If you’re someone who pays attention to the terms and phrases that are being used in the media, chances are you’ve heard the term “gaslighting” before. Despite its presence in mainstream media, there’s a chance that you still don’t quite know what the term means. Gaslighting is when someone manipulates you, which can lead to you questioning your sanity, and to no longer trust your judgment. As is the case with most things that take place in interpersonal relationships, it can be hard to see the reality of the situation, constantly second-guessing yourself which is confusing and exhausting.

In some instances of gaslighting, the person doing the manipulating leads you to question everything about yourself. You as the victim may be led to question not only their judgment but also the way that you remember the past.

Fortunately, as mentioned in an article by Psychology Today, there is a list of things to look out for that might mean that you’re being gaslit. Per the article, those signs are as follows:

Lying – This one isn’t surprising at all. Being that the person taking advantage of the trust that you have in them, is choosing to make you question your sanity, the fact that they’re willing to flat-out lie to you shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Denying – If you find yourself swearing that a certain event or conversation took place and the manipulator is denying that exact event or conversation, it is sure to make you question if you imagined the whole thing. In some cases, you may even have proof that may still be denied. If they are confronted with the proof and can no longer deny it, there’s a chance that they will accuse you of fabricating the alleged “proof”.

Weaponising – Unfortunately, the things that you hold close to your heart, risk becoming a weapon that your manipulator will use against you in order to further their agenda. This happens frequently where children are involved, and the abused is likely to be made to feel like a bad parent, as if they’re not enough for their children, which can lead to shame and guilt.

Gradually breaking you down – Although some of these signs seem impossible to ignore due to how obvious they sound, gaslighting happens gradually over time. The manipulator may slowly chip away at your confidence and bring your insecurities to centre stage. Being that we are all our own harshest critics as it is, it’s not too difficult to understand how when your greatest insecurities are being highlighted, you might not be aware of the gaslighting itself.

Contradicting statements – Connecting closely with the gradual breakdown previously mentioned, another thing that can make it difficult to notice that this is happening to you, is that the manipulator isn’t solely feeding you insults, but they will also deliver praise and compliments to throw you and confuse you further.

Acting one way, speaking another – If you notice that someone close to you acts one way and speaks another way, almost portraying two different people, it may be part of their plan to make you question which version is true and worthy of your trust.

Implementing instability – Those who are willing to gaslight someone else knows that when there is instability and a lack of “normality” in their lives, it wears them down over time. Constantly questioning everything about your life and what is real and who may be lying to you can be an exhausting process that is sure to drive anyone to doubt themselves and lose confidence.

Projecting – If you find that the person is frequently accusing you of things that you have never done, but they have been guilty of, either in the past or present, it could lead to defensive arguments where they project on to you.

Turning people against you – Villainising you to family and friends and others in your life is another tactic they can use, eventually turning them against you. This can instil the idea that there is something wrong with you. This can even happen if the outside party isn’t aware of it. For instance, the manipulator can state “Cathy knows you’re always making up stories.”, having never even spoken to Cathy. Odds are that you won’t want to go out of your way to speak to someone who thinks that you fabricate things for attention, so the manipulator doesn’t have to worry about their story being checked. Slowly, you may find yourself alone and isolated from those that used to support you, making you an even easier target for the perpetrator to continue gaslighting.

Insisting that everyone else is lying – Making everyone else out to be just as “unreliable” as you are is another common tactic. Odds are that the person will also insist that they have your best interests at heart so you can obviously trust them to tell you the truth and keep you safe. This will lead to you relying on the one person that you think you can trust, once again, giving the manipulator all of the power that they could ever want over you.

Telling other people that you’re crazy – While most of these signs primarily mess with your mind, some will go out of their way to convince others around you that you’re crazy. If everyone in your life starts magically treating you differently and as if you were crazy, there’s a good chance that your manipulator already got to them. Again, having others questioning you, solidifies the idea that you’re unreliable and deserve to be isolated.

It goes without saying that being a victim of gaslighting can be harmful, dangerous, and can have long-term effects. Knowledge is power in cases like this and knowing the warning signs of gaslighting can help you to notice them sooner rather than later. Your mental health is important and if you feel as though a relationship in your life may be negatively influencing you, take some space to think about the situation and determine if the other person is taking advantage of you. If needed, seek professional support.