Diversion Tactics of Toxic People (3)

    Post 25 of 195

    Following from the previous articles on different the diversion tactics of toxic people, here are a few more employed by toxic, manipulative people to distract from the issue at hand.


    Gaslighting is a term used to describe an insidious act of manipulation. It is when someone tries to distort your experience and reality. It can have to questioning yourself, doubting whether or not you are being abused. The most common phrases used are, “That’s not how I remember it”, “That didn’t happen”, or “You only imagined it”.

    When someone is gaslit often enough they tend to struggle to reconcile the two conflicting beliefs – the real one, and the one they are being convinced of. The gaslighter will try to convince you their version is true while yours is make believe. The victim will doubt their own experience, believing there is something wrong with them.

    A way to resist gaslighting is to keep yourself grounded in reality. Keep a note, perhaps in a diary. Share your experiences with others you trust. Being validated by people who care about you can help you understand what is really happening

    Nit Picking

    Criticism can be a useful tool for improvement. However, when it is constant and without constructive feedback it can be abrasive. It sounds and feels more like a judgement. Constant nit picking often has impossible and elusive standards which can never be met. In fact the expected standard often changes, a term known as ‘moving the goalposts’.

    The nit-picker will constantly criticise you in a way to prevent you from improving by being continually let down and dissatisfied with you. No matter how hard you try, no matter what logic you employ they will invalidate you by finding fault or demanding more proof. They will play a constant game of one-upmanship. No matter what you do, say or think they are much more accomplished and successful. Or if you have a successful, fulfilling career they will demand to know why you aren’t the CEO or a multi-millionaire.

    By constantly changing or raising expectations and finding fault narcissists and other toxic people will try to persuade you that you are unworthy and inept. They will find one thing you didn’t do perfectly and focus entirely on that. It’s a way of diverting you from your strengths, qualities and achievements. They will try to make you believe you have to meet and fulfil their every need and standard to keep you in a state of strain.

    Pay attention and notice no matter how hard you try, even if you do reach their standard it doesn’t change how they treat you. When someone keeps bringing up some fault or irrelevant point, never acknowledging any work you’ve done to explain or validate yourself don’t get sucked in. Their tactic isn’t to resolve or accept anything it is to invalidate and control you. Accept and validate your own reality.

    Threats (Both overt and covert)

    Abusive people often feel threatened when their grandiose sense of self and entitlement is challenged in some way. They make unreasonable demands from others and punish them if they’re not met. Rather than agree to disagree or compromise somehow, they try to instil fear in their victims with threats of consequences.

    An overt threat may sound like, “If you don’t then I’ll do this…” A covert threat may sound like, “If you don’t this’ll happen to me…”

    If someone is unwilling to compromise and reacts to your self will, boundaries or opinions by giving a veiled threat, that’s a good sign they’re not being reasonable. Take any threats seriously, report them if you have to.


    When some one is unwilling or incapable of accepting responsibility for themselves they will use any diversion tactic they can think of to blame you or others. Projection is one such common tactic. It is a way of a someone taking their own toxic behaviour and attributing it to someone else.

    Everybody projects to some extent, it a perfectly normal defence mechanism. However narcissistic projection is often a form of psychological abuse. Rather than accept responsibility for their own actions and attitudes they dump it on others in a cruel and malignant way. They then not only feel better about themselves but also enjoy making their victims feel pain and shame.

    A thief for example will accuse their victim of being an stealing, liar will accuse their victim of lying. A lazy person will accuse their boss of doing nothing all day and so on. It is a way of escaping the truth about themselves. The objective is to always shift the blame elsewhere. The victims can feel they have to accept responsibility and look after the narcissist while emerged in self-doubt and shame.

    Narcissists have little self-insight, and no intention to change. When we try to project our compassion, sympathy and empathy onto them we only end up exhausted, frustrated and lost. Any interaction with someone like this will have you feel like you are living their dysfunctional mess.

    More diversionary tactics to be aware of from toxic people to follow in the next article.

    This article was written by sentientcounselling