How To Deal With Gaslighting? All You Need To Know!
Gaslighting is when someone convinces another person that they are “crazy” or delusional. How to deal with gaslighting includes gathering evidence, storing it safely, and sharing it with trusted friends or family.
Gaslighting can occur in any connection, including romantic and parent-child relations. It can also occur in other social relationships, such as those that occur in the workplace and in politics.
In this article, we will discuss gaslighting behaviors and how to deal with gaslighting in general.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a manipulation technique that is commonly seen in abusive relationships. It is a sort of covert emotional abuse in which the bully or abuser deceives the target by building a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality. Eventually, the victim of gaslighting begins to doubt their views of the world and begins to question their sanity.
Gaslighting is most common in romantic relationships, although it can also happen in dominating friendships or among family members. People who gaslight others may suffer from mental illnesses. They use emotional abuse to gain control of people in order to influence family members, friends, or even coworkers. You will hear and read a lot on How to deal with gaslighting, here are some important pieces of information to keep in mind.
Why Is It Called Gaslighting?
The word “gaslighting” comes from a play called “Angel Street” by Patrick Hamilton in 1938. Later, the play was turned into the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Gas Light.”
In the thriller film, a manipulative husband tries to make his wife believe she is insane by gradually and steadily decreasing the flame on a gas light. He not only disturbs her environment and convinces her that she is nuts, but he also abuses and controls her, distancing her from family and friends.
As a result, the woman doubts herself, her feelings, views, and experiences. She also feels hypersensitive, neurotic, and out-of-control, which is the purpose of gaslighting: to make the target feel off-kilter and unsure of what is true and what isn’t.
Because this film clearly portrayed manipulative people’s controlling and destructive behaviors, psychologists and counselors began to term this form of emotionally abusive behavior “gaslighting.”
How Gaslighting Works
Gaslighting is a deception tactic that distorts a person’s view of reality. When you are gaslighted, you may question yourself, your memory, recent occurrences, and your views. After interacting with the individual who is gaslighting you, you may feel confused and question if something is wrong with you. You might feel like you did something wrong or that you’re just being too sensitive.
Gaslighting can drive you to doubt your judgment, self-worth, memory, and overall mental health. It’s useful to learn more about the techniques that a person who is gaslighting you may employ.
Lying to You
People who engage in gaslighting are typically persistent and compulsive liars with narcissistic characteristics. It is common for them to lie openly and refuse to back down or change their story, even when you call them out or show proof of their lying. “That never happened,” “You’re making things up,” or “You’re insane,” they may say.
The cornerstones of gaslighting behavior are lying and distortion. They can be incredibly convincing even when you know they are not telling the truth. Finally, you begin to doubt yourself.
When you ask them a question or call them out on something they did or said, they change the subject by asking a question rather than responding to the problem at hand. This not only throws you off track but also makes you question the need to press a subject when they don’t feel compelled to answer.
Minimizing Your Thoughts and Feelings
By downplaying your emotions, the individual gaslighting you gains power over you. “You’re overreacting,” “Calm down,” or “Why are you so sensitive?” they might say. These remarks belittle your feelings or thoughts and signal that you are incorrect.
When you deal with someone who never addresses your thoughts, feelings, or views, you may begin to doubt them. Furthermore, you could never feel acknowledged or understood, which can be very lonely, humiliating, and difficult to deal with.
Gaslighters spread false rumors and talk about you. They may act concerned about you while covertly informing others that you appear emotionally unstable or “crazy.” Unfortunately, this method may be highly powerful. Many people agree with the abuser or bully without fully understanding the situation.
Furthermore, someone who participates in gaslighting may deceive you by telling you that other people think the same thing about you. These people may never have said anything negative about you, but the person who is gaslighting you will make every effort to convince you that they did.
Another classic gaslighting method is blame-shifting. Every conversation you have is distorted in such a way that you are blamed for something that happened. Even if you try to talk about how the abuser’s behavior makes you feel, they divert the topic so that you wonder if you are the reason for their poor behavior. They may say, for example, that if you acted differently, they would not treat you the way they do.
Bullying and emotional abusers are known for denying that they did anything wrong. They do this to avoid having to accept responsibility for their terrible decisions. This denial can leave the victim feeling invisible, unheard, and as if the impact on them is insignificant. This strategy also makes it difficult for the victim to recover from the bullying or abuse.
Using Compassion as a Weapon
A gaslighter may use gentle and loving words when confronted or questioned to diffuse the issue. They may remark something along the lines of, “You already know how much I love you.” “I would never intentionally hurt you.”
These are the words you want to hear, but they are not genuine, especially if the same behavior is repeated. However, they may be sufficient to persuade you to let them off the hook, allowing the individual to avoid responsibility or consequences for their harmful behavior.
