How To Deal With Gaslighting: 19 Unique Ways

17 minutes read

How To Deal With Gaslighting? Gaslighting, a term that has gained significant attention in online conversations, has proven beneficial in aiding individuals to identify and label specific dysfunctions present within their relationships.

This phenomenon has empowered many to assert their truths with unwavering confidence. However, despite the widespread understanding of the term, navigating interactions while being subjected to gaslighting remains challenging.

In simpler terms, gaslighting signifies deliberate efforts to manipulate an individual into doubting their emotions, perceptions of events, and overall reality.

Those employing gaslighting tactics generally seek to sow confusion, inducing self-doubt to manipulate compliance.

Perhaps you’ve encountered phrases such as:

  • “You must be losing your mind. That’s not what happened.”
  • “Your understanding is completely off.”
  • “You’re imagining things.”
  • “There is no need to be so sensitive. I was merely joking.”

Frequent use of such statements in your interactions might indicate that you’re currently experiencing gaslighting.

Gaslighting Scenarios

How-To-Deal-With-Gaslighting

N-region, Pixabay

Gaslighting can insidiously infiltrate friendships and workplaces, even though it is often wielded by emotionally abusive partners and family members. Unaddressed, its repercussions extend to mental well-being, work efficiency, and relationships.

Variants of this behavior encompass:

1. Minimization

Expressions of your emotions are diminished, or worse, brushed aside. Accusations of overreaction may arise, belittling the significance of your feelings.

2. Contradiction

They challenge your recollection of events, fabricate alternate details, or outright deny occurrences. In some instances, they may shift blame onto you.

3. Withholding

This is experienced when efforts to engage in dialogue are met with dismissal or countered by accusations of intentional perplexity.

4. Deflection

When confronted with concerns about their actions, they divert the conversation or redirect the focus, suggesting that you’re fabricating the issue.

5. Omission or Denial

References to specific incidents or their statements are met with claims of forgetfulness or outright negation, leaving you doubting your memory.

6. Disparagement

They imply to others that your memory is faulty, that you’re prone to confusion, or even that you invent events. Such tactics can jeopardize your professional standing in a workplace context.

You can’t conquer an adversary shrouded in obscurity, and an ailment left undiagnosed remains unhealed. Let’s dive into the art of handling gaslighting and standing strong in your truth.

Here’s a guide on how to deal with gaslighting to responding and reclaiming your autonomy:

How To Deal With Gaslighting

How-To-Deal-With-Gaslighting

Terribileclaudio, Pixabay

1. Learn to identify the telltale signs of gaslighting.

One of the ways how to deal with gaslighting is to learn to identify the telltale signs of gaslighting. Gaslighting is a manipulative technique that seeks to cast doubt on an individual’s reality and memory.

Its origins trace back to a 1938 British play titled “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically alters the home environment while denying his actions to his wife.

He persistently tells her she’s recalling events incorrectly and refutes her perception, even though he intentionally changes their surroundings.

The term takes its name from his act of dimming the gaslights (coupled with other deceptive actions) and then denying the alterations when questioned, sowing seeds of uncertainty about her perceptions and reality.

In addition to the familiar gaslighting phrases highlighted earlier, if you find these lines being sung to you repeatedly or frequently, you may be encountering gaslighting:

  • “You’re fabricating things.”
  • “That never occurred.”
  • “You’re exaggerating.”
  • “You’re magnifying minor issues.”
  • “I never said that. Your memory is skewed.”
  • “You’re overly sensitive. It’s trivial.”
  • “I didn’t perform that action. It’s your doing.”
  • “I have no clue what you’re talking about. You’re simply imagining things.”
  • “You’re overreacting.”
  • “I was just joking. You lack a sense of humor.”
  • “You’re getting overly emotional.”

Another avenue to recognize gaslighting is by understanding its effects.

A person subject to persistent gaslighting exhibits signs of diminished self-esteem and emotional reliance on the manipulator.

Amid conflicts where gaslighting is at play, you might navigate a whirlwind of emotions, from confusion and anger to frustration, ensnared in circular arguments both vocal and internal.

2. This exhausting cycle corrodes self-trust.

Empowered by the ability to pinpoint gaslighting as it unfolds, you can now break free from its cycle.

A poignant note to consider: Recognizing gaslighting isn’t always straightforward, especially since it often commences subtly and can resemble other behaviors.

