Do the following phrases sound like something you may hear in your regular life??
“What you are saying never even happened.”
“This is not how things happened.”
“You are overthinking things.”
“This never happened. You must be losing it.”
If these are phrases you hear regularly, you are being gaslighted.
There are many different ways to gaslight someone. There are different forms of gaslighting as well. You need to understand the different forms of gaslighting to understand whether you are undergoing gaslighting or not.
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Signs you are facing gaslighting from your loved one.
Trivializing your emotions
Your partner will try to make you feel that your emotions do not matter. You will be convinced that you always overreact to situations. The primary purpose of doing this is to minimize your thoughts and feelings.
If you try to discuss with your partner, they will either turn and accuse you, confuse you or completely brush off any attempt of talking to them about the particular matter.
Suppose you question your partner about an incident that previously happened. In that case, your partner will either completely deny that the incident ever took place, make you question a false memory, change the sequence of events or blame you for the situation.
Denying or forgetting
Suppose you want to discuss the behavior of your partner at a specific event. When you mention the event to your partner, your partner completely denies that anything of the sort ever happened. Alternatively, your partner may say that they do not remember any details of the event.
Suppose you display your concern about the behavior of the gaslighter. In that case, they will either change the subject or completely turn it back to you and suggest that you made everything up.
Your partner starts to discredit you in front of others. They will suggest that you act crazy, get confused quickly, have a hard time remembering things, are going through a difficult phase in your life, etc. This form of manipulation is done to make others fall victim to the thought that you are not in the right mental phase.
Even though gaslighting is most commonly used in relationships between partners, it is not necessarily restricted to romantic relationships only. You may also experience gaslighting at the workplace, with family members or parents.
14 tips to help you identify and deal with gaslighting
The purpose of gaslighting is to make you doubt your reality and yourself. Therefore, if someone is offering an opinion that is different from them, it is unacceptable to the person engaging in gaslighting.
Understand that what you are experiencing is really gaslighting
Many times, people have got confused as to whether the signs exhibited by their partner are a sign of manipulation or gaslighting. In other cases, people have not recognized that the behavior exhibited by their partner is gaslighting because it started off at a very small scale and progressed slowly.
Alternatively, some people also have a firm belief that it is not possible that their partner might be gaslighting them. Therefore, understanding if you are actually suffering from gaslighting or not is the first criterion.
Thus, even if someone exhibits beliefs and thoughts that are different from yours, and they are presented in a critical or rude manner, it does not necessarily indicate that that person is trying to gaslight you unless it involves manipulation.
Many believe that what they say is right and what others feel or say is wrong. You may hear phrases like, “you’re wrong. This is not like that.” However, it does not mean that the person is trying to gaslight you if there is no manipulation involved.
Sometimes, people also try to gaslight the other person in an unintentional manner.
“Don’t you feel you’re overreacting a bit too much?”
“I don’t have the time to go through this with you.”
These responses may not be overly helpful. However, this does not also indicate that the other person is trying to manipulate you.
When you are trying to figure out if you are being gaslighted or not, you need to take your own feelings into account, along with what the other person is telling you. The focus here is on how the other person makes you feel about yourself, not specifically the words that have come out of the other person’s mouth. If you are suffering from gaslighting, you will face problems like
- Questioning and doubting yourself
- Possibly wondering if you are overreacting or being too sensitive
- Frequently apologizing
- Facing a constant struggle with the decision-making process
- Feeling unhappy, confused, caged, and trapped in your own self you
- Avoiding loved ones since you do not understand how to explain what’s going on with you.
If this is how you are constantly feeling and your partner uses phrases that make you question your reality, sanity, and thought processes, you are being gaslighted. Once you have confirmed that you are actually facing gaslighting, you should move on to the next steps of solving the problem.
|How to deal with gaslighting?
Bring back the calm
Gaslighting can lead to a very chaotic situation in your mind. You are constantly second-guessing yourself. You are not sure if what you are saying or doing is right or wrong. Under such conditions, frustration, worry, fear, sadness, stress, and anger becomes common reaction. However, you cannot let these emotions guide you in your everyday life and be your immediate response. When you remain calm, you can think more logically and analyze the situation effectively. Therefore, you must focus on bringing back the calm which you have lost due to the gaslighting behavior of your partner.
One huge problem with gaslighting is that when such people are confronted about their behavior, they openly say no. Even if you keep trying to show that what you are saying is the truth, the other person will never accept it. The more you start to feel distressed, the more the other person will gain authority over you. This will further encourage the other person to continue manipulating you.
Therefore, the first priority is to stay completely calm. When you are calm, you can focus on the truth. It will be less easy for your manipulator to enforce the false version on you as the correct one. We will also be able to maintain your self-confidence and look at the events in a neutral light.
