* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.
Gaslighting is considered a manipulation technique, which implies a great deal of calculation on the culprit’s part, and sure enough, they will know that they’re behaving deceitfully. Still, it’s important to understand that the malicious intent is underpinned by impulse. Keep reading to learn how to stop gaslighting others.
Underlying aspects of the gaslighter’s personality are driving them towards this form of interaction, evidenced by the fact that even those who wish to stop engaging in gaslighting may find it hard to do so.
Often you can think of it as a nasty habit.
The good news is that habits can be broken — Understanding that you are harming someone in your life and feeling the desire to change is the first step to preventing this abuse from happening again.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a persistent form of deception through which one person undermines another’s the perception of reality, often to the point that the victim believes there is something wrong with them in contrast to the “healthy” abuser.
Through the use of various harmful techniques including lying, blame-shifting, shaming, discrediting, and dismissing, the culprit becomes the architect of the victim’s reality.
Why Are You Gaslighting Others?
A common misconception is that gaslighting is always an offensive manipulation technique, as it absolutely feels that way to victims of abuse, and it can be.
But suppose the culprit is aware they need to stop and can’t. In that case, it often indicates that gaslighting is being employed as a defensive exercise that just so happens to inflict massive collateral damage on the receiving party.
As such, to figure out why people gaslight others, and how you can stop doing so, we have to shine a light on the personality of the abuser.
It’s all about taking a good, hard look at yourself, figuring out where this behavior stems, and making a conscious effort to leave it in the past.
A Means Of Control
The ultimate goal of gaslighting is to assume control over an individual by breaking down their own sense of reality and implanting your own, but why would somebody want to have such power over another?
It might begin quite small, such as an unwillingness to accept blame for something inane.
To many, acknowledging fault, no matter how trivial, can feel like they’re losing control, and so they employ deceitful tactics to convince the victim otherwise to place themselves back in the driver’s seat.
This inability to be wrong, accept blame, or let go of control is also a telltale sign of a narcissistic personality.
Persistent lying – a cardinal pillar of gaslighting – is another dead giveaway that someone’s sense of self-importance is eclipsing their ability to form healthy relationships.
Someone with a narcissistic personality may develop into a pathological liar for two reasons.
Most commonly, they’re trying to veil their flaws to project an infallible version of themselves into the mind of others. Another is that they’re seeking admiration and praise.
There is often a significant overlap between these reasons.
When this personality type (of which there are many shades) is caught in a lie, with the opposition providing evidence that proves their dishonesty, they’re trapped between two contradictory absolutes… their view of themself and the reality presented by the other.
In this instance, something’s got to give — They either accept their flawed personality or rail against the reality of the accuser.
Now, to most, accepting a flaw is the obvious choice, but when everything about you is designed to guard an inflated self-image, your knee-jerk reaction will be to tear down reality itself, and this is done by making the accuser doubt their own perception.
How Can You Stop Gaslighting Once You’re Aware You’re Doing It?
If you want to eliminate gaslighting as your gut reaction, you need to address the aspects of your personality that fuel it.
I’d highly recommend seeking professional help, but there are also certain things I can suggest to start the healing process.
Letting Go Of Control
It may help you to practice forfeiting control. Start small; offer others control over an unimportant aspect of your day-to-day life.
This could be what movies you watch in the evening, what food and drink you stock in your fridge, etc.
Steadily relinquish more and more control until it no longer bothers you to let certain things go.
Pair this with mindfulness and meditation to help ease you into these changes, and your world outlook will eventually start to change for the good.
Killing The Ego
In order to truly accept that you don’t need control over everything, you need to concede that you’re simply not suitable to control everything… Nobody is.
It’s your ego driving these thoughts of self-importance, and the binary opposition of your own ascent is the descent of those around you.
It’s time to start thinking of yourself and everyone else as equals.
Stop Answering Questions With Questions
Deflection is another way you may have been dismissing somebody’s reality.
This is done by changing the subject when your sense of self feels targeted, often by parrying a question by posing your own.
Instead, try your hardest to engage with the question.
Once you’ve worked through it, you can pose your own related question if you feel the need to.
Don’t Talk About People Behind Their Back & Don’t Put Words In Peoples’ Mouths
Lying about the victim of your gaslighting to others in their life in order to morph their view of the victim is another key behavior to avoid.
Give yourself a rule of only speaking positively about people around others, and if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
You may also lie to your target about how others in their life see them to make them feel ganged up on and to put more pressure on their crumbling sense of reality. Stop doing this immediately!
Even those with good intentions can accidentally dismiss the feelings of others, so it can be tricky to avoid.
The key is to think out your responses very carefully.
Whether you agree or disagree with what is being said, reassure the person that you understand and respect their feelings.
It’s not going to be easy to train behaviors associated with gaslighting out of your personality.
It’s going to take time, hard work, honest self-reflection, empathy, and probably a lot of shame as you come to terms with your abusive behavior.
However, you can do it. The fact that you’re reading this article is proof of your willingness to heal, not just those you’ve harmed, but yourself.
Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)
988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640.Both services available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org
Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish
Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)
Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228
Planned Parenthood Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255
LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)
The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)
The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net
International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com
The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.
‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories
- Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists
- GoodTherapy.org: http://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: https://aamft.org/Directories/Find_a_Therapist.asp
- Emergency: 911
- Hotline: 1-888-353-2273
- YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/
UK & Republic of Ireland
- Emergency: 112 or 999
- Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
- Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
- Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
- Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
- YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/