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What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a behavior often perpetrated by people with narcissistic tendencies, and it involves using a person’s emotions against them to make them feel unvalued, crazy, and/or worthless. The gaslighter uses tactics to break down their victim’s sense of self, replacing it with a new version they’ve crafted. This version is usually entirely made up of flaws, and the gaslighter will go out of their way to make sure you know what those flaws are.
Here are ten signs that you’re dealing with a gaslighter at home, work, or in your family.
1. Constant Lying
Lying is a favorite tactic of gaslighters. After all, if something doesn’t fit their narrative, they can’t exactly use it against you. That’s not to say someone who lies frequently is automatically a gaslighter, but lies are a favorite weapon of the archetype. Pay close attention to the lies. Do they make things your fault? Distort facts to the gaslighter’s advantage? Make you question your own sanity?
2. Everything Is Your Fault
Of course, for a gaslighter’s efforts to pay off, you have to believe that you’re always in the wrong. A gaslighter will paint themselves as a beacon of sanity, reason, and logic, where you’re the one who’s clumsy, foolish, and stupid. Making everything your fault will start to wear down your self-confidence, making room for their inflated ego to take over. This is an important sign, and one you should pay close attention to. It’s classic gaslighting behavior.
3. You’re Questioning Your Own Sanity
When you’re constantly lied to and everything is your fault, you’ll start to question your own sanity. Did I really say that? Did I really forget that? Am I going insane? The gaslighter wants you to feel like you’re the one with a problem, not them. They’ll constantly bombard your psyche with lies, distorted information, accusations, and more to make you out to be a crazy person. They’ll often employ loved ones to use against you as well by isolating you from them and always ensuring their narrative is heard first.
4. They’ve Isolated You From Loved Ones
If you have a healthy support group behind you, it’s far more difficult for a gaslighter to destroy your self-confidence and completely take over. That means they’ll need to separate you from your loved ones. This is usually done gradually so as not to seem obvious, and starts with arguments over details of your visits. When you’ll be there, when you’re coming home, where you’re going, etc. Eventually, these can turn into full-blown arguments that invoke enough guilt on your part to make you stay home.
5. You’re Unsure Of Yourself
All of this lying, distorting, guilt-tripping, and arguing has probably made you feel pretty unsure of yourself. You’re starting to second-guess every decision you make. You feel like no decision will be good enough, or might upset your gaslighter. You’re starting to walk on eggshells because you don’t want to do anything to set them off. You’re losing who you are.
6. Everything Decision You Make Is Questioned And Analyzed
As if you questioning your own decisions wasn’t bad enough, there’s your gaslighter looking over your shoulder to further analyze it. Why are you doing this? Why are you using this method? Are you sure about that? That doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.
These questions and comments only further the damage that’s already been done and subconsciously program you to believe that your gaslighter is the ultimate source of wisdom. Guess what? They’re not.
7. Nothing They Do Is Wrong
Of course, no gaslighter would be complete without an inflated sense of self-righteousness. Nothing they do is wrong, their “morals” are the only ones that matter, and anything you say or do is wrong compared to them. The inflated ego of a gaslighter will never allow them to be wrong, and even if you somehow manage to prove they were wrong, it will be your fault anyway for proving it so.
8. You Don’t Feel Safe Talking About How You Feel
You’re feeling miserable, anxious, maybe even depressed. But who do you tell? You’ve been isolated from friends and family, and you’re likely terrified to tell your gaslighter that you’re feeling these things. You’ll start to bottle up these emotions and turn inward—a dangerous and often destructive practice.
9. Facts Are Distorted To Make You Remember Things Differently
Alongside outright lying, distorting facts so that you remember events and conversations differently is a favorite tactic of gaslighters. They’ll say you said or did one thing when you’re almost certain it was something else. This is all part of the process of grooming you to believe that you’re always wrong and they’re always right.
10. You’re Not Allowed To Stand Up For Yourself
Somewhere along the line, you might grow tired of always being wrong, and want to stand up for yourself. A gaslighter will never allow such a thing. If you take a stand, the gaslighter will tell you all the reasons you’re wrong, why you’re unworthy of such pride, and why he or she knows what’s best for you.
The Best Choice To Make…
Gaslighters rarely change. It’s sad, but true. If you find yourself at the mercy of a gaslighter at work, at home, or in your relationship, the best choice to make is to leave that person behind. Even if you confront them, a gaslighter’s ego is so bloated that there’s no way they could see past their own nose to identify the real issues. Protect yourself and your sanity and stay away from gaslighters!