Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that can be incredibly harmful, especially for highly sensitive people. It can be a confusing and frustrating experience, leaving you feeling like you’re losing your sense of reality. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what gaslighting is and the impact it can have on highly sensitive people. We’ll also offer practical steps and communication tips on how to deal with a gaslighter.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where someone manipulates another person into doubting their own sanity, memory, or perception of reality. This can happen in many different relationships, including romantic relationships, friendships, and even in the workplace. The gaslighter may make you feel like you’re overreacting or that your feelings and emotions are invalid.

Gaslighters tend to have a narcissistic personality and a desire for control. They often have a need to be right and will go to great lengths to maintain their power over others. Gaslighters tend to play the victim, making you feel guilty for things that are not your fault. They may twist your words, deny things they’ve said or done, and blame you for their actions. Gaslighters also tend to have a charismatic and charming demeanor, making it difficult to see through their manipulative tactics. They may use flattery or grandiose claims to make themselves appear more credible and trustworthy however once you get to know them their true colours emerge. It’s important to remember that gaslighters are skilled at manipulating others and will often use their victimhood to gain sympathy and control.

The Impact of Gaslighting on Highly Sensitive People

Gaslighting can have a profound impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of highly sensitive people. As a highly sensitive person, you may also be more prone to internalizing the gaslighter’s behavior, resulting in feelings of guilt or shame. This can also lead to feelings of confusion, self-doubt, and a loss of self-confidence. The gaslighter may use their manipulation tactics to make you feel like you’re overreacting or that your feelings and emotions are invalid, leaving you with a sense of helplessness and isolation.

Gaslighting can also cause highly sensitive people to question their own perception of reality. Because HSPs are more aware of subtle changes in their environment and the emotions of others, they may find it challenging to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not. The gaslighter may try to convince you that your memories or experiences are inaccurate or false, making it difficult to trust your own thoughts and feelings. As a result, you may start to doubt yourself and lose faith in your own intuition, leading to increased anxiety and a sense of disconnection from your true self.

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10 Examples of Gaslighting Behavior

  1. Denying something they previously said or did
  2. Dismissing your feelings as overreacting or irrational
  3. Making you feel like you’re the one to blame for their actions
  4. Telling lies or making up stories to confuse you
  5. Pretending to forget things that happened in the past
  6. Using your sensitive nature against you by making you feel like you’re too sensitive or emotional
  7. Isolating you from friends and family
  8. Telling you that you’re crazy or unstable
  9. Making you feel like you’re being too demanding or needy
  10. Making you doubt your memory or perception of events

Communication Tips for Dealing with a Gaslighter

When communicating with a gaslighter as a highly sensitive person, it’s important to set boundaries and protect your emotional wellbeing. One effective strategy is to remain calm and centered, focusing on your own thoughts and feelings rather than getting caught up in the gaslighter’s manipulations. It can also be helpful to avoid engaging in arguments or trying to convince the gaslighter of your perspective. Instead, try to calmly state your position and stick to it, even if the gaslighter tries to twist your words or make you doubt yourself. If necessary, you may need to distance yourself from the gaslighter and seek support from a trusted friend or counsellor. Remember, you have the right to protect your own mental and emotional health, and you don’t have to tolerate abusive behavior from anyone. Here are 10 tips to take into consideration when you have to communicate with someone who is a gaslighter.

  1. Stay calm and composed when communicating with the gaslighter
  2. Use “I” statements to express how you feel
  3. Stay focused on the facts and avoid getting caught up in their lies
  4. Don’t engage in arguments or try to prove your point
  5. Seek validation from outside sources, such as a trusted friend or counsellor
  6. Keep a journal or record of the gaslighter’s behavior to refer back to
  7. Set clear and direct boundaries and stick to them
  8. Avoid blaming or shaming the gaslighter – this will just make them defensive and fall into victim mode
  9. Take breaks when you need them to avoid becoming overwhelmed
  10. Prioritize your own mental and emotional wellbeing above trying to convince the gaslighter of the truth

It is Not Your Responsibility to Fix a Gaslighter

It’s important for highly sensitive people to remember that they are not responsible for fixing gaslighters, even if they may feel guilty or responsible for the gaslighter’s actions. It’s common for HSPs to feel like they need to fix things and make everything right due to their strong sense of empathy, but the truth is that gaslighters are responsible for their own behavior. HSPs must learn to let other people take responsibility for their own actions and not take on the burden of trying to change or fix someone else. In other words, HSPs must relinquish any need to control situation and fix the gaslighter, as this individual has their own journey to go on. Attempting to fix things for them only enables their behavior and hinders any progress towards personal growth. While it can be difficult to let go of the desire to help and fix things, it’s important for HSPs to prioritize their own mental and emotional well-being.

In addition to letting go of the responsibility to fix gaslighters, HSPs must also learn to set boundaries and prioritize their own needs in relationships. It’s important for HSPs to recognize when a relationship is toxic and not serving their well-being. Signs that it’s time to end a friendship or relationship with a gaslighter include feeling constantly drained or overwhelmed, feeling like you’re walking on eggshells around the person, and feeling like your sense of reality is constantly being questioned or invalidated. HSPs need to prioritize their own well-being and recognize when a relationship is no longer healthy or serving their needs.

Ending a Relationship with a Gaslighter

Ending a friendship or relationship with a gaslighter can be a difficult and painful decision, but it’s important to prioritize your own mental and emotional wellbeing. If you find that the gaslighter’s behavior is becoming more frequent or severe, it may be time to consider ending the relationship. Signs that it may be time to end things include feeling constantly irritated and exhausted after interacting with the person, feeling like your needs are always being dismissed or minimized, and feeling like you’re losing your mind. If you do decide to end the relationship, it’s important to do so in a way that is safe and respectful for both parties. When ending a friendship or relationship with a gaslighter, it’s important to prioritize your own safety and well-being. If possible, try to have a conversation with the gaslighter and explain why you need to end things. Be clear and firm in your boundaries, and avoid getting caught up in their attempts to manipulate or guilt-trip you into staying. Be clear and direct by stating clear boundaries, expressing your concerns, and being honest about your decision. It’s important to remember that ending a relationship with a gaslighter is not a reflection of your worth or value as a person, but rather a necessary step in protecting your own mental and emotional health. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Set clear boundaries and communicate your needs
  2. Seek support from trusted friends or family members
  3. Consider seeking counselling to help process your feelings
  4. Create a plan for ending the relationship, including cutting off contact if necessary
  5. Practice self-care and self-compassion during this process
  6. Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness

Dealing with a gaslighter can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience, especially for highly sensitive people. By recognizing the signs of gaslighting behavior, setting clear boundaries, and seeking support, HSPs can protect themselves from the harmful effects of gaslighting and cultivate a greater sense of self-confidence and self-awareness. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and no one has the right to manipulate your perception of reality. You are not alone, and the counsellors at Constellations Counselling in Vancouver, BC are ready to support you through this difficult experience.