Gaslighting is an especially insidious form of abuse that makes a victim doubt their memories, perceptions, reality & sometimes even their sanity. Narcissists love to use it due to the fact that people who live with frequent gaslighting are easy to control. After all, if a person doesn’t trust themselves, they will look elsewhere for whatever information they need, even to an abusive person who is the reason they no longer trust themselves.
Gaslighting can be very subtle, which means it can be difficult to identify. Below are some commonly used phrases narcissists use to gaslight their victims.
“You’re crazy.” Either said outright or implied with phrases like, “You need help.” This phrase can make a person doubt their sanity when repeated often enough & with certainty.
“You’re over sensitive or overreacting.” Another common gaslighting phrase. This is said to make a victim feel shame for being upset at what the abuser has said or done. Few things will shut a person down faster than shame, & when they are shut down, they won’t complain about the abuse.
“I was just kidding!” This phrase is closely related to “You’re oversensitive.” It is designed to create doubt. The victim is supposed to think they overreacted or are too sensitive or stupid to realize the comment was just a joke. The truth is however that it was nothing of the sort.
“You need to get over it!” This phrase basically tells a victim that they are wrong for still being upset about whatever the abuser did that upset them. Narcissists want their victims to tolerate abuse indefinitely & without complaint. If they can make their victim feel badly about themselves or even ashamed for being upset, then they have an excellent chance of getting the victim to continue to tolerate abuse.
“It didn’t happen that way!” This phrase can be used in a couple of ways. The first & most obvious of course is to make a victim doubt their perception & believe the narcissists’s version of events. The other use may be the narcissist’s lack of coping skills coming into play. The narcissist may be ashamed of something they said or did, not because it hurt the victim, but because it may make the narcissist look bad if the victim tells others about what happened. In order to avoid that, the narcissist may try to convince themselves & the victim that it didn’t happen that way, it happened this very different way instead. This way will involve the narcissist not acting badly or the victim doing something to provoke the narcissist to do what they did.
“That never happened!” Denial is a very commonly used tool with narcissists. If they can get their victim to believe that something never happened, that person won’t tell others what the narcissist has done.
“No one else would feel that way./ You’re the only person in the world who would feel that way.” This phrase is another way for narcissists to shame victims by making them feel they are weird, wrong, broken. If they can shame a victim enough, the victim will stop complaining about the abuse & tolerate it quietly.
“I’m only doing this because I love you.” My mother used to justify abusing me by telling me it was “tough love” she was using on me & I deserved it because of my terrible behavior. That is all this phrase is – a way for a narcissist to justify being abusive.
“No one will ever love you like I do.” My ex husband told me this once, & I thank God he was right about that! The phrase is said to make a victim feel that they are lucky to have the narcissist’s love, because no one else ever could or would care about them.
When the narcissist in your life says such things to gaslight you, keep in mind that is exactly what these phrases are, gaslighting. That means there isn’t an ounce of truth in them at all. If you have doubts, ask yourself why do you think the narcissist is right. Or better yet, ask God to tell you the truth in this situation.
Keep a journal. If you haven’t done this before, do it now. Write down what the narcissist says. Seeing things in writing can bring about a great deal of clarity. Often, it makes things clearer than simply talking or thinking about them.
Always remember, the narcissist says these things to manipulate you & to keep you down. Don’t give the narcissist that satisfaction!