A person who gaslights retells stories in ways that benefit them. For example, if your spouse slammed you against the wall and you later discussed it, they may tell you that you stumbled and they tried to balance you, which caused you to crash against the wall.
You may begin to question your memory of what occurred. The goal is to cause you to be confused or second-guess yourself.
Signs of Gaslighting
Gaslighting can cause anxiety, despair, and other mental health issues like addiction and suicidal behavior. As a result, it’s critical to know when you’re being gaslighted. Consider whether any of the following statements apply to you:
- You question your judgment and perspectives: You are frightened to speak up or express your feelings. You’ve learned that discussing your thoughts typically makes you feel worse in the end, so you choose to remain silent.
- You feel confused: Gaslighting makes you feel like the person is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because of how they act.
- You doubt reality and your feelings: You try to tell yourself that the way you’re treated isn’t that bad or that you’re being too sensitive.
- You feel vulnerable and insecure: You frequently feel like you have to “walk on eggshells” around your family member, partner, or friend. You are also tense and have low self-esteem.
- You worry about being too sensitive: The person says, “I was just joking” or “you need thicker skin.” to make you feel sensitive.
- You feel lonely and powerless: You believe that everyone around you thinks you are “crazy,” “weird,” or “unstable,” just as the person who is gaslighting you claims. You feel trapped and alone as a result of this.
- You second-guess yourself: You often wonder if you remember what happened in the past. You might have even given up trying to tell people what you remember because you’re afraid it’s wrong.
- You spend lots of time apologizing: You always feel the need to apologize for what you do or who you are.
- You struggle to make choices because you doubt yourself: You would rather allow making choices to your partner, friend, or family member than make your own.
- You wonder what’s wrong with you: You question whether something is wrong with you. In other words, you are concerned about your mental health.
- You believe that others are disappointed with you: You constantly apologize for what you do or who you are, presuming that you have disappointed people or made a mistake.
- You wonder if you’re what they say: The individual who gaslights you says things that make you feel wrong, stupid, or mad. You may even find yourself repeating these to yourself at times.
- You feel inadequate: You have the impression that you are never “good enough.” You strive to meet others’ expectations and requests, even if they are unjustified.
- You feel like bad things are about to happen: When you’re with this person, you have the feeling that something dreadful is about to happen. This could involve feeling frightened and on edge for no apparent reason.
- You’re upset with yourself and the person you’ve become: For example, you feel like you’re weak and passive when you used to be stronger and more assertive.
How Gaslighting Affects Your Mental Health
Gaslighting is intended to cause confusion and self-doubt, which can be detrimental to a victim’s mental health. You may feel the following symptoms if you are gaslighted:
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
- Hypervigilance (A hyperbolized fear of danger)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
If you are a victim of gaslighting and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, seek help from a mental health counselor or other therapists. It can assist you in navigating trauma both during and after a specific occurrence.
How to deal with gaslighting
Knowing how to deal with gaslighting will assist you in navigating this maze of bewilderment and rediscovering yourself. Here are seven suggestions for dealing with the gaslighting:
- Recognize it as gaslighting
Because many gaslighting strategies are subtle, determining if you are experiencing this sort of abuse can be difficult. You may even ask if gaslighting may occur accidentally.
A person’s words or actions may be gaslighting if they:
- Occur constantly and across settings,
- Making you doubt yourself
- Have a negative impact on your self-worth
It’s useful to know that the person gaslighting you has a strong desire for power. Recognizing this early is usually the first step toward getting insight that will assist you in coping.
- Take note of interactions
The person gaslighting you wants you to question everything you say, do, or remember. Thus taking notes on discussions or encounters is an excellent technique to deal with gaslighting.
Confronting someone who has been manipulating you might be daunting. However, having proof on hand may give you more confidence in recalling conversations and events.
- Lean on your support network
It can be difficult to discern the truth amid the fog of gaslighting. Creating a support network of people who have a real opinion of your talents might help you overcome self-doubt.
Speaking with a mental health expert can also enhance your confidence and assist you in developing coping techniques for gaslighting.
- Be kind to yourself
Gaslighting can drain you both physically and mentally. Some research on gaslighting in professional medical contexts, for example, indicated that nurses who were gaslighted by their employers reported negative health outcomes and signs of complex PTSD.
Consider engaging in self-care activities like hobbies, learning new things, and socializing with friends to alleviate the tension caused by gaslighting. Considering a walk to get away from the situation might also be considered self-care.
Taking care of yourself might also mean giving the relationship a close look and deciding if you want to keep it going.
- Create boundaries
Setting solid limits is important in all relationships, but it is especially important when dealing with gaslighting.
You can try to minimize your talks with the person or walk away if they start using phrases that make you nervous.
- Consider stepping away from debates
A person who participates in gaslighting is unlikely to perceive things from your point of view. Trying to prove that you are correct and they are incorrect will most likely leave you frustrated and confused.