If there is a need to take some space or break from the topic of discussion, you can either step outside or go for a walk. This will help you clear your head and focus on the situation at hand. If leaving is not an option for you, you can focus on doing some
- Visualization exercises
- Reading exercises
- Grounding yourself with the help of an object or a photo
- Count to 10 in slow motion
- Repeat affirming mantras
- Engage in art therapy
The primary purpose of gaslighting is to make you doubt your version of reality and truth. Therefore, your perpetrator would try to avoid being accountable for any situation while causing you to become dependent on them in terms of reality, emotions, etc. To know if what you feel and think is right or not, you will have to depend on your manipulator. This, in turn, empowers the manipulator to gain more control over you. This will also create an immense amount of internal confusion within you> This confusion slowly chips away your ability to have faith in yourself.
In a confrontational situation, you must stand firm in what you believe. Even if your partner tells you that what you feel is wrong and your perception of reality is not correct, you need to own your perception and maintain that faith in yourself. If your partner tells you that your version of reality is incorrect, you need to counteract and say, “I know what I remember. I am aware of my feelings, my reality, and my thought processes. I do not need your or anyone else’s guidance.”
It is crucial that you start to collect evidence from the moment you feel that you are being gaslighted by your partner. When you have evidence, it will act in your support when you decide to confront your partner. This will also help you identify what really happened. When your partner denies that any conversation or situation took place in the past, you can either show the evidence or check the evidence and look for the truth yourself.
Here are some ideas that would help you with collecting evidence:
- Take photos of damaged properties
- Save screenshots of emails and text
- Record the time and date of the conversation
- Record the conversation
Even if the laws in your state or country do not allow you to use the recordings in a court of law, you can still use these recordings to inform others about what you are going through.
It may not be a wise option to directly go and confront your abuser, especially if your abuser has a tendency of violent behavior. However, having proof can help you in recovering from the trauma that you have faced. It will also help you restore your confidence in yourself and show you that you are not wrong, your reality is not fabricated and what you remember is correct.
Write things down
In my previous article, I discussed the benefits of journaling and how journaling can help you boost mental health, and how you can start journaling. When you are in the habit of journaling regularly, write down any and everything that happens in your day. Your journal can act as a record of the things you experience on a daily basis.
Journaling will also help you go back and revisit the situation a few months down the line. When you are in a calm and relaxed state of mind, reviewing what happened in past scenarios can help you understand who was actually in the wrong and whether your reality is fabricated or not. This way, you will regain the lost self-confidence due to constant questioning and will always be aware of the truth of the situation. If you have never journaled till date, now is a good time to start.
|How to deal with gaslighting? 14 tips
Discuss the behavior
Gaslighting works because you allow it to. The reason the other person can gaslight you is that the perpetrator wants to shake your confidence and confuse you. The primary aim of gaslighting is to make you more dependent on the perpetrator. However, if you stop being bothered by what the perpetrator says or tells you, eventually, your perpetrator may realize that gaslighting you is just not worth it.
Alternatively, you can also question your perpetrator about their actions, behavior and ask them to stop it. You need not get into a shouting match for this. Do this only if you are sure that you can remain calm throughout the conversation and can control your temper. The moment you become furious or start showing signs of anger, resentment, stress, or anxiety, your perpetrator wins. Therefore, indulge in this step only if you can be sure that you will remain calm throughout the conversation.
It has often been seen that gaslighting heavily involves insults and criticism. Therefore, you must call out your perpetrator. Inform them that you will not take kindly to any kind of insult or criticism. You are a human and deserve to be treated with respect. You will not tolerate any disrespectful behavior from now on. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions. If your perpetrator realizes that you can see through the façade, there is a higher chance that they may leave you alone in the future.
They may also attempt to disguise the insults and sarcastic remarks as jokes or backhanded compliments. Under such circumstances, you have one of two choices. You can either choose to say that you do not want to hear any joke about yourself from now on. Alternatively, you can ask the perpetrator to explain the joke to you. This would help them realize that their sarcastic remarks and insults are not working on you.
If you are experiencing gaslighting in the workplace, you may experience your coworker making a comment that you have not completed your share of work. Under such circumstances, you should respond in the following manner: “Oh! I have already finished my share of work. We can go through them right now if you want.”
Keep the discussions simple and to the point.
Now that you know that your partner, colleague, or parent is gaslighting you, you must keep the conversations short and simple. Make sure that you only converse about what needs to be discussed and nothing else. Try not to discuss the weather or have small talk with such people. Discuss only what is necessary. Even when you are discussing what is necessary, such people will tend to lie, dominate the narrative and make you feel that what you know is wrong.
Remember to stand your ground.
Even before entering the conversation, you know how the other person will react. Therefore, it is crucial that you stay on your path and do not waiver. The other person will try to distract you, steer the conversation in different directions or try to blame you for the situation. It is your responsibility to stay firmly on track and not diverge from the point.
