4 Examples of Self-Gaslighting (Not Overthinking)

Is your brain often working on overdrive? Do you find yourself overthinking more than you’d like to admit? But what if you’re not actually overthinking, but self-gaslighting instead?

To understand the difference between the two, let’s see what they actually are.

Overthinking vs Self-Gaslighting

Overthinking is a process in which your mind gets cluttered with repetitive thoughts about a certain problem. When you’re overthinking, you’re playing out some situation over and over in your head, thinking about what could’ve gone differently, second-guessing your decisions or imagining worst-case scenarios about the future. Overthinking can become a habit very hard to break, and if you find your mind spinning around and around a certain problem, you’re probably left feeling exhausted and even more anxious than before.

Self-gaslighting also refers to unwanted, hard to control thoughts that run in your mind. But self-gaslighting is more complex, more ingrained, and it holds a strong emotional importance. When you’re self-gaslighting, you’re internalizing emotional abuse and manipulation tactics that you’ve probably experienced before. When someone is gaslighting you, they’re trying to skew your reality and question it, making it seem like you’re crazy, and that things are not how you see them. If you’re hearing this often, slowly you’re starting to adapt to that. Then you start self-gaslighting – manipulating your own self.

In a tough situation, you lie to yourself and convince yourself you’re just overthinking. But are you really?

Let’s explore a few situations in which the line between overthinking and self-gaslighting might not be so clear. 

1. Intimate relationships

Let’s say you have a fight with your partner. Some hurtful things were said, and they stormed out of the door before you had a chance to talk it through. Now you’re alone in bed, trying to sleep, but your thoughts keep you awake.

Are you overthinking?

You might be wondering – “was I too offensive? Were my arguments good enough? Oh, maybe I should’ve said that… They’re probably telling their friends about the fight now. Will any of them be on my side? I think they should be on my side, I was right. But was I? Was it really worth it? I don’t even know anymore…”

Or are you self-gaslighting?

“Ugh, I’m so sensitive, crazy and emotional. Of course I was wrong. They would never try to hurt me intentionally, I am overreacting once again. I know they love me too much, they didn’t mean it like that. It’s all my fault anyway, I better send a text apologizing. This should really be a lesson for me.”

2. Social interactions

It’s your first day of class or you’re starting in a new workplace. You’re meeting your new colleagues, you chit-chat and joke around a bit. After the day is finally over, you come home and take a shower. And that’s when the brain starts working.

Are you overthinking?

“Oh my god… What did they think of me? Was I talking too much? Or too little? Was that joke I said totally lame? My hair looked so bad today, I hope they didn’t pay attention to it…”

Or are you self-gaslighting?

“That went totally bad. I’m not even surprised, I am just not a likable person. I mean, no wonder nobody liked me in school. I always say the stupidest things. I should just keep to myself the next time.”

3. Toxic household

Do you often fight with your parents or siblings? Maybe you’re used to insults, yelling, criticizing… You’ve been living in that environment for quite some time, but you’ve finally had enough. You want to stand up for yourself, no matter what happens next. But when you start planning what to say or do, you’re not so sure anymore if that’s such a good idea.

Are you overthinking?

“What if I just make it worse? Am I even capable of confronting them? What if my voice starts shaking and they don’t take me seriously? What would I even say? I can’t tell them they’re toxic…”

Or are you self-gaslighting?

“Maybe I don’t actually have it so bad. I mean, some people live in far worse conditions than I do. My parents gave me so much in life, I would be ungrateful if I stood up to them. Actually, when I think about it, I really am a bad child, just like they told me so many times.”

4. Trusting your judgment

Finally, sometimes our gut-feeling about other people tells us exactly what we need to hear. Especially if someone is manipulating us, treating us badly or using us. We may notice their bad intentions and we feel like something’s wrong, at least for a moment. But after that moment, our thoughts about the situation may once again spiral out of control and those people gain even more power over us.

Are you overthinking?

“Are they really being manipulative? I feel like they might be using me, but everyone else thinks they’re so nice… I could distance myself from them, but if I’m wrong? Will they get insulted? Will other people think I’m not being fair? Will they accuse me of being a bad person?”

Or are you self-gaslighting?

“I’m overreacting, again. It’s all in my head. They’re a good person, they would never treat anyone badly. I’m actually being a bad person for assuming stuff about them. I should probably do something nice for them to make up for this nonsense that I’m thinking about”.

Closing thoughts

In short, if you’re just overthinking, you may over-analyze every little detail about everything and ask yourself 1000 questions – what could go wrong, what could’ve been better…

But if your mind is playing tricks on you and you start self-gaslighting, you will: minimize your own feelings, constantly blame yourself, doubt yourself, be your own worst critic and question yourself. You won’t even need to overthink and overanalyze because you’ll already have an answer: you are the problem.

Of course, the first step towards healing from anything, is recognizing there’s even a problem. Hopefully this article made you more aware about the nature of your own thoughts. If you notice your overthinking is actually self-gaslighting, consider talking to a mental health professional. They could help you practise affirmations and turn your self-gaslighting into self-love.


Are You Overthinking? Here’s How to Tell. (2020, September 28). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-know-when-youre-overthinking-5077069

Bedford, N. (2022, January 5). 5 Signs You’re Gaslighting Yourself – An Injustice! Medium. https://aninjusticemag.com/5-signs-youre-gaslighting-yourself-2bca12b62e9b

Clark, D. A. (2020, January 18). Are You an Overthinker? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-runaway-mind/202001/are-you-overthinker

Clayton, I. (2021, September 10). What Is Self-Gaslighting? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-sobriety/202109/what-is-self-gaslightingOtis, R. (2019, October 25). What’s ‘Self-Gaslighting’ and How Do I Unlearn It? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/unlearning-self-gaslighting#What-does-self-gaslighting-look-like?

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