Do you commonly hear phrases like you’re too sensitive, it wasn’t like that, you’re overreacting, or you’re acting crazy during a conversation?
Have you ever heard people talking about gaslighting and wondered if it applied to your situation?
If you answered yes to all the above questions, gurlll, stick around with us because this is for you.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a term that has been used a lot of late. The term describes a form of emotional manipulation where one person makes the other question their reality, memory, and perceptions.
This in itself doesn’t sound so scary, right? However, people with gaslighting tendencies tend to do this for a long time.
They couple this with other behaviors like trivializing your life and achievements, countering all your arguments, withholding information and affection, discrediting your memory and perceptions, selective amnesia, and denying events.
Now here’s the kicker they also make sure that they isolate you, so you become completely dependent on them over time. They reinforce this by love bombing you, especially in familial and romantic relationships.
The overall effect leaves you in a state of constant self-doubt and with no power to make a decision and navigate life.
Why Does It Happen?
Gaslighting isn’t always intentional or practiced solely by people with narcissistic disorders.
However, sadly, in most cases, it is. A person will notice that they hold more power in your relationship (whether a romantic partner, a supervisor at work, or even a parent).
They’ll then pull you in by being friendly or overly caring, and then boom, they start criticizing and undermining every move you make. You eventually fear standing up to them, and ultimately, what they say goes.
So, how do you take back control? How do you ensure you don’t fall into a gaslighter’s hands? Here are some expert-approved ways:
Be Sure It’s Actually Gaslighting
Someone disagreeing with you isn’t necessarily gaslighting. There are a number of signs you can look out for. They include: withholding information, trivializing, denying, countering, and diverting at are top of the list.
An easy way to determine if you’re being gaslit is to start journaling all your interactions with the perceived manipulator. You can then take time to introspect and look at the interactions to check for the above signs.
Additionally, if you start to notice that you question every decision you make, and the voice in your head is the manipulator, this can be a warning sign. It can also manifest in that you do things out of fear, always expecting backlash and disapproval from the person.
Take A Step Back
It’s common for someone who has been consistently gaslit to question or obsess about even the most trivial things. This can cause you to suppress your feelings and emotions to please the manipulator.
In the journey towards healing, you need to take a step back and feel all the emotions you have been pushing away. Feel but don’t dwell there. Acknowledging the things and aspects of yourself you have been pushing down will make it a bit easier for you to get a grip on your reality.
Set Up Firm Boundaries
In these situations, the manipulator typically ensures that you have no personal boundaries. This way, you cannot talk back to them, criticize them or even push back against their ideal.
Therefore, on your side, you have to learn how to set boundaries and stand your ground. Although this might evoke feelings of guilt, you need to stay consistent.
Build A Support System And Lean On Them
Gaslighters almost always isolate you from your loved ones. This is because they can notice what is happening, reinforce your reality, and ruin your plans.
To counter this, you need to get a confidant. This can be a friend, family member, or even a therapist. They can help you walk through the interactions and help you reaffirm your reality.
If Necessary, Remove Yourself
In some situations, no matter how much you love or respect a person, the only way to heal and stay sane is by leaving them. This might seem impossible, mainly because a gaslighter will make you feel like you cannot make any decision without them.
However, permanently removing yourself from the situation gives you the emotional and mental space to rebuild confidence in yourself.
Pour Into Your Self
This form of emotional manipulation leaves a person feeling empty. One way you fill up your tank is by returning to the things that gave you joy.
If you loved to paint and the manipulator told you your artwork was worthless scribbles, learn how to fall back in love with art. Even something as simple as going for walks and surrounding yourself with friends or pets can allow you to regain your identity.
Seek Professional Help
If you’ve been in this type of relationship for a long time, you might find yourself constantly leaving but eventually going back. At some point, your friends and family might not be enough to keep you grounded; this is where professional help comes in.
A therapist can give you techniques and tips you can use to heal from this relationship and avoid a relapse. Additionally, they can give you an unbiased opinion and techniques for dealing with the situation without exacerbating it.
If you really want it, therapists can also be crucial in saving your relationship by offering couples/ group therapy, which allows you to communicate in a safe space and teaches the manipulator how to communicate and solve conflict amicably.