Gaslighting is a strategy of emotional and psychological abuse that covert narcissists often use to make people doubt their own perceptions of reality. If you a victim of gaslighting, you will most likely start questioning everything you know, and you are until you lose the sense of your own self-confidence, integrity, and identity.

As an emotional abuse tactic, gaslighting is often present in toxic romantic relationships, but it can occur in any other type of social interaction. Typically, a person with a narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic traits uses gaslighting to manipulate, control, and gain power over their partners or other people.

Why Gaslighting?

The term gaslighting comes from the movie Gaslight (1944), in which a husband manipulates his wife, altering aspects of her environment (including the gaslights) to the point where she begins to think she is losing her mind.

Gaslighting boils to precisely this – convincing people that they imagine things and causing them to doubt their own sanity in order to gain control over them.

Gaslighting can make you feel insecure, anxious, confused, and unable to trust yourself, which can harm your resilience, mental health, and well-being.

Narcissists often tell blatant lies and plausibly deny things with a straight face. Your narcissistic partner will tell you lies and then deny they ever said something, making you start to question reality. Most of the time, their actions will not match their words, uprooting your sense of stability. Also, they will project and continuously accusing you of things they are doing. A narcissist uses these manipulating strategies in a narcissistic abuse cycle to gain control, causing you to feel guilty, accept the responsibility, and reconcile under their conditions.

Gaslighters will do everything to minimize your feelings, discredit you by turning other people against you, at the same time turning you against others (your family, close friends, co-workers, etc.).

These are, however, more or less apparent signs of gaslighting in abusive relationships. Many people engage in toxic relationships abiding by gaslighting for years without realizing it is abuse. This type of offensive strategy sometimes comes in subtle forms, so it can be challenging to recognize it.

Here are some gaslighting phrases you may miss to put the finger on because you don’t even recognize them as gaslighting.

  • You Are Taking It Too Personally, or You Are Too Sensitive

We all sometimes tend to overthink or take offense to things that weren’t meant to offend us, making everything about us. However, a gaslighter will use this phrase to discredit your feelings every time they say or do something that hurts you. They will repeat this sentence innocently as if they don’t understand the issue you have brought up until you start questioning yourself whether you’ve really blown-up things out of proportion.

  • You Are So Dramatic

A gaslighter will make you feel as if you are overreacting, stating that they hate drama (even though there is more drama surrounding them than any other person you know). Narcissists intentionally create drama, competition, or insecurity, playing innocent and blaming you for reacting to unpleasant circumstances they produced.

  • You Have Issues

This is one of the narcissist’s favorite phrases to make you second-guess your thoughts, memories, motives, and perceptions. They will force you to continually apologize and feel ashamed for things you haven’t done, wondering if everything is all right with you.

Gaslighters use manipulation to make you believe there is something wrong at the core of your being, which may cause low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

  • It Was Just a Joke

Gaslighters often use this phrase to minimize or deny bullying or abuse. They do this to avoid taking responsibility for their words and actions, making you question yourself instead. Statements such as, “Calm down, I was just joking,” or “You’re overreacting” have the goal to minimize how you are feeling and communicate that you are wrong so that the gaslighter can have power over you.

  • You’re Just Insecure

Again, this is a phrase gaslighters tend to use to minimize your feelings and shake your confidence. If you are continually being told that you are insecure, you might start feeling hopeless and find it increasingly hard to make decisions. You will start relying on a gaslighter to make decisions for you, which is ex what they aim for.

How to Recognize That You are a Victim of Gaslighting?

Gaslighting can cause various mental health issues and impair the quality of your everyday life. For this reason, it is essential to recognize gaslighting in your relationships. Watch for the following gaslighting signs:

  • You begin to doubt your feelings
  • You feel inadequate and flawed
  • You question your perceptions and judgment
  • You feel insecure most of the time and always second-guess everything you think or do
  • You feel alone and isolated
  • You believe there is something essentially wrong with you
  • You worry that you might be too sensitive
  • You often think of yourself as stupid
  • You feel confused
  • You feel disappointed in yourself and what you have achieved
  • You are anxious
  • You have a hard time making decisions and setting goals
  • You always feel the need to apologize
  • You believe others are disappointed in you
  • You feel as if though you are not the person you used to be
  • You lack confidence and self-esteem
  • You believe everything you do is wrong
  • You take little or no pleasure in things you use to enjoy
  • You are continually making excuses for a gaslighter’s behavior

A covert narcissist uses gaslighting to break another person’s spirit slowly. This usually happens gradually without the victim realizing it, feeling like they were the problem. Such relationships can take a toll on your physical and mental health, productivity, happiness, and other relationships. For this reason, it is essential to recognize gaslighting and find ways to manage it.

If you have been in a toxic dynamic and are ready to heal from it in order to move forward into what is possible for you, or to learn more visit