“I didn’t say that”: 8 classic gaslighting phrases to watch out for

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Dealing with a gaslighter can sometimes feel like an impossible task. You’re sure you heard them say something, but now they’re denying it ever happened. It’s easy to doubt yourself, to wonder if maybe you’re just imagining things.

But here’s the thing – you’re not.

Gaslighting is subtle and sneaky, that’s for sure. It’s not always loud arguments and outright denials. Sometimes, it’s a simple phrase, casually tossed into a conversation that leaves you second-guessing your own memory and perception.

Today, we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Here’s your guide to identifying eight classic gaslighting phrases that might be slipping under your radar. 

It’s not about creating paranoia or mistrust, but about empowering you to recognize when someone might be trying to manipulate your reality.

After all, clarity in communication is key, and it’s time you had the tools to ensure that happens.

Let’s dive in.

1) “I never said that”

This one is a classic. You’re absolutely positive that they said something specific. You remember the conversation, the context, even where you were when it happened. 

But now, they’re looking at you with a puzzled expression, insisting that they never said what you clearly remember them saying.

It can leave you feeling confused, doubting your own memory. And that’s exactly what gaslighting does. It creates a sense of instability and uncertainty, making you question your own perceptions.

Take note of this. If it happens once or twice, it could be a simple misunderstanding or lapse in memory. But if it occurs frequently, it’s a red flag. 

Don’t let anyone make you feel like your memory isn’t reliable. Trust in yourself and your own perceptions. After all, your experiences are valid – don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

2) “You’re being overly sensitive”

This one hits close to home. In an argument or disagreement, who hasn’t been told they’re being too sensitive or overreacting? 

It can feel like a dismissal of your feelings, a way to undermine your response and make it seem unwarranted.

And it’s a classic gaslighting tactic. It shifts the focus from their actions to your reaction. 

Instead of addressing the issue at hand, they make it about your emotional response, suggesting that the problem lies with you and not their behavior.

This can make you feel like you’re in the wrong for having emotions, for responding to things in a certain way. 

But let me tell you something important: Your feelings are valid. It’s okay to react to things, to feel hurt or upset or angry. Don’t let anyone minimize your emotions or make you feel like you’re overreacting.

3) “You’re imagining things”

I’ll never forget the day when I was told, “You’re just imagining things.” We were discussing an issue that had been bothering me for weeks. I was sure there was a problem, but they insisted it was all in my head.

This is another classic gaslighting phrase. It’s designed to make you question your own reality, to doubt your perceptions and experiences. 

They’re telling you that what you’re seeing, hearing, or feeling isn’t real.

I remember the confusion and frustration I felt, the way I started to second-guess myself. But I’ve learned since then that my experiences are valid. 

If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to trust that feeling, regardless of what anyone else says. Don’t let anyone convince you that you’re just imagining things. Your experiences and perceptions are valid and should be respected.

4) “You’re just trying to start an argument”

Did you know that gaslighting is often used as a defense mechanism? When faced with confrontation or accusations, people might resort to gaslighting to deflect the blame and avoid taking responsibility.

One of the ways they do this is by accusing you of trying to start an argument. 

Instead of addressing your concerns or discussing the issue at hand, they turn it back on you. They make it seem like you’re the problem for bringing it up, for trying to have a conversation.

You’re not trying to start an argument; you’re trying to communicate. You’re trying to address issues, express your feelings, and find a resolution. 

And there’s nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty for wanting clear and open communication in your relationships.

5) “You’re making things up”

We’ve all been in those situations where we’re sure about something, only to be told we’re making it up. It’s a confusing, disorienting feeling which can leave us questioning our own sanity.

This phrase is another example of gaslighting at its finest. By accusing you of fabricating stories or events, they’re undermining your trust in your own memory and perception. 

They’re creating an atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty that can make you question your own reality.

But like with the previous point, trust in yourself – you’re not making things up. You know that your experiences, your memories, your perceptions are 100% real. No one has the right to distort that.

6) “That never happened”

Imagine having a vivid memory of an incident, only to be told flatly that it never happened. This denial of your experience can feel like a punch in the gut, leaving you reeling and questioning your sanity.

This is another potent gaslighting phrase, also meant to convince you that what you’re saying is a figment of your imagination. 

By denying the occurrence of events that you clearly remember, they’re trying to rewrite your reality. They’re attempting to overwrite your experiences and memories with their narrative.

I’ll say it once again – you know what you’ve experienced, what you’ve seen, heard or felt. Stand firm in your reality, because it’s valid and it’s real.

7) “You’re crazy”

This is perhaps one of the most hurtful phrases to hear, especially coming from someone you trust or care about. 

It’s a direct attack on your sanity, a dismissal of your experiences and feelings as the ramblings of a “crazy” person.

The aim is to discredit your perceptions and experiences, making it seem like they can’t be trusted because they’re the result of an unstable mind.

But you know you’re not crazy, right? Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. 

8) “You’re just overthinking”

How many times have you been told that you’re just overthinking things? That your concern or worry is just a result of your mind spinning out of control?

This is a crafty gaslighting phrase, often used to dismiss your concerns or worries as irrational or baseless. 

Accusing you of overthinking implies that the problem lies with your thought process, not with their actions or words.

But the truth is – trusting your gut instinct is important. If something feels off, it’s okay to question it, to explore those feelings. 

You’re not overthinking – you’re being vigilant and aware. Your concerns and worries are valid, and they deserve to be taken seriously. 

Trust in yourself, because your instincts are often more right than you think.

Final thoughts

If you find yourself recognizing these phrases in your own conversations, know that you’re not alone. Gaslighting is more common than we’d like to admit, and it can be quite subtle, making it hard to identify.

But awareness is the first step towards change. Identifying these phrases when they occur can help you navigate your conversations better and protect your mental health. 

I know I’ve said this over and over, but it’s crucial when you come across a gaslighter to trust in your own memories and perceptions. 

Also remember, it’s completely okay to question things. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. You have every right to express your concerns or feelings without being made to feel ‘crazy’ or ‘overthinking’.

And while it may be challenging at first, know that standing up for yourself is not only possible but essential. You deserve respect and understanding in all your relationships.

So take the time to reflect on these phrases and how they show up in your conversations. Keep an open mind, but stand firm in your reality. 

You are more resilient and stronger than you think. And you owe it to yourself to live a life where your reality is respected and valued.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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