Has anyone ever made you doubt your perception of reality? And I don’t mean in a healthy way. I’m talking about someone telling you you’re crazy and twisting the truth. This is gaslighting.
The best way to deal with a gaslighter is to keep calm while standing your ground so you can stop feeling manipulated. When you turn the tables on a gaslighter, you reaffirm your self-worth and stop giving your energy to people who don’t deserve it.
This article is going to teach you exactly how you can turn the tables on a gaslighter. This will help you to regain a healthy sense of control in any relationship.
What is gaslighting exactly?
When you hear the word gaslighting, you might be confused by what it means. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Even though the term gaslighting was originally coined in 1938 based on a British play, it only became popular in the 2010s.
But by definition, gaslighting refers to someone who manipulates someone else into thinking their sense of reality is wrong in order to exert control. It often occurs in abusive relationships.
To make things simple, if someone calls you crazy in a relationship, odds are they are gaslighting you.
Researchers argue that gaslighting is in part dependent on social standards. They claim that gender roles and cultural values can influence gaslighting in a given population.
To me this makes good sense. Let’s take a look at an example to make it clear.
In America, males are often portrayed as the more “sensible” and dominant personality in a relationship. While women are often made out to be emotionally volatile and unstable in relationships. Consequently, it’s easy for men to use gaslighting to their advantage in this culture.
I’m not saying men are always the gaslighter. But you can see how cultural and gender standards could influence the occurrence of gaslighting.
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What happens if you give into a gaslighter
So why do we care about turning the tables on a gaslighter? Well, the primary reason is your mental health and well-being if you are the victim.
Research shows that gaslighting can cause significant anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem for the victim. Doesn’t sound like a good time, does it?
I know from an objective standpoint it seems easy to say you would never tolerate a gaslighter. But as someone who did tolerate a gaslighter, I can appreciate that it’s not that simple.
I was in a relationship in my early college years where I was a victim of gaslighting. My boyfriend at the time would call me crazy when I would confront him about how he ignored me when other girls were around.
And when I asked him why he would ignore my calls or forget my birthday, he said I was just being overly emotional.
Looking back, these are all obvious red flags. But then there would be times where he would spoil me with gifts or tell me how much he loved me.
So in my head, those moments were enough to hold onto when things were not so good. Eventually, I got the hint that I wasn’t crazy and that he was indeed cheating.
But it was easier to say to myself that maybe he was right, maybe I am crazy. And it definitely wreaked havoc on my self-esteem.
You don’t have to let someone gaslight you though. And for the sake of your well-being, I’d recommend turning the tables on a gaslighter.
5 ways to turn the tables on a gaslighter
If you’re ready to take back control of your sense of reality, then we’ve got you covered.
These 5 tips will help you tactfully turn the tables on a gaslighter.
1. Don’t get worked up
This is harder than it sounds. Trust me, I know firsthand.
But the gaslighter wants you to get worked up. If you allow yourself to get worked up in the moment, it gives them more ammo for why they think you’re “crazy”.
If you can keep yourself calm, this is the best foundation for turning the tables on a gaslighter.
Because your lack of reaction proves that you are in control and can see things without getting emotional reactive.
When I’m doing this, I will intentionally force myself to slow down my breathing. By doing this, I’m physiologically putting myself into a state of calm.
And if I do lose my cool, I try to step away for a minute to regain my composure. But try your darndest to not get worked up because this will help you navigate the conversation better.
If you're finding this really hard, here are more tips on how to keep your cool.
2. State your truth clearly with evidence
It’s important to know your truth forwards and backwards. And better yet, have hard evidence to back up your viewpoint.
The gaslighter wants you to question your sense of how events unfolded. And if you’re not prepared for this, it’s easy to get pushed over.
Remember that ex-boyfriend of mine? There was one time he told me the reason he was ignoring me was because he was spending time with his mom.
He told me I was absolutely crazy for assuming he was out with another girl. But unfortunately for him, I was good friends with his best friend.
His best friend unknowingly confirmed the time frame of when he and his friend were out. And he confirmed they were with a group of girls from a specific sorority.
I had the text evidence to show him he was lying. He still tried to deny it. But he started to fumble over his words.
Because I had my evidence and knew my truth, he couldn’t walk all over me.
Know your version of events and have hard evidence if necessary.
A good bonus tip to improve on this aspect is to start journaling. Journaling helps you keep the facts straight, and it is linked to a better memory!
3. Listen to their side
Gaslighters are generally expecting a good fight. In fact, they often want it.
So if you listen to their side instead of immediately fighting this will stop feeding their flame.
It will be tempting to want to interrupt and correct their false insights. But fight the urge and listen.
You can even be empathetic to their emotions when appropriate. But this doesn’t mean that you give in and say your perceptions are wrong.
Listening to their side simply opens the door for a potentially respectful and productive conversation.
If after listening to their side, they are willing to listen to yours then that’s a good sign. And it may mean in spite of their past gaslighting behavior they are willing to change.
4. Don’t allow for a change in topic
This one is a biggie. Gaslighters will often try to change the topic when you start making sense.
Let’s go back to my ex-boyfriend situation. Remember I had the proof regarding him lying to me and hanging out with another girl.
Once he saw that I had the proof and still denied it by calling me crazy, he then wanted a subject change. He started talking about planning our spring break trip.
As though that was the appropriate time to transition to that topic. Come on, dude.
But it was his way of trying to switch the subject because he realized he could no longer control my perception. And instead he wanted to switch to “lovey-dovey” mode since he wasn’t going to win.
If someone tries to change the subject when you’re pointing out your evidence, don’t let them. You both need to follow through with the whole conversation in order to come to a productive conclusion.
5. Respectfully walk away if needed
Sometimes you have to realize when enough is enough. You can’t always reason with someone who is a gaslighter.
And it’s tempting to want to get them to see your side. But the truth is they may never see your side. That’s your sign that it’s time to walk away.
Not to bring him up yet again, but this was my ex-boyfriend. He never acknowledged that my perception of the events was the truth.
And because of that and his harmful behavior, I ended up breaking up with him.
I never really got “closure” in that relationship. Because it was one of my early relationships, this was hard for me.
But I did learn a valuable lesson that you can’t get someone who is gaslighting you to see your side if they don’t want to. So be strong enough to walk away to take care of yourself if needed.
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You don’t have to be a victim of a gaslighter. At any moment, you can flip the switch and take back control of your mental health. The tips from this article will help you turn the table on a gaslighter so you can feel empowered again. And with that experience, you’ll know how to seek out healthy relationships that build you up instead of tearing you down.
Have you ever been gaslighted? Do you have any other tips on how to deal with a gaslighter?