Stepping away from the talk can help you avoid gaslighting.
- Distance yourself
No matter how hard you try, the person who is gaslighting you won’t change their ways unless they want to. When someone is trying to gaslight you, sometimes the only thing you can do is distance yourself from them, for a while or for a lifetime.
Examples of gaslighting
Although it is not always easy to spot a gaslighter, here are a few things they say:
- “You’re being very emotional about this.”
- “That’s not what I said. You don’t remember it right.”
- “You’re too sensitive. It’s not a big deal.”
- “I didn’t do that. You did.”
- “I don’t know what you’re talking about.
- “You just make things up.”
- “You’re overreacting.”
- “You’re too sensitive. It’s not a big deal.”
- “I was joking. You have no sense of humor.”
These are examples of a pattern of words and acts intended to instill self-doubt and allow the person to take control of the relationship.
What should I say to someone who’s gaslighting me?
What to say to a gaslighter might be difficult in some relationships, especially if you’ve been through it before.
If this person is your romantic partner, you may be hesitant to confront them or be concerned that you may lose your job if gaslighting occurs at work. So it’s quite understandable if you don’t say anything.
Here are some responses to consider if you want to say something and feel secure doing so:
- “I can no longer continue this talk if you continue to dismiss my thoughts or opinions.”
- “Your point of view differs from mine, but I know I’m not hallucinating.”
- “Your feelings are valid, and mine are valid as well.”
- “I’m having trouble talking to you about this. Let us take a break and return to this later.”
- “Calling me names will not get me to agree with you. Honest communication is a better approach for me to comprehend your point of view.”
When dealing with gaslighting, it’s also useful to speak calmly and with confident body language. This provides both verbal and visual cues that you are setting boundaries.
What not to do if you suspect someone is gaslighting you
When dealing with gaslighting, how you say something is sometimes just as crucial as what you say.
Here are some instances of how not to react to gaslighting:
- Avoid using harsh language or posture. Their gaslighting tactics may grow as they try to maintain control over you and the circumstance.
- Focus solely on your emotions rather than the situation. If someone is trying to get you to do what they want, it may be easier for them to disagree with what is going on around you than with how you feel.
- Try not to become visually upset, even if it is tough. This could make the person trying to manipulate you feel like they are right and make them try even harder, even though you have every right to be upset.
It is critical to note that not everyone should attempt to fight with someone who is gaslighting them. In some circumstances, this may lead to physical violence.
Sometimes the only thing you can do while learning how to deal with gaslighting is put distance between yourself and the individual. It is not your obligation to debate with someone who is gaslighting you. It is up to you whether you engage with someone who is gaslighting you. There is no correct or incorrect answer.
When to seek help
If a person feels that someone close to them is gaslighting them, this could indicate abuse. Domestic abuse helplines can help people in relationships get guidance and comprehend what they are going through.
People subjected to gaslighting in different circumstances may benefit from consulting with a therapist. A Psychotherapist can help a person deal with the mental health implications of gaslighting and rebuild trust in themselves by providing a clear perspective on the problem.
Final words: How to deal with gaslighting
Remember that you are not too responsible for what is happening to you. The individual who is gaslighting you has chosen to act in this manner. They are held accountable for their acts. Nothing you did prompted them to make this decision, and you won’t be able to change it.
On the other hand, counseling can teach you how to make healthy choices and create boundaries with the person who engages in gaslighting. You may eventually conclude that you are ready to end the relationship.
What to say to someone who gaslights you?
- “My feelings and reality are valid.
- “Don’t tell me how to feel; I feel this way.”
- “I am free to discuss these issues and have these conversations with you.”
- “I will end this talk if you continue to belittle how I feel.”
- “I know what I saw.”
What are gaslighting behaviors?
According to the American Psychological Association, gaslighting someone is manipulating another person into doubting their own perceptions, feelings, or understanding of events.
Why do people gaslight?
People gaslight for a variety of reasons, and each circumstance is unique. One common goal of bad actors is to cause uncertainty and cause the victim to question reality. Certain mental issues, such as antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, can also act as catalysts for this type of behavior.
What is unconscious gaslighting?
Not every gaslighter does so on purpose. According to experts, unconscious gaslighting occurs when the offender conducts emotional abuse without a clear intention to injure or exploit.
How to know if someone is gaslighting you?
It takes practice and perception to recognize when you’re being gaslighted. If something feels strange, especially if your partner or another individual is repeatedly showing gaslighting symptoms, it’s time to talk to them, review the relationship, or seek professional help.
How do you outsmart a gaslighter?
How to deal with gaslighting (summary)
- First, make sure it’s gaslighting.
- Take some space from the situation.
- Collect evidence.
- Speak up about the behavior.
- Remain confident in your version of events.
- Focus on self-care.
- Involve others.
- Seek professional support.