26th March 2023

Gaslighting Phrases: Different Kinds, Examples and Responses

Gaslighting Phrases: Different Kinds, Examples and Responses

Picture this for a minute. You’re with your partner, and suddenly, you have an argument about something, and your partner says something so hurtful you don’t think you will ever get back from it. Later, after you’ve cooled down and approached them, they completely deny what you’re saying. They call you crazy, and you must be out of your mind to think they could even say something like this. You’re floored at their reaction and start questioning whether you’re crazy and making it up.

This, my dear friends, is called gas lighting. Let’s dive deeply into the subject, the definition of gaslighting, and how to respond to anyone attempting to gaslight you.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that occurs when someone or a group of people sow seeds of doubt in an individual or in a targeted group, making them question their memory, perception, or sanity. Those who gaslight others do this by adopting common tactics, such as lying, withholding information, or manipulating the facts.

Gaslighting can ultimately make the victim unsure of their own thoughts, emotions, and actions. The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1938 play and subsequent film adaptation called “Gaslight,” in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she’s going insane by altering their environment and denying that those changes ever occurred.

Gaslighting is particularly common in abusive relationships and is also connected to other forms of physical ad emotional abuse. Even though most people think gaslighting is more common in romantic relationships, it can occur anywhere. Even with family and at the workplace.

Related:Examples Gaslighting – Protecting Yourself Against Abusive Behavior

How Does Gaslighting Work?

While a victim of gaslighting might wonder or even blame themselves for falling prey, it’s vital to note that those who do it employ various tactics so cunningly that their victims question their sense of reality. As mentioned earlier, gaslighting makes people doubt their memories, perception, and sanity. The gaslighter may use various tactics to inflict emotional abuse, including lying, withholding information, or manipulating the facts.

For example, they may deny that certain events happened or that certain things were said, despite the victim’s recollection of those events or conversations. They may also accuse the victim of being overly sensitive or irrational, causing the victim to question their own emotions and reactions. Over time, the victim may start to doubt their own memories and perception and become increasingly reliant on the gaslighter for a sense of reality.

This can lead to the victim becoming isolated and vulnerable to further manipulation. Gaslighting can significantly impact a person’s mental health, leading to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and self-doubt.

Tactics a Gaslighter Might Use

Whether you want to protect yourself from a gaslighter or think you might be a victim of gaslighting, it’s vital to know how this emotional and mental abuse works. Below are some pointers to follow. If you notice any emotional abuse tactic we list below in your relationship, watch out for other signs of gaslighting.


The gaslighter will deny that something happened, even if the victim witnessed it or experienced it. They might say things like, “I never said that,” or “You’re making it up.” Denial can make the victim doubt their memories and perception of reality. In the end, they feel confused and unsure of themselves.


The gaslighter will shift the blame onto the victim for something that they did. They might say things like, “You made me do it,” or “It’s your fault.” Blame-shifting can make the victim feel guilty and responsible for the gaslighter’s behavior, even if they had nothing to do with it.


The gaslighter will downplay the severity of the situation or make the victim feel like they’re overreacting. They might say things like, “It’s not a big deal,” or “You’re being too sensitive.” This can make the victim doubt their feelings and instincts, making them question whether they’re making a big deal out of nothing.


The gaslighter may lie to the victim to make them doubt their perceptions or memories. Gaslighting narcissists might tell the victim something happened differently than it did or deny that something happened altogether.


The gaslighter may try to discredit the victim’s opinions, emotions, or experiences. Such people will inflict emotional abuse on their victim by saying things like, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re being ridiculous.”


An abusive partner may use distractions to divert the victim’s attention away from the issue. They might change the subject or bring up something unrelated to avoid addressing the problem.

Trivializing emotions

Trivializing emotions is a common gaslighting tactic in an abusive relationship. A victim feels like their emotions are unimportant or not valid. They might say, “Stop being so sensitive,” or “You’re overreacting.”

Gaslighters also use common phrases to manipulate their victims, such as “You’re crazy,” “You’re imagining things,” or “You’re being too emotional.” These phrases are intended to make the victim doubt their sanity and question whether their emotions and perceptions are valid.

Gaslighting is a harmful form of mental abuse that can affect the victim’s mental health and well-being. That’s why abuse survivor communities provide support and resources to help victims of gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse. If you think you may be a victim of gaslighting, it’s important to seek help from a therapist or other mental health professional.

Related:Guilt Trip Examples: How to Recognize and Handle Them

The Effects of Gaslighting on Mental Health

Gaslighting is bad behavior that can have serious consequences for a person’s mental health, especially when it comes to spiritual abuse. Textbook gaslighting can be difficult to recognize because gaslighters are often skilled at making their abusive behavior seem normal or even loving. However, the effects of gaslighting can be devastating, and it’s important to understand how it can impact your mental health.

Gaslighting can be especially harmful when it comes from a “close” toxic person or a manipulative husband, who may use hurtful comments and personal attacks to manipulate and control their partner. The power differential in the relationship can make it difficult for the victim to speak up or leave the relationship, as the gaslighter may have more power and control over them.

The different forms of gaslighting we mentioned before are designed to make a normal person doubt themselves and can damage their self-esteem and mental health. Over time, the gaslighter may use these manipulation tactics to break down the victim’s sense of self-worth and control.

Research shows that gaslighting can have a profound impact on mental health. According to a study published in the American Sociological Review, victims of gaslighting may experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may also struggle with self-doubt, confusion, and a sense of spiritual abuse.

On the other hand, being in a healthy partnership can provide a sense of safety and support, helping to mitigate the harmful effects of gaslighting. A healthy partner will listen to your concerns and validate your feelings, rather than dismissing them or turning them against you. They will prioritize your emotional well-being and work to create a balanced power dynamic in the relationship.

