6 Effective Ways To Defend Yourself Against Gaslighting
One of the most common manipulation tactics, gaslighting is used by people to gain control in a relationship – social or romantic. Gaslighting involves using phrases to confuse the victim of manipulation and question their reality and experience.
Whether you believe it or not, gaslighting can leave long-lasting scars on your mental and emotional health and can leave you with trouble trusting yourself and others.
Before I list the ways how to defend yourself against gaslighting, let’s take a quick look at how to spit gaslighting behavior. Let’s say; have you ever experienced a situation where you felt like someone was distorting the truth and making you question your sense of reality, judgment, and sanity?
Have you ever heard phrases like:
- “You’re just being dramatic”
- “This never happened, you’re imagining it”, or
- “This is not how I remember it. What you’re remembering is wrong”
Well, if you have, then you may have been a victim of gaslighting. This manipulative tactic is often born out of a desire to control a conflict, argument, or even a person. If you’ve been manipulated and gaslighted, then it’s not OK and you immediately reach out for help.
Meanwhile, here are some effective strategies to defend yourself against gaslighting.
How To Protect Yourself From Gaslighting?
1. Notice The Signs
Manipulators use deceit to fool you. They gossip, tend to minimize your feelings, and invalidate your experience. In a healthy relationship, you shouldn’t be doubting yourself and questioning your experiences. Being aware of the signs of gaslighting.
When you become aware of how the other person is affecting your sense of reality, you can learn to be mindful of what’s affecting your decision-making. This can help you outsmart a gaslighter as well.
2. Assertiveness Works
When you feel like you’re being gaslighted, it’s important to address those thoughts and share your concerns. If left unaddressed, the thoughts can linger and come to affect your mind. It’s important to understand that not every gaslighting attempt is harmful.
Sometimes, it’s a defense mechanism to help deal with conflicts. Here, the gaslighter lacks accountability, so you can take things in your hand and speak up. Expressing your concerns and voicing your thoughts can help change some behavior.
3. Consider Walking Away
Another way to defend against gaslighting is to consider letting go. We all want our loved ones to change their harmful behaviors but sometimes change is not in the cards. If you’re in a toxic and abusive relationship and are being gaslighted, then the manipulator may not want to give up the control they have on you.
Here, the best course of action is to consider walking away from them and your relationship.
Please note that leaving a toxic and abusive relationship is challenging and can take time but you need to consider your safety a priority. Reach out for help if needed.
4. Acknowledge Your Experience
Another way to protect yourself from gaslighting is to remember that your experiences, your thoughts, and your feelings are valid. Your need to acknowledge them even if the other person dismisses them.
You can try by observing and figuring out your emotions without judgment. If you’re still unsure, you can gather documentation and keep records of events. Write in a journal, make voice memos, or keep text messages as evidence to support your experience.
5. Contact Your Support System
Gaslighters also attempt to separate you from your family and friends. This is another way of exerting control over your thoughts and experiences. If you’re being gaslighted, then to defend yourself and protect yourself you can maintain healthy and regular contact with your support system.
6. Seek Counseling
One of the best ways to defend yourself against gaslighting is to seek professional help when necessary. A therapist can help you spot the signs of gaslighting and come up with ways to protect yourself from gaslighting.
Manipulation is never OK and if you’re in a toxic and manipulative relationship – professional, personal, or social – please reach out for help.
If you’re dealing with gaslighting from a partner or someone else, you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800-799-7233 or talk to a counselor.
Other things you can do to are:
- Be aware of what a gaslighter says or does around you. Pay attention to little details.
- Believe in yourself and your experience. Believe in your intuition and what you know to be true.
- Be simple when dealing with a gaslighter. They will try to make you question your reality but always believe in what you know is true.
- Don’t allow the gaslighter to think what they’re saying is true. Avoid permitting them to continue their gaslighting attempts.
- Keep in mind that whatever the gaslighter is doing isn’t personal.
- Keep your cool if you don’t win an argument with a gaslighter. Arguing will only increase their chances of gaslighting.
Can You Outsmart A Gaslighter?
Gaslighters have an antisocial personality or in some cases, borderline personality disorder. They are anxious and often look for ways to control their lives and those around them. Their personality trait is authoritative and to them, things are either right or wrong.
Gaslighting is an attempt to control others’ thoughts and emotions to gain control. Gaslighters often don’t think of their behavior as troublesome. Even if they undergo therapy or counseling, they would often put the responsibility for their actions on their partner’s shoulders.
When you face a gaslighter, they will try to confuse you and make you second guess yourself. You won’t find it easy to spot the signs. However, your brain and gut can protect you from gaslighting. Always listen to your intuition.
While it may be challenging to outsmart a gaslighter, it’s not impossible. Check out some of the ways you can deal with gaslighting here.
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Take care and stay safe!