What is gaslighting?
The term gaslighting comes from a 1938 play and a 1944 movie called Gaslight. The movie is about a husband who manipulates his wife into thinking that she has a mental illness by dimming the gas-fueled lights that they have and telling her that she’s hallucinating.
Yep, amazing husband.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and it’s one of the favourite tactics that narcissists use to control and manipulate the people around them. Gaslighting is about making you question yourself, your sanity, your memories so that gradually you start to think that you are simply going crazy.
It is a very nasty form of manipulation and abuse and you will end up feeling very lost, very confused. You will end up feeling that you can’t trust yourself. You might start to have bigger and bigger problems with making any sort of decisions in your life. You might even start to defend the person who uses this kind of abuse against you because it will be simply too hard to admit to yourself that you are a victim of this kind of manipulation. Especially if the person who uses this strategy is someone very close to you, like maybe your parent or your partner.
So gaslighting can have a very devastating effect on your life and your mental wellbeing.
So what do you do? How can you handle the relationship with your abuser in a more healthy way?
Well, first of all, you can express your point of view and defend your perception of reality and what actually happened. So in a calm voice, in a confident way, you can simply say for example that this is what you remember happened, and you are very sorry that this person doesn’t agree with you, but this is your recollection of what happened or you can say that these are my feelings I have the right to express them and I would really appreciate if you respect my feelings and my thoughts. It might not always work with such an abuser, but it is definitely very important for your mental wellbeing that you defend yourself and that you defend your rights to express yourself and to take care of your own mental health.
So that’s strategy number one. Express your point of view in a calm and confident way so that your abuser sees your strength and your confidence and your calmness. Show them that you are not going to get involved in this, these kinds of mind-games that they want to play with you.
Another thing that you can do to handle your relationship with this person who uses gaslighting against you is to start collecting evidence. And I know it might be a little bit tedious to do that. But for your own mental health, it will be really beneficial if you can have some pieces of evidence that this is what actually happened.
So let’s say if the conversation you are having is through text messages, you might take screenshots from those different messages.
If let’s say something happened that, let’s say some things got damaged, you can take photos of what actually happened.
If you know that you are having some important conversation with this person, you can just write down some notes of what was said in this conversation. When this conversation happened, if you can, it would be good to capture some quotes, what this person said and how you responded so that later you have everything in writing and you can go back and check what actually happened on that day.
So collecting evidence is another strategy that you might start to use to protect your mental health and your mental wellbeing.
Another strategy is involving other people. And I know that you might, you might worry that there will be some unnecessary drama if you do that, but it is very important, again, especially for your mental health to get insight from other people that you trust and tell them what’s happening. Tell them what kind of challenges you have with this person who is trying to gaslight you.
And also get their insight, because there might be some people in your circle who have a similar experience with this specific individual and maybe you don’t even know about this. So it would be very, very important, very beneficial to share your thoughts and feelings. And you will feel less lonely and it will reinforce your belief in yourself and your trust in yourself.
So that’s tip number three that I could share with you. Involve other people so that they reinforce that your perception of reality is, is valid.
And tip number four: Remember to take care of yourself. Remember that you are your own priority and your self-care is really, really crucial. And it won’t directly have a huge impact on your relationship with the person who is trying to gaslight you, but it will have a huge impact on how you feel about yourself and your feelings about yourself, your confidence in yourself.
It’s really, really important whenever you come in contact with manipulative people. Self-care can mean different things. It is about nourishing your mind with positive thoughts, it is about taking good care of your body, doing various exercises that you love doing, whether it’s going for a walk or maybe doing yoga and maybe going to the gym.
Taking good care of yourself means also that you allocate some time in your weekly schedule for your hobbies and for your interests.
Just do things that will make you feel confident in yourself and comfortable in your own mind and in your own body.
So these are the four things I wanted to share with you today. That will be hopefully helpful for you to handle a relationship with a person who tries to gaslight you.
So to sum up, number one is about simply speaking up for yourself in a polite and calm and confident way.
Tip number two is about collecting different bits and pieces of evidence to be actually sure that you can trust yourself about your recollection of various events.
Tip number three is about involving other people.
And tip number four is to remember about your self-care.
If you would like to learn about more signs that you dealing with a narcissist, feel free to read my article “13 signs that you are dealing with a narcissist”.
The featured image is from the movie “Gaslight” (1944).