Recognizing the signs of this bad behavior and seeking help from a mental health professional or support group can help victims of this abusive behavior regain their sense of self-worth and control.

How to Protect Yourself From Gaslighting

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Here are some strategies that can help you protect yourself from gaslighting, even when dealing with a person who engages in constant criticism and uses gaslighting phrases:

Keep your hands clean: Having clean hands means not engaging in behavior that would give the gaslighter any reason to make a gaslighting remark or criticize you. Don’t retaliate or respond in anger, as this may give them more ammunition to use against you.

Trust your instincts

Trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right. Malignant narcissists may use subtle tactics to manipulate you, and it’s essential to listen to your intuition and not dismiss your feelings.

Stay informed

Learn as much as possible about the subject, its effects, and gaslighting phrases anyone can use. A great way to do this is reading books or watching a film adaptation covering the topic.

Set boundaries

Establish clear boundaries and stick to them. This includes limiting your time with the gaslighter and not tolerating physical or psychological abuse.

Seek support

Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for support. Gaslighting can make you feel isolated and alone, but having a support system can help you feel heard and validated.

Don’t engage in gaslighting

You might hear some crazy gaslighting phrases narcissists use, but it’s important not to engage with them. Responding to malignant narcissists, or their gaslighting remarks, or trying to prove them wrong can only worsen things.

Stay grounded

Keep a journal or meditate to help you stay grounded and focused. This can help you maintain a sense of clarity and balance even when the gaslighter is trying to confuse and disorient you.

Take action

If you feel physically threatened or in danger, seek help immediately. Gaslighting can escalate to physical abuse, and protecting yourself from harm is essential.

By being aware of gaslighting phrases and the tactics used by malignant narcissists, you can protect your mental and physical well-being from this harmful form of abuse.

Examples of Gaslighting Phrases

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that malignant narcissists often use to control and manipulate their victims. Gaslighting phrases that these malignant narcissists use are often disguised as innocent comments. However, they cause serious issues to the person they’re directed at. Here is an extensive list of gaslighting phrases that can be used in real-life situations:

“You’re overreacting.”
“That never happened.”
“You’re crazy.”
“You’re too sensitive.”
“You’re imagining things.”
“I never said that.”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“You’re remembering it wrong.”
“You’re the one causing the problem.”
“You’re being hysterical.”
“You’re always making things up.”
“You’re just looking for attention.”
“You’re too emotional.”
“I’m only trying to help you.”
“You’re being irrational.”
“You’re not thinking clearly.”
“You’re too forgetful.”
“You’re too insecure.”
“I’m the only one who cares about you.”
“You’re too unstable.”
“I’m just joking.”
“You’re being too dramatic.”
“You’re always making me out to be the bad guy.”
“You’re being too sensitive about this.”
“You’re too needy.”
“You’re too high-maintenance.”
“You’re not good enough.”
“I’m doing this for your own good.”
“You’re imagining things again.”
“You’re just making this up to get attention.”
“You’re not remembering it correctly.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“You’re being a drama queen.”
“You’re being too needy.”
“You’re being too clingy.”
“You’re too jealous.”
“You’re not thinking clearly.”
“You’re being too emotional.”
“You’re being too sensitive.”
“You’re just being paranoid.”

Recognizing that such emotional abuse tactics can lead to physical and psychological harm is vital. If you have experienced a gaslighting remark or are being subjected to gaslighting phrases, seek help from a trusted friend or professional. Remember, you are not crazy or imagining things, and it is never okay for someone to make you doubt your own reality.

Suitable Responses to Gaslighting Phrases

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Here are some suitable responses to gaslighting phrases:

“You’re overreacting.” – “I don’t think I am, but I appreciate your concern.”
“That never happened.” – “I remember it clearly, and it did happen.”
“You’re crazy.” – “That’s hurtful and not true. Please don’t use that word to describe me.”
“You’re too sensitive.” – “I’m allowed to have feelings, and I don’t think I’m being too sensitive.”
“You’re imagining things.” – “I do not imagine things. Please don’t make me doubt my own perception.”
“I never said that.” – “I’m pretty sure you did say that. Can we talk about it and figure out what happened?”
“You’re being paranoid.” – “I don’t think I’m being paranoid, but I appreciate your concern.”
“You’re remembering it wrong.” – “I’m pretty sure I remember it correctly. Can we talk about it and try to figure it out?”
“You’re the one causing the problem.” – “I don’t think I’m the only one causing the problem. Let’s work together to find a solution.”
“You’re being hysterical.” – “Please don’t call me hysterical. It’s not helpful.”
“You’re always making things up.” – “I’m not making things up. Please don’t invalidate my experiences.”
“You’re just looking for attention.” – “I’m not looking for attention. I’m trying to express how I feel.”
“You’re too emotional.” – “I don’t think I’m being too emotional. I’m just expressing my feelings.”
“I’m only trying to help you.” – “I appreciate your help, but please listen to me and respect my boundaries.”
“You’re being irrational.” – “I don’t think I’m being irrational. I have valid concerns.”


Responding to gaslighting phrases can be difficult, especially if the person using them is a narcissist trying to manipulate and control you. It’s important to stay calm and assertive and to prioritize your own well-being and safety. If you’re physically or emotionally abusive, seek help from a trusted friend, family member, or professional.

To read more on the topic, here are some suggestions:

  1. Why is My Boyfriend Mean? Understanding Abusive Behavior in Relationships
  2. How Dating a Narcissist Changes You – Understanding Narcissism
  3. A Relationship Can Be Damaged By: Common Factors & How to Avoid
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Chari Bong'osa

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