Identifying Narcissistic Gaslighting: Signs & Coping Strategies

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Gaslighting is a term that is used to describe a type of psychological manipulation or abuse that can be used to disorient and control another person. Narcissistic gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation and distortion of the truth. It is perpetrated with the purpose of inducing self-doubt in the victim, ultimately granting the narcissist control over the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.

In this article, we will discuss in detail what narcissistic gaslighting is, what its signs are, and what strategies we can use to cope with it.

What Is Narcissistic Gaslighting?

Gaslighting that is narcissistic is similar to regular gaslighting; however, its primary intention might be slightly different. An example of this would be when a narcissist uses these strategies to defend their ego, stop others from disagreeing with them or maintain a feeling of superiority over others.

The cycle of a connection with a narcissist usually follows a certain pattern. Initially, there is a honeymoon period that is intended to make the individual trust them. However, this is followed by a phase of devaluation, where the narcissist uses love-bombing and other manipulative tactics to make the person trust them and then begins to employ toxic and abusive behavior. This is typically when gaslighting begins.

To comprehend why narcissists gaslight, it is fundamental to comprehend what narcissism is and what motivates them. There are two primary types of narcissists: grandiose and vulnerable.

A grandiose narcissist is outgoing, self-assured, and attention-seeking. They are often the center of attention.

A vulnerable narcissist is usually meeker, anxious, and uncertain of themselves.

These two types of narcissists share the same root issues of fragility and the incapacity to recognize and address their emotions healthily. Gaslighting serves as a means for them to gain dominance over others and to feel superior.

Signs of Narcissistic Gaslighting

Various approaches may be employed by a narcissist to gaslight. Below are 20 indications of gaslighting from a narcissist:

#1: They may question your memory

A narcissist may try to make you doubt your memory and insinuate that you are mistaken, imagining, or misremembering something. They may also take the opposite route, claiming they “have no memory of that” or “don’t know what you’re talking about.”

#2: They may try to make you feel like you’re overreacting

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They may say things like, “You’re being paranoid,” which is intended to make you feel like you’re too sensitive or overreacting. It is common for a narcissist to pull a “you’re crazy card” if you express any negative emotion. Eventually, you might start to doubt your perceptions and even might feel like you’re going crazy.

#3: They may question your credibility

Narcissists often use a manipulative tactic of questioning your reliability by reminding you about the mistakes you made in the past. By doing so, they weaken your trust in your competence while giving them a reason as to why they cannot trust you.

#4: They may try to isolate you from your friends and family

A narcissist wants to be unreplaceable and the most important person in your life. Therefore, they will eventually want to isolate you from your friends and family. In order to do that, they will try to make you believe that they are the only one who really loves and cares for you. They will also always highlight how others have not been as dependable or trustworthy. Also, they may even claim that certain people have said negative things behind your back to make you stop interacting with those people.

#5: They shift blame to avoid accountability

Shifting the blame is a common tactic narcissists use to avoid having to take accountability for their actions. By transferring the responsibility to someone or something else, they can sidestep any consequences that arise. When a narcissist makes a mistake, they are unlikely to accept responsibility and will manipulate the facts and almost always find a way to blame you or someone else.

#6: They claim that you react too easily to criticism

Accusations of being overly emotional or sensitive are another frequent way that narcissists gaslight someone. This is their way of implying the person’s emotions stop them from being able to view the circumstance objectively. With phrases like “You’re too emotional” or “You take things too personally,” the narcissist is able to evade being held accountable for the nasty things they utter or do.

#7: They act as if they care for your health and safety

A narcissistic strategy of gaslighting is to pretend to be solicitous or worried about someone to covertly insinuate that they are irrational, mad, or unbalanced. False solicitude is a passive-aggressive ploy that looks to be benevolent but is intended to erode someone’s credibility.

#8: They use your own words against you

Narcissists resort to gaslighting by taking your words out of context and manipulating them to make it appear as though you are being hypocritical or contradicting yourself.

#9: They reverse the truth

Narcissists will blame someone else for saying or doing what in fact they themselves said or did. They may even describe abusive or controlling conduct as acts of love. Inversion of the truth has the potential to create more uncertainty and eventually make you question yourself.

#10: They may shut down to end the discussion

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If a narcissist feels they are not winning in a discussion, they may choose to shut down and stop talking. This is a disheartening behavior that doesn’t allow you to prove a point or solve a misunderstanding.

Coping Strategies

It can be a challenge to handle a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Gaslighting can be extremely damaging, causing a drop in self-worth, confidence and an increased risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. If it is not possible to completely distance yourself from a gaslighting narcissist, it is important to come up with ways to manage the situation.

Below are listed some methods that can help you to deal with a narcissist who is using gaslighting:

#1: Document the truth

Writing down dates, events, conversations, and actions help in combating gaslighting as you can look back at your record and stay true to your vision of events instead of succumbing to the narcissist’s false narrative.

#2: Be careful with sharing

In a relationship with a narcissist, it is better to keep some things to yourself so as not to give away any information that they can use against you. By openly sharing your concerns about their behavior, you put yourself in a very dangerous position. Remember, narcissists will never take responsibility for their actions. Therefore, they will try to twist your words in a way that you will be the one to blame.

#3: Avoid arguing with the narcissist

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Refusing to participate in discussions, verbal battles, or debates with the narcissist makes it more difficult for them to gaslight. A good way to circumvent a debate is to say something like, “It’s ok that we see things differently.”

#4: Build a support system

It’s very common for a narcissist to try to cut you off from your family and friends. To protect yourself from the damaging effects of toxic stress inflicted by a manipulative narcissist, creating a support system or reconnecting with an existing one is of utmost importance.

#5: Seek out different perspectives

To cope with narcissistic gaslighting, try to gain other opinions. Opting for help from a friend, family member, or therapist can give a more objective opinion, and researching from reliable sources can help you stay true to the truth.

#6: Educate yourself

Learning about the signs and symptoms of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and gaslighting, as well as other forms of narcissistic abuse, can help you recognize gaslighting at the right moment and lessen its effects.

#7: Retain independence

The primary goal of a narcissist in a gaslighting relationship is to make the other person doubt themselves, thus diminishing their ability to make decisions independently. Therefore, it is essential to stay confident and independent and make your own decisions.

The Bottom Line

Being aware of the initial warning signs of gaslighting is necessary to keep yourself away from those who are using such destructive and toxic behavior. If you encountered signs of narcissistic gaslighting in your relationship, make sure you set boundaries and stay true to yourself. If possible, try to end this relationship. If not, use the above recommendations to manage the situation before it destroys you.

Take a QUIZ to find out what narcissist type you’re dealing with!