12 Signs You’re Being Gaslighted Without Knowing It
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation typically used by narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.
You’ve probably heard the term before, but might not be completely aware of how it works – or if anyone you know has been using it on you! Gaslighters basically manipulate how you see reality.
They cause you to question your own abilities, memories, and even your sanity.
When you’ve been gaslighted, you often feel like something is wrong with you, but you are not certain what or why.
Here are some of the tactics gaslighters use to confuse and manipulate you!
1. They Lie To You
Gaslighters are habitual and pathological liars. They will tell bald-faced lies and then insist that they are telling the truth – despite all evidence to the contrary.
You can’t convince them to admit to a lie. In fact, they will insist that any evidence you might offer, is itself a lie.
They demonstrate such conviction in their lies, that they can cause you to second-guess objective truth.
They will insist on “their truth” and can do so very persuasively. They can keep you feeling confused and off-balance.
Even when they don’t fool you, you can be left with the impression that they are being perfectly sincere, albeit their position or perception is obviously wrong.
2. They Undermine Your Reputation
Gaslighters can identify people who will take their side, no matter what the issue may be.
They then recruit these people to attack you by making up rumors that call your character – or even your sanity – into question. They may even state that they are concerned about you and suggest to others that your behavior is disturbing.
This approach can be very effective. By initiating and then dominating the narrative, the gaslighter will gain allies while keeping them in the dark as to what is really going on.
They may even tell you that other people think there is something wrong with you – while others might not be saying any such things at all.
But unfortunately, a gaslighter can be very convincing and this can devastate your relationships with people.
3. They Steer You Away From The Actual Topic
When you ask a gaslighter about something or try to nail them down for something they have said or done, don’t be surprised if they change the subject without addressing it.
They will often either ask you a question to deflect you or accuse you of something.
A gaslighter will typically react by claiming that they never said what you say they did. They will accuse you of remembering incorrectly or imagining things, or suggest that you got the idea from your “crazy” friends.
4. They Ridicule How You Think And Feel
A gaslighter may try to gain control over you by discounting your feelings and thoughts.
They will accuse you of being overly sensitive or tell you that your thought processes are faulty.
Typical statements include, “don’t you think you’re getting too emotional?” or “how in the world could you think something foolish like that?” By trivializing YOU, they disarm any point of view you have or any argument you make.
This can make you question yourself and the validity of your own views and feelings. You could then come to lose self-confidence and even self-respect, leaving you vulnerable to their thought control.
5. They Transfer Blame
These people don’t stop at facts! If you try to simply talk about how they are making you feel, a gaslighter will construe what you are saying to blame you for how you feel.
They are so adept at this, that you can end up thinking that THEIR bad behavior is YOUR fault. They even tell you that they would treat you better if only you acted differently.
6. They Deny Doing Anything Wrong
Gaslighters NEVER do anything wrong, and they are never responsible for anything that goes wrong.
If they make a bad decision or fail at something, they avoid taking responsibility for it. If their actions have caused you pain, they will not admit to it.
Gaslighters do not apologize! This behavior further injures and frustrates victims, who are left wondering what they have done to earn such treatment.
As a result, these victims are often unable to overcome their hurt feelings.
7. They Turn Compassion Into A Weapon
When cornered, gaslighters will appeal to your compassion and understanding. But they use compassionate words merely as a form of attack.
They may say something like: “How could you think I would ever do anything to hurt you on purpose? You know how much I care for you!” It “sounds” like an apology, but it is really an accusation.
It is not authentic, and you will feel somehow unsatisfied with it, although you might not realize why.
8. They Twist And Reframe Conversations
Gaslighters especially like to use this one during a discussion about a past event.
For example, they may reframe a conversation where they claim that you gave them permission to spend your money. They know it didn’t happen, and you know it didn’t happen.
But if you try to confront them about it, they will just further fabricate the story.
They will explain how they asked when you were busy doing the dishes and you said that it was fine. As with their other tactics, gaslighters try to confuse you and make you question your own memories and perceptions.
9. They Turn What Is Important To You Against You
Gaslighters know what’s important to you, so it’s often the first thing they attack.
For instance, you may be proud of a certain talent. A gaslighter will question your talent or its usefulness. They may tell you that it’s a total waste of time.
They can destroy your sense of self-worth.
10. They Use Positive Reinforcement To Confuse You
A gaslighter exercises control by putting you down and minimizing your value. Yet, every so often, they suddenly compliment you on something.
This is a very sly tactic for gaining authority – leading you to think that if a person’s praise is valid, then their criticism must be valid as well! This also keeps you off-balance, as you may feel that you can no longer accuse them of always finding fault.
One way to identify a gaslighter is by what they are praising. It is typically something that benefits them!
11. They Project Onto You
If you accuse a gaslighter of lying, they will accuse you of the same thing. So now, instead of focusing on their behavior, you are forced to defend yourself.
12. They Wear You Down
It may come in small doses at first, but if a gaslighter gets away with it, it will come more and more frequently.
Even the most self-confident and intelligent people can get pulled down by gaslighting because they can’t identify the point where it becomes destructive.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW GASLIGHTING WORKS, HERE’S HOW TO COMBAT IT:
✱ Learn To Identify This Kind Of Behavior Pattern
Gaslighting is only effective when people don’t realize that it’s going on.
If you can learn to recognize what a gaslighter is doing, you will be able to neutralize their influence.
✱ Realize That Gaslighting Is Not Actually About You
Gaslighters do what they do to gain control and influence. They need to feel superior.
It is their way of concealing their own insecurities from others – and from themselves.
Because they are not actually better than others, they have to use gaslighting to prop up their own fragile egos.
They cannot deal with honest criticism, so they have to deny their validity. Although it is sad in its way, there’s no excuse for this destructive behavior.
✱ Realize That You Can’t Change A Gaslighter By Yourself
Their behavior developed over time and has become an essential component in how they deal with the world.
If you try to change them by rational argument, they will simply deny its validity and question your sanity.
Professional therapy is the only effective solution. But much like an addict, gaslighters must first become aware that they have a problem.
✱ Decide Whether Or Not It Is Worth The Effort
Determine whether your relationship with the gaslighter is worth maintaining.
If you identify one of your friends as a gaslighter, consider creating some distance.
If your boss is a gaslighter, you may want to think about getting another job, before he or she destroys your reputation or self-confidence.
If you are in a romantic relationship with one and want to save it, your best option is to insist on couple’s counseling.
✱ Create A Support System
You need to have people in your life who know you and support your sense of reality and self-esteem.
Gaslighters are most effective when they can isolate you from others, and therefore control your reality.
They often do this by insisting that they are the only ones who really care about you. Realize that other people love and care for you as well.
Seek out people who support and reinforce their own sense of worth.
✱ Rebuild Your Self-Esteem
Take a good look at the person you really are and identify what makes you worthy of love and respect.
Remember times in your life when you accomplished something worthwhile, or when you enjoyed satisfying and happy relationships with people you valued. Keeping a personal diary may also be helpful.
You can use it to record events that a gaslighter might later deny or twist to their own advantage.
✱ Get Professional Help If You Need It
Gaslighting victims often lose confidence in themselves and their judgment. This process can sabotage their wellbeing and even lead to depression.
If you become aware that you are suffering such symptoms, you might want to consider seeking professional assistance – since recovering from the effects of gaslighting can be very difficult, especially on your own.
A qualified therapist can provide the help and support you need.
Have you recognized this type of psychological manipulation in someone you know?
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