A great question many people have when learning about gaslighting is, “Is it possible to gaslight and not be a narcissist?”
It is possible for someone who is not a narcissist to gaslight others. In fact, there is a name for it: “Unintentional Gaslighting.” The name gives it away, but it occurs when someone unintentionally gaslights another person without realizing they’re causing the other person to doubt their memory, reality, or sanity.
To help you better understand this, I created a fictional story about a man named Ravi being unintentionally gaslighted by his coworkers who aren’t narcissists (see below).
But before we get into that, if you have found this article because you are unsure whether or not you have a narcissist in your life, I have something for you:
This guide has 19 signs and examples of someone with high narcissistic traits that you can use to determine whether or not you have a narcissist in your life.
Alright, let’s get into the story!
A Short Story about Unintentional Gaslighting
Setting: An office in a city that experiences cold temperatures. It’s the beginning of winter, and the morning chill is settling in.
- Ravi: Grew up in a tropical country, experiencing consistent warmth throughout the year. This is his first winter in a colder climate.
- Elena: Grew up in a place known for its harsh winters. She’s used to extreme cold and has lived in the city for several years.
- Zoe: A colleague who has worked in the office for a few years. Like Elena, she’s also familiar with the cold weather.
Scene: Ravi walks into the office, bundled up in a thick scarf, beanie, and heavy coat. He’s visibly shivering. Elena is at her desk, wearing a light sweater, sipping her coffee.
Ravi: (rubbing his hands together) “Oh my! I didn’t expect it to be this cold already! I can’t feel my fingers!”
Elena: (looking up, chuckling) “This? It is a warm morning! Wait until real winter hits.”
Ravi: (attempting to join in the laughter) “I thought this was real winter! Back home, anything below 70°F (21°C) is considered a cold wave.”
Elena: (with a playful smirk) “70°F? That’s summer weather where I come from! I bet you’d turn into an ice cube if you experienced one of our typical winters.”
A few colleagues nearby chuckle at Elena’s comment.
Ravi feels a bit embarrassed but tries to play along.
Ravi: “Honestly, I might. I’m just not used to this. I thought layering up would help, but I guess I need more practice.”
Elena: (teasingly) “Or maybe just thicker skin! At this rate, I’ll see you in a full snowsuit by next week!”
The office shares another round of laughter.
Ravi, while attempting to appear good-natured, feels ganged up on. He begins to question whether he’s overreacting to the cold or if he’s just not tough enough.
Later in the break room, Zoe notices Ravi searching for winter clothing online.
Zoe: “Going all out on winter shopping, are we? Trying to become a local already?”
Ravi: “Just… trying to stay warm. I didn’t expect it to be this chilly.”
Zoe: (with a playful tone) “Chilly? You must have a different dictionary than the rest of us. This is mild, my friend.”
Ravi: “It’s just a big change for me. Where I come from, we never really had to deal with cold like this.”
Zoe: “You’ll get used to it. And honestly, seeing someone like you bundled up while the rest of us are in light sweaters is kind of entertaining. It’s endearing, really.”
Ravi: “I don’t want to stand out too much…”
Zoe: “Oh, don’t worry about standing out. We’ve all been through our first winters here.
Zoe: “Besides, in a few months, you’ll probably be telling the new recruits how this is ‘nothing’ and how they should’ve seen the cold when you first arrived.”
Ravi offers a polite smile, but internally, he feels even more conscious of his reactions to the cold and unsure of how to fit in.
What Should You Take Away from This Article?
Even when unintentional, gaslighting can still have a profound effect on others.
Just like Ravi did in this story, they may start to doubt their feelings, memories, or perceptions, leading to confusion, diminished self-esteem, or anxiety.
I hope this article has brought you some clarity on how it is possible to gaslight and not be a narcissist. Thank you for reading it!
Suggested Reading: How to Regain Your Sanity After Gaslighting (5 Ways)
About the Author
Hey, I’m Elijah.
I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years.
I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.
Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.