How To Rattle The Gaslighter In Your Life
If you want to get under their skin, start talking their language.
Have you ever walked out of an argument with a cheating lover feeling sorry for them?
You approach the argument with fury at their behaviour. But when the fight is over, you're the one who has done all the apologising and made the promises to do better.
Yeah, that was me and my first boyfriend. Handsome guy. Wonderful gaslighter.
If there was someone to blame, it was me. And I wore it all like a badge of dishonour. I deserved it, I told myself.
That's how masterful he was.
Everyone knows a gaslighter. Correction; everyone, at some point in their life, has felt the wrath of a gaslighter.
You've been the mug like me, who has let their behaviour dictate how you feel about yourself, the world and your place in it.
Gaslighting has become a very popular concept in the current relationship landscape. Unfortunately, our society didn't invent it. We've simply become better at calling it out.
This idea of gaslighting describes how someone makes you second guess yourself. Through your communication with them, you don't know what is right and what is wrong. You take on the blame that belongs to them. When you think the sky is blue, the gaslighter reminds you it is green.
Gaslighters thrive off making you feel uncomfortable.
They thrive off disturbing the status quo, forcing you to question what you know about life. It keeps you feeling small.
Sometimes, to regain your confidence, you need the gaslighter to feel how small they make you. Here's how.
Fight fire with lying
In the 101 gaslighting playbook comes lying. They use lying to make you believe something that isn't true.
It's weird how instinctual this lying is, as a side note.
For someone to believe their own lies, enough to stick by them without question isn't normal. Sure, it's a sign of strong conviction. But it shows no morals or respect for anyone else.
In this situation, you need to put your disdain for the gaslighter's way of thinking aside. If you get hung up on the fact they're lying, you won't get anywhere.
To rattle a gaslighter's lying habits, you need the truth completely on your side. This is like any legal fight. You're not going to win on emotion. You're only going to win with indisputable evidence.
Let's break this down because it does take some careful planning and execution.
To have indisputable evidence to discredit their lies, you need:
- Physical proof they are lying - A hunch on your behalf is not enough. You need photos, videos, emails, text messages, and hard proof that what they said doesn't match the truth.
- Unquestionable proof - Poorly taken photos, partially obscure photos won't work. If there is a way they can wrangle out of the situation by saying the photo doesn't show the whole scenario, they will. Remember, they're trained liars. Don't give them anything they can build a lie around.
- Multiple sources - One photo isn't enough to disprove them. You need many forms of proof to suggest they're being dishonest.
This is when you can remind a gaslighter what they say and what they do doesn't match. With this evidence, it's not a debatable argument. It's fact.
Thankfully for us, gaslighters hate facts.
Keep the topic on the board
Distraction is another method in the gaslighter's wheelhouse. It makes sense, by the way. If you're distracted, if you don't focus on what they do, it's easy to make you believe:
- The issue isn't actually an issue - You aren't focusing on it, you can't maintain focus on it, how important can it be?
- The issue is forgettable - Again, if you can become distracted by something else and eventually forget the issue, how important can the problem be?
It's easy to distract people by the way. Praying on a person's emotions makes it easy to pull their focus onto something else. Gaslighters use urgency, emotional reactions and natural disasters. Flood, fire, earthquake, you name it.
If you let a gaslighter change the topic, they've won.
But if you stand by the issue, unwavering until you've resolved the problem, you're messing with their comfort zone. You can do this by:
- Using the good old-fashioned pen and paper - Or a whiteboard, chalkboard, poster paper etc. Write down the issue and position the issue somewhere in full view of your life together. For a romantic partner, I suggest the kitchen or the bedroom. Let the issue stay there like a permanent reminder.
- Stay fixed in your position - If you're hashing out an issue with a gaslighter at the dining room table, don't leave because they get up to cause distraction. Stay where you are. Stay in the spot until they can resolve the issue. Show them through your body language that you're not leaving the scene until they can give you respect.
- Put the problem on their agenda - If the gaslighter leaves the house, for example, put a reminder in their agenda/calendar/diary to talk about it again. Don't stop until they know you aren't letting the issue go.
All these tactics send a clear message.
You're not getting distracted by their behaviour. And you're not going to let their distraction attempts derail what's important to you.
Keep it quiet
Probably three of the most overused phrases by a gaslighter are:
- "Calm down"
- "You're overreacting"
- "Why are you so sensitive?"
Most of the time, a gaslighter uses anything about your tone and behaviour to draw those conclusions. They use a raised voice or a welling of the eyes to imply you're upset. And thus overreacting.
Then they can trivialise these legitimate emotions with those lines. It means anything you're feeling is due to the fact you don't have a handle on your emotions.
And it has nothing to do with their actions.
What a joke.
Gaslighters are never prepared for you to gaslight their emotions. They can yell, scream, and cry all they want. But you can't.
To rattle a gaslighter, you can:
- Never raise your voice - Go quiet. Very quiet. Not upset quiet, but so calm, you're in a state of Nirvana. They hate that they can't rattle you. And it completely dismantles their attempts to tell you to calm down. How can you calm down when you're literally zen?
- Ask them to lower their voice - Even worse than giving zero reactions to them is telling them to reduce their demeanour. This flips the dramatics onto them; they are the ones being overly sensitive. The moment the shoe is on the other foot, they don't know what to do next.
- Tell them to calm down - It's the final nail in the coffin. Do it in your most calm voice. It will drive them nuts.
Remember who owes who
To blame someone else, more than likely blame you, is also common for gaslighters. Sometimes I find it comical to watch.
How much can a gaslighter really blame someone else? If you try and see some humour in it, it's like watching a soap opera. How far will they go?
But it's not so fun when you're the one being blamed. And they will do everything in their power to make sure you know everything is your fault.
If they cheated, it was because of you. If they hit you, it was because of what you said or did. If they said something awful, it was because you provoked them first.
Who does this remind you of? A child? When dealing with a gaslighter acting like a child, treat them like one. Consider:
- Stop talking about how you feel - Stick to the facts. Keep it to times, dates, and events. If you talk about it in a way that is subjective, a gaslighter will pounce.
- Teach them action and reaction - Like you would a child, teach them the basics of behaviour. When they do X, it results in Y. It can seem demeaning, but they do need a lesson in how it works.
- Tell them they owe you - And this issue isn't resolved until they've fixed it. If you take on any responsibility, they will pile it all onto you. Don't quit the issue until you have received what you're owed.
- Put them in time out until they've understood what they've done - Though you can't tell them to sit in the naughty corner, you can refuse to let them sleep in your bed, or in your home. You can put physical boundaries around your relationship.
How to deal with gaslighters forever
Some may look at this list and see this as gaslighting the gaslighter. In some ways you are. Whilst I don't advocate tit for tat, gaslighters don't respond to rationality, reason or logic.
They deal in emotional manipulation. The only way to get through to them is to speak their language.
When we go through this list and put into action everything to combat a gaslighter, it is exhausting. You have to constantly remain on your toes, and psychologically analyse what they're doing, and how you're responding.
As much as it's exhausting living with a gaslighter in your life, it's as exhausting having to combat them.
At some point, gaslighters aren't worth keeping around. They become more tiresome than not, draining everything from you.
I wouldn't blame you if you decided it was time to cut your gaslighter loose. No one would.