You might think you would be able to recognize when you’re being gaslit — especially by a partner or someone you care about. Unfortunately, narcissistic gaslighting isn’t always easy to pick up on. That’s especially true if the person doing it has been at it for a long time and has essentially “trained” you to believe what they’re saying.
Gaslighting is abusive behavior. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship, a friendship, or even a familial relationship, it’s essential to know what narcissistic gaslighting sounds like so you can stop listening to it immediately.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few examples of what to look and listen for, as well as tips you can use to stop believing the lies.
They Call You Crazy
You’re crazy. You need help. You have mental issues. Sound familiar?
Narcissistic gaslighters thrive on making the people they’re with feel like they’re unruly and unstable. They want to be in complete control, so they’ll take on the role of “doctor” and diagnose you with things that have no basis in reality.
Typically, they’ll focus on mental health issues because they’re more difficult to disprove or dispute. If someone says you’re crazy often enough, you might start to believe it. That’s what they’re counting on.
They Make You Feel Insecure
Many people choose to stay in relationships where gaslighting is common because they struggle with insecurity. A narcissist will capitalize on that. They’ll plant negative seeds in your mind suggesting you aren’t good enough for anyone else or anything else.
They might make negative comments about your looks, intelligence, or even your personality. Typically, these comments are there to make sure you don’t leave them or see them for who they really are. It allows them to essentially behave however they want while keeping you on a leash because you think you can’t “do better.”
Because of that, it’s not uncommon for narcissists to have flirtatious personalities, or even cheat in relationships, knowing they can likely get away with it.
They Tell You You’re Overreacting
One of the best ways to determine if you’re dealing with a narcissist who is also gaslighting you is if they tell you you’re overreacting when you finally call them out on their behavior. Or, they might suggest they were just joking and that you don’t have a sense of humor.
The best thing you can do in those situations is to trust your gut. A narcissist doesn’t do well when they get “caught,” and they’ll typically do whatever it takes to talk their way out of the situation. That includes gaslighting you to make you think you’re somehow the one at fault.
How to Stop Listening
Get space. The moment you realize you’re dealing with gaslighting in your relationship is the moment you’ll also realize you’re being abused. When you step away from their abuse, you’ll be able to experience peace of mind for a while. When you’re in the thick of things, it’s harder to realize they’re gaslighting you. Spending time apart makes things clearer.
It’s also essential to practice self-care. Find things that take away your daily stress. Do things that bring you joy and comfort. Exercise. Prioritize sleep. Journal. Spend time with loved ones. The more you care for yourself, the more you’ll start to see your value and worth and realize that your abuser is wrong.
Finally, walk away. Narcissists can sometimes change, but they have to want to. Unfortunately, that’s typically not the case. Separating yourself from that relationship could end up preserving your sense of self-worth and saving your identity. Don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own. Lean on family members, friends, and even professional help to get you through.