Gaslighting is one of the narcissists’ favorite tricks and they use it a lot whether they’re covert or overt. So, you want to be familiar with their 8 key phrases.
Narcissists use gaslighting to make you feel like you’re crazy. It is a term that came from an old movie that was also a show back in the 30s. The premise was the husband was trying to make his wife feel like she was crazy by blowing out the gaslights to which she would say, “Wasn’t that just lit?” in response, he’d say “No, it wasn’t.”. In the end, spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it, she ends up being on to him, which will also be the same outcome for you. Whether you’re dealing with them in a divorce, in a probate situation, in business, or any aspect of your life, it doesn’t matter because gaslighting will happen when dealing with narcissists.
Gaslighting is done in a variety of ways. They may manipulate reality, use projection, use deflection, use other people as their scapegoats, coerce and pressure you, or they straight up lie to your face. No matter which method they use or prefer, it’s all the same; the goal is always to destabilize and control you. They do this so that you don’t see who they are. As a result, you’ll start questioning your mind and think you’re going crazy. This will leave you seriously traumatized, and sometimes, recovering from that can be as challenging as being deprogrammed if you were coming out of a religious cult or something similar. You would need to reprogram your brain and change your neural patterns coming off from this type of abuse. That’s what narcissists do and that’s why they do it. You want to be sure that you are aware of these things because it will be much easier for you to see through the illusion that they paint for you. This will ultimately give you power and leverage when negotiating with them. I had to deal with a couple of narcissists, and it caused lots of drama, trauma, and chaos in my life. It was not a husband, but close enough to help me see exactly what they look like. I know how horrible it is, which is why I’m on this mission. So, let’s talk about those eight gaslighting phrases.
Number 1: “We discussed that and you agreed.” Here’s a scenario…they’ll say that they’re going away this weekend with the boys, which happens to be your anniversary weekend, and you’re like “You’re going away on our anniversary?” and he’ll say, “Yeah, we are. I already told you that and you agreed to that.” but you’ve never heard about this trip ever. That’s the kind of thing that they do.
Number 2: Is adding “Ha-ha” or “You’re overly sensitive, can’t you take a joke?” after saying something malicious or cruel. Doing either of these does not make it funny or less hurtful. However, narcissists think that they get to hurt you and not get called out as somebody who’s hurtful if they say either of these two things.
Number 3: Changing what you’re trying to hold them accountable for. Case in point, let’s say they were supposed to do the books at work, or complete a task. Instead of delivering on it, they’ll say, “oh, but look at what I’ve done. I did all of these things instead.” Narcissists are so notorious for constantly moving goalposts that they eventually no longer talk about what they were supposed to do. I experienced this first hand when I hired somebody, an outside vendor, to help me at my firm. When I was trying to hold them accountable for it, they started telling me about all the other benefits I received because they introduced me to people, and completely ignoring the fact that they failed to complete that one task that I hired them to do.
Number 4: “I never did that or said that.” They’ll tell you that you imagine things even if you know that they did it. Even if you know a hundred percent that they said it, they will say that you are just imagining it.
Number 5: “You’re way too emotional.” Narcissists will take issue with how you say things and will claim that you’re just emotional or upset. “I don’t like your tone…”, “I don’t like the way you said that!”, “You are shouting at me.” and “Now, you’re just going around in circles.” They’ll say any of these even if you’re talking as calmly and level-headed as possible. They’ll insist that you are upset, emotional, and berating. They’ll turn the tables around you and now you’re the one who’s the problem. How crazy is that?
Number 6: “You’re just insecure/jealous.” This is especially true in personal relationships when you call a narcissist out or catch them doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. They’ll try to make it seem like you’re the one who’s crazy, insecure, jealous, and making too much of things.
Number 7: “It’s your fault.” Now if they ended up doing something that they shouldn’t, maybe you caught them red-handed, in the act, cheating on you, it still is your fault because you didn’t give them enough sex or satisfy their needs. Talk about turning the tables around!
Number 8: “That never happened.” I’m often reminded of George Costanza in Seinfeld when he said “It’s not a lie if you believe it”. Even though you have proof that certain events happened, narcissists will, without blinking, say that it never did. Sometimes I wonder if they believe their lies or not, but this is something they do.
The key is to understand that gaslighting is second nature to narcissists. You’ll need to see it for what it is and watch it as it unfolds from a third person’s perspective. This is especially crucial in negotiations so that you can hold steady, hold fast, and discern what is real and what’s not. This happens when goalposts are moved and the terms of the deal are changed.
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