Psychological deflection is often considered a narcissistic abuse tactic. However, you might be using it too without even knowing.

Deflection, by definition, is a method of changing the course of an object, an emotion, or thought from its original source. Psychological deflection is seen as a narcissistic abuse tactic used to control the mind and emotions of others.

Nevertheless, psychological deflection is not only a narcissistic tool but also a coping mechanism strategy. Individuals who use it seek to mask their own impulses by denying their mistakes and projecting them on the people around them.

Why Psychological Deflection Occurs

We have a natural tendency to be proud of our achievements and share our positive results with others. But when it comes to failure, we usually attribute it to the external factors: the system, the bank, the teacher, the school, the country, etc.

In addition, it is much easier to make a list of other people’s mistakes than to acknowledge our own. This is because our “Ego” develops a self-defense system that prevents us from admitting that we are wrong. Thus, it makes us feel less responsible for the consequences of our actions.

Consequently, this self-defense system has negative effects on the way we perceive the world we live in, including our own image. We will always believe that the causes of our mistakes will never be related to our behavior or actions. As such, the external environment is the one to blame.

We will also overanalyze the situation and the people around us to the point where our mind begins to project our flaws onto our surroundings. The most interesting aspect is that, under normal circumstances, we do not dislike or see other people’s flaws. But when the crisis occurs, the same people we once perceived as okay suddenly turn into the source of our misfortune.

Someone Is Always Guilty

Countless studies show that all groups (family, job, friends, etc.) have their own “guilty party“. It’s that one person that everyone blames even though it is not always her/his fault. Once someone becomes the guilty party, practically, the group will attribute all the failures of each member to that one specific person, in order to defend their infallible image.

Blaming is a psychological epidemic, a contagious move that can leave traces in the hearts of the people around us. The blamed person will collect the woes of all members of the group. They will end up to the point where they will not know when they are wrong and when not. There will be chaos in their soul.

When we blame other people for our mistakes, we consciously or unconsciously use a self-esteem strategy. In other words, we use underestimation and accusations so we can increase our self-confidence, especially when we sense competition.

Psychological Deflection in Relationships: a Common Mistake

Blaming or diverting the accusations are the most frequent mistakes in relationships. Sometimes communication reaches a critical deterioration, which, in turn, generates other problems.

The general issues have to do with the ease with which we accuse the partner of all the problems of the relationship. We throw accusations to avoid taking responsibility. But the truth is that blame games don’t solve problems. The best way to avoid such situations is sincerity in speech, which, however, doesn’t lead to emotional distress.

Accept that we are not perfect beings. Look at your partner with acceptance and understanding that just like other people, s/he makes mistakes. If something bothers you, it is best to have an open and peaceful conversation where you both express your opinion. Also, keep in mind that people have the ability to learn.

Why Do We Use Psychological Deflection?

1. We blame others because we are afraid

People are quick to start arguments with others in order to defend themselves against their helplessness. It’s all because deep down in their hearts, they face an inner fear: fear of losing their jobs, fear of losing their partner, fear of change, etc. The reverse of this action is that with the desire to protect their ego, people who are accustomed to accusing others will lose everything: friendships, sympathy, opportunities, or love of others.

2. We blame others because are immature

It is very important that people go through all stages of development and mature properly. Any trauma from the past can block our mental development at a particular stage. If a child has been emotionally abused or highly criticized for every mistake or action, they will use psychological deflection as a way to avoid punishment. They will apply this coping mechanism each time when challenges or personal failures occur.

3. We blame others because of our past experiences

Accepting that we are responsible for our actions and their consequences can come at a great emotional expense. Sometimes it is truly difficult to accept that we have been weak or unprepared to cope with issues. As a result, when we deal with new failures, we try to convince ourselves that we are not guilty. We tend to think that things have been out of our control and therefore, we blame the circumstances and not ourselves.

How to Stop Using Psychological Deflection: Be in Charge of Your Life

It takes two for tango.

It is true that multiple factors can influence the outcome of a situation and the results are not always in our control. Yet, that does not justify the lack of responsibility towards your own actions. If every aspect of your life can have an impact on you, you as well hold tremendous power to make a change.

When you constantly live with the impression that your failures are a result of people’s incompetency or purely bad luck, you actually block your own growth. You close your mind and avoid learning from your mistakes.

Failures happen to everyone and they are meant to teach you something about yourself. They reveal your strengths and weaknesses; the skills you have and the ones you need to improve.

Instead of accusing people of your misfortunes, take a step back, and evaluate your behavior. Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What did I do well?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • Did I do anything to allow or cause this unpleasant situation?

Once you are aware of your power to be in control of your life, your fears will disappear as you will no longer expect the world to save you.



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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Gary Hynous

    To mix metaphors, give it your best shot and see where the chips fall. Be mindful of how you respond and pay attention to the other persons response. Mindfulness is captured in the simple 60’s phrase “be here now” not composing your response and missing half the conversation.

  2. Average Joe

    If life has blessed you with the proper opportunities I believe this would be more accurate. Having the mental capabilities to account for your actions at the moment you’re committing those actions is something that someone may overlook. Too often time passes and our flaws reveal themselves. If we aren’t being ourselves, you can’t pretend happiness into existence. Along with those come the labels and the need to push or pull; compartmentalize people into groups for whatever reason and choose where you place them in your life.

    If they don’t meet the proper criteria, or even too much we question ourselves? Does this person deserve the truth? If so, how much of it can they handle? Then the half truths and games poison your progress. At the workplace and even at home I see so many people who equivocate all of this with money and power?

    One day my ship will be sailing by, I’m praying I have my head up on that day!

  3. John

    the problem with discussing this in the npd context and what im seeing as underemphasized if not absent is the acknowledgment that sometimes it really is out of your control and or because someone targeted you(esp likely with npd parents who dont want their feed gone, the smarter of which/higher functioning reserve blows to only crucial moments and gaslight/employ the “you only have your self to blame” even when they very much twisted every screw they could and pulled every string to influence the situation) . in the non psych context deflection is also “what about ism” . not first covering the possibility it was out of your hands imho is as corrosive as npd targeting a person. what about if i had done…. what if i had only realized this person was going to do that so tried to start from homeless? is obsene at a point, its also dangerous when equality has become empowerment aka different demographics has vastly different amounts of help available as targets or just disfunctional individuals and everything between. the other reason i belive it dangerous to not mention that the case it was out of your hands is other sources note that admiring fault in front of a narc… bad idea. its giving them ammo. obviously one has to gauge this and should see it a few times instead of first assuming well they then made it all about that ill never ever admit fault again. (attribution bias on both sides is problematic, in general jumping to conclusions with others involved is common practice but a really terrible way to live because then we really do hurt others while not taking credit for the mistakes we did create or contribute to)

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