In recent years, the term gaslighting has become more popular among Gen Z and young people. This is a psychological trick that can make you feel confused and helpless.
Gaslighting is a term that comes from the 1944 film “Gaslight”, in which a man manipulates his wife to believe she’s insane. The husband does this by dimming gaslights and then denying any changes. This makes his wife question her perception.
Gaslighters are people who use psychological manipulation to subvert another’s perception of reality, self-esteem, and confidence. The manipulation can take many forms, such as denial, projections, lies and withholding of information. The goal of the manipulation is to gain power and control over the victim.
It’s important to know how to handle a situation where you are being gaslighted.
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Who Is The Gaslighter? How Would You Identify A Gaslighter?
Take, for instance, a romantic relationship where your partner accuses you frequently of being jealous and controlling when you express concern about their secretive behaviours, such as late-night text messages from an unknown phone number. You feel that you are the one who has trust issues despite their suspicious actions.
A professional relationship where your colleague claims credit for your idea during a meeting, saying that they were the one who came up with it. They dismiss your concerns when you confront them. “You’re mistaken. I came up with that idea myself.” This tactic can undermine your professional credibility.
A personal relationship where a parent may constantly criticize your choices and lower your self-confidence. If you choose to ignore the hurtful remarks of your parents and achieve your goals, then they will likely escalate their manipulative tactics. For example, spreading false rumours within the family.
You can find gaslighters in many aspects of your life. Understanding common signs and behaviour is necessary to identify a gaslighter.
Constant Denial – Gaslighters constantly deny what they have said or done. This causes their victims to question their memory and perception. Gaslighters blame their victims even when they know that it is they who are at fault. This tactic puts the victim in defence.
Projection – They make their victim believe that they have the same flaws, insecurities or negative traits as themselves. Gaslighters avoid accountability by changing the subject when confronted or diverting attention from their actions.
Blatant Lies – Gaslighters are adept at fabricating stories and then presenting them to the victim as fact. This makes it difficult for her to differentiate between truth and lies.
Withholding information – Gaslighters can withhold information to keep their victim in the dark. Gaslighters can often be misled by charm and charisma. This charm is used to manipulate and gain the trust of their victim. Gaslighters use alternative facts to confuse and doubt the victim by re-interpreting their feelings and experiences.
Isolation – Gaslighters can isolate their victims, causing them to become more emotionally dependent on gaslighters for support and guidance.
Minimization – Gaslighters minimize the victim’s emotions and experiences by making them feel that they are unimportant or not valid. Gaslighters minimize the victim’s concerns and make them feel as if they are being too sensitive or overreacting.
What Happens If You Ignore A Gaslighter?
Gaslighters are motivated by power and control. When this control is undermined, they can experience intense emotional reactions. Here are 10 possible reactions a gaslighter could exhibit:
Anger and frustration
Gaslighters may be angry or frustrated if their tactics fail, or both. They often increase their manipulation tactics. If you ignore someone who uses gaslighting, they will often try to escalate their tactics in order to gain control of the situation. You may be subjected to different tactics, including guilt-tripping or silent treatment.
Increased Gaslighting Behavior
If you ignore someone who is gaslighting, they will try harder to gain control of your perception and to manipulate it. Gaslighters can intensify their behaviour by increasing their manipulation methods.
Gaslighters may twist your words, alter facts or fabricate stories in order to further confuse and disorientate you. Passive-aggressive behaviour can also be used by gaslighters to escalate their behaviour. You may be given the silent treatment or snubbed by your loved ones.
Persistence and repeated attempts
Some gaslighters will try repeatedly to get your attention and engage you. You may receive multiple messages or calls from them, or they might even show up to see you in person.
Gaslighters can deliberately provoke you in order to get a reaction. You may be prompted to react by insults or situations that are emotionally charged. They will hurl repeated insults or abuses until you are compelled to retaliate.
Playing the Victim
Gaslighters can switch to acting as the victim to gain sympathy or to guilt-trip you to respond. You may be manipulated by someone who portrays themselves as being misunderstood or treated badly.
Seeking validation from others
Gaslighters will often try to gain validation from others, either through spreading rumours or gossip or by manipulating their mutual acquaintances. This is done to create the impression that they are being mistreated or ignored.
Withdrawal or Retreat
Gaslighters can retreat or withdraw when they realize their attempts to manipulate or engage you have failed. They may temporarily stop your efforts and turn your attention to something else. Gaslighters may temporarily change their behaviour by appearing more understanding, remorseful, or compassionate to give the impression that they’ve changed.
When ignored, in rare cases, a gaslighter will escalate into more aggressive or dangerous behaviour to gain control over you. Harassment, stalking or intimidation can be included. Please be aware that each individual is unique, and these reactions may differ depending on the circumstances.
In any interaction with someone who gaslights, it’s crucial to put your safety and well-being first.
How to Deal with a Gaslighter?
Imagine that you have a close friend who constantly makes fun of your passions and interests, which can make you feel inferior. You set boundaries and say, “I will not tolerate you disrespecting me.” If you keep doing this, I will need to limit the amount of time we spend together. You can regain your self-esteem by sticking to this boundary.
To protect yourself, you need to take a strategic and thoughtful approach when dealing with someone who gaslights.
- You should trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right. Your feelings and perceptions have validity.
- Speak to someone you trust, such as a family member or therapist, about your experience. Share your feelings with someone who you trust to get emotional support and validation.
- Make it clear what behaviours are unacceptable. Do not cross these boundaries.
- Make a record of all your interactions with a gaslighter. Include dates, times and details about what you said or did. These documents can be very useful if you ever need legal or professional help.
- Look after your emotional and physical well-being. Take part in activities that give you joy, relaxation and a feeling of balance.
- In extreme cases where the gaslighter is manipulating you to cause significant harm, it may be necessary to cut off your ties. It can be difficult to avoid contact, but it may be necessary for your mental and emotional well-being.
How To Heal From Gaslighting?
Recovery from gaslighting takes time and compassion for yourself.
Acknowledge your experience: Recognize that you’ve been subjected to psychological abuse and manipulation. It is not your fault.
Seek Professional Assistance: Therapy or counselling can help you work through trauma and restore your self-esteem. A mental health professional is able to provide support and healing strategies.
Build Your Self-Esteem: Focus on improving your self-worth, self-confidence and self-care through positive affirmations. Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you.
Surround yourself with supportive people: Develop relationships with those who will validate your experience and offer emotional support. Your recovery can be aided by a strong support system.
Educate yourself: To avoid falling into the same traps, you should learn more about manipulation and gaslighting. Knowledge is the best way to protect yourself against future manipulation.
The Bottom Line
It is important to recognize and deal with gaslighters in order to protect your mental and emotional health. Gaslighting has severe effects on self-esteem and mental well-being. However, with self-care and awareness, you can overcome its grip and take back control of your life. You deserve to be free of manipulation and doubt. Seeking help is not a sign that you are weak.
Also read: 10 Signs Of Gaslighting