True gaslighting evolves into a repetitive pattern of manipulation. The manipulator seeks to cultivate self-doubt in you while promoting their version of reality.

Hence, differing opinions or even rude criticism don’t necessarily equate to gaslighting.

People might assert their viewpoints with unwavering conviction, even when evidence suggests otherwise.

A forceful “You’re mistaken! I’m well-informed” may not exhibit politeness, but it generally isn’t gaslighting unless it’s aimed at manipulation.

Furthermore, people can inadvertently engage in gaslighting. Statements like “I don’t have time for this” or “Aren’t you being a bit dramatic?” may not be the most empathetic responses, yet they don’t inherently indicate an intent to manipulate you.

When discerning if someone is gaslighting you, observe not only their actions but also the emotions stirred within you.

3. Create Space for Yourself

Navigating the tumultuous waters of gaslighting can evoke a myriad of intense emotions.

Anger, frustration, worry, sadness, and fear—these sentiments are all valid, yet it’s essential not to let them dictate your immediate responses.

Maintaining a sense of calmness enables you to handle the situation more effectively.

Before engaging in a conversation, define your purpose. What are your intentions? What would you like to achieve or resolve? Outline the key points you wish to convey.

A gaslighting individual may resort to blatant lies, narrative manipulation, and downplaying your feelings. Centering yourself on your purpose when entering the conversation keeps you on track, preventing you from being swayed by their attempts to lead you astray.

While it’s tempting to refute the false claims of the gaslighter, their persistence and your ensuing distress might perpetuate their manipulation.

Maintaining composure allows you to focus on the truth, making it less likely that their fabricated version of events will erode your self-assurance.

If space is physically feasible, propose a pause and agree to revisit the topic later. A brief walk or a moment outdoors can help clear your mind and refresh your thoughts.

In cases where physical departure isn’t an option, consider employing:

4. Breathing exercises

Grounding techniques using a photograph, an object, or a visualization

Slowly counting to ten

Repeating an empowering affirmation.

Remember, creating space for yourself doesn’t just mean physical distance; it also encompasses creating an emotional sanctuary where you can regain your equilibrium.

5. Let Go Without Losing Yourself

Be prepared to disengage from the conversation. In instances of gaslighting, tactics such as deflection and minimization may also be employed. During such moments, nurturing self-validation and recognizing the cyclical and unjust nature of the dialogue is crucial. Permit yourself to step away when you begin to notice signs of your reality being undermined and trivialized.

Remember: The objective of gaslighting is to sow seeds of doubt in your perception. Departing from a conversation before the manipulation intensifies is a way to safeguard your understanding of events.

Avoid fixating on “outsmarting” the gaslighter. The most effective strategy to counter their tactics is disengagement. Even if you present mountains of evidence—videos, recordings, and more—the gaslighter will find ways to deflect, downplay, or deny. Preserving your perception intact is far more valuable than engaging in futile battles.

7. Compile Supporting Proof

Documenting interactions with those attempting to gaslight you aids in retaining clarity about actual occurrences. In instances where they deny conversations or events, you can reference your records to reaffirm the truth.

Here are a few boxes to check:

  • Preserve or capture screenshots of text messages and emails.
  • Capture photographs of any damaged property.
  • Record the dates and times of conversations.
  • Summarize conversations, incorporating direct quotes when possible.

To anchor yourself in your truth, articulating events as they unfold can be beneficial. Journaling about experiences and routinely reviewing your entries can establish a routine of self-affirmation. Maintaining a journal to chronicle events over time serves as a sturdy foundation for confidence in your awareness.

Utilize your phone to record conversations, keeping in mind that local laws may govern the legality of such recordings for legal purposes. This practice contributes not only to your peace of mind but also to your emotional well-being.

8. Understanding the truth negates the need for self-doubt.

This newfound confidence facilitates your ability to confront gaslighting more effectively. Your notes can also be used as evidence in workplace scenarios. Ensure to store them safely, especially if using personal devices in a professional setting.

While accumulating evidence, establish boundaries and practice self-care to prevent overwhelming anxiety. This is particularly relevant if you’re susceptible to high levels of anxiety, as recording instances of gaslighting might lead to rumination, potentially heightening feelings of anxiety.

9. Address the Behavior

Gaslighting’s efficacy stems from its ability to sow confusion and erode your self-assurance. Exhibiting indifference to the behavior’s impact may prompt the gaslighter to reconsider their approach.

