Gaslighting can have really bad psychological effects on the person being gaslighted especially if they didn’t understand the intentions of the narcissist. In order to deal with a gaslighting narcissist correctly, 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 deal With a gaslighting narcissist
Like other manipulation tactics, gaslighting is used by narcissists and other abusers to control someone by targeting their vulnerabilities. For example, if the narcissist realised that you care a lot about other people’s opinions, they may take advantage of that and criticise you often, call you names, and demean you.
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 them to hurt you.
Doing the following will help you deal 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.
- Appear to be indifferent: gaslighting may also involve the narcissist trying to get an emotional reaction from the victim by harshly criticizing them or being verbally abusive. When the abuser fails to get the emotional reaction from you that he expected, they not only get disappointed but they eventually lose 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 opinion, criticism and judgement.
- Confront them: confronting a narcissist and telling them that you understand their bad intentions behind their gaslighting behaviour can put them on the defensive. Most narcissists usually will 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.
- Fix your own vulnerabilities: if the narcissist managed to hurt you, it’s because you have a flaw that can be exploited. For example, if criticism hurts you so much, you need to examine yourself and find out why you are so sensitive to criticism. Is it because you have low self-esteem? Do you have an emotional wound? Fixing your own flaws will not only prevent the narcissist from hurting you but you will also be more mentally healthy.
Understand that this can lead to more gaslighting temporarily
If a narcissist has been using gaslighting against you and getting the result they wanted, then all of a sudden started getting the opposite results, they may try even more gaslighting to force you to react the way they want. For example, if you started behaving indifferently to their criticism, they may criticize you even more to make sure that you are emotionally hurt. See: can a narcissist make you a narcissist.
If you stay persistent, then the narcissist will realize that gaslighting is no longer an effective abusive tactic therefore, they will eventually give up. If you noticed exaggerated gaslighting after applying the previous tips don’t be disappointed. Instead, know that you are doing it right. See: how to make an abusive narcissist discard you.