You’ve been hurt by a narcissist and you want to hurt them back. That’s understandable.
You want to turn the tables and beat them at their own game. You want to piss them off, get your revenge, and break them like they tried to break you.
Or perhaps you’ve been watching on as a narcissist has controlled and manipulated one of your friends or loved ones and you wish to destroy them and drive them away.
That’s understandable too.
The desire to right the wrongs that have been done to you or someone you care for is often felt very strongly. You want to do dish up your own version of karma.
What if I told you that any attempt to achieve some sort of personal justice is likely to backfire?
Because that’s the risk you take when you try to hurt a narcissist. You risk ending up getting hurt too.
Playing Into The Narcissist’s Hands
Narcissists love a fight and boy do they fight dirty.
If you take them on, you had better be prepared to have everything thrown at you.
Chances are they will have extracted lots of information from you or about you over the course of your relationship (whether you were romantically involved, are family, work together, or know each other in some other way).
And if they don’t know something about you, they are not afraid to lie through their teeth if it helps them strike a blow.
They will use this information, or their own fabricated “truth” to rip open the emotional wounds that you may have been trying to heal.
They will use it to defend themselves against any attacks you may mount. They will deny what you say, discredit your statements, and sow doubts in the minds of third parties.
In fact, narcissists are so good at manipulating people, they may even win some of your friends and allies around and turn them into flying monkeys through which to attack you.
They will play the victim if needs be. They will make it seem like you are the one with the problem; you are the one who is behaving in a toxic and hurtful way.
What’s more, the narcissist will probably enjoy the whole thing because, in their warped and twisted head, they actually enjoy confrontation. It brings them to life and gives them a feeling of purpose and energy.
So in trying to piss off a narcissist, you actually feed them. You become a part of their game.
And in doing so, the narcissist feels justified in their behavior and treatment of you and others. It tells them that, by behaving as they do, they will continue to receive narcissistic supply.
Their Hurt Will Only Cause You Hurt
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. – Confucius
Expanding on the above points, if you decide to take on a narcissist in some bid to cause them emotional hurt, be prepared to face hurt of your own.
Yes, you may succeed in exacting some form of revenge on them by attacking their ego and taking them down a peg or two, but they will strike blows of their own.
When wounded, they will likely fly into narcissistic rage and come at you all guns blazing.
Are you prepared for that? Do you think you can withstand their barrage?
More to the point, why would you want to? What good does it do you to put yourself in harm’s way?
My advice: leave them well alone.
They are already emotionally wounded individuals who suffer with their own demons. Feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and self-doubt are rife in a narcissist (even if you rarely ever see it).
While you don’t have to sympathize with them, you can be compassionate and refrain from adding to their soul’s anguish.
Re-engaging Is A Risky Strategy
If you are the one who was previously hurt by a narcissist, deciding to re-engage them in order to destroy them is a perilous endeavor to say the least.
Chances are you are still emotionally and mentally fragile after suffering narcissistic abuse.
The danger is that you will become embroiled with them again on a longer term basis than you’d wish for.
You want to get in, dole out some well deserved (in your eyes) revenge, and get out. A smash and grab mission to make yourself feel better (even if you won’t, which we’ll come to in a moment).
But the narcissist will try to drag you back into their lives on a more permanent basis.
They won’t simply stand by and watch as you fall back after launching your attack; they will pursue you to launch the counter-attack we’ve already spoken of.
If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself engaged in some tit-for-tat war, which can go on and on with no end in sight.
If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind. – Shannon L. Alder
Hurting the narcissist who made your life a living hell may sound like a good idea in your head, but it’s unlikely to bring you the peace you desire.
You may feel some satisfaction, but probably not as much as you’d hope, and it won’t last as long as you’d like. Revenge may be sweet for a while, but it’s likely to end up tasting bitter.
Part of the reason why is because your actions are still being dictated by the narcissist. Your vendetta is one driven by the hurt you suffered at their hands, meaning you are still, in some way, being controlled by them.
Your feelings of anger and resentment will remain so long as you’re mentally engaged with them. Your revenge only fans the flames of your own ill feelings.
Your healing process will stall and even go into reverse when you attempt to destroy the narcissist from your past.
Revenge Is A Dish Best Not Served At All
So what can you do if you want to hurt a narcissist without getting caught up in their game again?
You stay well clear of them – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
You live your own life and make it a happy one.
By withdrawing narcissistic supply from them, you can make them suffer, albeit temporarily while they line up their next source/victim.
It’s a minor win in the sense of actually causing a narcissist emotional pain, but it’s a huge win in the sense of breaking free from their toxic influence.
Cut all ties, forget about getting your own back on them, and move on with your life.
Or, if you have no choice but to interact with this narcissist for some reason, you can choose the Gray Rock Method, which is also an effective means of keeping emotional distance between the two of you.
Channel That Energy Into Your Healing
The best revenge is living well. – George Herbert
If you hold on to some desire to break a narcissist down and see them suffer, that is valuable energy that you are focusing on to someone else.
You are taking your energy, tainting it with negativity, and sending it out into the world. If you do this, chances are it will bring negative consequences back toward you.
Instead, if you take that energy, paint it with positivity, and send that out into the world, you’ll be rewarded with good things in return.
Healing from narcissistic abuse requires work, effort, and support. It will take longer (or won’t happen at all), if you divert your energy back into the narcissist who hurt you.
Does that make sense?
A Final Word On Hurting Narcissists
The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury. – Marcus Aurelius
It can be really difficult to break away from a narcissist and see them walk off without really feeling any great pain.
Given all that you have been through, to feel like they have “gotten away with one” is the final injury they will inflict upon you (assuming this article has convinced you NOT to try to exact revenge).
But there is some crumb of comfort to be found in this nonetheless: while they walk away as the same twisted, unhappy person, you, by escaping from their torment, are on the road to a better life.
It is unlikely that a narcissist will ever be able to heal their own hurts and grow beyond the ego-driven person they have become.
But your hurts are not beyond healing. You may not go back to being the person you were before you encountered your narcissist (assuming you weren’t raised by one), but you have the power and means to grow into someone new.
That, ultimately, is the best way to hurt a narcissist – by removing all traces of their abuse from you, by being the kind of person they simply cannot be.