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The Truth About Gaslighting: 14 Clear Signs That Someone Is Trying to Make You Doubt Yourself

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Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation in which someone tries to make you doubt your own perceptions, memories, or sanity. So many of us think we will never fall prey to gaslighting,  but the truth is that it’s easier than you think.  Our human nature simply cannot conceive of another person intentionally and maliciously attempting to erode our sanity for their own again.  Surely this only happens in the movies?  Most of us can only understand this once we’ve been subjected to it. Gaslighting can be subtle and insidious, making it very difficult to recognize. While gaslighters can employ a wide range of tricks, phrases and strategies, here are some clear signs that someone is gaslighting you:


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1 Denying what they said or did


 They often deny statements or actions they’ve made, even when there is clear evidence to the contrary. They may say things like, “I never said that,” or “You’re imagining things.”


2 Trivializing your feelings


 They will minimize your emotions or reactions, making you feel like your feelings are irrational or unwarranted. They might say, “You’re overreacting,” or “You’re too sensitive.” 


3 Shifting blame


 They frequently deflect responsibility for their actions and behaviors onto you, making you feel like you’re the one at fault. They might say, “You made me do this,” or “It’s your fault I acted this way,” and “You’re the one who always starts arguments.”


 4 Projecting their behavior onto you

 They project their own negative qualities or actions and accuse you of the very behaviors they are guilty of. For example, if they are lying, they might accuse you of being dishonest.


5 Withholding information


 They often withhold crucial information or details, making it difficult for you to make informed decisions or understand the full picture of a situation.  This keeps you in the dark, making it harder for you to trust your own judgment.


6 Diverting the topic


 They change the subject or divert the conversation away from the issue at hand whenever they feel cornered or exposed.


7 Countering


They constantly counter your statements or actions, creating confusion and doubt. For instance, “That’s not what happened,” or “You’re remembering it wrong.”


8 Using isolation tactics


 They try to isolate you from friends and family or discourage you from seeking support from others. They want you to rely solely on them for validation and information.


9 Constantly changing their story


They frequently change their narrative or explanation of events, causing confusion and making it challenging for you to keep track of the truth.


10 Diminishing your memory


 They claim that your memory is unreliable or that you have a poor recollection of past events, eroding your confidence in your own memory.


11 Creating a sense of uncertainty


 They aim to make you feel uncertain and doubt everything, including your own judgment, perception, and reality. This constant state of confusion can lead to dependency on the gaslighter for guidance and validation.


12 Undermining confidence


 They often work to erode your self-confidence and self-esteem, making them question their abilities and judgment. They may say things like, “You’re so gullible,” or “You’re not capable of handling this.”


13 Playing the victim


 They portray themselves as the victim in situations where they are actually the ones causing harm or manipulation. This can make you feel guilty or responsible for their actions.


14 Using others as allies


 They might enlist the support of others to validate their version of events or feelings, making you feel isolated and outnumbered. They might tell you that others, especially your family and/or friends, agree with them and not you. 


While gaslighting is typically associated with a pattern of behavior, it’s possible for gaslighting tactics to be used in specific situations or contexts. Situational gaslighting refers to instances where someone attempts to manipulate or distort the truth to their advantage or to deceive others within a particular circumstance or scenario.


Situational gaslighting can occur in various settings, such as relationships, workplaces, or legal disputes. It doesn’t necessarily indicate a long-term, pervasive pattern of gaslighting behavior but rather a specific attempt to manipulate the truth in a particular situation.


Regardless of whether gaslighting is situational or part of a broader pattern of behavior, it’s important to recognize it and take steps to protect yourself  and address the manipulation as needed.  If you suspect that someone is systematically gaslighting you, it’s essential to trust your instincts and seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. Gaslighting can be emotionally damaging and can erode your self-esteem over time, so addressing it is crucial for your well-being.


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