Standing up to narcissist at work backfired?

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    Hi it’s been a while since I posted on here but I need real impartial advice so I hope I can get some fresh perspective.

    I was recently promoted to a manager role. It’s been a few months. There is another guy at work that was approached for the promotion at work, but he turned it down.

    Before I officially applied for the job (we have to apply even though it’s a promotion), he implied I was unfit for the job as I was too emotional. He said if I want to be a manager I need to be more positive and that I need to hide my emotions. I felt like he was discouraging me from taking the job.

    Once I got the job I noticed the spread a lot of negativity in the group and instilled some fears of redundancy in the team. A few people left the team. I also felt undermined as he wouldn’t address me in meetings even though I would lead it, and would speak to the male managers instead.

    The morale of the team is low and I raised it several times with management to say that his behaviour is problematic and causing a retention issue in the team.

    I finally blew my lid off and had a huge argument with him about it all and instead management told me that I need ‘training’ to be better and that I need to separate my emotions from the job. Apparently he doesn’t talk about others when he raises complain, implying that I’m the only one shit talking.

    I feel so gaslit by everyone – but at the same time I am wondering if I’m the problem? Am I only filtering the negative stuff? I don’t have any concrete evidence of everything but I just have an awful gut feeling. I called the local employee assistance hotline and they said I should raise a grievance as I don’t want it to backfire as I also said some horrible stuff to him when we had the argument.

    Right now, I feel like a failure, like I ruined my career, like a trouble maker, a liability and I feel mistreated. I feel like I’ve been treated unfairly and sometimes I wonder maybe I am the narcissist and not him.

    Can I please get an outsiders perspective and some advice how to move forward?


    Hi Umaz

    I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties with your coworker and that they’ve put your job at risk. How are you feeling and coping with the instability at your job? Please take extra care of yourself during this difficult time.

    I have a quick question for more context. Are there any issues with redundancy at your work?

    I’m trying to gauge if he’s been sharing accurate information or not.

    Some people are very straightforward and do share accurate information even if it is negative.

    For example, I worked at a place with high turnover due to various issues. Most people who worked there were always looking for work elsewhere. When new staff were hired, for survival existing staff communicated what some of the issues were.

    At my husband’s old company, everyone knew and talked about potential layoffs when the company ran into issues.

    It is one of these things that people do talk about when there are issues.

    Can you think of anything else that might be causing low morale in the team?

    Unfortunately, as a manager it is your responsibility to handle difficult employees calmly, as well as various other difficulties too. It’s no easy task to manage a difficult employee!

    As a human, arguments are understandable. But as an employee, they can get you fired.

    Him only addressing other managers at meetings is disrespectful though.

    It’s hard to say whether he was trying to be helpful or not by communicating that you might not be cut out for the role. Did you ever have any other issues with the coworker before you became manager?

    Do you feel his comment about your emotions was a trigger for you? Does his behaviour remind you of anyone that you have had difficulties with in your personal life? I only ask this because this is something that I have experienced with coworkers I’ve had difficulties with.

    Wishing you all the best! 🙏


    Dear Umaz:

    Welcome back to the forums! I hope that it is okay with you that this will be a long reply as I will be paying attention to everything you shared. When I quote you, it is I who is adding the boldface feature to some of your words.

    In this thread, you shared that there was a promotional job available at work, and while you (a woman) were considering applying for it, a male co-worker- who turned down the job himself- told you that if you wanted the job, you’d need to be “more positive” and “hide (your) feelings“. As you understood it, he was implying that you were “too emotional“, and that you should not apply for the job. You applied for it nonetheless and received it.

    During meetings which you led as a team manager, he ignored you and addressed the male managers instead. The morale of the team was low, people had quit the team, and you told management that this co-worker’s behavior is “problematic and causing a retention issue in the team“. Eventually, you “blew (your) lid off and had a huge argument with him about it all… said some horrible stuff to him“. Management told you that you need training “to be better“,  and that you “need to separate (your) emotions from the job“, saying that “he doesn’t talk about others when he raises complain, implying that (you’re) the only one sh** talking“.

    “I feel so gaslit by everyone – but at the same time I am wondering if I’m the problem? Am I only filtering the negative stuff?…  I feel like a failure, like I ruined my career, like a trouble maker, a liability and I feel mistreated. I feel like I’ve been treated unfairly and sometimes I wonder maybe I am the narcissist and not him. Can I please get an outsiders perspective and some advice how to move forward?”

