10 Ways to Deflect Gaslighting
Gaslighting occurs when the person being gaslit is in some form of denial and/or have a need to have their perspective validated by another human being and they have a partner who thrives on winning and/or being in control of others. With these 10 tools, the person being gaslit can that they don’t actually need anyone to validate them and that they can build their self-reliance. In so doing, they will learn to sit with uncomfortable feelings and shift their mindset. Outside help is always helpful when making this kind of shift.
Here are ten shifts that have worked for my clients and many others:
1) Admit that there is a problem The first step in addressing any problem is to recognize that there is one. If you feel you are constantly questioning your view of reality in ANY relationship, it may be a form of gaslighting.
2) Separate truth from illusion. Begin by journaling your inner dialogue about your reality and where the other person disagrees or paints a different picture. Remember that everyone has a different experience of the same conversations and that your view is as valid as anyone else’s. Write down your experience/point of view and what you perceive theirs to be. Wher they diverge, explore your feelings, and look for signs where your perspective is straight out being slammed with criticism of some kind and where you are questioning yourself. Keep[ing a record is super important as the gaslighter will slowly chang ethe story, both theirs and yours over time. You will want to revisit these notes over time if and when this particular conflict comes up.
3) Where is the power struggle? When people repeat the same discussions/arguments over and over, inevitably there is a power struggle going on. When we express our point of view and the other person continues to slam it by putting us down, the chances are that consciously or unconsciously they are attempting to gaslight us.
4) Imagine Life Without Them: This is an exercise to help you let go of any limiting beliefs you may have around this relationship or about yourself. Imagine this person out of your life, notice feeling you may have around this and how they relate to your sense of your own inner strength. Remember, you are a whole and complete human being capable of caring for yourself. Now imagine the relationship continuing at a distance, how does that feel? Often when feeling stuck in a relationship, being prepared to live without this relationship will free us to transform it.
5) Give yourself permission: Give yourself permission to have ALL your feelings, even the ones that are a little darker. Continue to track you feel through your journal. Notice in particular the statements that the other person makes that trigger fear, anger, or lead you to question yourself. As you identify these triggers, watch for what your typical reaction is. This is the starting point for changing your reaction and shifting the dynamic.
7) Share with your coach, therapist, and close friends. Ask your friends first if they notice a change in you when you are with the other person or in the case of professionals if they are noting a change in your emotion and energy when you talk about conversations with the person in question. Share some of your differences with others as well as the triggers you are noticing.
8) Let go of being right: Being right all the time is a mental trap that distracts us from how we really feel. When a conversation leaves us feeling bad or second-guessing ourselves, we have probably allowed being right to get in the way of what FEELS right and this is when we are most vulnerable to gaslighting. Being at peace with our emotions far outweighs winning or losing in a conversation with another person.
9) We cannot control others or their opinions: Similar to the “life without “them” “ exercise, letting go of the other person’s opinions or judgments about whether you are being too sensitive, or whether you are trying to be controlling is vital to beginning to stay true to yourself. Remember the only place we have control is between our own ears.
10) Be nurturing with yourself It can be challenging when we are feeling low, questioning ourselves, or inadequate to really care for ourselves. This is when we need most to care for ourselves! Take time out to have your feelings and focus on your strengths. Take time to care for your body mind and spirit in these moments especially.
Typically when we are experiencing this level of self-doubt in a relationship with another person, it is because we have become too emotionally entangled with them. This is not the same as a loving relationship. Entanglement occurs when our needs have become intertwined with the other person in a way that is not healthy for us or for them. All of these strategies are tools for separating our sense of self from our sense of who they may be so that we can see where we begin and they and visa versa. Healthy relationships are built on interdependence NOT dependence. Interdependence allows us to stand on our own and at the same time, we can stand more firmly and effectively with the other person. Independent relationships, one or both people may collapse with the absence of the other.