9 subtle phrases gaslighters use to deceive you

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There’s a fine line between persuasion and deception, and gaslighters are masters at blurring it.

Gaslighting is a psychological tactic where someone uses manipulation to make you question your own reality. It’s subtle, it’s insidious, and it’s incredibly damaging.

As someone who’s been on the receiving end, I can tell you that spotting the signs isn’t as easy as you’d think. But there are phrases that gaslighters commonly use to confuse and control.

Below, I’ll share with you nine of these phrases that gaslighters often use to deceive their victims.

They might seem innocent on the surface but pay attention – they’re far from harmless.

1) “You’re too sensitive”

In the world of gaslighting, undermining someone’s feelings is a common tactic.

Often, gaslighters will use phrases like “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re overreacting” to dismiss your emotions. This makes you question your judgment and ultimately, your sanity.

The danger lies in its subtlety. You might start to believe that you are indeed “too sensitive”, and begin to suppress your feelings and reactions.

The key is to remember that it’s not about you being overly emotional; it’s about them avoiding accountability.

When someone tries to downplay your feelings, take a step back and question if this is a form of manipulation.

Your emotions are valid, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise might just be trying to control you.

2) “I never said that”

This phrase is a classic in the gaslighter’s playbook, and unfortunately, I’ve experienced it first-hand.

One moment, we’d be having a conversation about something important – let’s say, plans for the weekend. The next day, when I would bring up our agreement, they would completely deny it, saying “I never said that”.

It was as if our conversation never happened. I started doubting my memory, questioning if I had imagined the whole thing.

This form of denial is a manipulative tactic to make you question your reality, and it’s a red flag of gaslighting. Remember to trust your memory and perceptions; you’re not going crazy.

3) “You’re imagining things”

This phrase is another common tool in the gaslighter’s arsenal. By suggesting that you’re imagining things, a gaslighter aims to discredit your perceptions and make you doubt your sanity.

An intriguing aspect of this tactic is that it’s a prime example of psychological projection – a defense mechanism whereby people attribute their own unacceptable thoughts or feelings onto someone else. In this case, the gaslighter projects their own deceptive behavior onto you, implying that you’re the one creating a false narrative.

When confronted with this phrase, it’s crucial to trust your instincts and perceptions. Just because someone tells you that you’re imagining things, doesn’t make it true.

4) “You’re making a big deal out of nothing”

This is another phrase gaslighters use to discount your feelings and belittle your experiences. By telling you that you’re making a big deal out of nothing, they’re implying that your reactions are unreasonable or exaggerated.

This a clever way to shift the focus from their behavior to your response. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, they turn it around and make it about your ‘overreaction’.

If you hear this phrase often, take note. Your feelings and experiences are valid, and you have every right to express them. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

5) “I was just joking”

Ever been at the receiving end of a hurtful comment, only to be told it was just a joke? That’s a classic gaslighting move.

Gaslighters use humor as a disguise for their abusive comments. When you react, they switch gears and play the ‘it was just a joke’ card. This not only throws you off balance but also makes you feel guilty for not ‘getting’ their sense of humor.

This is a subtle way to belittle you and make you question your own judgment. Remember, if it doesn’t feel like a joke, it probably isn’t one. Trust your instincts and stand your ground.

6) “No one else thinks that”

This phrase is a two-pronged attack. First, it isolates you, making you feel alone in your perceptions. Second, it employs social pressure to make you back down.

In my journey, I’ve learned that such tactics are designed to make you feel like an outsider, to question your sense of reality. It’s as if your views or feelings are so off base that no one else could possibly share them.

Remember this: You are not alone. Your feelings are valid and shared by many others who have walked in your shoes. Don’t let anyone use isolation as a weapon to control or manipulate you.

7) “You’re crazy”

This phrase is one of the most blatant and damaging in a gaslighter’s repertoire. It’s a direct attack on your sanity, designed to make you question your sense of reality.

I remember hearing this phrase from someone I trusted, and it tore me apart. The more they used it, the more I started doubting myself. It was a dark time, filled with confusion and self-doubt.

But here’s the truth: You’re not crazy. You’re being manipulated. And realizing that is the first step towards breaking free from the gaslighter’s control.

8) It’s all in your head

This is another phrase that gaslighters often use to dismiss your thoughts and feelings. By convincing you that it’s all in your head, they’re suggesting that your perceptions aren’t based on reality.

This is a manipulative tactic designed to make you question your judgment and sanity. Over time, you might start doubting yourself and believing that your thoughts are indeed baseless.

Don’t fall for it. Your thoughts and feelings are valid and real. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Trust yourself and your instincts.

9) “You’re just trying to start a fight”

This phrase is a deflection strategy gaslighters use when they’re confronted about their behavior. Instead of addressing their actions, they accuse you of being confrontational or trying to start a fight.

The truth is, expressing your feelings or concerns is not starting a fight, it’s healthy communication. Gaslighters twist this to make you feel guilty for bringing up issues and to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

Never let someone guilt you into silence. You have every right to express your feelings and concerns, and anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Food for thought: It’s about reclaiming your reality

Understanding gaslighting and the subtle phrases gaslighters use to manipulate is an empowering step towards reclaiming your reality.

Gaslighting is about control and power. But remember, you are not powerless. Knowledge is your armor, and recognizing these phrases is your shield against manipulation.

Whether it’s a friend, a loved one, or a colleague who’s using these tactics, identifying them is the first step towards confronting the issue.

You’re not crazy. Your feelings and perceptions are valid. And if someone tries to tell you otherwise, remember these nine phrases and know that you’re not alone.

Navigating through gaslighting can be challenging, but with awareness and self-trust, you can steer clear of its deceptive maze. Reflect on this information, trust your instincts, and never let anyone distort your reality.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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