A narcissist will insult you every single chance that they get. You could dedicate a hundred percent of your time to validating, admiring, and reassuring them, but they will still make it their mission to insult you as frequently as possible.
As a general rule, narcissists insult you because they are projecting onto you, they are trying to validate their grandiose sense of self-importance, they are trying to invalidate you, they are using you as a scapegoat, or simply because they lack empathy.
In this article we are going to guide you through a narcissist’s insufferable need to insult others so you can get the information that you need to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs from the narcissist in your life.
They Are Projecting onto You
It is common for narcissists to project their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto you by insulting you.
Projection is a defense mechanism that occurs when someone takes a part of their identity that they find unacceptable and places it onto someone else.
A simple example of this could be a cheating boyfriend accusing his girlfriend of cheating instead of taking responsibility for his own behavior.
The part of a narcissist’s identity that they find unacceptable are their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
By insulting you, narcissists are able to figuratively point their finger at you and think to themselves, “They are the one who is unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak, not me.”
This is projection.
The reason that narcissists use projection to manage their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions is because they have low emotional intelligence.
People with low emotional intelligence have a hard time recognizing and understanding their emotions and those of others.
Because of this, narcissists are incapable of managing their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions on their own so they rely on projection to do it for them.
Our article “How Are Narcissists Made?“ has a lot of helpful information about the origin of the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that narcissists have.
Our article “How Do You Know When a Narcissist Is Projecting?“ has a lot of helpful information that can help you spot a narcissist’s projections.
They Are Trying to Validate Their Grandiose Sense of Self-Importance
A defining characteristic of narcissism is a grandiose sense of self-importance.
This is an unrealistic sense of specialness and superiority that causes an individual to truly believe that they are unique and better than others.
It is very common for a narcissist to try to validate their grandiose sense of self-importance to both themselves and others by insulting you.
Now, this could be intentional or it could be unintentional.
A simple example of a narcissist intentionally insulting you so that they can validate their grandiose sense of self-importance could be projection.
We spoke about this in the previous section but projection is when someone takes part of their identity that they find unacceptable and places it onto someone else.
For example, if the narcissist in your life said, “Nobody is ever going to love you” this would be considered projection.
Remember, deep down narcissists feel unloveable.
By telling you, “Nobody is ever going to love you” they are projecting their feelings of being unlovable onto you.
On the flip side of this, the insults that narcissists hurl at your direction could be unintentional as well.
You see, when someone has a grandiose sense of self-importance, it is common for them to do the following:
- Consider themselves more talented or intelligent than others.
- Dismiss or try to one-up the achievements of others.
- Lash out in anger when someone criticizes them.
- Fail to recognize that their actions could harm others.
- Treat others with disdain or contempt.
Any one of these behavior patterns could come off as insulting.
Either way, one of the reasons that narcissists insult you is to validate their grandiose sense of self-importance.
They Are Trying to Invalidate You
It is common for narcissists to insult you to invalidate you.
Invalidation is the process of denying, rejecting or dismissing someone’s feelings.
When a narcissist invalidates you, they are trying to tell you that your subjective emotional experience is inaccurate, insignificant, and/or unacceptable.
The reason that a narcissist would want to do this is because they don’t view you as a person with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs of your own.
They view you as an object or thing that they are entitled to use to get narcissistic supply.
If you didn’t know already, narcissistic supply is validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control.
Narcissists need a consistent flow of narcissistic supply in order to feel emotionally stable.
One of the best ways that they can ensure that they get enough narcissistic supply is by gaslighting you into believing that your thoughts, feelings, and emotions are invalid.
Well, if you believe that your thoughts, feelings, and emotions are invalid, you will be much more likely to make the narcissist’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions your priority.
By doing this, you’ll be giving the narcissist the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control that they need.
They Are Using You As a Scapegoat
If the narcissist in your life is insulting you, it could be because you are his/her scapegoat.
A scapegoat is a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of the narcissist.
Narcissists need a scapegoat to feel emotionally stable.
Do you remember what projection is?
It is a defense mechanism that occurs when someone takes part of their identity that they find unacceptable and places it onto someone else.
Well, narcissists project all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto their scapegoats.
In other words, scapegoats are essentially repositories for all of the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that narcissists have.
Being a narcissist’s scapegoat is a horrible position to be in because they get the worst of the narcissist.
Now, scapegoats aren’t chosen randomly.
A narcissist typically chooses the scapegoat because some part of the scapegoat’s identity triggers the narcissist’s painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
For example, a narcissistic father could decide to make his son a scapegoat because he views his son as weak.
His son isn’t actually weak. What is happening here is deep down the narcissistic father struggles with feelings of weakness.
But he is too emotionally inadequate to manage his feelings on his own so he uses his son as a scapegoat instead.
Having a scapegoat allows narcissists to attack the parts of themselves that they hate without having to acknowledge it.
How to Tell If You Are a Scapegoat (Family Setting) by Lucianne Gerrard, Registered Counselor and Narcissistic Abuse Specialist
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They Lack Empathy
A defining characteristic of narcissism is lack of empathy and it is one of the reasons that narcissists insult you.
Let us explain…
A lack of empathy is the inability to consider the emotional state of others.
For example, imagine that you come home crying from work because you had a really bad day.
Instead of comforting you, the narcissist in your life says, “Stop f*cking crying you wimp. You look pathetic right now.”
This is an insult and it is a manifestation of their lack of empathy.
Here are some of the signs a person lacks empathy.
The first sign is constant criticism.
People who lack empathy are incapable of empathizing with others so it is common for them to constantly be criticizing them.
This is because their inability to empathize with others.
This inability causes them to only see faults in others because they can’t understand that everyone makes mistakes.
The second signs is poor emotional control.
Low emotional intelligence is linked to lack of empathy.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage one’s own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
Both empathy and emotional intelligence are crucial for regulating one’s emotional responses.
So, people who are low on either often overreact and have outbursts of anger/impatience.
This could manifest in the form of inappropriate comments or an insensitive attitude to other people’s feelings.
The third sign is being incapable of reading body language.
People who have empathy are typically good at paying attention to the body language of others and acting accordingly.
Those who lack empathy have a difficult time picking up on body language cues so they often respond in ways that upset others.
About the Author
Hey, I’m Elijah.
I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years.
I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.
Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.
Pincus, Aaron L., and Mark R. Lukowitsky. “Pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder.” Annual review of clinical psychology 6.1 (2010): 421-446.