A lot has been written (and read) about the phenomenon of gaslighting. Accusations and counter arguments, such as, “I never said that,” “You have a crazy imagination,” “Stop being so hysterical,” and “I was just joking,” hold so much more power than imagined. They make you doubt your own version of events, retreat into a shell, and even question your own sanity. Subtle gaslighting phrases in a relationship are used to confuse and control. Using them, a person can manipulate others into taking the blame and not be held accountable. And it needs to stop! Every person has the innate right to set their own boundaries and prioritize their well-being. With this in mind, here are 33 phrases to shut down gaslighting and turn the situation around to your advantage.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is defined as: “the subtle form of emotional manipulation that often results in the recipient doubting their perception of reality and their sanity.” It’s indeed an insidious form of abuse and can begin subtly and slowly. What may start off as ‘correcting’ your behavior can turn into full-blown invalidation of your feelings in no time at all.
The act of gaslighting is one used to assert dominance over another. Bullies (and narcissists) resort to gaslighting phrases used to confuse and control as a common tactic to play the reverse victim, create confusion, and demolish another’s self-esteem. It can be viewed as a form of emotional abuse and can negatively impact the mental health of the victim.
It is important to note that gaslighting can occur in all types of relationships, not just in romantic ones. Parents, adult children, work colleagues, and friendships can all fall prey to the manipulation tactic of gaslighting (and its emotional impact). How do you recognize you are being gaslit? Well, there are definite signs, but before anything, you need to take a long, hard, and honest look at your situation and be ready to face the consequences when you shut down a mean person. If you notice any of the following, you may be prey to a gaslighter in your life:
- You don’t remember things properly
- You question your own version of events
- You have difficulty trusting others
- You feel bad and are constantly confused
- You often shift the blame on yourself
- You find yourself apologizing all the time
- You look for ways to prove yourself
- You need to back up your conversations with facts
- You feel insecure, alone, and misunderstood
- You feel confused as if something is wrong, but you are unsure what it is
- Your feelings are constantly invalidated
- There is a lack of accountability in your life
- There is too much criticism
- The other person avoids taking responsibility for their actions
What Phrases Would A Gaslighter Usually Say?
Are you seeing a common thread in all the signs mentioned? Do you recognize that a gaslighter operates by identifying your weakness and exploiting it to their advantage?
If you have been the victim of any or all of the phrases below, and you want to know how to stop unintentional gaslighting, it may be time for you to speak out or ask for help on how to shut down a gaslighter to get out of this emotionally abusive relationship:
Top 10 phrases used to gaslight
Most common gaslighting phrases in a relationship tend to begin with ‘you’ and lead to accusations and lies. These may include:
- You are imagining things
- You are overreacting with your overactive imagination
- You are too emotional
- Stop exaggerating. You are crazy
- You are hysterical / over dramatic / sensitive
- You are not making sense
- You are being paranoid
- Everyone knows you are unstable
- I was joking; stop making such a big deal
- I am the real victim here, so stop acting like one
Recognizing these statements and seeing them for what they are — psychological abuse — is the first step toward how to destroy a gaslighter. If you have been a victim of gaslighting in a relationship for a while, it may be especially difficult for you to muster up the courage to talk back, know what to say to a gaslighting spouse/partner, or even acknowledge your own feelings as true. But we are here to say that we believe in you and that you can do it! No one deserves to have their own feelings invalidated. So, read on to know how to fight back.
33 Powerful Phrases To Shut Down Gaslighting
Gaslighting is an abusive behavior and a bullying tactic and needs to be stopped in its tracks at the very onset. It is important that you don’t give in to the abuser. You should nither start believing their comments or changing your ‘negative’ behavior. The only way of responding to gaslighting is by fighting fire with fire. It is time to face the abuser head on and be armed with your own set of powerful phrases to shut down the gaslighting. This could take practice and effort, but in the end, like all bullies do when called out, the abusive partner’s behavior can be defused. Here are 33 phrases to shut down gaslighting in a relationship to empower your own narrative:
Related Reading: 8 Ways Blame-Shifting In A Relationship Harms It
- I trust myself.
- I remember things differently.
- I have a right to my own feelings.
- I want to focus on the facts.
- I am not going to fight about whether this actually happened.
- I will not accept this manipulative behavior.
- I refuse to be disrespected like this.
- Give me some time to think about it.
- I’m afraid that’s how you see things, not how I do.
- I disagree with what you are saying.
- This crazymaking conversation is over.
- I will not let you make me think differently.
- I need to discuss this with other people.
- I will not be put in a situation where I question my own sanity.
- I will not tolerate the way you are talking to me/treating me.
- Let us both discuss this with someone else and get an unbiased opinion.
- I am confident about my viewpoint.
- Hear me out. Manipulating me is not okay.
- What you think is not my problem.
- I respect your view, but I think differently.
- I will not argue with you unless we reach a constructive decision.
- I do not need your approval.
- I will not accept your silent treatment.
- You need to respect my point of view as well.
- I will not change my opinion.
- Your joke was hurtful.
- I feel unheard.
- This is what I need right now.
- I know what’s best for me and will avoid taking responsibility for your actions.
- I would like to take a break from this conversation.
- I know you are angry. I am angry too.
- I’m not responding to that.
- I’m making this decision for myself.
These phrases can help you stand your ground and assert your own reality. While they may not always magically halt a gaslighter in their tracks, they can help you communicate better and more powerfully and take care of your own well-being and mental health.
Here are a few other ways to silence gaslighters:
Related Reading: How Do You Set Emotional Boundaries In Relationships?
- Stay focused and calm throughout your discussion
- Take your time to articulate your thoughts
- You could even rehearse your replies in anticipation of future conversations
- Trust your instincts and respond accordingly
- Start a journal to keep track of events and reduce self-doubt
- Set clear-cut boundaries about what can happen and what is not acceptable
- Have confidence in your ability to disagree with others and not have to seek validation
- Keep eye contact throughout to gain power during your conversation
- Educate yourself and read up about bullying, narcissism, emotional abuse, and gaslighting
- Take care of your emotional well-being through self-care and mindfulness practices
- Seek help through counseling and support groups, or speak to a mental health professional
- Gaslighting is the phenomenon that makes you question your own mind and version of reality
- Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation and abuse and can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental health and well-being
- People who gaslight tend to use a stock set of phrases and accusations
- Once you realize that you are being gaslit, you can respond by strengthening your own memory of reality and fighting back
- There are phrases to shut down a narcissist and boost your narrative to not bow down to these bullying tactics
Dr. Robin Stern, the author of The Gaslight Effect, said about gaslighting in a helpful article: “When people are abused, there are signs that you can point to that are much more obvious. For instance, someone who has been hit or threatened can easily see and understand how they have been hurt. But when someone manipulates you, you second-guess yourself and turn your attention to yourself as the person to blame.” We live in times when we can’t even decide what is and isn’t real. So, it becomes equally important to learn these phrases to shut down gaslighting and hold on to our own sense of reality. We need to recognize the manipulation of emotions and bullying for what they are. Only then can we stick to our own resolutions and protect our mental health.