“You’re imagining things.”
“You can’t even take a joke.”
If these phrases sound all too familiar, then it’s possible that you’re a victim of gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that can be quite damaging to someone’s well-being and self-confidence and is especially harmful to sensitive people.
But don’t worry, I’m gonna share 10 ways to protect yourself from gaslighting and keep a clear mind!
Let’s get right to it:
1) Educate yourself
The first step is to learn as much as you can about gaslighting.
You see, the reason gaslighting is so effective (and harmful) is that the victim is unaware of what’s happening. So, the most obvious way to protect yourself is to learn to recognize when it’s happening.
Knowledge is power, so read up as much as you can on gaslighting (check out the last section of this article). Learn to recognize the signs, find out about the different tactics used, as well as the effects of gaslighting.
In short: Becoming familiar with this manipulation technique will enable you to identify it in your relationships so that you can take the appropriate action.
2) Trust your intuition
Did you know that sensitive people like yourself possess a heightened sense of intuition?
That’s why you should listen to your gut feeling more often.
So, if something doesn’t feel quite right, acknowledge it. Don’t ignore it and tell yourself you’re imagining things. Follow that feeling and find out what’s going on.
Trusting your intuition will help you stay grounded in your reality and prevent others from making you doubt yourself.
3) Seek supportive relationships
It’s always a good idea for sensitive people like yourself to be surrounded by friends and family who genuinely care for your well-being.
When it comes to relationships, it’s important that they be built on trust, mutual respect, and open communication. Anything short of that isn’t to be trusted.
You should never feel shy, scared, or silly to turn to your loved ones when things aren’t going well for you.
In fact, if you’re being gaslighted and you don’t know it, chances are your friends and family will help you figure it out. Just remember to always keep an open line of communication.
Your loved ones are there to provide a safe space for you to express your thoughts and feelings and to validate your experiences.
Oh, and people who really care about you would never ever make you doubt your sanity or gaslight you!
4) Set boundaries
So many problems could be avoided if everyone would just establish some healthy boundaries!
I’m not saying that boundaries alone will protect you 100%, but they can definitely help. Here’s how:
- Establishing and communicating clear boundaries allows you to define what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This clarity will make it easier to recognize when someone is crossing those boundaries and engaging in gaslighting tactics.
- Boundaries encourage you to develop a stronger sense of self-awareness and self-trust. And once you have insight into your feelings, thoughts, and experiences, it will be a lot harder for gaslighters to manipulate you and distort your perception.
- Having boundaries in place will protect you from toxic relationships and interactions. This will reduce your chances of being gaslighted.
- Finally, boundaries are super useful when it comes to recognizing manipulation tactics such as gaslighting. By defining your limits and what is unacceptable behavior in others, you’ll have an easier time identifying when someone is trying to distort your reality or manipulate your emotions.
So what are you waiting for? Set some boundaries already!
5) Practice self-care
You’re probably wondering how this will protect you from gaslighting.
Let me explain:
By engaging in activities that nurture your mental and emotional well-being, such as meditation and yoga, you’re also boosting your self-esteem and resilience, making it harder for gaslighters to manipulate you.
6) Keep a journal
Turns out that keeping a journal can be a powerful tool to protect you from gaslighting.
Here’s what to do:
Write about your experiences, interactions, thoughts, and feelings.
This will allow you to objectively reflect on various events that take place and help you detect inconsistencies or patterns that could indicate gaslighting.
What’s more, your journal can serve as a valuable record of your reality when your memory is being questioned!
Sounds good, right?
7) Seek professional help
Ain’t no shame in asking for help.
If you find yourself struggling to cope with the effects of gaslighting, I strongly encourage you to seek the guidance of a mental health professional.
In my experience, therapy provides valuable support, and it can help you become more resilient as well as equip you with various strategies to counter gaslighting and protect your emotional well-being.
8) Be more assertive
Here’s the thing:
Gaslighters thrive on passive and submissive behavior. And let’s face it, sensitive people are often just that.
So, what’s the solution?
Become more assertive!
Let others know that you want to be treated with respect and that you will not be manipulated, walked over, or disrespected.
Practice assertive communication – when you’re expressing your thoughts and feelings, make sure that you do it in a clear and confident manner.
Assertiveness will help you maintain your sense of self-worth and let others know that you’re not easily messed with.
9) Develop self-validation
Here’s another way to protect yourself from gaslighting – work on self-validation.
Gaslighters love to make people doubt their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
That’s why you must trust yourself.
And when someone tries to dismiss or downplay your thoughts or feelings, remind yourself that your thoughts and feelings are legitimate and valid!
All-in-all, developing self-validation will empower you to resist the gaslighter’s attempts to manipulate your reality.
10) Take breaks from toxic relationships
The last thing to keep in mind is that gaslighting usually takes place in toxic relationships.
The best thing is to distance yourself from the toxic person.
Now, I know that’s not always possible because toxic people are often our closest family members (aunt in my case).
So, the next best thing is to take breaks from the relationship. I haven’t spoken to my toxic aunt in a month and let me tell you, I feel like I can finally breathe.
Trust me, taking time away will help you heal emotionally, gain clarity, and evaluate the relationship objectively.
How to know if you’re being gaslighted
The thing is that gaslighting can be a subtle and gradual process, making it difficult to recognize when it’s happening.
However, by learning to recognize the signs, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
Let’s take a look:
1) Inconsistency between your versions of events
So, the thing about gaslighters is that they like to twist facts and even deny that some stuff happened, making you question your memory.
They’ll say things like, “That never happened” or “You’re making things up” with such conviction that you may even start to question your sanity.
2) Feeling confused or uncertain
Another sign that you’re being gaslighted is if you feel a constant sense of confusion and self-doubt.
If you find yourself questioning your memory, opinions, and decisions, it means they have you right where they want you.
3) Feeling like you’re going crazy
This is a major red flag!
If you feel like you’re going crazy, then the gaslighting is working!
I know it’s cruel, but that’s how gaslighters stay in control. They manipulate you into questioning your sanity.
For example, if you have good reason to believe your partner is cheating on you and you confront them, they’ll say something like, “How could you even think something like that? After everything I’ve done for this family! You should talk to a shrink ‘coz you obviously have some trust issues!”
Not only will you feel like you overreacted and are losing your grip on reality, but you’ll also feel guilty!
4) Minimization of your feelings and experiences
Here’s another one:
Gaslighters like to downplay your emotions and dismiss your concerns, making you feel like they’re invalid.
Instead of listening to you and validating your feelings, they’ll say stuff like, “You’re overreacting” and “Jesus, you’re too sensitive.”
5) Projection of their behavior onto you
If you confront a gaslighter about a certain behavior, you may find them defending themselves by accusing you of doing things that they are actually doing!
I know it’s crazy, but you’d be surprised by how often it works.
They’ll tell you you’re the one who’s lying or being manipulative when, in fact, it’s them, and then you’ll feel bad for accusing them in the first place.
6) Isolation from support systems
This is one of the most dangerous aspects of being gaslighted.
Gaslighters like to isolate their “victims” from their loved ones.
They’ll criticize your relationships and discourage you from spending time with people who would confirm that you are in your right mind.