Narcissists are dependent on your emotional reactions. They are dependent on your response to what they have said or done. When you are reacting to the narcissist, it starts off as a thought and then becomes a feeling which you express or an action. This is feeding the narcissist and regulating their emotions. It's giving them satisfaction or relief. When you engage or interact with a narcissist, they are only interested in getting you to react to them. They will plant the seed to cause an idea or feeling to be in your mind. Your thoughts are like water to the seed. Your thoughts allow the seed to grow. If you continue to think about what they have said or done, it will eventually produce a reaction. They know what they are doing and they know the reasons why they are doing it. They understand the effects that this is having on you, but they do not care. All they care about in that moment is getting a reaction out of you to regulate their emotions and to give them satisfaction or relief.
When the narcissist is trying to attack you, whether verbally or something that is more under the radar, you need to recognise it and then neutralise it immediately. Most of what the narcissist says to you are lies. Narcissists are pathological liars. Most of what they say is thought out or planned before they interact with you. Most of what they do is orchestrated. They have had years of practice and they know what they have to do or say to make people react. They know how to plan or coordinate the elements of a situation to produce the desired effect or the desired reaction from you.
When the narcissist is trying to attack you, whether verbally or something that is more under the radar. You need to ask yourself, what are they trying to get me to do? This is when you should identify that they are trying to get you to react. This is all they really care about. They are hooked on your reaction to whatever they are saying or doing. They want you to react to them.
Ask yourself, why are they saying this? Why are they doing this? Why are they displaying this to me? And then tell yourself that they are trying to get you to react. Remind yourself that this is what they are trying to do. That's all you really need to know. That's all you really need to understand. This is the only reason why they say what they say or do what they do. There is no other reason for it.
Narcissists are obsessed with control and dominance. They want to measure how much control they have over you. Your reaction lets them know that they are in control of you. It feeds them, it regulates their emotions and gives them satisfaction or relief. When you are watering the seeds with your thoughts, when you are watering the seeds that they have planted in your mind... you are giving them the ability to control you. Stop over-analysing the situation and wondering why they said what they said or did what they did. Identify that everything they are saying or doing is designed to get you to react.