Gaslighting Is Meant To Take Away Your Power

Introduction To Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that is done over an extended period of time which causes a person to question their own perception, thoughts, or memories. It can also lead to low self-esteem which causes dependency on the gaslighter. It’s considered to be manipulation, because it’s used as a way to control someone in a clever and often selfish way (It benefits the perpetrator and silences the target).

Please keep in mind that some gaslighting isn’t intentional (The person may want to avoid a conflict, for example). All of us have gaslit someone at some point without realizing it. It becomes a problem when it’s chronic and intentional. In most cases, the gaslighter knows they are manipulating their target. It’s usually done to form and maintain a codependent relationship with someone.

What Are Some Types Of Gaslighting That Can Occur?

#1 Countering – This is when someone makes you question your memory. Of course, everyone can be forgetful once in a while, but a gaslighter will attack your ability to recall information when you know what happened. The may say things like “You never remember things correctly” or “You have such a bad memory.”

#2 Withholding – This is when someone refuses to engage in conversation with a significant other or someone else important in their life. A person usually uses this technique if they don’t want to respond to another’s concerns or needs. For example, if someone asks their spouse why they have been late for dinner every night for the past week, the gaslighter will say “I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “You’re just trying to confuse me.”

#3 Trivializing – This happens when someone dismisses another’s feelings. They will accuse you of being too sensitive or they’ll tell you that you’re overreacting when your concerns are legitimate. In a healthy relationship, people will want to hear one another out and solve problems together.

#4 Denial – This is when someone pretends to forget events or how they occurred. They may deny having said or done something or they’ll accuse you of making something up when you both know it happened.

#5 Diverting – This is where a person will change the direction of a conversation to purposely avoid what another person said. For example, they may say “You never used to think like that before. Have you been taking drugs or something?” or “That’s just another crazy idea you got from your new friends.”

#6 Stereotyping – This is when someone uses a stereotype that does not apply to the person they’re dealing with. They can use it to attack their sexual orientation, gender, race, nationality, or age, etc. It’s a way to discredit the target’s credibility and/or knowledge.

#7 Reframing Reality – Have you ever noticed many abusers attack your strengths? If you’re likeable, they’ll try to make you feel unlikeable. If you’re calm and polite, they’ll accuse you of being childish and mean. If you’re smart or talented in a certain area, they’ll try to make you doubt your abilities. If you’re naturally confident in yourself, they’ll try to expose some insecurities or make you feel like you’re insecure.

Do you notice a trend?

A gaslighter will go out of their way to try to reframe reality for their targets so that the target loses their power. Don’t fall for it – they’re lying.

#8 Straight up lies – Abusers will often make up total lies to make them look more credible or “in the know” so that their target feels confused or questions their memory.

Gaslighting Starts Out Subtle

The tricky thing with gaslighting is that it often doesn’t happen right away. The abuser will charm their target for days, weeks, months (depending on how much time they think they’ll have with you) before starting to say one mean little thing here or a little lie there. At first you might think you misheard them or you wonder if you’re being a little too sensitive. It can be very subtle at first so you don’t see it coming when they up their game.

How Should We Deal With Gaslighting?

While a lot of gaslighting happens in relationships, it can happen in any social situation. Being gaslighted can destroy a person’s sense of self worth and make them forget their strengths and achievements. It can stop your personal growth.

Keeping calm and focusing on the truth is the best way to react to someone gaslighting you. You can set healthy boundaries with this person – observe how they react to your boundaries. You can also speak up about their gaslighting – if they insult you, ask them if they could refrain from speaking that way to you in the future. It lets them know you won’t stand for that behaviour. It’s also best to avoid arguing with manipulators as they will use the interactions as fodder for their negative image of you and to twist the situation in their favour.

While gaslighting isn’t against the law, it can often escalate to physical abuse, so it’s best to distance yourself from the perpetrator if they don’t stop. Focus on self-care and build connections with those who support you. While no friendship is perfect, you should never have to walk on eggshells or always feel defensive around someone you choose to spend time with. Seeking input and support from others outside of the gaslighting situation will reinforce that you are not “losing it” or incompetent.

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. If you find that you have trouble setting boundaries with manipulators or you often find yourself stuck in abusive relationships, it’s a good idea to speak with a therapist who can help you create healthier relationships moving forward.

I hope someone found this helpful. Even if there’s no one in your life who’s currently gaslighting you, it’s good to have this kind of information stored away in your memory should you need it later.



  1. Thank you for this post, Sara. For me, it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone and that many people experienced this type of toxic relationship, whether romantically or in the workplace.

  2. This was a lovely piece, great context and examples. Gaslighting usually comes from narcissist’s or people who are narcissistic, who lack a level of consciousness in our they treat you.

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