What is Gaslighting: How to spot the signs and shut it down

Gaslighting is most common in romantic relationships. However, it is not unusual for it to happen in control of friendships or between family members. Gaslighting others could be a sign of mental illness. This type of emotional abuse is used to control family members, friends, and co-workers.


What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting can be described as a form of mental and emotional abuse and manipulation.

Gaslighting is when an abuser makes you question your beliefs or perceptions of reality.

What Is Gaslighting

Gaslighting refers to a type of psychological abuse in which a person or group makes someone doubt their sanity or perception of reality or memories. Gaslighting can cause people to feel anxious, confused, and unable to trust themselves. 

How Gaslighting works

Gaslighting refers to a technique that erodes one’s sense of reality. Gaslighting can cause you to question your memory, perceptions, and recent events. You may feel confused and wonder if you are being gaslighted by someone. It is possible to be told that you are to blame or that you are just being too sensitive.

Some Techniques a person might use to gaslight another person include:

Lying to You

They are known to lie openly and refuse to change their stories even if you confront them or show proof. You might hear them say things like “You are making up stuff,” “That never happened”, or “You are crazy.”

Gaslighting behaviour is based on lying and distortion. They can seem convincing even when you know they are lying. You start to doubt yourself.


Discredit You

People who gossip about you may spread rumours and tell others you are “crazy” or emotionally unstable. This tactic is often very effective, and many people will side with the bully or abuser without knowing the whole story.

Gaslighting can also be a lie. They may tell you that others think the same about you. While these people may not have ever said anything negative about you, the person gaslighting you will try to convince you otherwise.

Get distracted

If someone gaslights you and you call them out on something they have done or said, they might change the subject and ask a question rather than respond to your question, and this can disrupt your thoughts.

Minimize Your Thoughts and Feelings

The person gaslighting you can trivialize your emotions to gain power. You might hear them say things like “Calm down”, “You’re reacting too much,” or “Why are you too sensitive?” These statements reduce how you feel or what you think and communicate that you are wrong.

You may start to question your beliefs and thoughts if you are dealing with someone who doesn’t acknowledge them. You may not feel validated and understood by others, which can make it very isolating, shameful, and challenging to deal with.

Shifting the Blame

Blame-shifting is another popular gaslighting tactic. Every conversation you have ends up pointing out that you are responsible for the events. Even if you attempt to talk about how you feel about the abuser, they can twist the conversation to make you question if you are responsible for their behaviour. They may say that if you behaved differently, they wouldn’t treat you as they do.

Refusing to Recognize Wrongdoing

Bullying and emotional abusers are known for their inability to admit that they were wrong. To avoid taking responsibility for their bad choices, they do this. Gaslighting victims can feel ignored, unheard, or as if their impact is insignificant. This tactic makes it difficult for victims to move on from bullying or abuse.

Use compassionate words as weapons.

When asked about their feelings, someone who gaslights may use loving words and kind words to help you get through the situation. I wouldn’t intentionally hurt you.”

Using Compassionate words as weapons

Although these words may sound like what you want, they can be faked, especially in repeated behaviour without correction in action. They may convince you to let the person off the hook. This allows them to avoid responsibility and consequences.

Rewriting History

Gaslighters tend to tell stories in their favour. It is possible to start doubting your memories of what actually happened. This is precisely the intention.

Signs of Gaslighting

Gaslighting can lead to anxiety, depression, addiction, and thoughts of suicide. It is important to know when you are experiencing gaslighting. The National Domestic Violence Hotline indicates that someone experiencing gaslighting could:

You question your feelings and reality.

You try to convince yourself that the treatment you get isn’t so bad or that you’re too sensitive.

You are questioning your judgement and perceptions

You are afraid to speak up or express your emotions. You’ve learned that sharing your opinion can make you feel worse, so you keep silent.

You feel insecure and vulnerable

You may feel that you are “walking on eggshells” with your friend, partner or family member. You feel anxious and have low self-esteem.

You feel powerless and alone

Everyone around you believes you are “strange,” crazy, or unstable, just like the person gaslighting you. This can make you feel isolated and trapped.

Do you wonder if they are right? 

The person makes you feel stupid and unintelligent.

You feel disappointed in yourself and who you’ve become

For instance, you feel weak and passive. However, you once felt more robust and more assertive.

You are worried that you are sensitive:

The person minimizes hurtful words or behaviours by saying, “I was just having fun” or “You need thicker skin.”

Feel like there is imminent doom

When you are with this person, it feels terrible. You may feel threatened or on edge but not know why.

You spend a lot of time apologizing

You feel the need for constant remorse for who and what you are.

Feeling inadequate

You feel that you are not good enough.

Feeling Inadequate

You strive to meet the demands and expectations of others, even when they seem unreasonable.

You often second-guess yourself

You wonder if you can accurately recall details from past events. Fear of being wrong, you may even have stopped sharing what you remember.

You assume that others are disappointed in you

You apologize for everything you do and who you are.

What’s wrong? 

It’s hard to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong. You worry that your mental health is not in order.

You have difficulty making decisions due to your distrust of yourself

You would prefer to let your friend, family member, or partner make the decisions for you, so you can avoid having to make any decisions.

How to Respond to Gaslighting

There are steps you can take to prevent gaslighting from happening in your relationship. You might consider:

Identify the problem

This is the first step. Once you have given something a name, it is possible to be specific and precise about how you address it. It can help to separate truth from fiction by writing down details from a conversation.

Allow yourself to feel what it is that you feel

This is the problem with gaslighting. Recognize that what you feel is what it is and take the necessary steps to make yourself feel better.

You can give yourself permission to sacrifice

It’s hard for victims to let go of a gaslight tango. You may be able to have many wonderful things in a relationship, but it is not worth it if they are affecting your reality. To regain your self-worth, cut off the relationship, let go of some of those great things or accept that they don’t have a high opinion about you.

Take small steps to make decisions

Take one step at a time. Speak up, do not engage in an argument that is clearly a power struggle.

Get another opinion

Ask someone you trust to tell you if your thinking is as crazy as your abuser claims.

Show compassion for yourself

You are responsible for your actions. You need to be honest with yourself. While your partner might be great tomorrow, you need to focus on the present moment. Recognize those feelings and recognize when they are present.

Keep the things that make you unique

Gaslighting can often lead to a loss of personal identity. You might feel lost or numb over time. A constant state of worry and nervousness can make it challenging to find the energy you need for self-care and your interests. You can regain your energy and retain your sense of self by taking the time to attend to your emotional and physical needs. As a result, you might find it easier to navigate the world and resist being manipulated.

Terminate the relationship

While it may be hard, it is often the best way to end abuse.


Although gaslighting may seem gradual at first, this subtle manipulation can cause lasting and serious harm.

Gaslighting is a manipulative technique that involves lying, distracting, minimizing, denying, and blaming. You should pay attention to their actions, not just the words they use, and stand up for yourself.

Examples of Gaslighting
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