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Everything You Need To Know About Gaslighting

Gaslighting involves a person who is the "mental abuser/victimizer" (the narcissist) and a second person, (you) the "victim". It is a severe form of manipulative psychological abuse carried out so subtly that the emotional abuse is not the type of in your face abuse but rather insidious. It is designed to make you doubt your perception, reality, and memory.

Gaslighting's sole purpose is to gain power over the victim. It's very dangerous and damaging; the narcissist tells blatant lies and spins the truth, often putting your safety and well being in danger.

Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique used by abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly and methodically so the victim doesn't realize how much they've been brainwashed.

Gaslighting is used because the narcissist likes to cause confusion and make you doubt your sanity in order to control the conversation and confuse you. You will find yourself going around in argumentative circles both in your mind and out loud with the abuser, which can be physically exhausting and over time can damage your self trust and cause lower self esteem.

Gaslighting in a relationship can look like this:

  • Your partner raging at you for asking honest questions

  • Your partner using things or people you care about against you

  • Your partner constantly correcting what you say

  • Your partner questioning your reality

  • Your partner telling outrageous lies deliberately

  • Your partner mixing lies with positive reinforcement, leaving you unsure of what to believe

  • Your partner's actions not matching their words

Gaslighting can sound like this:

  • You're upset over nothing

  • Don't be so sensitive

  • You're such a drama queen

  • You're blowing things out of proportion

  • Stop imagining things

  • Just calm down

  • You're too sensitive

  • Why are you so defensive?

  • I never said that; you're making stuff up

  • I was only joking

Being a victim of gaslighting can make you feel and behave like this:

  • You feel like everything you do is wrong

  • You apologize for everything

  • You don't feel like yourself anymore

  • You constantly question yourself

  • You feel like you are too sensitive

  • You feel unhappy for no reason

  • Most interactions with your partner leave you feeling small and ashamed

  • You edit every word in your head before you speak, changing any thought they could misconstrue

  • You hide your relationship from friends and family

  • You feel ashamed of your partner

Gaslighting can sound like this:

  • You're upset over nothing

  • Stop imagining things

  • Just calm down

  • You're too sensitive

  • Why are you so defensive?

  • I never said that; you're making stuff up

  • I was only joking

  • You're always so....

The best way to handle someone who gaslights you, is firstly educate yourself on gaslighting so that you are aware when it occurs. Remain confident in your version of the event(s) being discussed. Recognize when it is occurring and choose not to respond or engage in rebuttal, but to redirect the conversation back to the initial topic. Lastly, set boundaries by stating you will not continue in conversation if the person insists on minimizing what you are saying/feeling, and be prepared to walk away from the conversation. Be willing to follow through on the boundary by simply ending the conversation and walking away.

Here are some helpful phrases you can use when someone is gaslighting you:

  • Do not tell me how to feel; how I feel is my choice and this is how I feel.

  • I am allowed to discuss these topics and have these conversations with you. Do not tell me I am being a drama queen.

  • My feelings and my reality are valid. I don't appreciate you telling me that I am being too sensitive.

  • I know what I saw, (or heard) and I am not making anything up.

  • I will not continue this conversation if you continue to minimize what I am feeling. (Then, implement the boundary.)

Remember to practice self compassion if you're being gaslighted. Stand firm in your truth and keep a journal of facts to refer back to as this will help you feel confident about what you know to be true in your life, and can help you navigate and work through your feelings about your relationship.

If you think you are in a relationship with a narcissist, please follow me on Facebook or join my free, private, Facebook group "Confusion to Clarity "where you can learn more about narcissistic trauma and discover ways to cope and heal.

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