There are communication challenges in every relationship but some challenges can bring to light a very concerning issue. Gaslighting is a huge red flag that should never be taken lightly and should even be considered a valid reason for exiting a toxic relationship.
Gaslighting is a manipulative and emotionally and psychologically abusive tactic used by narcissists and Cluster B personality disordered individuals to gain control and power over their victims. The term “gaslighting” originates from the 1944 movie “Gaslight,” in which the husband manipulates his wife into questioning her sanity by dimming the gas lanterns in their home, then denying any knowledge of it. In essence, gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation aimed at making the victim doubt their own thoughts, emotions, memories and truth.
Examples of Gaslighting
- Denying the obvious: A gaslighter might blatantly deny something they said or did, even when evidence suggests otherwise. For instance, they could say, “I never said that,” when you clearly remember the conversation.
- Blameshifting: Gaslighters often deflect responsibility by turning the situation around on you. They might say, “You’re overreacting,” or “You’re too sensitive,” making you doubt the validity of your feelings. They may also say “I didn’t cheat, but I know you are”.
- Minimizing or Dismissing Feelings: A gaslighter may downplay your emotions and feelings, dismissing them as unimportant or irrational. They might say, “You’re making a big deal out of nothing,” undermining your feelings. They may also ignore you completely.
- Projection: Gaslighters project their own negative traits onto you. For instance, they might accuse you of being dishonest or manipulative when, in reality, they are the ones engaging in such behaviors. For example, they may lie about their inappropriate behavior with another woman then accuse you of flirting with a waiter or co-worker.
- Isolating you: Gaslighters aim to isolate their victims by convincing them that nobody else cares about them or that they’re better off alone. This tactic keeps the victim reliant on the gaslighter for validation and support. If someone is telling you your friends or family are against them or you, pay attention, they may be trying to isolate you. This is also known as coercive control.
Handling Gaslighting in Your Relationships
- Educate yourself: Understanding gaslighting is the first step in combating it. Learn to recognize the signs and acknowledge when you’re being manipulated. Be willing to walk away if it doesn’t stop.
- Trust your instincts: Trust your feelings and intuition. Don’t let anyone invalidate your emotions or experiences and tell you what your truth is.
- Seek support: Talk to a therapist, trusted friend, or family member who can provide you with a safe space to discuss your feelings. Be willing to listen to their perspectives if they feel this person isn’t good for you.
- Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with the gaslighter and enforce consequences if those boundaries are violated. Again, be willing to walk away and stay away permanently.
- Consider professional help: If you’re in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, seeking therapy or counseling is essential for your healing and recovery. Look specifically for therapists trained in Narcissistic Abuse and Pathological Love Relationships.
At Living Strong Counseling, we are trained specifically in Narcissistic Abuse, Pathological Love Relationships and Trauma Treatments. We specialize in helping individuals navigate toxic relationships and recover from the effects of gaslighting and narcissistic abuse. If you suspect you’re in such a relationship or need guidance in handling gaslighting, we’re here to support you. Don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with our office to ask questions and determine if we’re the right fit to help you find your path to healing and strength.
Don’t let gaslighting and narcissistic abuse keep you from having the life you deserve. Take the first step towards a healthier, happier future by seeking the help you need to live strong after being in an abusive relationship.