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How to Spot a Gaslighter

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How to Spot a Gaslighter


Feel like you are dealing with a gaslighter? Reality shifting, losing your sanity, memories fuzzy, and doubt creeping in? You’re not going crazy, that might be gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a sneaky form of emotional abuse where someone manipulates you into questioning your own sanity. It’s like they slowly dim the lightbulb of your self-worth, leaving you confused, isolated, and doubting yourself. But here’s the good news: you’re not alone, and there are ways to spot it and reclaim your power.

The Red Flags of a Gaslighter


Gaslighting is named after the 1938 play and later film “Gas Light,” where a husband manipulates his wife into questioning her sanity by dimming the gas lights in their home and denying it when she notices. Gaslighters use various tactics to undermine their victims’ confidence and perception of reality.

You are dealing with a gaslighter if that person:

  • Denies things they clearly said or did: “You never told me that!” they exclaim, even though you have concrete proof.
  • Twists your words and actions: Suddenly, everything you do is wrong, and their hurtful behavior is somehow your fault.
  • Makes you feel “crazy” or “overly sensitive”: Gaslighters will dismiss your concerns, making you feel like you’re overreacting to perfectly normal situations.
  • Isolates you from loved ones: They might subtly badmouth your friends or family, creating a wedge between you and your support system.
  • Lies and contradicts themselves: Their stories change like the wind, leaving you feeling disoriented and questioning your own memory.
  • Uses guilt and blame to control you: These people will make you feel responsible for their happiness, manipulating you into doing things you’re uncomfortable with.

Does this sound familiar? It’s important to remember that these are just some red flags, and not every gaslighter exhibits all of them. Still, if you find yourself constantly confused, walking on eggshells, and questioning your own judgment, it’s time to take a closer look.

Taking Back Control


If you suspect you’re being gaslighted, the first step is acknowledging it. Trust your gut feeling. You’re not imagining things. Next, consider these steps:

  • Gather evidence: Document instances of gaslighting, like screenshots of messages or notes about specific interactions. This can help you stay grounded and see the pattern.
  • Talk to someone you trust: Share your experiences with a supportive friend, family member, or therapist. Having someone validate your reality is crucial.
  • Set boundaries: Don’t engage in arguments or try to “prove” yourself. Simply state your truth and limit contact if necessary.
  • Seek professional help: Therapy can provide a safe space to process the abuse, rebuild your self-esteem, and develop coping mechanisms.

Remember, healing takes time and courage. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You deserve to feel safe, respected, and valued for who you are.

Why Therapy Matters


Gaslighting can leave deep emotional scars. Therapy plays a crucial role in addressing gaslighting and can be a powerful tool for healing. A therapist can help you:

  • Make sense of the abuse: Understanding the dynamics of gaslighting can empower you to move forward.
  • Process your emotions: Bottling up your feelings can be harmful. Going to therapy provides a safe space to express and heal from them.
  • Rebuild your self-esteem: Gaslighting can chip away at your confidence. Getting professional help can help you rediscover your strengths and worth.
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms: Learn how to set boundaries, communicate effectively, and protect yourself from future manipulation.

Different Shades of Gaslighting 


Not all gaslighting is the same. While some situations involve blatant manipulation and overt lies, others can be more subtle and insidious. Here are some common shades of gaslighting to watch out for:

  • Trivialization: Gaslighters dismiss your concerns as unimportant or “dramatic,” making you feel like you’re overreacting.
  • Guilt-tripping: They use emotional manipulation to make you feel responsible for their happiness or actions, even if they’re unreasonable.
  • Negative campaigning: These people will badmouth you to others, subtly damaging your reputation and isolating you from your support system.
  • Seduction and confusion: Gaslighters shower you with affection and then withdraw it abruptly, leaving you confused and emotionally dependent.
  • Projection: They attribute their own negative traits or actions to you, deflecting blame and making you question your own reality.

Recognizing the Impact of Gaslighting


Gaslighting doesn’t just affect your mental and emotional well-being. It can also have a ripple effect on other areas of your life, including:

  1. Relationships: You may find it difficult to trust others or form healthy relationships due to the confusion and doubt instilled by the gaslighter.
  2. Work: Constant questioning of your abilities and judgment can impact your performance and self-confidence at work.
  3. Physical health: The stress and anxiety caused by gaslighting can manifest in physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and sleep problems.
  4. Self-esteem: Gaslighters chip away at your sense of self-worth, leaving you feeling insecure and questioning your own reality.

Practical Steps to Heal and Empower Yourself


Healing from gaslighting is a process, but there are concrete steps you can take to empower yourself and move forward:

  1. Educate yourself: Learn more about gaslighting, its tactics, and its impact. Knowledge is power!
  2. Practice self-care: Prioritize activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. This could include exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, or connecting with loved ones.
  3. Develop healthy coping mechanisms: Find ways to manage stress, set boundaries, and communicate assertively.
  4. Build a support network: Surround yourself with supportive and understanding people who believe in you and your experiences.
  5. Consider professional help: Therapy can provide invaluable guidance and support on your healing journey.

Remember, healing is not linear. There will be good days and bad days. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your victories, and never give up on reclaiming your power and self-worth.

Recognizing Gaslighting in Different Contexts


Gaslighting can occur in various relationships, not just romantic ones. Here are some specific examples:

  • In the workplace: A boss might take credit for your ideas, deny giving you instructions, or create a hostile work environment to undermine your confidence.
  • By parents: Parents may use manipulation tactics like guilt-tripping, emotional withholding, or denying certain events ever happened to control and belittle their children.
  • In friendships: Friends may use gaslighting tactics like social exclusion, spreading rumors, or making you feel responsible for their happiness to maintain control over the dynamic.

Remember, gaslighting is never your fault. No matter the context, it’s essential to recognize the signs and seek support to break free from the cycle of manipulation and abuse.



Gaslighting is a serious issue, but it’s important to remember that there is hope and healing available. You are not alone. By educating yourself, building a support system, and seeking professional help if needed, you can reclaim your power, rebuild your self-esteem, and shine your light even brighter than before.


If you, or know of someone who could use some online counseling to feel heard and learn ways to cope, please connect with one of our therapists today for a free consultation.


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