How to Overcome Gaslighting & Manipulation
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Gaslighting is a psychological tactic that’s become a term we hear all too frequently in relationships. Gaslighting is far more insidious than lying or denying something to avoid conflict. Instead, it involves manipulating someone’s sense of reality. It’s important to recognize these manipulations for what they are: serious mind games.
Examples of Gaslighting
The Memory Game:
Questioning Your Recollection
A clear sign of gaslighting is when someone challenges your memory. Imagine your partner consistently telling you, “You’re not remembering that right.” This isn’t just about forgetting things; it’s a tactic to make you doubt your own mind and in turn, trust their memory more.
Blame Shifting: It's Always Your Fault
In a gaslighter’s eyes, they can do no wrong, and you’re always to blame. This constant blame can really hurt your self-confidence, making you feel like you’re always in the wrong.
Countering:Challenging Your Thoughts & Experiences
A gaslighter will often oppose your thoughts, saying things like, “You’re wrong.” This isn’t about finding the truth but about making the truth seem much more confusing & muddled than it actually is
Denial of Reality: Disputing Tangible Experiences
Have you ever been told, “That never happened,” even when you know it did? Gaslighters often deny your experiences, making you question what’s real and what’s not.
Confusion & Disorientation: Second-guessing Your Sanity
Feeling confused or like you’re losing your mind is common when dealing with gaslighting. Constantly having your reality questioned can leave you unsure about what’s true and what’s not.
Trivializing Your Emotions: Your Feelings Don’t Matter
If someone tells you, “You’re just being too sensitive,” they’re likely trivializing your feelings. This is a common gaslighting tactic, making you doubt the validity of your emotions.
Flipping the Script: Playing the Victim
Sometimes, a gaslighter turns the tables and plays the victim. They might say, “You’re hurting me by not trusting me,” shifting the blame onto you.
Withholding Information: Controlling the Narrative
When someone withholds information, they’re trying to control the situation. You might hear, “I didn’t tell you because you wouldn’t understand.” This keeps you out of the loop and dependent on them for information.
Gaslighting Through Isolation: Cutting Off Support Systems
A gaslighter might try to cut you off from friends or family, claiming, “They’re against us.” This isolation tactic is meant to make you more dependent on them and less on others. This type of behavior is considered higher risk for psychological and physical harm due to the lack of supports.
How To Respond to Gaslighting
Because gaslighting is often associated with personality disorders, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there is some evidence that limited engagement is the best bet. However, those who engage in manipulative and even gaslighting behaviors are not actually Narcissists and other responses may be more helpful. Before changing your response, it’s important to recognize safety needs first and foremost. Responding with intensity, challenges, consequences, etc, can escalate situations. Be sure that you have A safety plan to ensure that you remain safe whether you are in an abusive relationship or plan to leave, or even after you leave.
When there is heightened tension, don’t match it. Being overly emotional can hinder a sense of confidence and self-esteem.
Gaslighting Crumbles around boundaries
Firm and clear boundaries protect you from further manipulation as well as falling into cycles of fighting that inevitably leave you more confused. Know and communicate boundaries during calm periods, so when there is tension, the boundaries are established.
Trustworthy 3rd parties
Having a trusted friend, family member or support groups can provide validation, comfort and support while navigating the challenges of manipulative, gaslighting and coercive behavior. Keep safe and trustworthy people close to you.
Grey Rock 'Em, Babe.
The term “grey rock” or “grey rocking” refers to a tactic of subtle defense for those in a relationship with high manipulation, such as with a narcissistic personality disorder. In a nutshell, grey-rocking means that the engagement with a narcissist is so non-reactive and dull, that the narcissist loses interest in manipulating or coercing the person.
Being as boring and dull as a ‘grey rock’ removes the fuel that narcissist needs to survive: your reaction. Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a well-known relationship expert and speaker on the topic of relationship boundaries and abuse cycles commonly seen with NPD. The approaches Dr. Ramani often shares are to decrease risk and intensity so that individuals can find their way out of a relationship safely and confidently.
Final Thoughts on Gaslighting
Recognizing gaslighting is crucial and marks the first step towards effectively dealing with it. It involves understanding and affirming that your memories, feelings, and thoughts are completely valid and should be respected. When you know what gaslighting looks like, you empower yourself to stand firm in your own reality. It’s about asserting that your experiences and emotions are not up for debate or manipulation by someone else.
Understanding gaslighting also helps in setting healthy boundaries in relationships. It enables you to identify when these boundaries are being crossed and gives you the confidence to speak up or seek support. Remember, acknowledging the problem is the beginning of finding a solution. By recognizing gaslighting, you take back control of your narrative and start the journey towards healing and empowerment. This knowledge not only protects you but also equips you to help others who might be facing similar situations. In the end, it’s about reclaiming your voice and your truth in a world where your reality is unequivocally yours.
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