7 Red Flags you have been Gaslighted

The phrase “gaslighting” originates from a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton called “Angel Street” in America, which Alfred Hitchcock later turned into the movie “Gas Light.” In the thriller movie, a cunning spouse tries to make his wife believe she is going crazy by making small adjustments to her surroundings, such as gradually lowering a gas lamp’s flame. He isolates her from her family and friends, distorts her environment, and convinces her that she is insane. He also abuses and controls her.

As a result, the wife starts to doubt her thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and experiences. The aim of gaslighting is to make the target feel off-balance and unsure of what is true and what isn’t, and she also feels neurotic, hypersensitive, and out of control.

Psychologists and counsellors started using the term “gaslighting” to describe this kind of emotionally abusive behavior since this movie accurately depicted the toxic and dominating behaviors used by manipulative people.


In simple terms, gaslighting is a subtle strategy of psychological manipulation and control. In this form of psychological abuse, gaslighting victims are purposefully and repeatedly given incorrect information, which causes them to doubt what they already believe to be true, frequently about themselves. They might come to question their memory, perspective, and even sanity. A gaslighter’s deceptions can become more sophisticated and effective over time, making it harder for the victim to recognize the truth.

The foundation of the victim’s being—their concept of identity and self-worth—is attacked in cases of gaslighting, which can happen in either personal or professional interactions. People that are manipulative will attempt gaslighting to gain influence over their victims, either because they like it oddly or because they want to emotionally, physically, or financially overpower them.

A subtle example might be a mother who consistently doubts her daughter’s choices because of which the daughter starts to believe that she consistently makes the wrong choices, simply because the mother does not approve. Although the mother may not be intending to, she is controlling her daughter’s every action by being extremely critical.

To understand it better, take a look at these examples of gaslighting

  1. Countering: This refers to someone challenging another person’s memories. “You always memorize things inaccurately,” or “are you really sure that happened?” or “Your memory is poor” are a few examples of what they might suggest.
  2. Diverting: This tactic involves changing the subject of a conversation and focusing instead on the other person’s reliability. They could say, “That is just another insane idea you heard from your friends,” for starters.
  3. Withholding: When someone withholds, they decline to participate in a conversation. By pretending they don’t understand someone, a person may use this tactic to avoid having to answer. They might respond with something like, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” or “you’re simply trying to confuse me.”
  4. Trivializing: It is when someone trivializes or ignores the feelings of another person. When they have legitimate worries and emotions, they could criticize them for being overly sensitive or overreacting.
  5. Stereotyping: According to an article published in the American Sociological Review, a person employing gaslighting methods may purposefully make use of unfavorable stereotypes of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, or age to influence them. For instance, they could mislead a woman that if she gets treatment for abuse, everyone will think she is insane or irrational.
  6. Denial: Denial is the act of denying or acknowledging that something happened or how it happened. They might claim that someone made up a false story to harm them or deny saying or doing something altogether.

How to identify if you are Gaslighted

  • You frequently doubt your own judgment or struggle to make decisions.
  • When addressed by the person who might be gaslighting you, you may feel as though you have entered an argument that you weren’t intending to have, that you aren’t moving forward, or that you are repeating yourself and aren’t being heard.
  • You always find yourself apologizing after arguments even during times where you strongly believed that you were right but somehow the other person ends up playing the victim.
  • You are confused when it comes to the relationship as you are constantly dealing with highs and lows without any closure.
  • You are continuously making excuses for your partner’s behavior in front of your close ones and yet you don’t believe them yourself.
  • One of the major hints is sensing a blockage in your communication every time and thus not being able to feel happy or content with them.
  • You frequently experience the feeling of having to “walk on eggshells” around your partner, friend, or relative. Moreover, you experience anxiety and low self-esteem.

How to step away from it

– Sometimes gaslighting can escalate into a dangerous, abusive situation. This doesn’t imply that you did anything wrong; emotional abuse is frequently challenging to address. A smart first step is usually to speak with a counselling therapist.

Gaslighting might make you feel alone, but you don’t have to. Depending on your particular circumstance, therapists and online counsellors can provide advice, including safety planning suggestions and resources to assist you in handling a crisis or potentially harmful scenario.

  • Take some space-

It seems reasonable to feel a range of intense emotions when coping with gaslighting. Although all of your emotions, including anger, irritation, stress, grief, and fear, are all appropriate, try not to let them dictate how you respond at the moment. You’ll be able to manage the issue better if you maintain your composure. Maintaining composure can also assist you in focusing on the truth, decreasing the likelihood that their (wrong) version of events would undermine your conscience and belief in yourself. Suggest getting some physical distance and coming back to the subject later. You can focus again and unwind by taking a short stroll or heading outside.

  • Gather evidence for your version of the truth-

It can be helpful to keep track of what’s really happening when someone is trying to gaslight you by documenting your encounters with them. When they dispute a discussion or an argument, you can review the details and confirm the accuracy for yourself.

Here are some suggestions:

Images of texts and emails can be saved. Document any property damage using photos. Keep track of conver sational dates and times. Set limits and engage in self-care while gathering evidence to avoid becoming overburdened or escalating worry.

  • Speak up-

Gaslighting frequently includes insults and lies in addition to deception and lying. You can let them know you won’t tolerate the conduct by calling it out in a calm and assertive manner. Don’t be hesitant to speak up because doing so will encourage people to respect your privacy more. Asking them to explain the joke as if you don’t understand could make them recognize that their attempts to insult you like a joke won’t work on you.

  • Maintain confidence in your version of events-

Usually, your brain doesn’t create entirely new memories. Gaslighting is when someone claims they can’t remember something that you distinctly recall. You already know what happened, so state it firmly and quietly. Getting into an argument can increase tension and make you more susceptible to being manipulated. You defend yourself and keep command of the scenario by choosing not to engage in conversation.

  • Don’t give up on self-care-

A gaslighter may try to make you feel unworthy of self-care, or they may characterise your actions as indulgent or sluggish. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to continue your self-care routines. It can be difficult to enjoy even your favourite things because of worries about gaslighting and its possible effects on your relationships and career.

Try the following tactics to enhance wellbeing:

-Spend time with your family and friends.

-Use constructive self-talk throughout the day.

-Utilize affirmations every day.

-Make time for your interests.

-Try yoga or meditation.

-To help you sort through your feelings, keep a journal.

  • Speak to close ones- You might be concerned that discussing the situation with others will spark drama. However, it’s crucial to get advice and help from reliable sources while coping with gaslighting. Getting feedback from many people in your life can make you feel more confident that you aren’t confused, “crazy,” or forgetting things.


Gaslighting, like other forms of mental abuse, is covert and not visible to others and yet can have drastic impacts on a person’s day-to-day living. It is unimaginably difficult to live with an abuser while trying to make it work. Although, it is absolutely necessary for you to hold your ground, trust your truth and step away as soon as it becomes a problem. They thrive on your obedience and fear, which is why it is equally necessary to maintain control of your situation by choosing not to engage in a conversation that is being led the same negative path.

Apart from the tips mentioned above, there are mental health support organizations that provide mental health counsellors who can help you step out of the vicious loop and start building healthy boundaries. Make sure to seek out the right help and get rid of potential danger by dealing with it silently.

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