8 Ways to Deal with Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. The perpetrator uses manipulation as a way to have power over you.

He or she does this by making you doubt yourself to the point you may even believe that you are going crazy. When the individual’s tactics are successful, eventually, you must depend on the gaslighter to know what to believe.

Once you realize that you’ve fallen prey to the manipulative tactics of a gaslighter, where are you supposed to go from here? There are some things that you can do to protect yourself from falling down the gaslighter’s rabbit hole in the future.

1 – Stay firm in your beliefs

If you notice that the gaslighter is trying to alter the way that you remember a past event or conversation, don’t be swayed, but continue to have faith that you remember things just the way that they happened.

Instead of paying attention to what the person is trying to convince you, focus on your memories and what you believe to be the truth.

The moment you start feeling doubt about your recollections is when the gaslighter’s manipulation can begin to work and wear you down.

Don’t argue about it with your abuser, however, because that will only escalate the situation. Rather, you could let the gaslighter know that you recall the situation differently.

Ask if you can talk about it some more if you feel you can resist being swayed by statements made by this individual. If not, you can try to walk away from the situation, change the subject, or let the abuser vent, but don’t fall for any manipulation or agree to what the other person is trying to convince you happened.

One of a gaslighter’s tactics is to try to make you think you have a bad memory, so stay firm that you really are recalling the situation as it occurred.

Remember that the abuser may also try to claim that you’re overreacting, jumping to conclusions, or even making things up. This is when you really have to maintain your self-confidence.

To be prepared for these encounters, you may want to practice mindfulness several times a day. This is where you stay completely focused on the present and all of the sensations going on around you.

Mindfulness can help you to be more confident that you know what you recall is true so that the gaslighter can’t change your perceptions.

2 – Stay calm

When you have interactions with the gaslighter, make sure that you stay completely in control of your emotions. The person will use any frustration or anger on your part to turn the situation around to make it appear that you’re to blame.

He or she may say that you’re always overreacting, always overly dramatic, always emotional, or always irrational. You get the point.

It’s always something. If you stay calm and rational during your encounters, there is less chance that the abuser can manipulate you or the situation.

You can learn to maintain a sense of calm by engaging in relaxing activities when you’re not in contact with the gaslighter. Meditation, yoga, and even stretching are common ways that people find peace within themselves. Jogging, running, or other intense aerobic activities release beneficial endorphins in the brain that can help you to feel calmer and more in control.

If you follow these energizing exercises with a more calming activity, it can help you to clear your mind and regain more confidence in yourself.

3 – Write it down

Using a journal, a document on your computer, or even the notepad on your phone, keep track of your conversations and encounters with the gaslighter. Jot down the date, the time, and the details of the conversation.

It would be even better if you could remember the exact words used by the person, but any clear account will do. A written record of what happened will remind you that you are not going crazy and that your memory is not as bad as the abuser is trying to claim. This can help to give you more confidence each time you interact with that person.

If you have trouble remembering details, you may want to use a recording device, such as your cell phone, to keep a record of conversations between the two of you. Although this recording may not be allowable in court, should the need arise, it is a way for you to keep the information until you can write it down or play for a close third party to prove what is going on.

4 – Use your journal.

There are at least three ways that you can use the information that you record in your document. The first way is to reaffirm your memory of past events. If the gaslighter tries to convince you that the event occurred differently than you recall, you can always go back to the journal to prove that your memory is fine and you’re not losing your mind.

The second way that you can use your journal is to find patterns of manipulation over time. You can note when conversations began to make less sense or when the gaslighter tried to alter the reality of a situation.

Once you find a pattern and can identify the abuser’s tactics, you’re more likely to be able to brush them off the next time he or she attempts to use them against you. The only way that the manipulation tactics can work is when you’re not aware of them and how they’re being used against you.

A third way that you might want to use your written records is as a starting point when talking to a third party about the problem. This could be very beneficial if a coworker or boss is doing the gaslighting. Once you have enough documentation, you can take this information to the human resources department if you need to file a complaint.

You may be tempted to use the information that you’ve written down in your journal as a way to confront your abuser. This isn’t necessarily a good idea because it can backfire when the gaslighter uses it against you.

