“Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities. But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless.” ~Jeffrey Kluger
If you’ve ever had a friend, family member or co-worker who is a narcissist or who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), chances are you have been the victim of gaslighting, which is a manipulation technique they often employ to get what they want.
“Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction — whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness — in the person they are dealing with,” writes Yashar Ali in a Huffington Post article. “Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.”
Gaslighters make you feel crazy because they act like your reactions to their abuse is not rational.
While the signs you’re being gaslighted may seem “obvious” to some people, the fact is that when you’re being manipulated by a narcissist, you can’t always see the proverbial forest for the trees.
So if you find yourself feeling like you might be a little crazy (part of the whole gaslighting technique)—or even if you’re aware that it’s happening and want to recognize it as it happens—understanding the signs can be the first step to making your life a little better.
Knowing the signs of gaslighting is the first step to making your life better.
When you’re aware of the behaviors that cause your narcissist to engage in gaslighting, you can react differently and change the course of the outcome. So what are the signs you’re being gaslighted?
Top 10 Warning Signs You’re Being Gaslighted
1) Your Fears Are Used Against You—
Many narcissists are very charming, at least when they want to be. Often, they will listen to every word you have to say and file away any vulnerabilities you reveal for later use. For example, if you told a narcissist you felt insecure about your weight, he might later make discreet pokes at it, or in a romantic relationship, make comments about others who are thinner than you are—in any case, he’s out to feel “better” than you.
The narcissist has an ultimate goal – to make you doubt yourself so that you become more dependent on him.
2) You Don’t Know Your Own Mind—
Some narcissists will claim to know what you (or others) are thinking—and if you deny that your mind’s working the way they believe it is, they might just secretly think you’re lying. They might make a face or a gesture to indicate it—or in the most extreme cases of NPD, they might actually tell you that you’re lying—and even accuse you of lying to YOURSELF. Because of course, as narcissists, they can’t be wrong.
3) You Don’t Know What’s Normal—
If you are regularly being told that things are normal when, deep down, you know for sure they are not, you’re likely the victim of gaslighting. For example, say your toxic boss asks you to blatantly lie to a client about the safety of an item. When you refuse, you might be told that ALL employees lie on behalf of their employers and that if you don’t want to be a team player, maybe you should find another position.
4) You’re “Diagnosed” With Major Issues—
When a narcissist is lying or manipulating a friend, coworker or loved one, and isn’t getting his way, he may turn up the intensity by questioning your sanity. You might be called paranoid, stressed out—too sensitive or even hormonal. He might even tell you that you need therapy or meds to get through it. Again, it’s all about being in control.
A narcissist will do anything to stay in control – even at the expense of those he claims to love.
5) You Doubt Your Own Beliefs and Perceptions—
You’re told that what you know to be true is not real. For example, if your narcissist mother tells you that your significant other is a loser and that you need to dump him, after awhile, you could start to believe it and might even end up sabotaging the relationship because you begin to question your own judgment, thanks to regular conditioning during visits, phone calls and emails with her.