Beyond falsehoods and redirection, gaslighting frequently involves criticism and insults. Gently and assertively confronting these behaviors underscores your unwillingness to tolerate them. Speaking up shouldn’t be feared, as shedding light on the situation encourages intervention from others.

Disguised insults, veiled as humor or backhanded compliments, often emerge. Asking them to explain the joke, as if you don’t comprehend, can highlight the futility of such tactics.

In a workplace example, if a colleague implies you’re not contributing adequately, you might respond with, “Actually, I’ve already completed this week’s tasks. Shall we review them?”

10. Convey to the gaslighter your expectation of respectful treatment

The likelihood of changing their behavior is slim, but articulating your expectations shows awareness of their tactics. This awareness may prompt them to redirect their efforts elsewhere. Emphasize that for any relationship to flourish, respect is paramount.

For instance, express, “It’s unacceptable to make jests at my expense. If we’re to collaborate effectively, mutual kindness is essential.” Alternatively, convey, “I deeply value my role in this company, and your remarks undermine my authority. A successful business relationship hinges on mutual respect.”

By embodying self-assurance and respectful assertiveness, you regain control and cultivate a healthier dynamic.

11. Uphold Your Reality with Confidence

Occasionally, memories may possess subtle variations from actual occurrences, leading you to ponder, “What if it happened as they claim?” However, resist the temptation to second-guess yourself—this doubt is precisely what they aim to instil.

Gaslighting seeks to sow the seeds of doubt within the receiver, causing them to question their perception. For the manipulator, their objective might involve evading accountability while gradually fostering emotional reliance. This engenders profound internal turmoil that erodes self-trust and memory.

To counteract this, stand unwavering in your truth. This entails believing in yourself, your emotions, and your inherent knowledge of reality. Embrace your perspective by affirming statements like “I am confident in what I witnessed” or “My feelings are valid; I trust them.”

Typically, memory lapses concern minor details—a shirt’s color, individuals present. Your mind rarely conjures entirely fabricated recollections. If your memory remains clear and they steadfastly negate your account, that’s gaslighting.

You possess knowledge of the actual sequence of events. Reiterate it calmly and with certainty. While presenting evidence may encourage them to reconsider, its impact is not guaranteed.

If they persist in challenging you, evade engagement in conflict. Arguments escalate tension and heighten susceptibility to manipulation. By refusing to argue, you safeguard yourself and maintain authority over the situation. A gentle statement like “We seem to recall things differently, but I’d rather not argue about it” redirects discussion or provides an exit strategy.

12. Prioritize Self-Care

Directly addressing gaslighting may not be the immediate outcome of self-care, yet its profound impact on your well-being remains invaluable.

Gaslighters may endeavor to belittle your need for self-care, labelling it as laziness or indulgence. However, sustaining self-care practices is vital despite such attempts.

Concerns about gaslighting and its potential ramifications on work and relationships can infiltrate every facet of your life, eroding the joy even in your cherished pursuits.

Dedicating time to relaxation and wellness positively influences your mental and physical states. This imparts resilience and a heightened capacity to confront daily challenges.

Try these methods for enhanced well-being:

  • Share moments with friends and family.
  • Embrace positive self-dialogue
  • Remind yourself of your accomplishments and strengths.
  • Integrate daily affirmations.
  • Allocate time for hobbies.
  • Explore meditation or yoga.
  • Maintain a journal for emotional clarity.

Physical activity, too, carries benefits. Beyond enhancing physical health, it acts as an outlet for stress. Engaging in rigorous workouts can alleviate the distress evoked by gaslighting.

13. Self-kindness is paramount

The toll of navigating gaslighting’s intricacies is both mental and physical.

Research indicates that exposure to gaslighting can induce negative health effects and symptoms of complex PTSD.

To mitigate the strain, emphasize self-care activities such as pursuing hobbies, acquiring new knowledge, and nurturing social connections.

Even a tranquil walk to distance yourself from the situation serves as an act of self-compassion.

Self-care extends to evaluating the relationship itself, and contemplating if it aligns with your desired well-being. By fostering self-nurturing practices, you regain strength and resilience amid gaslighting’s challenges.

How-To-Deal-With-Gaslighting

Nicolagiordano, Pixabay

14. Preserve Yourself While Maintaining Harmony

Navigating gaslighting involves not just the content of your response, but also its tone and approach. Here are some instances illustrating how not to respond to gaslighting: Steer clear of adopting aggressive language or confrontational stances. Such reactions can inadvertently amplify gaslighting maneuvers, reinforcing their grip on the situation and you.

