Many people don’t know how to deal with gaslighting because it is not directly violent abuse. However, gaslighting people can be frustrating, whether in love, family, or work relationship.
Gaslighting people will do something that upset you, and then claim it was “all in your head” or “you are sensitive” when you protested. This defensive technique will make you question your reality, give you self-doubt, and turn you into an easy target of abuse.
Signs of Gaslighting Behaviors
Be wary when someone is trying to gaslight you. They may use some or all these common tactics, such as:
· Withholding or refusing to listen
Gaslighting people will say things like “you must be joking” or “you must’ve tried to confuse me” when you point out a problem. They may also outright refuse to answer, such as “this is ridiculous, I don’t want to hear it!”
· Diverting or blocking a question
It is the tactic of diverting questions and changing the route of conversation. Gaslighting people may say something like “where did you get that silly idea?” or “did your friend tell you that again?” instead of answering a question directly.
· Countering a statement
This tactic can be poisonous because it makes you feel like you are the wrong one. When you ask a question or throw a (justified) accusation, gaslighting people will say something like “you are wrong,” or “you didn’t remember it correctly.”
· Trivializing a problem
It is a common tactic in an abusive relationship. When the abused partner feels upset, angry, or sad about the other’s behavior, the trivializing responses can be something like “you’re too sensitive” or “are you going to cry over this thing?”
Individually, these behaviors are not a problem if they happen occasionally. However, when you recognize them as patterns in your partner, family members, or work friends, there are possibilities that they gaslight you.
Effects of Gaslighting
Recognizing a gaslighting person is important because he or she can bring negative effects to you.
According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, a gaslighting partner can cause you to feel confused, unsure about self, and keep apologizing (but without receiving an apology in return). You also have difficulties in making decisions, and always feel judged. When communicating with a gaslighting person, you constantly lie or feel the need to defend yourself.
The long-term effect is even worse. You will slowly feel unhappy because it is difficult for you to relax or confide to other people. In the end, your brain will slowly twist reality, and you stop using a more objective point of view. That is the reason why a long-term abusive relationship is difficult to break. It is not only about the abuser, but also the gaslighted mind of the abused.
With these in mind, escaping a gaslighting person should be your priority, once you notice their patterns.
How to Escape Gaslighting
First of all, never try to “fix” a gaslighting person. Unless he or she realizes the problem and wants to change, you will only experience the negative effects. Remember, those people are not your responsibility.
How do you deal with a gaslighting person? Here are several key pointers:
· Never “explode.”
A gaslighting person uses a strong defensive tactic to frustrate you. When you react harshly or lose control, he or she will keep getting defensive, using your strong reaction as the reason. Be calm and state that their experiences are not yours. Start a conversation with diplomatic phrases, like “you and I seem to have different opinions. Let’s talk about it.”
· Reflect but never second-guess yourself
Second-guessing self is the effect of constant gaslighting. When someone starts to show signs of gaslighting, you should reflect: “What is he/she trying to make me believe?” This thought emphasizes that the gaslighting person is the guilty one, not you. The reflection also keeps your mind from going down to guilt and shame.
· Ask for an outsider’s perspective
When doubt starts to creep because of the gaslighting, find another perspective. Call or meet a family member, friend, or therapist you can trust. Describe the problems in detail and ask about their honest opinions. An outsider’s perspective is usually more objective because their judgments are not clouded with emotion or manipulative intention.
· Leave the toxic environment
Gaslighting people are toxic, and it is hard for them to change. Your only final solution is to leave the environment that makes you unhappy. Avoid these people at work or school, and don’t interact much with them. If you are in an abusive relationship, call a hotline or search for information about domestic abuse victim support.
Once you are free from the gaslighting people, you may need to readjust your altered view. Visit a therapist to start a path toward recovery.
Being gaslighted makes you doubt your sanity and frustrates you to no end. Knowing how to deal with gaslighting will help you from getting dragged down to an unhappy life. Start living happier and more confidently by avoiding gaslights.