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8 mental health tips to protect yourself against gaslighting

Gaslighters often use psychological manipulation techniques to emotionally abuse a person

Do you often hear phrases like ‘it’s your fault’, ‘stop exaggerating’, ‘you are always in a defensive mode’, ‘you can’t even take a joke’, ‘you lack acceptance’, ‘you sound selfish and mean’, etc. from your spouse, partner, family, or colleagues? If yes, then understand that you are a victim of ‘gaslighting’, a form of emotional abuse handled at the psychological level by these people — the ‘gaslighters’. Gaslighting is a wicked and intentional emotional abuse in which one person or group of people manipulate the victim into doubting their thoughts, feelings, judgement, perception, reality and memories. The main aim of gaslighting is to create doubt, undermine self-confidence, and cause the victim to lose their sense of identity, worth and perception by accepting the gaslighter’s version of reality.
Gaslighters often use psychological manipulation techniques mentioned below to emotionally abuse a person. Let’s understand them first and then learn how to dismantle their unrealistic ‘gaslight fort’.
By trivialising or minimising your feelings and advocating that your emotions are insignificant, they blame you of overreacting. By countering your point, they doubt your memory, create new details or deny the things that have happened and accuse you of the situation instead. By withholding, gaslighters erase your attempts to have a reality and fact-based discussion and label you as being confused. By blocking or diversion, raising your concern about their abusive behaviour, they change the subject or hold you responsible for ‘making it up’. By denying or forgetting, in case if you try to make them remember or mention a specific event or something they said earlier, they shut you down by saying that they forgot or can’t remember, or it never happened at all. By discrediting, they put forth the suggestion of you being confused easily or making things up or having a weak memory. Here’s how to lighten up and take control back from the gaslighters.

1) When reflecting about being gaslighted, try and comprehend your feelings and reality, not the actions or words of the gaslighters.

2) Use bold and assertive responses like, ‘I know what I have exactly experienced’, ‘If your feelings are valid so are mine’, ‘I have heard your point of view multiple times, but I still don’t agree with you’, ‘I know what’s best for me’, ‘My emotions are not for debate or argue’, ‘I think we remember things differently’, ‘This is how I want it, it is my life’, etc.

3) Play reverse psychology by using phrases like, ‘How un-empathetic are you?’, ‘I think narcissism is eating you up’, ‘You are insecure’, etc.

4) Use affirmations for maintaining your confidence, motivation and self-worth.

5) Focus on self-care — spend time with what you like, nurture your hobbies, groom yourself, use relaxation techniques.

6) Involve people you trust to get insight and support. Seeking input from impartial people can help reinforce your knowledge, and will delete the label of you being confused or crazy or losing your memory.

7) Collect evidence to document your interactions to keep track of reality when gaslighters deny a conversation or event using screenshots of texts/emails, pictures, noting date/time or recording conversations.

8) Seek professional, legal and local bodies’ help if things get psychologically, physically and emotionally abusive.

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