What is Gaslighting & How You Can Avoid Becoming a Victim

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where what other people think changes the very perception you have about yourself? Are there people in your surroundings who can emotionally manipulate you? In case, you’re easily getting manipulated because of someone else’s comment, it’s a clear indication that you’re becoming a victim of gaslighting. Gaslighting is a subtle way of emotional manipulation, where a person is forced to go into a doubt, questioning their personality, their work ethics, or their way of doing things. 

Gaslighting begins in a very inconspicuous way. You won’t even realize when you are becoming a victim of gaslighting and eventually, you will find yourself becoming a victim of it. It leads you into questioning your abilities, your thoughts and in fact, to a certain extent you start questioning your personality. Usually, a person who is trying to gaslight will begin with contradicting your statements. They will try to correct you and in the wake of doing so, they will overshadow who you are.

As it begins, you will find yourself steering clear from your own beliefs. You will feel burdened by other people’s sense of thought. Gaslighting isn’t necessarily going to stem from your professional life, it can be a part of any relationship. It can be your relationship with a manager, a friendly colleague, your spouse or just a friend you have drink with, at the pub. Regardless of gender, gaslighting can happen with anyone & everyone. If you are constantly becoming a victim of gaslighting, you may develop anxiety & mental stress.

Are you wondering whether your anxiety is because you’re a victim of gaslighting? Let’s find out.

Are You Already a Victim of Gaslighting? 

  • Do you often feel confused? 
  • Do you frequently doubt yourself? 
  • Are you experiencing difficulty in trusting people? 
  • Are you constantly assuming something is wrong with you? 
  • Do you feel the need to apologize to people often? 
  • Are you making excuses for other people’s wrong behavior? 
  • Do you feel like you’ve to prove yourself all the time? 
  • Do you feel as if you have to backup everything you do with reasoning? 

In case you’re experiencing any of the above discussed, it is more likely you are being gaslighted by someone in your surroundings. You will feel like you’re often misunderstood by others but you’re not.

You’re just becoming a victim of emotional manipulation. 

Why does gaslighting normally occur? It happens when someone wants to influence you with their thoughts and ideologies. Usually, it happens because they themselves are a little fragile and can easily get influenced by someone else’s sense of belief. They don’t want that to happen to them so they gaslight you. Instead of accepting who you are, they try to convert you. They try to impose their own personal beliefs & dogmas so you give up on your own sense of belief, thought process, and motivational drives. 

What Common Phrases are Associated with Gaslighting? 

To help you find the trigger points, here are a few common phrases which other people use when they are trying to gaslight you. 

  • “You’re so dramatic”
  • “You’re too sensitive”
  • “You’re too emotional”
  • “You’re imagining things”
  • “You know you sound insane right now, right?”
  • “You’re always making stuff up”
  • “You’re making a big deal out of nothing, like always”
  • “Nothing you’re saying makes sense, do you even hear yourself?”
  • “You’re being paranoid”
  • “You’re acting crazy” or “you’re overreacting”
  • “I was joking! You take everything personally”
  • “That never even happened.” “This is what happened…” or “this is what I said…”
  • “Why should I believe you? Everyone knows you’re full of it”
  • “You’re not thinking clearly”
  • “You’re making yourself the victim when I’m the one who should be mad”

Do you see how many of the words and sentences used in gaslighting start with “YOU?” It’s because when someone uses gaslighting as a tactic to overshadow your presence, they hardly ever acknowledge themselves. Instead of identifying the negative traits in them, they try to cherry-pick the contradictory points from your personality and hold you responsible for having a false sense. 

To me, it’s downright psychological abuse. 

Hence, it is important that one must develop awareness of when they are becoming a victim of gaslighting. By recognizing they are becoming victimized, people can take possible measures to avoid situations where there lies a possible chance of being gaslighted. People normally don’t gaslight intentionally. It happens when they feel precarious about their personal well-being. 

If you ever feel like you’re going through an incident of gaslighting, the best way to counteract the situation is to have validation from someone who knows you better than anybody else. 

By taking someone else’s perspective about yourself can readily help you to move out from the corner. 

A Few Things to Say When You’re Feeling You’re Gaslighted

So just in case, if you ever feel like you’re gaslighted, there are a few things which you can readily say in order to avoid becoming a victim of gaslighting. Here are a few statements to help you move out of the corner and overcome that dreadful & burdening feels of becoming a gaslight victim yourself. 

  • “I realize you disagree with me, and this is how I see it”
  • “I see that your perspective is different from mine, I’m not imagining things”
  • “Name-calling is hurtful to me, I’m finding it hard to hear you when you talk like that”
  • “I hear that your intention was to make a joke, and the impact was hurtful”
  • “My feelings are my feelings; this is how I feel”
  • “I changed my mind” or “I’m not responding to that”
  • “It’s hard for me to stay engaged in this conversation, I’ve already said no several times”
  • “I’m finding it difficult to keep discussing this”
  • “I have heard your point of view many times now, and I still don’t agree with it,” “I’d like to take a break from this conversation”
  • “This is my experience and these are my emotions”
  • “I want to figure things out for myself”
  • “It sounds like you feel strongly about that, and my emotions are valid too”
  • “I feel like I’m not being heard, and I want some space”
  • “I understand that this is what’s best for me” or “I know what’s best for me”
  • “This is what I want and what I need right now”
  • “I’m making this decision for myself”
  • “I don’t like how much energy I’m putting into proving my perspective and it would mean a lot to me if you gave me the benefit of the doubt”
  • “I get that you’re mad, and I’m angry too”

When practicing such statements, be mindful of a few things. When you’re using an assertive way to communicate, you will find a huge difference based on how the other person receives the message. 

What not to do is respond back using a passive, passive-aggressive or non-assertive tone. Not only will it encourage your recipient to communicate aggressively but it will move you from your defensive position. As a result, things will go out of hand and you will fall a victim of aggression which is a completely new situation in which you may end yourself in. It will give more space and a much better excuse to the gas lighter so he can indicate you’ve problems after all. So don’t let your guard down under any circumstances. Having what you want is your right, and you can have it.

Are there any interesting ways how you can overcome the incidents of gaslighting? Feel free to discuss.

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