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Is a narcissist gaslighting you?

Is a narcissist gaslighting you?Photo from Unsplash

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Are you wondering if you are the victim of a narcissist gaslighting you?

Take a big breath, and consider if you are around someone who repeatedly shuts down your thoughts, feelings or concerns. Is the person overly critical, and manipulating reality to serve their agenda, or constantly judging your decisions? Maybe you have a strong sense that your relationship is full of lies, but you keep doubting and questioning your own sanity?

If so, chances are you are the target for gaslighting.

What is Gaslighting 

Gaslighting begins gradually and is often undetected. The abuser works hard to ‘love bomb’ and build their partners trust during a ‘honeymoon period’ in which there is zero abusive behaviour.

When the ‘honeymoon’ period ends, the abuser will begin to repeatedly manipulate their victim by devaluing them, telling them that they are useless, unreliable, forgetful, or unstable.

This is a form of mind-control, leaving their victims afraid to trust their own memory of the event, and they begin to question their own sanity. The victim will feel overwhelmed with self-doubt and confusion, grow ‘trust’ for their abuser, and won’t see that they’ve been caught up in a toxic and malicious web of lies. As time goes on, the abuse will result in low self esteem for the victim and they become more and more emotionally reliant on the abuser.

The Gaslighting cycle:

  • Countering: This is when the abuser questions the victims memory, devalues them and makes them question their own sanity.
  • Withholding: The abuser will play the ‘victim’ pretend they don’t understand or have any memory of the event.
  • Trivialising: The abuser will put down or disregard the victims feelings.
  • Denial: The abuser will refuse to take responsibility for their actions. They will play the ‘victim’ and blame others for their bad behaviour, they will use guilt-tripping tactics for gain sympathy from the victim.
  • Diverting: Diverting attention on a subject is common, this is so the abuser doesn’t have to take responsibility. Any concerns raised by the victim will simply be counteracted with a ‘bigger’ concern by the narcissist.
  • Jealousy: Narcissists are highly jealous and insecure people. Therefore, they will stereotype and put other people’s successes or achievements down.

Who will gaslight

Gaslighting can happen in any interaction or relationship, but here are the two most common.

Intimate relationships

In relationships, an abusive person may use gaslighting to take control of the relationship and gain power. Narcissists are hugely insecure people, they need to be needed, and they take advantage of any weakness. There often is a honeymoon period, where the narcissist will love bomb their target, and when this phase is over, they will begin to show their true colours.

Parent relationships

This is a subtle and covert form of emotional abuse. It’s common for narcissists to feel at threat if the child expresses any type of independence, and will do anything to prevent them from having disobeying the family rules, expressing different opinions or concerns that don’t align with their twisted reality.  Abusive parents may gaslight children to undermine them, gain control and power.

Narcissist Gaslighting: How It’s Done

  • Fake image to the outside world. They will portray themselves as wealthy, successful and confident to charm people into worshiping them, or thinking they are amazing.
  • Inflated sense of importance: They are extremely self absorbed, narcs truly believe everyone is envious of them.
  • Turnover of friends: Ever wondered why some people have a huge turnover of friends? It’s because they are not friends. They are people who the narc has abused and made vulnerable. They simply serve the narcs ego driven agenda, and when the person no longer serves their agenda, they will be dropped. On the rare occasion the person leaves first, the narc won’t take it lightly – In the narcs perspective, this is a threat and a form of rejection.. Therefore, they will lie to others about them (This is referred to as smearing), and then the narc plays the victim.
  • Narcs have a sense of entitlement, they believe they are better than everyone else and will break any rule to prove this. This sense of self-perfection, is the most common trait and forms the foundation of narcissism.
  • It’s always someone else who is the problem. How could this perfect person ever do anything wrong? Should you challenge a narc or question their twisted reality, you’ll be subjected to guilt, shame, smearing and abuse.
  • Violating Boundaries: boundaries do not exist in the narcs world.
  • A common gaslighting technique narcissists use involves undermining or questioning your credibility by pointing out past mistakes you’ve made.
  • Accusing someone of being unstable is a common tactic narcissists use.
  • Narcissistic gaslighters often want to play the “good guy”, and will play the victim of every scenario. A common example is pretending they’re the only ones who really love and care about you, while pointing out ways others have let you down.
  • Narcissists often form alliances with others to attack and discredit a person, or just pretend that others agree with them even when they don’t. A common example is that ‘everyone’ or ‘someone’ thinks the same and ‘have told me.’
  • Often a narcissist gaslighting campaign will be to undermine a person’s passion or career. Everything you do independently, they will form an opinion, and know ‘someone’ who’s already done it and hated it, or will pass a comment to diminish your interests. Phrases such as ‘It’s alright for some’ is common.
  • Narcs will always have ‘followers’, usually a high turnover of ‘friends’ who put up with them for a short period, and then realise their true colours. These ‘followers’ will always align with the narc, and will set out on a mission to abuse you on behalf of the narcissist.
  • Another tactic narcissistic gaslighters use is to compare you to other people to put you down, or talk about your past when you were ‘in a good place’ or in reality, under their control. Therefore, should you break free and become independent, a narc will see any achievement as a threat, and keep bringing up the past when you were not a ‘threat’.
  • It’s common for a narcissist to probe and try to make you visibly angry in front of other people. It’s important to stay calm, the moment you react, they will use this against you.
  • Accusing their victim of being too sensitive, or that they’ve changed or are too emotional. This is for the narc to avoid taking responsibility for their hurtful and distasteful behaviour.
  • Indirect abuse or doublespeak is a way of using language to disguise the truth. Intelligent narcissists become masters at this tactic. They will intentionally word conversations to have a double meaning, the controlling version, and the caring version. For example; ‘Oh you know what she’s like, she’s so unstable bless her’.
  • Narcs will use passive aggression when gaslighting, they will pass hurtful comments as a ‘joke’. Or they may pass back-handed comments such as ‘have you eaten enough’ or ‘slept enough’, which is to subtly suggest you’re unhappy or struggling. Fit and healthy people are a threat to narcs, as they tend to be driven by alcohol and unhealthy behaviours.
  • When a narcissist is “losing” in a conversation, they often shut down, and refuse to continue the conversation.
  • Another form of gaslighting narcissists use is pretending to care or be concerned about someone as a back-handed way of suggesting they’re irrational, crazy, or unstable. Or if you become genuinely unwell, they will thrive when you need their help. As soon as you become well and independent again, they will drop you.
  • Another gaslighting trick used by narcissists is to use your own words against you. For example, ‘I thought you said that’, or ‘you were the one who told me x’ This is a manipulative tactic to confuse you.
  • They will refer to their narcissistic and controlling behaviour as ‘love’ for someone.

Narcissist gaslightingConclusion

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic used by abusers to control their victims. It is commonly used in relationships or family relationships to trick their victims in to believing a scenario is their fault. When in fact, it is manufactured by the narcissist to trick you in to behaving how they want you to behave, to support their self absorbed agendas. If you feel you may be in a relationship with a narcissist, or your parents may be narcissists, it is important to get support from a therapist so you can set boundaries and improve your mental health.

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