Can You Spot The Hidden Signs Of Gaslighting?
It can be difficult at first especially if you don’t know what to look for or even know what gaslighting is. Dr. Ramani does a great job explaining gaslighting in this video.
What Is Gaslighting?
In abusive relationships, gaslighting is a form of manipulation where the bully or abuser makes his or her victim question their judgments and realities.
Gaslighting primarily occurs in romantic relationships, but it can also happen in controlling friendships or among family members. Toxic people use this type of manipulation to exert power over others to manipulate friends, family, and others.
How Gaslighting Works
A gaslighting technique undermines your entire perception of reality. When someone gaslights you, you usually second-guess yourself, your memories, and your perceptions
Gaslighting leaves you feeling confused and on the verge of doubting your sanity after communicating with the person. Here’s how people gaslight others.
Lying to You
Those who engage in gaslighting are habitual and pathological liars. They will always lie to your face and never change their stories, even when you call them out. In fact, lying is the cornerstone of their destructive behavior. Even when you know they are lying, they can be very convincing. In the end, you start to second-guess yourself.
Gaslighters spread rumors and gossip about you to others while pretending to be worried about you in an attempt to make you seem insane or emotionally unstable. Sadly, this tactic is extremely effective and many people side with the abuser or bully without even realizing that they’re doing so.
Moreover, the gaslighter may lie to you and tell you that other people think you are crazy. These people may never talk badly about you, but the gaslighter will do everything in his power to make you believe that other people do.
Ask a gaslighter a question or call them out for something they did or said, and they may ask a question instead of responding to what you said or did. They may even blatantly lie about the situation by saying, “You made that up.” “That never happened.”
Minimizing Your Thoughts and Feelings
Trivializing your emotions allows the gaslighter to gain power over you. For example, they might say: “Calm down,” “You overreacted,” or “Why are you so sensitive?” These statements undermine your feelings and communicate that you’re wrong.
Another tactic gaslighters use is to shift blame. Every conversation you have with them is twisted to make you feel responsible for what happened. Even if you try to discuss how their behavior makes you feel, they’re able to twist the conversation and blame you.
In other words, they manipulate the situation in such a way that you end up believing that you are the cause for their bad behavior. According to them, if you behaved differently, you wouldn’t be treated the way you are.
Bullies and abusers are notorious for denying that they did anything wrong. They do this to avoid taking responsibility for their poor choices. But it also leaves the victim of gaslighting confused and frustrated because there is no acknowledgment of the pain they feel. The victim of this denial may also find it difficult to heal after the bullying or abuse.
Using Compassionate Words as Weapons
Sometimes when called out or questioned, a gaslighter will use kind and loving words to try to smooth over the situation. They might say something like “You know how much I love you. “I would never hurt you on purpose.” These words are what you want to hear, but they are not authentic, especially if it is repeated.
Twisting and Reframing Conversations
Gaslighters typically use this tactic when you’re discussing something that happened in the past. For instance, if your partner shoved you against the wall and you are discussing it later, they may twist the story in their favor. They may say you fell into the wall because you stumbled and they tried to steady you.
When stories and memories are constantly retold in the gaslighter’s favor, you may begin to doubt your memory of what happened. You are exactly meant to be confused or second-guessing yourself in this way.
15 Gaslighting Signs to Look For
Being subjected to gaslighting can cause anxiety and depression. It also has been linked to panic attacks and nervous breakdowns. Ask yourself if any of the following statements ring true.
- You doubt your feelings and reality. You try to convince yourself that the treatment you receive is not that bad, or that you are too sensitive.
- You question your judgment and perceptions. You are afraid of speaking up or expressing your emotions. You have learned that sharing your opinion usually makes you feel worse in the end. So you stay silent instead.
- You feel vulnerable and insecure. You often feel like you “walk on eggshells” around your partner/friend/family member. You also feel on edge and lack self-esteem.
- You feel alone and powerless. You are convinced that everyone around you thinks you are strange, crazy, or unstable, just like your partner/friend/family member says you are. This makes you feel trapped and isolated.
- You wonder if you’re stupid and crazy. Your partner/friend/family member’s words make you feel like you are wrong, inadequate, or insane. Sometimes you even find yourself repeating these statements to yourself.
- You are disappointed in yourself and who you have become. For instance, you feel like you are weak and passive and that you used to be stronger and more assertive.
- You feel confused. Your partner/friend/family member’s behavior confuses you with actions that appear like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
- You worry that you are too sensitive. Your partner/friend/family member minimizes hurtful behaviors or words by saying “I was just joking” or “You are too sensitive.”
- You have a sense of impending doom. You feel like something terrible is about to happen when you are around your partner/friend/family member. This may include feeling threatened and on edge without knowing why.
- You spend a lot of time apologizing. You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
- You feel inadequate. You feel like you are never “good enough.” You try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable.
- You second-guess yourself. You frequently wonder if you accurately remember the details of past events. You may have even stopped trying to share what you remember for fear that it is wrong.
- You assume others are disappointed in you. You apologize all the time for what you do or who you are, assuming people are disappointed in you or that you have somehow made a mistake.
- You wonder what’s wrong with you. You wonder if there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. In other words, you worry that you might truly be crazy, neurotic, or “losing it.”
- You struggle to make decisions because you distrust yourself. You would rather allow your partner/friend/family member to make decisions for you, or avoid decision-making altogether.
If you identify with any of these signs of gaslighting, you should seek a professional. It can take a significant toll on your self-esteem and mental health. If necessary, your doctor can refer you to a counselor who can help you process and deal with what is happening.
Remember that you are not to blame for what you are experiencing. The person gaslighting you is choosing to behave this way.