Gaslighting: What it is and how to deal with it 

Last Updated on March 25, 2023


The 1938 play Gas Light, which was made into the 1940 movie Gas Light, and the more well-known 1944 movie Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, are where the phrase “gaslighting” originates. In each story, the male protagonist convinces his wife that real-life events, such as the fading of the house’s gas lights, are just in her head, leading her to feel she is insane.

Do any of the following words or phrases ring a bell?

  • “You have to be crazy. That wasn’t what took place.
  • “You are speaking without knowledge.”
  • “You’re seeing things”
  • “There’s no need to be so sensitive. I was only kidding.”

If someone in your life speaks to you in this way frequently, you might be the victim of gaslighting. Gaslighting is the deliberate manipulation of your emotions, perception of events, and sense of reality in general. When someone is attempting to gaslight you, they usually seek to confuse you and instil self-doubt so that you are more likely to comply with their demands.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a type of psychological and emotional abuse that makes a person doubt their perceptions and sanity. It is a technique used to manipulate another person. They accomplish this by making someone doubt their own abilities, fearful and defenceless, and unable to challenge their abusive actions.

Because the victim of gaslighting must concur with the abuser and genuinely believe that they are unstable or crazy, it differs from other types of abuse. They become reliant on the abusive individual due to this thinking.

Signs of Gaslighting

1. You find yourself doubting your reality

Every relationship has its difficulties, which occasionally require dealing with your own habits. However, a big symptom of gaslighting is when you begin to doubt yourself to the extent that you feel like you’re “losing it.”

The hardest part of gaslighting is that it makes it hard to believe in oneself. It can take time for this to happen, making it difficult to spot right away, but if you find yourself questioning, “Am I losing it?” or “I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is valid,” that’s a major sign that you’re being gaslighted.

2. Your partner is dismissive of your feelings

Your partner can try to persuade you that you’re wrong or that you’re overthinking when you voice a worry or discuss your emotions. Your partner will pay attention to your worries and take action to solve them in the context of a healthy relationship. You’re overly sensitive or you don’t have a right to feel that way, partners who gaslight will occasionally say. Even after the fact, some couples will dispute what transpired.

3. Your partner doesn’t apologize when you express hurt.

When you tell your spouse you’re injured and they don’t show any sympathy, that raises suspicion. A telltale indicator of gaslighting is when your partner refuses to apologize when you show hurt but instead persuades you that you should think differently or feel differently.

You are being gaslighted by your relationship if they never accept responsibility for their acts and you exhaust yourself attempting to defend your feelings so that your partner can decide whether or not they are justified.

4. They never let you talk during a conflict

When you’re having a disagreement with them, you can feel like they keep interrupting you and won’t let you fully express your viewpoint. You may be experiencing gaslighting if you start recording your chats or composing lengthy emails to express yourself because you can never seem to get a word in general conversation.

How to Deal With Gaslighting

You may make your way out of this maze of confusion and get back to who you are by understanding gaslighting and knowing what to say to someone who is being gaslighted. Here are seven suggestions on how to deal with the circumstance and how to tackle gaslighting:

1. First, make sure it’s gaslighting

Gaslighting can be difficult to spot because it frequently begins small and other behaviours can occasionally be mistaken for it.

True gaslighting turns into a pattern of manipulation that is repeated repeatedly. Usually, a gaslighter wants you to distrust your judgement and rely on their version of reality. Therefore, it’s not always gaslighting when someone disagrees with you, even in a nasty or critical manner.

Sometimes, despite evidence to the contrary, people insist that they are correct because they are sure of their own understanding. insisting, “You’re mistaken! Although saying “I know what I’m talking about” isn’t always nice, it’s usually not gaslighting if they aren’t attempting to control you.

Unintentionally gaslighting is another possibility. Even though sayings like “I don’t have time to listen to this” or “Don’t you think you’re overreacting” are unhelpful, they don’t always indicate that the other person is trying to control you. Consider your feelings as well as your actions when deciding if someone is attempting to gaslight you.

2. Stand firm in your truth

Gaslighting aims to cause the recipient to question their perception. The person who is gaslighting you can be trying to evade responsibility while progressively inducing emotional dependence in you. This leads to a great deal of internal perplexity, which erodes your confidence in your memories and self.

Keep your truth strong to fight this. That entails having faith in oneself, one’s emotions, and one’s convictions. You have to own your perspective (i.e., what you saw, heard, and felt). It sounds like “Don’t tell me how to feel; this is how I feel.” or “I know what I saw.”

3. Take note of interactions

Keeping notes on discussions or interactions is an effective technique to deal with gaslighting since the person gaslighting you wants you to doubt everything you say, do, or remember.

The prospect of confronting a manipulator might be frightening. However, having supporting documentation on hand could increase your confidence in your memory of conversations and occurrences.

Write in a journal about your experiences, and make it a practice to read back over your entries. Record everything that occurs. A journal is a fantastic tool for keeping track of events throughout time. This will boost your self-assurance in what you already know to be true.

5. Be willing to leave the conversation

Additionally, the gaslighter may adopt strategies like minimization and deflection. Practice self-validation in these situations, and pay attention when the conversation feels unjust and circular. When you begin to notice indications that your reality is being downplayed and rejected, give yourself permission to exit the conversation.

To keep your perception of events, move away before the gaslighting becomes severe. Keep in mind that the gaslighter’s purpose is to make you doubt your perception.

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