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6. Nitpicking and moving the goalposts.

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Diversion Tactics Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths Use to Silence You

6. Nitpicking and moving the goalposts.

The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism is the presence of a personal attack and impossible standards. These so-called "critics" often don't want to help you improve, they just want to nitpick, pull you down, and scapegoat you in any way they can. Abusive narcissists and sociopaths employ a logical fallacy known as "moving the goalposts" in order to ensure that they have every reason to be perpetually dissatisfied with you. This is when, even after you've provided all the evidence to validate your argument or taken an action to meet their request, they set up another expectation of you or demand more proof.

Do you have a successful career? The narcissist will then start to pick on why you aren't a multi-millionaire yet. Did you already fulfill their need to be excessively catered to? Now it's time to prove that you can also remain "independent." The goalposts will perpetually change and may not even be related to each other; they don't have any other point besides making you vie for the narcissist's approval and validation.

By raising the expectations higher and higher each time or switching them completely, highly manipulative and toxic people are able to instill a pervasive sense of unworthiness and of never feeling quite "enough." By pointing out one irrelevant fact or one thing you did wrong and developing a hyper-focus on it, narcissists get to divert from your strengths and pull you into obsessing over any flaws or weaknesses instead. They get you thinking about the next expectation of theirs you're going to have to meet - until eventually, you've bent over backward trying to fulfill their every need - only to realize it didn't change the horrific way they treated you.

Don't get sucked into nitpicking and changing the goalposts - if someone chooses to rehash an irrelevant point over and over again to the point where they aren't acknowledging the work you've done to validate your point or satisfy them, their motive isn't to better understand. It's to further provoke you into feeling as if you have to constantly prove yourself. Validate and approve of yourself. Know that you are enough and you don't have to be made to feel constantly deficient or unworthy in some way.
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    These points are all very well taken. Toxic narcissists seem to be everywhere these days, in my world at least. Wise words, and very helpful food for thought. Thanks for posting this information!
    This has been a great series of posts; I hope some people will take this information and be better equipped to deal these behaviors when they recognize them in others, or even themselves.