He or she could use that as proof that you have such a bad memory you have to write things down, that you concocted the information to use against him or her, or that you’re using the information in any number of ways that can be flipped to make you look like the bad guy. The information in your journal is meant for you as a way to maintain your self-esteem and identity.

If you’ve recorded conversations on a device, don’t play the back to your abuser as proof of what happened unless you plan on leaving the situation permanently or under the stringent advice of a counselor.

While he or she won’t necessarily be able to say that you made it up, this person can create a scenario where you’re the problem in the relationship by doing something so underhanded as recording him or her without consent.

Remember, you’re only recording so that you can have a more accurate version of the events and conversations for your own personal benefit.

5 – Find an observer

If possible, you can employ the services of a close friend or coworker to listen in on conversations you have with your gaslighter. This can be helpful if you need to file a complaint, go to court for a restraining order, or just to have someone who can reassure you of your sanity.

A viable witness can go a long way toward proving what you are going through is happening and that it’s not all in your head.

However, the observation must remain unknown to the abuser because, as always, it will be turned around and used against you. This also means that you and your stealthy companion should not confront the abuser together.

He or she will accuse you of ganging up or concocting a story to make the gaslighter look bad, giving credence to his or her efforts that you are the bad person in all of this.

6 – Limit your contact

While this may not be possible if you live with your abuser or are inconsistent close contact at work, the best thing that you can do is to try to interact with the gaslighter as little as possible.

If you work in the same department, you can focus more on your work instead of socializing if you had in the past. Try to take your breaks at a different time or place. There are many ways that you can reduce your contact while maintaining your employment.

Limiting your contact is typically easier with friends or family members that don’t live with you. If they want you to hang out, simply tell them you have other plans. You can refuse any telephone calls.

Again, you can probably think of many ways to avoid contact with the abuser.

7 – Seek counseling or help from a third party

A listening ear can point out ways that the gaslighter is manipulating you and can explain to you that you’re not at fault or to blame for the situation that you’re in.

A counselor can also help to explain the different tactics that your abuser might be using and may also offer some ideas as to why the person is acting that way. You can also learn some effective tools to deal with specific situations that tend to occur regularly to be more prepared to handle future encounters.

Although a close friend may not be able to provide the tools you need to handle the gaslighter, this person can be there for reassurance whenever you begin to doubt yourself. Because the abuser will try to turn others against you so that you’re all alone, a close friend or confident can be a support network to help you maintain your sanity and your self-esteem.

8 – Leave the situation.

There are two ways of doing this. You can either leave the conversation or get away from the abusive person entirely. When leaving a manipulative conversation, you can simply tell the person that you’re uncomfortable right now and wish to leave.

The gaslighter will, of course, try to rope you into listening to what he or she has to say, but you need to stand your ground and walk away. You can use any number of reasons as to why you need to leave a conversation. Follow your instincts, and trust that you’re doing the right thing.

You can leave the relationship permanently. While you may care deeply for the gaslighter, no one deserves to remain in an abusive relationship. Over time, things will only get worse.

Sometimes the best option is to get away simply. Just remember, if you do leave, you’ll have to cut off all contact. If you allow the abuser to speak with you even once, the person will tell you how much he or she loves you and everything else you want to hear. He or she will do a complete 180, taking all of the blame, promising to change and so on.

Unfortunately, a gaslighter is highly unlikely to change because of the underlying mental issues that cause the individual to be that way in the first place.

However, this is just another one of the manipulation tactics that is used by a gaslighter, so don’t be fooled. It’s one more example of an occasion where you need to stay firm in your beliefs.

The abuser will do or say everything possible to get you back under his or her control. Just remember, it’s all lies. Lying is at the heart of every way that this person has to manipulate you. That’s why it’s best to cut off all contact with that individual completely.

Again, this might not be a viable option at work. However, you can try to transfer to another department or search for another job if need be.

If finding another job is not an option, you can file a complaint, but be sure you have enough proof through recordings, written records, and witness accounts. Otherwise, this could backfire, giving the gaslighter more ammunition to use against you.

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