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Last Updated on November 26, 2022
Though the term ‘gaslighting’ has gained popularity in recent years, a lack of clarity around it still remains. What does gaslighting truly mean and how does it impact a person’s emotional and mental health? What are some signs that indicate this form of manipulation may be going on? Throughout this article we will take a look at what gaslighting is, warning signs to look out for in your relationships, and what to do if you believe you might be experiencing gaslighting.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that causes someone to question their own perceptions and sense of reality. Someone may use gaslighting to gain power and control over another person, through various manipulative tactics. While this behavior may start subtly, these abusive patterns continue and often intensify over time. The individual who is being gaslighted may find it increasingly difficult to trust themselves, as they come to rely on the other person to define their reality. It is common for an individual being gaslighted to experience feelings of low self-esteem, confusion, increased anxiety and depression.
It is important to acknowledge that gaslighting can occur in any kind of relational dynamic, not just romantic partnerships. It is possible for an individual to experience patterns of gaslighting within their family, a friendship, or in the workplace as well.
For more information about the effects of abuse, visit BetterHelp.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any type of abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for support and resources.
5 Warning Signs of Gaslighting
Maybe you have had the feeling that something is off in one of your relationships for a while, but you haven’t been able to identify exactly what it is. Recognizing gaslighting when it is occurring can help you to take action when you see this type of manipulation playing out. Here are five warning signs of gaslighting to pay attention to:
1. Questioning if you are ‘too sensitive.’ It is common when being gaslighted to have your feelings or needs repeatedly dismissed or minimized. You may be told that you’re being ‘too sensitive’ or made to feel guilty for voicing a concern.
2. Believing you’re always the one at fault. A person gaslighting you may try to twist events in order to keep you believing that you are the one to blame. You may feel like you can never do anything right and end up frequently apologizing whenever things go wrong.
As explained on Selfendipity, this form of emotional abuse could be a sign that you’ve met a false twin flame. That’s because a partner that makes you believe that you’re always at fault will indirectly force you to do the most work in the relationship. You will feel that you need to work extra to be the right partner because of those supposed faults while they’re happy coasting along. You may feel the need to work extra to keep the romance alive in fear of losing the relationship because of your perceived faults.
3. Constantly second guessing yourself. If you feel like you’re always on edge, worried about saying or doing the ‘right thing’, you may be experiencing gaslighting. You may find that you have decreased confidence in your ability to trust yourself or make decisions.
4. Having your perception of events denied or dismissed. One gaslighting tactic is telling you that your memory of an event is inaccurate, that you are ‘making things up.’ The other person may change the subject, pretend not to know what you are referring to or directly deny your interpretation of events.
5. Feeling disconnected from your sense of self. When experiencing gaslighting, it is common to feel as though you’re frequently confused. The person manipulating you wants you to question your sense of reality and even your sanity, which can reduce your confidence and cause you to remain in the abusive dynamic. You may find that you no longer feel like the person you used to be, or like you’re losing yourself.
What to Do If You’re Being Gaslighted
If you recognize any of these warning signs of gaslighting in any of your relationships, it is crucial to first acknowledge: it is not your fault.
Reaching out for support is an important step. It is common for a person gaslighting you to try to keep you isolated from others. That being said, take the steps to surround yourself with supportive people. They can offer outside perspectives as you share what you have been experiencing. Being with those who care about you can also help you feel more like yourself again.
It can also be beneficial to reach out to a mental health professional, who can provide a safe space to process what you are going through. They can assist you in exploring challenging emotions, determining how to proceed moving forward, and rebuilding your feelings of self-worth. It is possible to heal from abusive patterns and feel like yourself again. You are not alone.