Gaslighting is a vicious mind game that narcissists use to take complete control over their victims. Although it’s a manipulation technique that is most commonly used by narcissists, it is not restricted only to this type of people and can happen in any situation.
While some people do it intentionally, and consciously, there are many cases where the person who is playing this mind game is not even aware of doing it, but rather does it as a primary mechanism of establishing and maintaining a relationship.
It happens so subtly that when the effects start manifesting, the game has taken roots so deep that the damage is already serious. The victim is usually unaware of the trap they’re in, and they end up being shells of their former selves, doubting everything about them and their perception.
If you’re not sure whether you have been a victim of gaslighting, here are 12 telltale signs that say it all.
1. You start questioning and doubting everything about your perception
Being forced to reevaluate everything you perceive and try to find common grounds between the reality in front of your eyes and that which the gaslighter is forcing upon you, you end up questioning and doubting each of your conclusions about what is happening in front of you.
2. You second-guess everything about yourself
Victims of gaslighting lose self-confidence so much that they start questioning everything about the things they’re doing. Feeling on the edge when everything seems to be happening the way it should be, and thinking that whatever you do might turn out wrong is a result of the manipulator’s influence that screams: You aren’t good enough!
3. A constant feeling of confusion
The aim of gaslighting is to lead you to the point where you don’t know where you are standing in life and whether you should be taking any further steps. This makes you feel confused and feeling like you’ve lost your purpose.
4. Thinking that you’re being too sensitive
Sensitivity is a wonderful thing, but not for the manipulator. They will make sure to let you know how sensitive you are about trivial things (that are not trivial at all), and how bad that is. While you might not agree at first, the subtle mind game they’re playing will lead you to believe that you might really be too sensitive.
5. Invalidating your emotions
Perhaps one of the main weapons that the manipulator will use in this game is pointing out your emotions as something negative and weak. This eventually leads you to invalidate the emotions that have been shunned upon by the gaslighter to that extent that you even feel bad about feeling in a certain way.
6. Loss of the ability to express your emotions
Being in a constant struggle with what emotions are ‘normal’ and ‘right’ and which are ‘inappropriate’ and ‘weak,’ you start losing the ability to express any emotions. Instead, you start suppressing each one of them and judging yourself that you possess them in the first place.
7. Always afraid of being wrong
During gaslighting, the manipulator will make sure to expose your imperfections and criticize you for them. Being wrong about something feels like you’ve done the most terrible of crimes, so you start being afraid of ever being wrong.
8. You stop taking action for many things
This fear of being wrong and making the ‘wrong decision’ makes you want to stop taking action in the first place. It can go to such extent that you find yourself relying on the manipulator’s decisions, while you do nothing that would rile up their criticizing nature.
9. Walking on eggshells – all the time
This kind of people will do everything to tell you that nothing you ever do is good enough, and when you know that you have to do something for them so as not to be criticized again, you end up walking on eggshells fearing that they might get angry with you over nothing.
10. Isolating yourself from the people who care for you
Those who care for you will be the primary target for the manipulator, who will make sure to make you think that they are trying to use you and that nobody means you well. The gaslighter will imprint the thought in your head that you are surrounded by enemies who like to harm your relationship and your life. That’s not true, though.
11. Complete loss of self-confidence
Whatever self-confidence you had before meeting this person has somehow disappeared. Speaking up for yourself has become a torment, so you leave your inner voice slowly fade away while you see yourself as a worthless being.
12. Feeling nothing like yourself
When you look back at who you were and what you have become, you feel completely dissociated from your real self. This self-alienation is perhaps the biggest damage gaslighting can cause to one’s personality. In this blank state, you only wander in your thoughts lamenting the person you’ve lost – yourself.
You can go back to the person you really are, by starting to believe in yourself more and recognizing the habits that gaslighting has taught you to. You are a lot more than you have started to think.
Never forget that no mind game can make you lose yourself completely. You are there, only asleep and hidden beneath a veil of illusions and manipulations. You are there – never forget! Rediscover yourself and start loving yourself more. Nobody is worth enough to make you lose yourself!
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.