    To understand and answer your questions best I can, I will be re-reading your September 2021 thread titled “Am I a narcissist?“- the same question you asked two years later, in this thread.

    In your original post back then, you shared that one reason your boyfriend did not invite you to his father’s funeral (in another country) was, as he said, that “he wanted to ‘protect (you) from the pain“. You wrote back then: “I feel like a liability and not really a part of the family which he claims I am“. Here’s the same word: a liability. One definition of the word (online dictionary): “a person or thing whose presence or behavior is likely to cause embarrassment or put one at a disadvantage”.

    I replied to you back then and we communicated for a short while. You shared that as a result of your boyfriend not inviting you, you felt “really abandoned and lonely.. betrayed.. (that) he doesn’t really see me being part of..  his life… my own family did reject me a few years ago and him not including me made me feel rejected again“.

    When your boyfriend returned from the funeral, “he was talking about the funeral and told me that his ex’s mum and sister was at the funeral. This hurt me so much and I reacted poorly, I was angry, he again said I was a narcissist. He does call me that often and realised maybe he is gaslighting me. Every time I try to raise my own feelings he makes me feel so guilty about it, and calls me a narcissist“.

    I wrote to you back in October 2021: “Like I suggested to you earlier, I think that it is the hurt and betrayal that you experienced when your family rejected you that keeps awakening in the context of your relationship with your boyfriend”. You replied: “Anita, yes you are right, I feel so very triggered and lately I have been thinking about my own family more. Even after 10 years, I feel such a void without a loving family, something I never had but always crave. My parents kicked me out when I was in my early twenties because I didn’t follow the religion anymore and I wanted to live an independent life. What hurts more recently is that my own siblings who I thought could understand me, have also shut me out. I feel so isolated and rejected by them too…. I’ve had a lot of therapy in the past but nothing recently as I’ve been doing relatively well. Also, I don’t find it useful to continuously relive my past. It’s emotionally exhausting and takes away from my present. Plus its expensive…  I know that having emotions is normal but sometimes my emotions are most intense than usual“.

    My input today: your emotions, particularly hurt and  anger are sometimes, like you said 2 years ago, “most intense“. Originally, it’s the hurt and anger about having been unloved, kicked out, shut out, isolated, rejected (your words above), as well as really abandoned, lonely, betrayed and gaslit (your words from before) by your parents and later, by your siblings as well. It is within your family that you felt like a liability.

    That’s a lot of HURT. And as often is the case, ANGER is linked to the hurt. The anger is about trying to have POWER in situations where you feel very hurt and powerless.

    Because you’ve been very hurt and very angry within the context of your family, for too long, never to be resolved-  this intense hurt and anger get awakened/ triggered in adult contexts like in a romantic relationship (first thread) and a workplace relationship (2nd thread). When in these adult contexts you are uninvited (1st thread) or criticized and ignored (2nd thread), the same-old, same-old intense hurt and anger get triggered.

    In this thread, some of your hurt and anger are valid: it really is hurtful to be ignored in meetings, especially when you are the team leader. Maybe your male worker has anti-women feelings, maybe he is misogynistic. In any case, it was rude of him to ignore you during meetings. Thing is that the INTENSITY of your hurt and anger were not solely about this workplace-adult circumstance. It’s like there’s a leak from the past and the massive hurt and  anger of the past spill into the present during triggering circumstances.

    From what you shared and from my personal, non-professional understanding,  the term narcissist does not apply to you, or to your boyfriend at the time, or to your male co-worker. What applies to you is that when you are triggered, you feel so much hurt, that you can’t see anything or anyone but your hurt. You become self-centered in this way, and therefore, you feel justified in verbally attacking the person you believe had hurt you so much. Like I said, your co-worker was rude to you when he ignored you (not necessarily when he gave you his feedback that you were too emotional, depending on his tone and intent), not thinking about how you’d feel being ignored, and that’s being self-centered on his part.

    Here is my advice: (1) next time you feel angry at someone, Notice that you feel angry, Pause (take time out so that you don’t say or do anything being driven by the anger alone/ so you don’t blow your lid off), Address the situation when calm (what really happened? How much of what I feel is valid in this present circumstance? Try to peel the past off the present, so to speak. How should I respond, or maybe I should not respond at all?) and then Respond- or not, and finally, Redirect (get busy with something else). I call this strategy NPARR: Notice, Pause, Address, Respond-or-not, Redirect.

