10 Things that Trigger Narcissists

Narcissists trigger the worst within the best of us. They will take that one insecurity you have, and rub your face in it (daily, if they can!)

Just when you think you’re having a great day, you’ll get a text, a call, or even a social media comment. It will get so far under your skin that no splinter expert will be able to extract it.

Let’s flip the coin here and start to look at what triggers the narcissist. 

Believe me when I say – there are several ways you can really jumpstart their insecurities, even without realizing.

#1 Losing Control

Narcissists perceive loss of control as a personal threat. It means their mask is at risk of slipping off their face.

When people see the real person behind it, they are exposed to the lies and destruction caused by one single personality.

It is a huge trigger for any narcissist to lose control of a situation, and they will ensure they do all they can to minimize damage. 

Even at your own cost!

#2 Not Getting Enough Attention

The one thing narcissists thrive on is attention.

They need it like water, because without it they’re nothing. 

The attention from others validates them. This is a constant need. They aren’t fussed by where the attention comes from. I’ve known narcissists to purposely trip up in public or drop something so that others can help them. They just can’t function normally and go about their day like you or I.

Small fragments of attention are a constant need of the narcissist. They love knowing they can extract it from people – even to their detriment.

#3 Being Upstaged

Oh no. Did somebody else’s light shine brighter than the narcissist?

Well, that won’t do!

Narcissists will take your light and use it for themselves. They can’t stand it when you are doing better than they are. They might at best mutter, “Well done” or, “Good for you,” but none of it will be genuine. 

When they do well, however, you must bow down to them so they can savor your praise—otherwise, you’ll be on their hit list!

#4 Bank Cards Not Working

I know this is going to sound slightly off-subject, but I can assure you that narcissists get mad if their card is declined. The rage will hide a myriad of shame and embarrassment as it looks to others as thought there is some kind of financial problem.

Narcissists are obsessed with money, so to look like they have none is going to really trigger them. 

After all – they have an image to uphold!

#5 Not Getting a Job They Applied For

Not getting a job they have applied for is a direct sign of rejection. It means two things.

  1. They weren’t good enough to take the role they wanted. A pain to the ego  all by itself. 
  2. Somebody else was officially better than them—more qualified, more available, more knowledgeable, and maybe even better at presenting. Ouch.

Narcissists suffer further here when they have to tell people they didn’t get the job. To save face, they normally say they rejected the offer because the pay wasn’t enough, or something similar. 

The trigger however, is still there!

#5 Being The Butt of a Joke

A narcissist can make jokes about others all day long.

How somebody looks.

What they wear.

Their job.

Their hobbies.

The way they talk – anything at all. 

If they become the butt of jokes – All bets are off. The trigger is incredibly real and incredibly painful. The narcissist will take down names, and remember them for never being welcome in their egotistical lives again. 

Being laughed at or talked about means somebody is seeing them as imperfect, and even if it is all in jest, they won’t see that. All they’ll see is threat – something they fear immensely. 

#6 Being Ignored

How dare anybody ignore the narcissist?

Don’t you know who they are?

Narcissists feel they have a God-given right to be seen and heard by all – and for all the right reasons. 

Narcissists have inner wounds that are only healed over (notice I didn’t say ‘healed’) with your love and attention. Unable to heal themselves, they look to others for it.

If you ignore a narcissist, you are directly challenging their need for validation and approval. They won’t know what to do, and will want to take revenge on you for making their insecurities rise high enough to be noticeable.

#7 When You Stand Your Ground

You have the right to stand your ground, just like anybody else. We must live and breathe in our values. If someone tries to rock them, we can reiterate that we won’t tolerate it.

That’s okay. To healthy people – that’s okay. 

To a narcissist, you’ve triggered them.

Refusing to be bullied or manipulated isn’t going to sit at all well with the narcissist. They will officially feel as though the control has slipped from their hands. 

Angry, they will try to tear down your boundaries to test their strength. If you build them well enough, nothing will make them crumble. 

It isn’t unusual for the narcissist, in their triggered state, to tell you how confused you seem to be. They mean, “You are acting out of your usual weak character, and I feel threatened.” 

Once you can decipher what they’re really saying, you can stand firm in your ground and be proud of the progress you’ve made. 

#8 When Somebody Tries to Love Them

Nothing triggers a narcissist more than you loving them.

You might wonder why. After all, narcissists love to be loved.

You’re right, they do, but they hate you for being able to.

What comes so naturally to you is impossible for them. They are jealous of your good character. Underneath it all, they also know that if you love them, you might one day stop loving them.

Imagine the fear inside someone so insecure being so big that even love is a trigger to them. 

#9 Being Criticized

Narcissists’ self-esteem is as strong as a wet paper towel. One blow in the wind and it could easily and permanently tear apart. 

The one thing holding it together is others’ compliments. If they stop or are replaced with criticism, the person responsible triggers them. 

Criticism is a huge trigger because whatever negative words fly toward them only confirm their negative view of themselves.

It’s as if all their insecurities are suddenly confirmed. Pride is hurt. They hate themselves even more (if that’s at all possible). 

Criticism is evidence to the narcissist. 

Evidence is a challenge to the person they’re trying to portray. 

Related Articles