You may have ended up here from watching my YouTube video on some signs that you’re in a gaslighting relationship with someone in your life. Be mindful, this could be with anyone from a co-worker to a family member to a significant other. If so, these 5 steps are a great start to understanding how to take your power back from a gaslighter.
CONFIRM THAT THE SITUATION IS GASLIGHTING…
Despite how close the 2 of you are, you won’t be able to converse with the gaslighter to process this. He/she will not want to expose their subtle manipulation – they don’t have that type of self-awareness in most cases. In the best relationships, there is no “record keeping.” But in the case of the possibility of Gaslighting, your first step is going to be literally keeping a record of the times where you feel you’re being ‘gaslit.’ Take note of the times when you are second guessing reality, when you told you’re blowing things out of proportion…and my personal favorite inconsistency! Specifically, when actions and words don’t align, this may be a gaslighting relationship. Keep a dated, detailed list each time you second guess yourself, feel uncomfortable or tense around them or when you feel EVERYTHING is all your fault or that you’re going to do the wrong thing, that you hold your tongue so that you will have a reference for how often this happens. This will be helpful in times when you start 2nd guessing yourself. Do this for 2 – 4 weeks….and BE SURE that you include EVERY detail that made you feel ‘gaslit’.
Also, think back to your formative years, was there an authoritative figure that devalued your opinion, didn’t allow you to speak your mind, told you that things weren’t true that you KNOW were true or consistently told you, in one way or another, that you’re not good enough or smart enough. Take note of each situation where this occurred and keep this away from your (possible) gaslighter.
PRACTICE SELF CARE…
Reconnect with yourself, your faith, an unbiased support group or professional therapist. If you’re in a gaslighting situation, your identity is under attack. Its important, especially while you’re confirming if your situation is gaslighting or not, that you have a place where you can ‘ground’ yourself, to feel like YOU again. It may be helpful if the gaslighter does not have access to whomever you ‘ground’ yourself around. Oftentimes, gaslighters will also manipulate the mutual social circle to believe you’re crazy or off too. It may be helpful to get a therapist or counselor skilled in guiding people through emotional manipulative relationships to aid you. Do self-confidence exercises to help you trust yourself again.
TAKE YOUR POWER BACK…
After you have significant, written evidence that you believe qualifies as gaslitghting, the next time a gaslighting incident presents itself, speak up – WITH CONFIDENCE. Tell the gaslighter “that’s not how that happened” or “I don’t like when you say xyz”…whatever the appropriate response is to confront or oppose what they claim. Stand firm on what you know to be true.
Take note of their reaction. Is it passive, dismissive, aggressive? Do they accept responsibility, claim accountability for how they’ve contributed to the incident or do they switch all the cause of the conflict on you? Write down what they say or do; where possible, record it. The most important thing to do in this confrontation is to STAND FIRM on what you know because u do, in fact, see EXACTLY what they are doing now. You have your own personal evidence.
NOTE: Gaslighting is common in physically abusive relationships. If you’re with a physically abusive person, skip this step until you’re able to safely do it and permanently be away from them with a safe “escape” plan. Sometimes your exit is symbolic enough of you taking your power back.
SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES...
After or when you confront them, it’s a healthy practice to set boundaries on how you do and don’t want to be treated. Sometimes that my come in the form of telling them “I do not accept this treatment and if you continue, I’ll have to limit my time with you.” It may be more gradual boundary setting by instead of always complying and going along with their agenda, accusations, insults, etc you resist and stand up for yourself as it happens. Setting healthy boundaries is going to be key to reclaiming your sense of self. AND make sure your words and actions align. It might be scary or intimidating but these boundaries are yours to set.
LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE…
Quite frankly the best place for your gaslighter is AWAY from you!! If after you confirm that you are in a relationship with a gaslighter and you confront them but they still disrespect your boundaries, consider ending the relationship (if possible) or liming your time around them.
Though you have great moments with them, you’ll have to firmly decide if this person still deserves a “front seat” in your life or an occasional feature. If it’s a dating situation, this may be an indication that its time to end the relationship. If it’s a friend or family member that you can’t so easily dismiss, you may have to limit your time with them for your own emotional (and sometimes) physical wellness.
This is also a great time to connect with a therapist, particularly if you’ve been in this relationship for a long time. Just because you cut off or limited their connection to you, doesn’t mean the scars of it go away.
Walking through these steps will give you the courage and know-how to confront any potential 'gaslighting' relationship and either turn the relationship into something healthy and viable OR decide to remove yourself from the toxicity.
I'm not a fan of just throwing people away without trying. That leaves us with a lot of regret and anxiety about connecting with others. So instead of jumping to step 5 and instantly removing the person from your life, use this as a self-teaching opportunity so that you don't take the baggage and fear of connecting with another gaslighter with you. If you do skip to step 5, you're likely to attract MORE gaslighters throughout life because you've never confirmed and confronted it.
Its time to take your power back...take your life back once and for all!
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