    (2) Process that massive hurt from the past bit by bit by sharing about it somehow, either by journaling (drawing and painting as well, perhaps), or in a support group (of people shunned by religious families, perhaps), and/ or in quality therapy..  or here on your thread, and/ or in replies submitted to other members.

    You wrote 2 years ago: ” I don’t find it useful to continuously relive my past. It’s emotionally exhausting and takes away from my present“- if you share/ process in a certain way, it may release you from the hold that the past has on you.. fixing that leak I mentioned earlier, so to speak, bringing yourself back to the present instead of taking yourself away from the present. Share from the Hurt, more than from the Anger.

    It happens that I use these forums myself to process my childhood Hurt at times, when I reply to members. I’ll do it right here, right now, so to give you an example of what works for me, and may work for you too.

    (After a moment): I see my mother’s face in my mind’s eye. She is still young, younger than I am now; Her face is cold and rigid. There is no love for me in her face. Her eyes are dark, there is no glitter in them, nothing that shines, no recognition in them that I.. that I am, or that I am of any value. She looks at me, she talks at me.. as if .. she talks at a thing. Not a person that I yearn to be, but a 2-dimensional thing… MOTHER, don’t you SEE me? ME? Oh my god, I am stuck being a thing, no human 3rd dimension:  my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own preferences, my own.. being human. There is a feeling of being suffocated in this no-space 2 dimensions. MOTHER… Oh, I was going to ask her to see me, but no point in that.. She can’t, she won’t, she hasn’t FOR TOO LONG.



    Hi Umaz,

    I just read your post over coffee and I signed up just to be able to give you my thoughts.
    It sounds like you do have a narcissist on your hands. The gaslighting is there, as soon as I read about you “being emotional” – that’s it right there. What you probably don’t know if you never dealt with a narcissist, is that they are champions of hiding their emotions. And they will point out how you are less than that, because you’re a normal person integrating the normal feelings of life.
    Also, someone who says no to a promotion and then skillfully undermines you without pointing names – yes, you have a narc right there. That is something they would do. The only thing they live for is attention, and they are mean and witty.

    So please listen to me when I say this: there is no way to win against the narcissist. The only thing you can do is to walk away. They are masters of gaslighting and will turn the situation as they please, every time you gain some ground. You won’t be able to prove the fine manipulation that’s going on, and living in this situation for a long time will tire you and wear you out.
    There’s nothing wrong with you. Even in your new role, as you described it, you didn’t do anything wrong, as you are supposed to get all the help you need to grow into your new position. But that person is not someone who wants to see you thrive, unless it’s for their personal benefit.
    The only narc I ever met, helped me get a foot in the door at the company I work at, so that I would be forever indebted to them – that is what they said – and I would always remain friends, because they had no one else around. A narc will use everything they have against you, and if you pay attention carefully they will accuse you of shortcomings they consider they have overcome, like mastering your emotions, like being in a position of authority (clearly only to pull at your strings)… They refused the position because deep down they are certain they wouldn’t be any good, and they would reveal how they are actually an impostor, incapable and less then any measure. So they project that on you, because they envy your boldness, your courage to take this challenge on, and they want to show you that you’re not any good. They will sabotage you to no end, because they’re bored with the usual things in life and the only thing that amuses them is the gaslighting, playing with you and turning you around their own finger. It’s not about you really, it’s about the beauty of the human mind, and how we are all reacting the same way to external stimuli (from the narc), and the only way you can surprise them is by being crazy yourself and responding in ways they do not expect – which you cannot do in work related context. I’m saying this because it’s the only thing that worked in my case.


    Hello.  I am so sorry that you are going through this.  It sounds exhausting.

    I do not believe that you are the problem, but I do believe that everyone wants you to think that.  You ARE being gaslit.  I actually thought that before you suggested it.

    The higher ups don’t feel comfortable with confrontation and he is harder to confront than you are.  They are not correct in this situation.

    Listen to your “gut”.  Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.  Consider if this “career” is really for you if it makes you so upset.  It’s ok to change lanes along the way.

    I wish you well.


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