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Most people have a variety of toxic and destructive people that they have encountered throughout their lives. Sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists engage in behaviors that damage everyone around them, including friends, family, and partners.

Sadly, these types of people do not view reality in the same way that you and I do. Instead, they feel as though everyone around them is responsible for the misery they endure. Rather than accept responsibility for their actions and for themselves, they use manipulative tactics that keep the world distracted away from the pain and destruction that lies in their wake. Ultimately, the hardest thing about engaging in a relationship with someone like this is that you will always end up as a victim.

In situations and encounters with people of this nature, it is helpful to learn more about the negative behaviors they participate in and learn how to understand the tactics they are using against you so that you can cope with their actions and fight back. Once you are able to expose the manipulation and the lies associated with these toxic relationships you can cut ties from the relationships that you have developed without becoming their victim.

1. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is one of the most common manipulation ploys, as well as one of the most dangerous. The toxic person will attempt to make their victim doubt the clarity of their own memory, or recollection of events. They will insist that the victim remembers the situation wrong, and attempt to make you believe that the victim has made everything up. Typically, the phrases used include “Are you crazy?”, “You imagined that.”, or “Your memory isn’t that good, you know it didn’t happen like that.” By making you doubt yourself, and question your own sanity, they begin the process of manipulating your thoughts.

2. Word Salad

As a deflection technique, word salad occurs when the perpetrator avoids responsibility for their own actions by confusing you with words. You can ask a direct question, and rather than answering you, they begin rattling off about random occurrences in an attempt to purposely confuse you in hopes to trigger and impulsive reaction so they can shift the blame onto you.

3. Using Generalizations

By using statements such as “You are never satisfied with anything.” Or “You are always angry.”. Since these people do not usually represent the perfect example of intelligence and are frankly intellectually lazy, they will make blanket statements to lead you away from your argument, and submit to their own statements.

4. Jumping to Conclusions

Toxic people will assume they understand what you are thinking and feeling. Instead of stepping back to assess the situation mindfully, they will use their own triggers to lead them to jump to conclusions. In doing so, they will put words in your mouth that make you appear as though you are the crazy one.

5. Anchorman Behaviors

Similar to how a news anchor will end their excerpts with “back to you”, a sociopath will always attempt to divert the argument back to you. If you even so much as mention that you do not like being treated in a certain manner, or made to feel a certain way, they will reply with something like “And you are so perfect?” “Do you always make me feel good???” In this way, the argument will always divert back to you, and how you are wrong.

6. Changing the Subject

Rather than take responsibility for their own actions, the toxic person will continue to try to change the subject in an attempt to make you give up. Instead of becoming confused when these tactics are used on you, do not quit pushing the issue. Hold onto and assert the original facts. By using the “broken record” technique and continuing to repeat the initial argument. After you have continued to hold your ground, if the person is still not willing to take responsibility for or accept the truth, it may be time to refocus your energy on someone who is emotionally mature enough to deserve your feelings and energy.

Toxic people like sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists use manipulation techniques to control you, confuse you, and to divert negative attention off of themselves and onto their victim. By doing this, they oftentimes damage the people they manipulate. If you are knowledgeable about the ways in which they make these attempts, it is easier for you to save yourself from becoming another one of their victims, and also protect your mental well-being from detrimental damage that could take years to heal from.