“What are you talking about? That never happened.”
“You’re overreacting. Why are you so sensitive?”
Oops. Do you often hear these from the people around you? Chances are you’re being gaslighted. To put it quite plainly: it’s not you, it’s them.
Gaslighting is emotional and psychological abuse that occurs in abusive relationships. It is a deception technique that skews the view of reality. It may happen in any relationship, including those with a partner, your friends, your acquaintances, or even your family members. Gaslighting often occurs over time, making it challenging to identify. People who are being gaslighted would typically question themselves, their memories, and their perceptions and are usually left unsure and confused.
So how can you tell if you are being gaslighted? Here are 5 signs you should look out for.
- Lying, reframing, and twisting situations
“You got it all wrong. This is all in your head.”
People who gaslight will lie straight to your face and deny everything even when you catch them red-handed. They also tend to make up stories and excuses in their favor to make it seem like they did nothing wrong. As this progresses, victims would doubt themselves and their memory of what happened.
- Discrediting you
“Don’t you know people are saying bad things about you?”
In addition to making things up, gaslighters are also fond of vilifying people. They will pretend to care about you while they talk behind your back and turn people against you. In these cases, people are more likely to side with the abuser without knowing the whole story. Even when people do not say bad things about you, they will make you feel the opposite. Victims would feel alone and insecure, thinking that everyone is against them.
“Why are you pinning this on me? You’re the reason for all of this!”
Gaslighters are actors–they like to play the victim. When an issue arises and you confront them about their behavior, they will twist the situation and make it look like the blame is on you. They will manipulate you into thinking that you’re the reason why they act the way they do. This would then lead to victims second-guessing and feeling disappointed with themselves.
- Invalidating your thoughts and feelings
“You’re being too sensitive. Now you’re going to get all worked up again over nothing.”
In the event of calling gaslighters out, they make it a habit to invalidate your thoughts and feelings. This allows them to feel superior to you. Victims will then gradually doubt themselves and question their judgments and perceptions. They would eventually believe that they’re wrong and feel the need to apologize all the time.
- Using compassionate words to woo you
“You know I love you, right?”
The cherry on top is gaslighters are smooth talkers; this makes it all the more difficult for victims. One second they treat you like garbage, and the next, they treat you like you’re their world. When things get out of hand, this becomes their secret weapon. They will try to make things better by telling you something you want to hear and preventing you from cutting-ties with them. With that, victims feel confused and find it difficult to make decisions. They are afraid of being wrong and will consequently feel they’re not good enough.
In light of all of this, it is crucial to be aware of everything happening around you when dealing with gaslighters. Be confident with yourself and with what you believe in. Remain objective and know what their true motive is. Know that the world is not against you, and it is okay to ask for help. In this day and age, we need to look out for each other, including encouraging self-development.