Concerned you’re being gaslighted? Here’s what to say to stop someone who is manipulating you
Spotting that you’re being gaslighted is difficult enough. After all, a gaslighter’s MO is to make you question your reality and experience, all to align you with their own insidious narrative of events. But once you have recognised the signs, it can be equally hard to take action.
“Oftentimes if we are being gaslighted, we will start to question our sanity,” trauma coach Juliette Karaman tells Stylist. “Our emotions become unbalanced and our judgment may be skewed because we no longer trust ourselves or them.
“Ultimately, the gaslighter has control over how we feel and perceive the world.”
Whatever the relationship dynamic, psychotherapist author of When Love Bites Cathy Press insists that it is essential you acknowledge why you might feel apprehensive or afraid of standing your ground.
“You might fear that the other person will escalate their behaviour and never stop and this may be based on threats or previous experience,” says Press. “You deserve to be treated with respect and regard so take some time to reflect on whether you could walk away from the person in question.
“Gaslighting doesn’t tend to happen in isolation of other behaviours. If possible seek support to help build your boundaries, see less of the person in question or leave if it is a toxic relationship. Gaslighting has a huge impact on you, resulting in confusion, losing your sense of self, loss of confidence and an inability to trust what you think.”
WHAT TO SAY TO SOMEONE GASLIGHTING YOU
Struggling to know exactly what to say? Press suggests the following phrases to help put a gaslighter in their place:
“I know what I heard”
“I accept you remember events differently, so we will have to agree to disagree”
“Does it really matter that we remember things differently?”
“It sounds like you are trying to confuse me about what happened. Why would you want to do that?”
“I understand what you are saying happened, but that wasn’t my experience”
“I am not interested in arguing about what happened with you”
“I have heard your take on things several times and we aren’t getting anywhere”
“Why are you upset with me because we remember things differently?”
“If you can’t accept that we are remembering things differently, then the conversation is over”
“You are undermining me by not listening to my experience of things”
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion but when it starts to affect you negatively, it’s time to think about doing something different,” says Desirée Silverstone, a psychotherapist at Head Honchos Executive Coaching.
“It’s human nature to want to prove our point, but you cannot reason with madness. Whenever someone gaslights you, you enter the realm of madness. Don’t let it consume you. Extricate yourself as quickly as possible.”
“Remind yourself that it is not about you; whatever you will do will displease them, so distance yourself from that and them,” adds Karaman. “Do not argue back with them – it will do no good; they will twist your words back to you. If you want to work things through with them, get professional help.”