7 phrases manipulators use to make you feel like you’re the crazy one

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Do you ever find yourself questioning your sanity? Like you’re not sure if you see everything the wrong way?

You are probably dealing with a master manipulator. There are certain phrases they use to make you feel like you’re the crazy one — and boy, are they good at using them. 

You should never let your sense of reality be distorted by someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

That’s why it’s crucial for you to be able to recognize these 7 types of manipulative phrases. 

Let’s have a look at what they are. 

1) Gaslighting phrases

Gaslighting is practically the first page in the manipulators handbook. It’s a tactic that is literally made to make you feel crazy.

Basically, it’s a psychological game where a person makes you doubt your own thoughts, feelings, and memories. 

They might deny saying things they’ve said, or claim they said things they didn’t say. 

Either way, their goal is one and the same: making you feel insecure, start doubting yourself, and ultimately think you’re crazy. 

Sadly, I know from personal experience it can be very hard to keep your guard up against gaslighting. It’s hard to realize it’s happening, and natural for us to be swayed by what others say.

But you can learn to trust yourself and stay strong in your knowledge of what’s real and what’s not. 

Keep an ear out for these phrases, and be wary if you hear them. 

Examples of gaslighting phrases:

  • “I never said that; you must remember wrong.”
  • “You’re making things up in your head”
  • “You always distort the truth”
  • “Your imagination is playing tricks on you”

2) Projection techniques

Another way manipulative people make you feel insane is with projection techniques

This is when someone accuses you of having the flaws, feelings, or intentions that are actually theirs. 

This often comes from them pushing down feelings of insecurity and guilt, looking to dump their shortcomings on others to make themselves feel better.

If you believe them, it can have a very damaging effect on your self-esteem – and even make you start to doubt who you think you are, and whether or not you’re even a good person.

But you don’t have to let them do this. If you stay aware of the phrases they typically use, you can realize what they’re doing.

Make sure you spend some time self-reflecting and really get to know who you are, so you can draw boundaries between your true character and things others try to project onto you.

Examples of projecting phrases:

  • “I feel like you’re being very manipulative”
  • “You’re always criticizing me.”
  • “You seem to be jealous of my success.”
  • “Stop pretending to be the victim!”
  • “Why are you so obsessed with being perfect all the time?”

3) Minimizing your feelings

Have you ever poured your heart out to someone, only to have them brush off your emotions like they’re insignificant? 

It’s a frustrating and belittling experience, leaving you questioning the validity of your own feelings.

This is another tactic often employed by manipulators. They downplay your concerns, dismiss your worries, and invalidate your experiences as if they hold no weight.

Here’s a typical scenario: you open up about a situation that’s been weighing heavily on your mind, hoping for understanding and support. 

Instead, you’re met with responses that make you feel like you’re overreacting, being too sensitive, or simply making a big deal out of nothing.

This constant invalidation can chip away at your self-esteem and leave you second-guessing the validity of your own feelings.

But hopefully, now you’ll be better armed to protect yourself by keeping in mind these phrases:

Examples of minimizing phrases

  • “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
  • “It’s not that serious; you’re overreacting.”
  • “Why are you so sensitive?”
  • “I don’t know why you’re so upset about this.”
  • “You’re too emotional; calm down.”

4) Shifting blame

Picture this: You’re working on a team project, and there’s a hiccup along the way. Instead of collaboratively addressing the issue, you find yourself being singled out as the cause of the problem. 

Your attempts to explain the situation are met with accusations and blame, making you feel like you’re solely responsible for the project’s setback.

This is a textbook example of shifting blame. In reality, this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with a person’s inability to accept responsibility for their own actions. 

But it can take a big toll on kindhearted souls like you who care about other people and don’t want to hurt anyone, even accidentally.

Another situation you might recognize is when you’re in a disagreement with a friend, and they accuse you of creating problems. 

This constant blame game can leave you feeling like you’re walking on eggshells, afraid to speak up for fear of being blamed for everything.

But know that this doesn’t say anything about who you are as a person. Stand firm in your truth, and don’t shoulder blame that isn’t yours.

Examples of blame-shifting phrases

  • “If you hadn’t done [X], this wouldn’t have happened.”
  • “You’re always causing problems.”
  • “I wouldn’t have reacted like that if you hadn’t provoked me.”
  • “I only did this because you did [X]
  • “You made me do it.”

5) Creating doubt

Do you have someone in your life who never seems to agree with you?

They’re always right there to analyze, pull apart, and look for flaws in the things you say or think, like a parole officer waiting for you to slip up. 

It’s very likely this person has an inferiority complex — and they’re trying to lift themselves up by breaking down your confidence and making you doubt yourself.

Maybe you’ve excitedly told them about a new business project, and they immediately question the feasibility of your plan. 

Or, you share a personal accomplishment, and they imply that it’s really not such a big deal as you think.

You’ll hear them challenging your opinions, or suggesting that you’re overlooking essential details.

Of course, all of us make mistakes, and in some cases, it’s useful to have someone checking the facts.

But if this is happening often in a relationship, something is wrong

Examples of doubt-inducing phrases

  • “Are you sure you remember that right?”
  • “That doesn’t sound right.”
  • “I think you misunderstood the situation.”
  • “Are you really qualified to make that decision?”
  • “You’re not seeing the facts.”

6) Playing the victim

Of course, we can’t go without mentioning this classic manipulation technique: playing the victim.

This is how people try to get your attention and your sympathy. They make it look like they’re always underappreciated and disadvantaged — somehow, even in situations that have nothing to do with them.

For example, have you ever expressed concerns about something, only to be told you’re being mean and attacking them?

Or, while you’re sharing your excitement about a goal you achieved, rather than celebrate with you they complain that you’re insensitive to their struggles. 

Basically, they’re putting themselves into the role of victim — and by association, you become their villain. 

It can be disorienting, because you don’t feel as if you’ve done anything wrong — but here is a person who is constantly making you feel guilty for something.

Know that you don’t need to pay this any mind. These phrases will let you recognize when a person is trying to play the victim. 

Examples of playing the victim phrases

  • “Nobody is on my side.”
  • “You never consider my feelings”
  • “Everyone is always against me.”
  • “You’re making me out to be the bad guy.”
  • “I’m always the one who has to suffer.”

7) Withholding information

This last type of phrase is something that’s harder to catch, because at first they don’t say anything at all.

They stay silent — and when you start to get an odd feeling, that’s when they start to try to deflect you. 

At work, maybe your colleagues or boss keep critical information from you. In a relationship, this could look like your partner being vague about their evening plans, or not saying anything at all.

Or, a friend “forgets” to tell you about a major life update, or a party that they are planning.

When you bring this up to them, they act like you’re making a big deal out of nothing. It’s very disorienting — you feel that something is wrong, but they insist it’s all in your head.

Don’t let them make you feel crazy though — you have a right to be informed, and at the very least to ask.

Examples of withholding information phrases

  • “I didn’t think you needed to know.”
  • “It’s really not that important” 
  • “Why are you making a big deal out of it?”
  • “It just didn’t come up in conversation”

Staying grounded in reality

Now you know 7 types of phrases that manipulators use to make you feel you’re the crazy one. 

With these phrases, hopefully, you’re better prepared to recognize when someone is trying to make you doubt yourself.

You’ll recognize that this is not about you — it’s about them, their insecurity, and inability to get a sense of importance and self-worth any other way.

Stay strong, and remember — nobody can determine how you feel if you don’t let them. 

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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