“You take things too personally,” “You have no sense of humor,” and “You need to calm down,” are all typical gaslighting phrases. Thanks to mindfulness practices and empathy, we now can identify gaslighting relatively easily. However, we still might get caught in the vicious cycle of psychological abuse.
Bright Side is here to help you live your best life in peace and balance, where there’s no place for abuse.
1. You start to question reality.
Gaslighters love creating an atmosphere of confusion and disagreement between other people. Victims of gaslighting get overwhelmed and can’t understand what really happened. They start to question whether something even happened at all. So, instead of doubting their gaslighter’s behavior, the victim tries to prevent the next psychological attack.
As a result, self-doubt increases, and the whole situation becomes unclear. According to Dr. George Simon, victims question reality and themselves. They even doubt their sanity. You might feel like you’re in control, but at the same time, you think it’s absurd.
What to do: Make use of your critical thinking. Ask your friends or relatives if you’re not sure about something, and share your doubts with them. Another great trick is to stand your ground without drama. Be calm and collected. Use facts to judge the gaslighter’s opinion and show how absurd their judgment is.
2. Your emotions are belittled.
Gaslighters make you feel like your opinion doesn’t matter. They force you to believe that you’re speaking in the heat of the moment. Your fears and worries are trivialized. For instance, “You’re always so dramatic,” “You’re just paranoid,” or “You’re overreacting,” are the typical gaslighting phrases you should be aware of. Consequently, if you approach a gaslighter for help, you’re often laughed at and left to your own devices.
What to do: If you believe something is true, don’t let others discredit you. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting the gaslighter’s judgment of you.
3. You can’t imagine your life without the gaslighter.
Gaslighters break your stamina and plant seeds of doubt. They assure you to stay under their “care” and “protection.” Pretty often, they go from cruel to loving in seconds, making you feel even more confused.
What to do: Remember that gaslighters are controlling people who feel an unhealthy surge of anxiety at the thought of losing you. However, remember that they won’t reciprocate their love towards you. It’s also a great idea to communicate with other people instead of locking yourself in your room. This way, you’ll be able to see the situation from a different perspective.
Remember to stay away from people who support the gaslighter.
4. Your partner pretends to be the victim, making you the abuser.
Once you start standing up for yourself, the gaslighter will play the victim. They will blame you and, to top it all off, accuse you of other things you didn’t even do. This is done in order to divert the attention from them to you.
What to do: Don’t try to take revenge on the gaslighter. While you might feel great at first, this will inevitably lead to devastation and disappointment. Besides, gaslighters rarely give up, so they will also get back at you if they find out about your vendetta.
5. You can’t make simple decisions.
According to Dr. Robin Stern, this is one of the main signs of gaslighting. If you notice that you have difficulty making the simplest decisions, such as choosing when to go to bed or what toothbrush to buy, this is a real problem. Gaslighters win control over you by making you feel helpless and powerless.
What to do: Although personal decisions might affect others around you as well, you should also pay attention to your opinion. Set boundaries between you and the gaslighter, and don’t let them carry over into every aspect of your life.
6. You think twice before talking to your partner about things.
If you’ve ever tried asking a gaslighter for help, you probably know that it’s followed by a surge of anger on their side. You do everything you can to make the gaslighter keep their temper. So you walk on eggshells just to avoid evoking negative feelings from the abuser.
What to do: Don’t be scared of the gaslighter. They influence you only when you allow them to. Voice your opinion, adhere to your own principles, and don’t bottle up your emotions.
7. Your partner denies something they previously said.
Gaslighters always pretend like they never said the thing you’re completely sure about. They do this so that you start doubting yourself and fall under their control. For example, you know that your partner likes Asian cuisine, but when you get Asian takeout, they claim that they never liked it.
What to do: Sometimes we might forget some things, but if it happens all the time for no apparent reason, just record the abuser’s words. Use a voice recorder or just write down what they say. This way, you’ll be completely sure that it was actually stated and you didn’t imagine anything.
8. You feel like you’re being mocked.
Gaslighters mock their victims by laughing off their fears and opinions. Abusers pit you against your friends and relatives, and as a result, they isolate you completely. A victim of gaslighting may say that her partner pretended to be hard of hearing when she talked to him, so he cupped his hand behind his ear and yelled, “What?” to her all the time, but when he was around anyone else, his hearing was perfect.
What to do: Have some respect for yourself and don’t let the gaslighter walk all over you. Such a relationship will never bring happiness, so instead of torturing yourself, just pack your bags and leave. Remember that they will try to get you back however they can, but don’t let them convince you of their “love.”
Have you ever experienced gaslighting? Have you ever been a gaslighter unintentionally?