilty or feeling bad because you deeply understand what you value. Boundaries will also enable you to understand the things that are within your scope of control. Most of the times, you inflict more abuse on yourself by doing or being preoccupied with things that are beyond your scope of control. This can be something like what the narcissists do with their lives, you may try to compromise because of your ‘caring’ nature but when you have boundaries you just deeply understand that what’s outside of you should not mess up with your well-being. You will not compromise on things you cannot stand for even when a narc goes to extreme heights of say like “trying to kill themselves if you don’t do something for them” because you deeply understand your limits.

7. Become self-reliant

The last thing you’ve got to do to outsmart the narcissist is to be independent and avoid relying on them in every way possible. A narcissist thrives by making you reliant on them either spiritually, financially, intellectually or emotionally. They more you rely on them, the more they can control you as they wish. The most common reliance that holds people back when they’re in a relationship with a narcissist is financial dependence. If you’re dependent on them financially, it may be hard to pull out of that grip because they will sway you with money or promises of money. If you’re in this situation and you’re physically capable, then it’s time to look for a side job or just to save up a little for yourself and secretly build that business. You may also start studying or look for a long-term solution that will make you less financially dependent on them. A sure thing is they will use finances to frustrate you even when you’re co-parenting together. Even after you’ve left the relationship, always strive to get to the point where you can fend for yourself and your kids without having to depend on them or constantly tussle with them when it comes to child support. You can also seek alternative sources of dependence as a stop gap measure when you’re still finding your own self-reliance. For example, ask your siblings/friends for money where possible or seek advice/companionship from other people instead of the narc. It’s just about slowly by slowly breaking away from being dependent on them as you seek your own autonomy. When a narcissist has less or no influence in your life, you’ve outsmarted them because you can do as you wish.

To outsmart a narcissist is not an easy thing to do when you’ve not started your healing journey. This is because when you’ve not healed, you’re still trauma bonded and you’re operating with your tainted emotions. As you heal, you’ll gain more confidence in yourself and deeply understand that you deserve a better a life. The key to outsmarting them is you being the kind of person that sees them for they’re and not who they were. If you have to interact with them, understanding ways to outsmart them will just lessen the damage of their abusive ways but it will not protect you fully because you’re still hurting on the inside. That’s why you’ve got to heal to the point where you are fully self-reliant and understand that what other people do is not a reflection of who you are. To conclude, heal your wounds and the narc will no longer be a threat in your life because you’re deeply secure.



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Edwin Bii

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