For those new to the term, gaslighting is a form of manipulation that leaves you confused and doubting your sanity. Narcissists often employ it to keep their victims isolated and bonded to them.
If you're a victim of gaslighting, I'd recommend researching, reading books, and finding more tools and resources to educate yourself on the subject. Read on for advice and suggestions.
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How To Respond To Gaslighting
1. The Gray Rock Method
If you need an effective way to deal with a narcissist and gaslighting - this is it. The Gray Rock Method means you purposefully disengage with a manipulative, abusive person.
Why is it so effective?
A narcissist feeds on attention, drama, and chaos. They'll lose interest if you're giving them none, even while they're purposely provoking you. You become boring to them, and they'll find their next victim.
This is not a quick fix. It takes a lot of self-control to keep your cool when someone is tormenting you on purpose.
The initial reaction from a narcissist/ gaslighter might be anger, threats, and violence. Please take your safety seriously. Have people around or record on your phone when dealing with someone who gaslights.
2. How To Implement the Gray Rock Method
Be brief when answering questions
Don't ask questions unless necessary
Only respond to/ share essential things
Be factual and impersonal
Do not respond with emotion - positive or negative
Do not react/ respond to their drama
Be as dull, uninteresting, and non-responsive as possible
Don't give them any details about your life
Keep busy during interactions
This last one is interesting, but it works. When interacting with a narcissist/ gaslighter, be busy with something else. Don't even look directly at them.
If you're in a meeting with one - type on your laptop, go through documents, or even rearrange your desk.
If you're at home with one - pack away laundry, do the dishes, or start cleaning up around them.
I think this works well because you're not giving them your full attention, so it's much harder for them to bait or provoke you.
Funnily enough, they might also be more truthful. Perhaps because you're keeping busy, it implies that you're not paying 100% attention. And your body language isn't attentive, aggressive, or defensive, so they feel more comfortable letting their guard down.
Try it and let me know your experience.
3. Best Responses To a Gaslighter
"I don't know."
This should be the extent of your interactions with a gaslighter, if possible. I know it's rarely the case that these are the only three sentences that apply to all interactions, but for your sanity, make your interactions as short and boring as possible.
You're going to get snarky remarks when you start doing this.
"So you're not talking to me anymore, huh?!" or "You're that dumb that you only know three words?"
Don't be provoked. Stick to your boring answers.
Trust me; once you see how effective short, unemotional answers are, you'll find creative ways of keeping all communication as tedious as this.
4. What to Do If Someone Is Gaslighting You?
There are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Things you might do include:
Gain some distance.
Physically leave the situation if you're able to.
Look into some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or grounding exercises.
Save the evidence.
Keep a journal, save text conversations, or keep emails to reflect on them later and remind yourself that you shouldn't doubt or question yourself.
Make it clear what you won't allow and enforce the consequences if they don't listen.
Do not react to their lies; respond to the facts.
Get an outside perspective.
Talk to a friend, family member, or therapist about what you are going through.
End the relationship.
Cut all contact.
The Bottom Line
This is in no way an exhaustive list of how to respond to gaslighting, but this is hopefully a starting point for you to do more research and take your power back. Be kind to yourself through this process, and it's okay if it takes a while to disentangle yourself from a gaslighter.
Please remember that there's NOTHING wrong with you and that you deserve a happy, balanced life with people who love you without ulterior motives.