6 Ways to Deal with Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a damaging form of mental and emotional abuse that is usually most acutely experienced in a close or intimate relationship. For example, in a marriage or other domestic partnership. Gaslighting is an intentional attempt to manipulate someone into doubting their own feelings as well as their perception of events and reality in general.
If you’ve experienced gaslighting from a partner, close friend or family member, it’s likely that you feel confused and doubtful. You might wonder if you’re the one to blame. The goal of gaslighting is typically to deflect blame from the person doing it. It can also be used to make the gaslit person go along with something that they normally wouldn’t.
The following are some examples of gaslighting:
• Trivializing and minimizing your feelings
• Accusing you of overreacting
• Countering your views and opinions
• Questioning your memory
• Denial of events
• Distracting you from the subject at hand
• Pretending to forget what happened or what they said
• Discrediting your character or cognitive abilities
As previously mentioned, gaslighting tactics are most common in close relationships, but they can also happen in the workplace. In that case, these tactics may be harder to recognize.
Let’s Explore Some Methods on How to Deal with Gaslighting
Recognize and Make Sure It’s Really Gaslighting
Before you can know how to deal with gaslighting, it’s important to know whether what you’re experiencing really is gaslighting. It’s not always easy to recognize when you’re being gaslit. Gaslighting behavior often starts small, and other behaviors can look the same. True gaslighting develops into an intentional and repetitive pattern of manipulation. The person doing the gaslighting wants you to doubt your own perception of reality. How can you know the difference?
The key is the intentions of the other person. People who want to be right may simply insist that they’re right in a rude way. But, if they’re not trying to manipulate you, it’s unlikely that their behavior is gaslighting. The following are some typical phrases used by gaslighters:
• “You’re making that up.”
• “That never happened.”
• “You’re overreacting.”
• “You’re being dramatic.”
Remember that gaslighting is a repeating pattern of behavior. The repeating pattern will have an effect on your mental and emotional health. It will lead you to have many of the following feelings:
• Wondering if you’re too sensitive
• Apologizing often
• Struggling to make decisions
• Confusion and unhappiness
• Avoiding loved ones since you can’t explain what’s happening
Standing Firm Against Gaslighting
The purpose of gaslighting is to make someone doubt their perception of reality. The person doing the gaslighting usually wants to avoid responsibility while manipulating you into depending on them emotionally. Stand firm against this behavior by believing in your memory, your feelings and your own truth. What does this sound like when facing a gaslighter? Consider the following statements:
• “I know what I saw/heard.”
• “Don’t tell me how to feel.”
Keep calm and take space from the topic if necessary. Taking space can help you focus on the truth and make it less likely that your perception will be influenced by the gaslighter’s false version of the truth. You might also consider keeping a journal and writing things down as they happen. You can use this to ground yourself later when you feel overwhelmed and confused by repeated gaslighting attempts.
One important way to deal with gaslighting is to collect evidence of the things you hear and see. This can help you confront the gaslighter later if they try to tell you that the things you remember aren’t true. The following are some ways you can collect evidence to deal with gaslighting:
• Save texts and emails
• Take screenshots
• Write down conversations
• Take pictures of damaged property
• Record phone conversations
It’s important to note that some laws ban recorded conversations from being used in legal proceedings, but you can use them to show others or discuss it with your therapist.
Don’t Stay Silent
Gaslighting works as a manipulation tactic because it confuses you and makes you doubt yourself. If you clearly show that the behavior doesn’t bother you, the gaslighter might decide to move on. This might not work as well if you’re in an intimate relationship with the gaslighter, however, it can work if you’re being gaslit by someone in your workplace. Along with lies and distractions, gaslighting often involves insults and criticism. The gaslighter might try to disguise these insults and criticisms as backhanded compliments or jokes. They might try to tell you that they only want to help you. Stand up for yourself by pointing out the behavior calmly and concisely.
Don’t Question Yourself
The primary purpose of gaslighting is to get you to doubt and question yourself, your judgment and your memory. Sometimes it’s human nature to wonder if your version of events is correct. Everyone has slips of memory now and then. However, if you know you’re dealing with a gaslighter, it’s important not to let yourself question your own memory. Keep in mind that it’s very rare for someone to misremember an entire event or situation. Memory slips typically involve small details like the color of someone’s shoes or the placement of the furniture in a room. You’re very unlikely to remember something completely wrong.
When the gaslighter confronts you with their untruthful version of events, calmly reply that you know exactly what happened. If you have proof, you can show it to them as well. It’s very possible that they won’t back down no matter what. In this situation, you should refuse to argue and leave the room if you can.
Involve Other People
One important aspect of gaslighting is that it seeks to separate the victim from supportive third parties. If the gaslighter can keep you away from others, they can more easily manipulate you and get you to doubt your memories. You might worry that involving other people in your gaslighting drama will make them upset, but it’s important to have the support of others. It can help you feel more confident in yourself and less likely to question your memory or judgment. The other reason is that a neutral third party will have some distance from the gaslighting and can provide an unbiased perspective. This can help you recognize the gaslighting and confront it.
Gaslighting can often turn into abuse. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re experiencing emotional or psychological abuse from a spouse or partner. Talking to a therapist can help you identify manipulative behavior and find ways to address it.
A trusted therapist can help you deal with manipulative and abusive behaviors like gaslighting. If you’re looking for a therapist in Los Angeles, then consider reaching out to Menachem Psychotherapy Group. Every therapist is well-versed in treating mental health issues and deconstructing abusive relationships.