Gaslighting can have really bad psychological effects on the person being gaslighted especially if he or she didn’t understand the intentions of the narcissist. To deal with a gaslighting narcissist, it’s very 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 Handle a Gaslighting Narcissist
Like other manipulation tactics, gaslighting is used by narcissists and other abusers by targeting the victim’s vulnerabilities. For example, if the narcissist realised that his target cares a lot about other people’s opinions, he may take advantage of that 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 your 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 opinion about yourself: if you don’t trust your opinion 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 you feel bad about yourself. In my book “manipulating the manipulator” 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)
- Seem 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 abuser fails to get the emotional reaction from you that he expected, he does not only get disappointed but he eventually loses the motivation to keep gaslighting you.
- Don’t be defensive: one of the mistakes you can make while dealing with a narcissist is to become 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 may try 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 hurt.
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 applying the previous tips, know that you are doing it right. (See: how to make an abusive narcissist discard you)