Gaslighting – How to deal with it

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that causes the victim to question their own memory, perception and sanity. It’s a sinister way for one person to gain power over another and can be used by someone in an intimate relationship with you, such as a partner or parent. It’s also common in work situations, so if you’re experiencing this behavior from your boss or colleague then they may be trying to make you doubt yourself at work in order to secure their position as the dominant person in the relationship.

How Gaslighting Works

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. It’s when someone in your life tries to make you doubt reality by telling you that something that has happened didn’t happen, or didn’t happen the way you remember it happening.

Gaslighting can be tricky because it involves lies and manipulation, but not always outright lies about what happened. It’s more about trying to control your ability to trust yourself by making sure that you don’t trust your own memories or perceptions of what was said or done between both parties involved in an argument.

The gaslighter may:

  • Lie about events from the past (or present), saying something didn’t happen when they know it did;
  • Discredit their victim’s memory as inferior in some way;
  • Minimize the effects of what occurred through diversion tactics such as distraction and distraction techniques;

Signs of Gaslighting

  • You start to doubt yourself.
  • You feel powerless and apologize.
  • They may tell you that they are right, even though you know they’re wrong. Or they may try to make it seem like what they’re doing is justified by your behaviour or actions, even if it isn’t.
  • They will try to control the conversation and turn the topic away from what’s really going on (if it even makes sense).

They may try to turn the conversation around on you and make it about how you’re wrong or what you did wrong. They will ignore your feelings and tell you that they are right, even if they aren’t.

They may try to make you feel guilty or responsible for what they’re doing. They will try to convince you that everything is your fault, even when it isn’t. It might seem like they are trying to be helpful by telling you how things should be done, but it’s really just an excuse for them to control the situation and get their way.

Why do people Gaslight?

It can be difficult to understand why someone would gaslight you. While it’s clear that they’re doing it to control you, the reasons why are more complex.

In theory, gaslighting is rooted in psychopathy. Psychopaths have a superficial charm, but underneath that facade is pure cruelty and manipulation; they will use whatever methods necessary to get what they want—even if it means breaking down your sense of self-worth or even destroying your trust in yourself and others. Gaslighting is one tool psychopaths use to accomplish these goals.

While not all gaslighters are psychopaths (and vice versa), there are some commonalities between them: both enjoy manipulating people for their own gain; both lack empathy for others; both thrive off conflict; both lie with ease; and both can be charming, even as they hurt others.

What you should do about Gaslighting

If you find yourself in a gaslighting relationship, it is important to remember that you are not alone. You deserve to be treated well and with respect by your partner or family member. The following actions may help to alleviate the effects of gaslighting:

  • Distance yourself from the person who is gaslighting you. If that is not possible, try setting boundaries with them regarding how they treat you.
  • Seek out a third party opinion on the situation—someone who doesn’t have any skin in the game (i.e., someone objective).
  • Tip: Don’t ask your friends or family members for advice because they will likely side with your abuser if they know him or her personally; instead reach out to relatives who don’t know this person as well or ask your friends.

You can’t control the gaslighter’s behavior, but you can control your own. Refuse to engage in conversations where you feel like you are being blamed or criticized for things that are not your fault. If possible, change the subject or excuse yourself from the situation.

Make sure you have other people in your life who support you — especially friends who can help keep things in perspective when the gaslighter starts spinning their web!

How to Seek Help in the Denver Area

If you find that you have been the victim of gaslighting, it is important to understand what is happening. Then you can take steps to protect yourself and others from this manipulative behavior. The best thing for anyone who is being gaslighted is to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor so they can learn how to deal with this type of situation.

If you are struggling with potential gaslighting, you are not alone. We’d like to help you with counseling so you can start to repair your relationships and get back to your life.

We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation with a therapy specialist.  You can learn more about our therapy services here.

Self Care Impact Counseling envisions a new age of counseling for adolescents, adults, couples & groups that makes a REAL difference with core values of GROWTH | BALANCE | COMPASSION | INNER HARMONY.