Focus on yourself
You are important. You need to first take care of your own emotional and physical needs. Even though these will not directly help you with the gaslighting issues that you are facing, it will definitely be a direct hit to the confidence of the perpetrator who is gaslighting you. It will not only improve your state of mind, but it will also throw the gaslighter off their tracks.
The purpose of a gaslighter is to make the victim completely dependent on them for their emotional needs. If the perpetrator notices that you are happy and satisfied with yourself, it will confuse them.
When you start to indulge in wellness practices, relaxation techniques, and self-care, you will notice an improvement in your mental and physical health. It will also help you feel stronger and more adept at facing the challenges that are thrown at you.
To improve your mental and physical well-being, try the following:
- Yoga and meditation
- Spend some quality time with your friends and family in your line practice daily affirmations
- Maintain a gratitude journal
- Journal regularly
- Make time for your hobbies
- Indulge in art therapy
- Add positive self-talk to your daily routine.
Physical exercise can also be of great help. Exercise can not only serve as an outlet for all of the anxiety, tension, and stress that you are feeling, it can also help you sort through your emotions, think clearly, and drain out all of the negative energy and emotion that you are feeling. When you exercise regularly, your sleep quality also improves. When your perpetrator notices that you are living your life to the fullest, they may stop practicing gaslighting because it is not having any effect on you.
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Do not try to outsmart the gaslighter.
This may seem contradictory to my previous advice, where I mentioned that you should collect evidence and show it to the gaslighter. However, people who indulge in gaslighting are experts at deflecting, denying, or minimizing the situation. Even if you show up with a mountain of evidence, such people may still manipulate you into feeling that you were in the wrong. Therefore, you have to first judge the personality of your perpetrator before you decide to go with either this advice or the previous one.
If your perpetrator is open to civil discussions, you can show up with proof. However, if your perpetrator is a master at manipulating, deflecting, minimizing, etc. over, you should walk away instead. Furthermore, if you or your perpetrator are likely to become volatile during a discussion and lose your cool, it is better to walk away than to confront your gaslighter.
Go-to statements to use when you know that the other person is gaslighting you:
- “You do not have the right to tell me that I am being overdramatic. It is within my rights to explore and discuss these topics and conversations.”
- “I do not appreciate your sarcastic remarks. You know if you continue to minimize my feelings, I will stop the conversation.”
- “How I feel is how I feel. I do not need you to tell me how to feel.”
Work on your support system
The primary goal of the gaslighter is to isolate you from your friends and families. Do not let that happen. Your perpetrator will tell you that your friends and family do not respect you, talk bad about you, etc. However, the purpose of the gaslighter here is to isolate you from your support system. This behavior is particularly exhibited by those people who fall on the spectrum of narcissism. Therefore, you should not let this happen. Focus on keeping your support system alive.
Talk to your friends and family.
No matter what the gaslighter tells you, do not isolate yourself from your people who are close to you. You can also choose to share your experiences with them, let them know what is going on, what you have seen, experienced, etc. The more you try to stay quiet and dampen reality, the higher the chance that you will start to doubt yourself over time. Many times, we require external validation to know that what we are doing is correct and that we are on the right path. When you have a support system, they will tell you that you were right and there is nothing wrong with you. This will bolster your self-confidence and reduce that emotional and psychological hold that the gaslighter is trying to gain on you.
Get professional help
Sometimes, things may have gone too far, or you may have already isolated yourself from people you love and those who care about you. Under such conditions, whom should you turn to? Under such conditions, you should talk to a therapist. You can use online tools to find a therapist close to your location. A therapist will be able to see the signs much more easily compared to your friends or family and will be able to direct you on the right path.
Sometimes, emotional abusers or people who engage in gaslighting can also become abusive. Under such conditions, you need immediate help. Do not ignore the option of going to a therapist. It might be just what you need. Even if you get rid of the toxic relationship, the resentments, guilt, anger, frustration that you still have in you can make it difficult to move forward. Thus, professional help can help you sort out these problems much faster than your friends and family.
If you have a person who is gaslighting you in your life, discerning what is real and what is not can become particularly difficult. The purpose of gaslighting is to knock off your reality and make you completely dependent on the other person. It is OK to get out of such relationships. You are a mentally strong person who deserves all the love, loyalty, and respect in life. You do not deserve to be belittled, psychologically or emotionally abused, or harassed. Thus, you need to learn to stand firm in what you believe and know. Learn to lean into your support system. They can help back you up and help you regain confidence. Finally, you must focus on self-care and self-compassion. You need not ease everything in one night. However, taking baby steps can help you in the long run.
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If you have any queries pertaining to this post or any other, feel free to reach out to me on either of my social media channels. If you wish to share your experiences, you can either use the comment section or email me. Alternatively, you can also leave your views and queries in the comments section or use the contact form to get in touch with me. I will be happy to help. If you are in a relationship with someone who is engaging in gaslighting, you need to get out now. Even if it is your family, put some distance between them and you. You deserve to be happy.
See you in my next blog post.