Direct your focus towards your emotions, emphasizing them over the situation itself. Those manipulating you might find it easier to dispute objective circumstances than to undermine your feelings.

While challenging, strive to maintain composure.

Expressing visible distress could inadvertently validate the manipulator, intensifying their efforts. Remember, your emotions are valid, even if they don’t warrant a visually upset response.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that not everyone should engage in arguments with gaslighters. In certain cases, confrontations might escalate to physical altercations.

Understand that distancing yourself from the gaslighter is sometimes the wisest course of action. If you find yourself subject to gaslighting, it’s not obligatory to engage in debates with them.

Your decision to interact or not is deeply personal, with no definitive right or wrong approach.

15. Engage Others with Trust

You might feel apprehensive about discussing the situation with others, fearing it might amplify the drama. Yet, in grappling with gaslighting, seeking insights and support from trusted individuals is essential.

Consulting a variety of people in your life can reinforce your understanding that you’re not bewildered, “crazy,” or experiencing memory lapses.

Your network of support could empathize on your behalf while maintaining a degree of emotional detachment due to their indirect involvement.

This emotional space enables them to offer impartial perspectives, as well as calm encouragement and guidance.

When enduring sustained gaslighting at work or in social settings, opt for group meetings when feasible. While it’s best to limit contact, if a meeting is unavoidable, invite someone neutral and trustworthy to join you or request their presence as an observer.

Bear in mind, this isn’t about enlisting allies to take sides; it’s about having them witness the events. Gaslighting tactics are often less effective when directed at multiple individuals.

External validation from your support network can bolster your internal confidence, especially in the face of gaslighting. Sharing your truths with safe confidants chips away at the psychological and emotional grip that a gaslighter holds over you.

16. Say the word: save the wound

As you begin to detect the familiar gaslighting phrases surfacing in conversations, consider integrating these assertive responses:

  • “My emotions and reality hold validity. I don’t appreciate being told I’m overly sensitive.”
  • “Please respect my feelings; they’re genuine.”
  • “I’m entitled to explore these topics without being labeled dramatic.”
  • “I trust my perception—I know what I witnessed.”
  • “If you persist in belittling my emotions, I won’t continue this discussion.”
  • “Our viewpoints differ, but my experiences are real.”
  • “Both your feelings and mine have legitimacy.”
  • “I’m finding it challenging to converse. Let’s pause and revisit this tomorrow.”
  • “Resorting to name-calling won’t sway me. Honest communication can bridge our perspectives.”

When countering gaslighting, employing a composed tone and exhibiting confident body language conveys that you’re setting boundaries—both verbally and visually.

17. Responding to Gaslighting with Assertion

The gaslighter’s aim, often found in those within the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum, is psychological isolation and emotional reliance.

 18. Unveiling Ignorance or Intent

Gaslighting encompasses a spectrum. Some gaslighters remain oblivious to their actions’ impact, unknowingly gaslighting. Others, however, knowingly manipulate and gaslight without remorse.

Particularly within the realm of narcissistic personality disorder, intentional gaslighting is more probable.

Those facing gaslighting often ponder the motive behind the behavior. If the gaslighter remains unaware, a glimmer of hope emerges.

The recipient assesses the patience warranted toward their abuser, speculating whether awareness could lead to a productive conversation.

Yet, consider, what changes knowing their motive. While understanding motives can enhance adept navigation, it’s not imperative for establishing boundaries.

19. Seek Professional Assistance

Gaslighting may escalate into serious, even abusive situations. Understand that this isn’t a reflection of your actions—you’re confronting a challenge in managing emotional abuse.

Consulting a therapist is a pivotal initial step. Utilize resources like Healthline’s therapist directory to initiate your quest for local counseling options. Recognize that seeking professional help is a proactive move toward reclaiming your emotional well-being.

Conclusion

Engaging with a gaslighting individual can be disorienting, diverting conversations away from the center and casting blame on you and your feelings.

It’s perfectly acceptable to step away and mourn the unmet conversational needs. Upholding your truth and seeking support can anchor you in reality.

By confiding in our support network, and sharing our realities, experiences, and observations, we anchor our truths within ourselves.

Silence and downplaying our realities nurture doubt over time. Lastly, extend self-compassion for enduring the relationship’s challenges. This self-care facet assists in navigating the emotions entwined with gaslighting experiences.

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