Gaslighting can have really bad psychological effects on the person being gaslighted especially if he or she didn’t understand the intentions of the gaslighter. To deal with a gaslighting narcissist or any other gaslighter, it’s important to understand their motives and intentions first, which I discussed in the previous post. You can read it first before proceeding to this one.
How to Deal With a Gaslighter
Like other abuse tactics, gaslighting is used by narcissists and other abusers against a victim by targeting the victim’s vulnerabilities. For example if the narcissist realised that her target cares a lot about other people’s opinions, he might take advantage of that and and criticise her often, call her names and demean her.
To deal with a gaslighting narcissist successfully you need to have a better understanding of yourself first, when you understand the vulnerabilities that the narcissist is targeting you can make it harder for him to hurt you even before you get rid of those vulnerabilities.
Doing the following is very important in dealing with a gaslighting narcissist.
- Learn to trust your own opinion about yourself: if you don’t trust your own judgement about yourself then you will depend on others to tell you who you are. A narcissist can realise that you care a lot about other people’s opinions then decide to take advantage of that by putting you down to make sure that you never feel good about yourself. In my book “growing beyond the narcissist” I said that it’s almost impossible to stop caring about the opinions of others before you build self-confidence. (See: why you should not care about what people think about you)
- Play indifferent: gasligting may also involve the narcissist trying to get an emotional reaction from the victim by harshly criticising them or being verbally abusive. When the abuse fails to get the emotional reaction from you that he was looking for, it can demotivate him to keep the gaslighting.
- Don’t be defensive: one of the mistakes you can make while dealing with a gasligter is to turn defensive and start giving explanations for your actions or behaviour. Being defensive only gives the gaslighter strength to keep gaslighting you because that’s exactly what they expect. Instead try to understand their intentions and show them that you give no weight to their opinions, criticism and judgement.
- Confront them: confronting a narcissist and telling him that you understand his bad intentions behind his gaslighting behaviour can put him on the defensive. Most narcissist usually try to prove you wrong by not repeating the behaviour. Although this should be your last option and you will need courage to do this because narcissists don’t take confrontation well.
Understand that this can Lead to More Gaslighting temporarily
If a narcissist has been using gaslighting against you and getting the result he wanted, then all of a sudden he started getting the opposite results, he might apply even more gaslighting to force you to react the way he wants. For example if you started behaving indifferent to his criticism, he can criticize you even more to make sure that you are emotionally affected.
If you stay persistent, then the narcissist will realize that gaslighting is no longer an effective abusive tactic and he will eventually give up. If you noticed exaggerated gaslighting after taking the previous measures, know that you are doing it right.