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How to Spot the Early Warning Signs of Gaslighting

gaslighting, emotional abuse, relationships

If you're unfamiliar with gaslighting, it's more common than you may think and can be difficult to spot in the early stages, but there are certain warning signs you can look out for. This blog is here to help you understand what gaslighting is, identify the signs, as well as what to do if you think you're being gaslighted.

What is Gaslighting?

We hear the term frequently: "You are Gaslighting me!" "That's Gaslighting!" "You are being Gaslighted!"

So what does it mean, exactly? Gaslighting is a term used to describe when someone manipulates another person into doubting their sanity or reality. It is a form of psychological and emotional abuse. The abuser uses a variety of tactics, such as denial, projection, and false accusations, to create an environment of uncertainty and confusion.

Gaslighting can be very subtle, making it difficult for the victim to identify and respond to the abuse accordingly. The abuser often times, in the beginning of the relationship, win you with affection, attention and shower you with love to obtain your trust...but then is able to start to control you.

It can be a gradual shift where facts and evidence are twisted to match your understanding. You may start to feel disoriented, fuzzy and unclear about your thoughts and beliefs. You feel that you always apologize for daily interactions and for being just the way you are.

You become so confused about what your reality is that you start blaming yourself and then find you are completely dependent on them.

Signs you are being Gaslighted

While it can be difficult to identify gaslighting in its early stages, here are some telltale signs that you can look out for.

The Gaslighter aka abuser which can be your partner/coworker/family member/friend will...

  • Constantly deny your reality or make you feel like you're crazy for thinking the things you do

  • Try to convince you that you're overreacting or being too sensitive.

  • Accuse you of forgetting things or making things up.

  • Make decisions for you without consulting you first.

  • Undermine your confidence by telling you that you're not good enough, pretty enough, talented enough, etc.

  • Try to control your every move and isolate you from friends and family.

  • Invalidate your feelings and experiences, refusing to acknowledge reality.

If you notice any of the above behaviors in your relationship (any relationship), it may be time to get out.

What are common Gaslighting Phrases?

Becoming aware of some of the common phrases coming from a 'Gaslighter' can help protect yourself from recurring abuse. There are times that your partner may not know what they are doing but when it becomes a pattern and they are saying the same thing over and over- That is Abuse!

Some of the most common gaslighting phrases are

  • "I'm just trying to help,"

  • "You're overreacting"

  • "You're too sensitive."

  • "I guess I'll have to repeat myself since you can't remember"

  • "You can't take a joke"

  • "I know what you are thinking"

  • "If you really loved me you would..."

  • "If you're lucky, I'll forgive you"

  • "I did not say that"

  • "You need help"

  • "I wouldn't have done that to you"

  • "You must be imagining things"

  • "Stop feeling sorry for yourself"

  • "You must be confused again"

If someone close to you ever uses these phrases to dismiss your concerns, it's a sign that they may be using gaslighting tactics on you.

Responding to a Gaslighter

Having a conversation with someone who is gaslighting you can be unsettling and it can feel like you were knocked off your feet. If you recognize that you are being gaslighted, here are some things you can say or do in response:

  • "I hear what you are saying. That isn't my experience"

  • Walk away from the conversation and not engage

  • "We remember things differently"

  • "I know my truth and I'm not debating with you"

  • "I know what I saw"

  • "I'm stepping away from this conversation"

  • "My feelings are my feelings; This is how I feel"

You can start to practice standing firm in your truth and using your voice to share your feelings. But you can always walk away. That's OK too!

What to do if you think you are being Gaslighted

If you think you may be experiencing gaslighting, take some of these actions:

  • Keep a journal of your experiences with the abuser, as well as any evidence or proof that supports your case.

  • Avoid talking to the abuser about the situation, as they will only try to manipulate you further.

  • Reach out to trusted friends

  • Seek help from a therapist or support group. There is no shame in getting help; in fact, it shows strength and courage.

  • Walk away from the relationship

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