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How to Turn Tables on a Gaslighter

A friend asked me over dinner the other night, “Ryan, what are some ways to turn tables on a gaslighter? I feel like I have someone like that in my life, and it’s time to get it to stop. What should I do?” Okay, so I gave it some thought… And here is how to turn tables on a gaslighter that might be otherwise causing issues in your life.

Gaslighting is a word that you often see in social media these days. It’s a term that originated from a 1938 play where the husband manipulates his wife into thinking she has a mental problem.

It’s a psychological form of abuse in which a person or group drives someone to question their sanity or perception. People who have faced this abuse may feel anxious, confused, or lose trust in themselves.

Have you encountered a gaslighter or weren’t aware of it until now? Read below as we help you identify one and how to tackle it.

How to Turn Tables on a Gaslighter: Identifying a Gaslighter

Gaslighting can happen in different settings and in a variety of ways. Here are some examples to understand and identify better:

  • Denial: It often involves a person blaming their behavior on others and refusing to take responsibility. They will pretend not to know or would firmly deny it.
  • Stereotyping: It’s one of the most common forms of gaslighting and often involve negative stereotypes. It would be of someone’s race, age, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity.
  • Diversion: Here, the person tries to divert the discussion or topic by questioning the credibility of the other person.
  • Countering: In this case, the gaslighter causes doubt in someone’s memory or perception. It may ask the person if they are sure about it or would immediately brush it off.
  • Belittling: Here, the person disregards someone’s feeling and accuse them of being sensitive or overreacting.
  • Suppression: This type of gaslighting is a situation where they don’t listen or understand someone’s conversation. It often leads the person to have self-doubt or question their credibility.

Seven Ways To Turn Tables On A Gaslighter

—How to turn tables on a gaslighter

Don’t give in to their brainwashing

Gaslighter often finds a way to manipulate your behaviors and thoughts. They will skillfully try to brainwash you into thinking you’re the problem. So, be on the watch and don’t believe immediately when they say you have an issue or are crazy. Take control of your mind and have the self-confidence to avoid this kind of gaslighting.

Setting boundaries

Setting boundaries is always advisable if you’re dealing with a toxic person or a gaslighter. Sometimes creating a healthy boundary or conditions towards a manipulative person keep your mind at ease and free from psychological abuse. So, if your friend or partner is the kind of person that belittles you or makes you self-doubt, set a conditional statement or a boundary.

See also: How to set boundaries

Minimal interaction

Sometimes it’s best for your mental health to stay away from a manipulative person or have minimum interaction. If the person always tries to demean or confuse you, have less conversation or try to avoid them. Don’t give them attention, and be less responsive. It will only irk them while you are at peace.

Expert advice: Being in a narcissistic relationship can be very damaging. You may start to lose respect for others. Or certain behaviors of others that the narcissistic personality doesn’t value. Typically, the narcissistic personality will only appreciate those who serve them, not a mutually beneficial relationship.

Prevent the gaslighter from changing the conversation

Gaslighter often loves changing topics if they don’t understand or try to create their narrative. If there is a debate or conversation that you know you are confident about, prevent them from straying or diversion from the topic. Be adamant and stick to the conversation regardless of what they say. Held them accountable if you are confident that you’re in the right.

Debunking their lies

Another effective way to tackle a gaslighter would be debunking their lies. Since they like to make up stories or trick you into thinking you are crazy, reason them with facts. That way, they won’t be able to retort or create another lie. You can also take a diplomatic approach to their telltale to tackle them.

Expert advice: According to a study by Nicholas J.S. Day, Michelle L. Townsend, and Brin F. S. Grenyer—screened participants described those with narcissistic personalities as having “grandiosity.” Or “having a requirement for admiration, showing arrogance, entitlement, envy, exploitativeness, grandiose fantasy, a lack of empathy, and self-importance.”

Putting an end to a relationship

Sometimes parting can be difficult, especially if it is a closed one. However, if this person’s manipulative way affects you mentally or has an adverse impact on your life, it’s better to end the relationship. It may be difficult, but following this route seems more effective for your mental and emotional state.

See also: What happens when an empath leaves a narcissist?

Don’t pay heed to their tactics

Narcissism and gaslighting often go hand in hand. A gaslighter loves attention just like a narcissist and would do anything to gain attention, even if it means demeaning the other person. Don’t pay heed or give attention if you know someone with this quality. Keeping a distance or giving less attention will irritate them due to a lack of response from your end. No matter how much they provoke you, keep your head cool and don’t fall into their tactics.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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