Dealing with narcissistic individuals can often feel like navigating a minefield of egos and emotional manipulation. However, it’s essential to recognize that you have the power to stand up for yourself and assert healthy boundaries. By employing specific strategies and comebacks, you can put narcissists back in their place, creating a more balanced and respectful dynamic.

Reasserting Control Over Narcissistic Individuals

1. No!

It’s strange to think that the word no, simply stating it, is a comeback. But to a narcissist, it is and will take them back. They are used to people acting in a codependent manner around them. Saying no, or choosing to refuse/reject their demands, is one very simple way to stand up for yourself. Develop a backbone and muster up the courage to say no if it feels wrong or incoherent with your spirit. It’s your life, and your relationship. You have a say too! If you say yes all the time, you’ll simply be feeding into their narcissistic behavior patterns. Say no and stand your ground, no matter the ‘consequences’ or fits they throw your way.

2. I Am Not Afraid

Narcissists use fear and manipulation tactics to control with fear. Fear is their currency of control. The more you play into their fear, the more control and power they have over you. When they try to threaten you or use fear against you, simply state “I am not afraid of you” or “I am not afraid of the repercussions” etc. Letting them know that if you stand your ground, you mean it and that fear has no place or business pervading your consciousness. They will no longer use fear against you to control your will. Be brave, take a deep breath, and let them know you’re not afraid of what they think, what they’ll say, or what they’ll do. You need to put your foot down and stand your ground. You can do this and be firm with them but not turn your back on them or treat them poorly. You can have respect, let them know that fear doesn’t work, and face them the entire time to assert your truth.

3. Don’t Change The Subject

Narcissists are high-level operators when it comes to deception and use. Their main goal is to control the situation, the narrative, the dialogue, and ultimately the outcome. They feel that if they have control, they won’t get used, hurt, or abandoned like they did before they stepped into their narcissistic behavior. Control is deceptive because we don’t really have it. We are in charge, but we are not in control, and there’s a big difference. When a narcissist begins to push control on you and changes the subject or flips it back on you, you need to hold your ground and say ‘Don’t change the subject’—we’re discussing this right now. You need to let them know that they cannot skate around the issue and point their finger at you every time. A sure sign of a narcissist is someone who constantly points the finger and refuses to take accountability and responsibility for their actions.

4. I Am Assertive And Clear

Narcissists will try to get in your head and tell you that what you think or your feelings do not matter. They may point out the emotional breakdown you’re having right now or that you’ve had in the past and use this as ‘evidence’ as to why you are emotionally fragile and irrational. In these moments, it’s not your job to defend yourself against their attacks. Your job is to not accept their attacks in the first place. Simply stating I am assertive and clear about [fill in the blank] whatever it is. This lets them know that just because you have thoughts and feelings does not mean that you’re not assertive and clear about the situation at hand. You’re clear that there is a problem and healing needs to occur if anything will improve, and if it doesn’t, you cannot stay in this toxic situation.

5. The World Does Not Revolve Around You

Just a bit of a forewarning on this one, narcissists hate hearing this because it’s the truth in the form of a dagger. They fully live like the world revolves around them. Their time, their energy, their money, their desires. Think of a narcissist like a toddler that says “my” or “mine” all the time. This is the mode their brain is stuck in, unfortunately. Telling them ‘The world does not revolve around you’ will feel like a bit of an attack to them. Even though it’s the truth and you’re well aware that the world does not revolve around you, they don’t see it that way. If you want to deliver this in a lighter way and have it be more open-ended, ask them a simple question like “Do you think that [me/them] might want to be a part of this also? What about others?” and then just stop after the question and wait in silence. If you deliver a question that shines the spotlight on others, beyond yourself even, that may be more effective.

If you try this questioning method multiple times in different ways referring to others or yourself and being more inclusive and they still don’t get the message, it may just be time to tell them “The world doesn’t revolve around you!” and then promptly ask, why do you think it does? It would be nice to open this up into a dialogue to try to get them to recognize that caring about others and extending empathy has value because narcissists do not see it that way. It’s not your job to ‘heal’ or ‘fix’ a narcissist, though, so keep that in mind.

6. Please Slow Down

Narcissists are master manipulators and use speed to their advantage. They use speed in conversation, with their actions, and even with your response or lack of it. They will speed ahead, creating expectations and demands, and pushing assumptions on you. Have you heard what assuming does to you? How it makes you look? Ass-u-me? It makes an ass out of u and me! So don’t assume! When a narcissist starts rambling and going on a tirade of speed, ask them to please slow down, ask it two or three times if necessary to get them into a calmer pace where things can be described more rationally. Slowing down allows you to actually be in a conversation with them instead of bantering and bickering back and forth. Narcissists need to be held accountable and responsible, and by slowing down and taking one thought or point at a time, this can occur.

7. I’ll Believe it When I See It

Narcissists are once again master manipulators and will use this to their advantage whenever they can. If you simply state to their sky-high promise “I’ll believe it when I see it,” they’ll know that you mean business and have shifted your energy from listening to their words to listening to their actions. This is a powerful transition and step that you need to take anyway, all the time. Words speak louder than actions, and if words do not align with actions, then you need to begin distancing yourself from this individual as it will only leave you emptier and emptier over time. Why wait?

These are just a handful of cognitive and verbal approaches that you can utilize to protect and defend yourself against the attacks of a narcissist. Remember, you do not have to stay in a relationship with a narcissist. There is no obligation or pressure that you have to stay other than what you give yourself. I understand that if you’re married and have children, this can be incredibly challenging as there are more parts to the puzzle.

There are tools, techniques, practices, and solutions for healing and reversing narcissism, but humility is a prerequisite. If a narcissist is not willing to humble themselves and is constantly pointing the finger, blaming, and playing the victim, this will not happen

Dealing with narcissists can be incredibly challenging, but it’s important to assert yourself and protect your well-being. By using these comebacks, you can maintain your autonomy, set boundaries, and challenge their manipulative behavior. Remember, you do not have to tolerate or accept their toxic behavior. Sometimes, distancing yourself from a narcissistic individual is necessary for your own emotional and mental health. While healing and reversing narcissism is possible, it requires humility and a willingness to change, which narcissists may not possess. Educate yourself about narcissistic behavior, seek support from trusted friends or therapists, and prioritize your own well-being. You deserve to be in healthy and respectful relationships.