Gaslighting: What Is It and How to Cope with It?

Gaslighting: What Is It and How to Cope with It?

If someone is gaslighting you and it is giving you stress and anxiety, seek therapy near me.

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic that involves a person, often in a position of power or authority, systematically undermining the reality and perception of another individual. This term originated from a 1944 film titled “Gaslight,” in which a husband manipulates his wife into doubting her own sanity by dimming the gaslights and denying any changes.

Gaslighting can occur in various forms, such as denial, trivialization, projection, and distortion of facts, and it aims to make the victim question their thoughts, emotions, and memories. This insidious form of emotional oppression can have profound and lasting effects on the victim’s mental well-being, self-esteem, and overall sense of reality. Understanding gaslighting is crucial to recognizing and addressing this harmful behavior in personal relationships, workplaces, or other social contexts.

Examples of Gaslighting

Denying the obvious

The gaslighter may deny events that have happened, making the victim question their own memory. For example, if a partner is caught cheating and denies it vehemently, the victim may start to doubt what they saw or heard.

Trivializing feelings

Gaslighters often belittle their victims’ emotions, telling them they’re too sensitive or overreacting. For instance, if a friend constantly puts you down, but when you express hurt, they say, “You’re too sensitive. I was joking.”


Gaslighters project their own negative qualities onto their victims. They also accuse the victim of the very behaviors they themselves exhibit, causing confusion and self-doubt. For example, a boss who is consistently late for meetings might accuse an employee of being unreliable.

Withholding information

Gaslighters often withhold important information or use selective memory to manipulate the victim. They may say they never agreed to something they did or claim they forgot to inform the victim about an event or decision.


Gaslighters may work to isolate their victims from friends and family, making it harder for them to seek support or validation from others. In effect, this isolation intensifies the victim’s dependence on the gaslighter.

Shifting blame

Gaslighters excel at deflecting responsibility for their actions and making the victim feel guilty. For instance, if a child confronts their parent about neglect, the parent might respond, “You’re ungrateful. I’ve sacrificed so much for you.”

Using confusion and contradiction

Gaslighters employ contradictory statements and mixed messages, eventually baffling the victim and incapable of discerning the truth.

Negative Impact on Mental Health 

There are helpful strategies to deal with gaslighting.

Gaslighting, a form of emotional manipulation and psychological maltreatment, can have a profound and lasting impact on an individual’s mental health and well-being. Additionally, this insidious tactic involves the deliberate distortion of reality and the undermining of a person’s perception, emotions, and thoughts. This can often lead to a cascade of negative consequences for the victim. 

Doubt and Confusion

Gaslighting leads to a pervasive sense of self-doubt and confusion. Victims may start questioning their own judgment, memory, and perceptions, eroding their self-esteem and self-trust.

Anxiety and Depression

The constant manipulation and emotional turmoil caused by gaslighting can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression. Thus, the victims may experience persistent worry, fear, and sadness.

Isolation and Alienation

As gaslighters often isolate their victims from their support networks, feelings of loneliness and alienation can take hold. This can exacerbate the victim’s mental health struggles.

Loss of Self

Gaslighting can lead to an erosion of one’s sense of self. Victims may feel like they’ve lost touch with who they are and what they believe as they are constantly told what to think and feel.

Physical Symptoms

The chronic stress and emotional turmoil associated with gaslighting can manifest as physical symptoms, including headaches, digestive issues, and sleep disturbances.

Diminished Self-Esteem

Constant criticism and manipulation can cause a significant decrease in self-esteem, making it difficult for the victim to assert themselves or make decisions.

Emotional Numbness

Some victims of gaslighting may become emotionally numb as a defense mechanism. They disconnect from their emotions to cope with the constant psychological turmoil.

Strategies to Cope with Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that can leave individuals feeling confused, powerless, and doubting their own reality. It involves the deliberate distortion of facts, reality, or events by a person in an attempt to gain control or undermine someone’s confidence. Coping with gaslighting can be challenging, but there are effective strategies to help regain your sense of self and protect your mental well-being. 

Here are eight strategies to consider:

Recognize the Signs

The first step in coping with gaslighting is recognizing when it’s happening. Be aware of subtle attempts to distort the truth, dismiss your feelings, or create doubt. Trust your instincts and acknowledge the manipulation.

Document Incidents

Then, record gaslighting incidents, including dates, times, locations, and what was said or done. Concrete evidence can help validate your experiences and make it more difficult for the gaslighter to deny their actions. 

Seek Support

Share your experiences with trusted friends, family members, or a therapist. Talking to someone who understands can provide validation and emotional support, helping you maintain your sense of reality.

Set Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries with the gaslighter. Let them know what behavior is unacceptable and what consequences may follow if they continue. Stick to these boundaries to protect your well-being.

Practice Self-Care

Moreover, prioritize self-care activities that nurture your mental and emotional health. This can include meditation, exercise, journaling, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Self-care builds resilience against gaslighting’s emotional toll.

Educate Yourself

Learn about gaslighting and manipulation tactics. Understanding the psychology behind these behaviors can empower you to identify and counteract them effectively.

Maintain Independence

Gaslighters often seek to control their victims. Preserve your independence and decision-making abilities. Trust your judgment, and don’t allow anyone to dictate your choices.

Consider Professional Help

If gaslighting persists and significantly impacts your well-being, consider seeking professional help. Therapists and counselors can offer strategies to cope with gaslighting and work through the emotional aftermath.

If you are looking for therapy or counseling sessions to cope with gaslighting at home or your workplace, visit Mindshift Psychological Services. Contact them on their website or at (714) 584-9700 to schedule an appointment.