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How To Turn The Tables On A Gaslighter: 12 Strategies That Work

Have you ever had a person who made you question your reality? Do they make you feel as though your thought processes aren’t logical and don’t make sense?

It could be a boss, coworker, partner, or family member. I’ve been there before, I know how uncomfortable it can be, and I know what it is like to question your reality.

So how do you turn the tables on a gaslighter and win the war for your sanity?

We’ll explore some strategies you can implement. But first, let’s go over what gaslighting actually is.

What is Gaslighting?

So, what exactly is gaslighting? According to the Cleveland Clinic, gaslighting is a form of mental manipulation and emotional abuse. It’s when a person makes you question reality and think that you are wrong when, in reality, your opinions and memories are correct.

It’s like a frog in a slowly heating pot. The frog may not know the temperature is rising until it’s too late and the pot is already boiling. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of gaslighting and work on strategies to break free of the situation.

Why Do People Gaslight?

There are countless reasons why someone might gaslight someone else, but a few reasons include:

  • A Need for Control: Gaslighters often feel the need to control others, and they do this by manipulating someone’s version of reality to their benefit. Gaslighters can gain control over someone else’s thoughts and actions.
  • Insecurity: Some gaslighters are deeply insecure and gaslight to feel better about themselves. 
  • Avoiding Accountability: Gaslighters often want to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. If they can make you hesitate or feel insecure, they can use this manipulation to blame you instead.
  • Maintaining a False Image: Gaslighters want to feel good about themselves. If they can make you feel bad about yourself, they can prop themselves up as “good” and maintain a false image or narrative about themselves.

Remember, gaslighting is never a reflection of your worth or your sanity. It’s a reflection of the gaslighter’s insecurities and manipulative personality.

A woman crosses her hands in a "no" gesture signaling that she is saying no to her gaslighter
How to turn the tables on a gaslighter

What Gaslighting Does To You

Gaslighting can cause major harm to your mental and emotional health. A few impacts gaslighting could have on you include:

  • Induces Anxiety: Gaslighting can create constant doubt and uncertainty, leading to various types of anxiety.
  • Triggers Depression: When you constantly feel your version of events is wrong, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair, leading to depression.
  • May Cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Repeated gaslighting can be traumatic, and it could even cause PTSD. That’s because gaslighting erodes a person’s sense of self. It leads to intense confusion and feeling constantly on high alert. The psychological stress of this can lead to PTSD.
  • Harms Self-Esteem: You may find yourself questioning your judgment, memory, and reality, which can seriously harm your self-esteem because you can’t figure out what is real and what’s not.
  • Leads To Isolation: Gaslighters often isolate their victims from friends and family. Because you always doubt yourself, others may not trust you, which can destroy your relationships with your family members and friends.

If you feel yourself developing any of the issues above, remember to ask for help. You never have to go through this situation alone.

How To Tell Someone Is Gaslighting You

Just like gaslighting’s effects can vary from person to person, gaslighting itself comes in many forms. A few signs that someone may be gaslighting you include:

  • You constantly second-guess yourself.
  • You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
  • You feel confused and wonder if you are going “crazy.”
  • You constantly say “I’m sorry”, even when you don’t know why or when things aren’t your fault.
  • You can’t understand why you’re unhappy, why you cry randomly, or why you can’t control your emotions.

Because gaslighting can be so harmful, what should you do if someone is gaslighting you? Fortunately, you have multiple strategies at your disposal. 

How to Turn The Tables on a Gaslighter

Are you eager to turn the tables on a gaslighter? Here are a few tactics you can implement.  

1. Assert Yourself

Does your partner belittle your feelings or tell you your opinions don’t matter? The first step is to stand your ground.

Your reality matters. It’s valid. Standing firm will let your gaslighter know you’re no longer participating in the games.

For example, if your partner continuously says that you misremember events or that you are being emotional, tell your partner that you trust your version of events and you trust yourself. 

Then, leave the conversation.

Will they push back and double down on making you doubt yourself?


But that is a major sign that you’re on the right track. As hard as it might be (because our feelings are all twisted up in these relationships), hold firm. It’s the only way to expose their gaslighting and end the cycle of behavior.

2. Set Boundaries

Boundaries are important for everyone, especially when dealing with someone who gaslights. Clearly communicate them to your partner. State what you will and will not accept. Gaslighters will try to strip your autonomy from you by pushing your boundaries constantly.

For example, if you tell a coworker you need some uninterrupted time to complete a project, and they continue to DM you on Slack or try to distract you anyways, they’re not respecting your boundaries.

Call them out. If they act defensive and say things like, “I’m not bothering you! You don’t have to respond to my messages,” call out that behavior, too.

Say, “I told you I can’t be disturbed right now. I need you to respect that.”

They may push back and try to engage in a back-and-forth with you, but so long as you stand firm in your boundaries, it’s a game they can’t win.

3. Use a Support System

Opening up about your experiences to a close friend or family member can help affirm that your feelings and experiences are real.

Their validation can help you find your way when a gaslighter manipulates you. They can also act as an anchor, helping you stand your ground.

For example, if your boss constantly undermines your contributions, ask your colleagues what they think about your contributions. Then, when they support you as a valued member of the team, you know you have people to back you up moving forward. 

A woman supports her friend who is being gaslighted
Lean on support networks to combat gaslighting

4. Ask for Clarification

Does your boss or partner constantly distort your words? Always ask for clarification.

Make sure you clearly understand what they’re saying. This is a great way to take the focus of the conversation and move it back to the person gaslighting you. This also makes it easier for you to hold that person accountable.

For example, if your boss always says, “You’re overreacting!” Try saying, “Oh? Can you tell me what reaction would have been appropriate? I want to understand your viewpoint.”

This response can quickly disarm your boss and put you in a stronger position, not only for this conversation but in the future as well.

5. Keep a Journal

Journaling is powerful because it is a concrete record of your experiences. Nobody can manipulate or change your journal. You can always refer back to it for clarification, and you can use it to support your version of events.

If you feel confused or disoriented, write down what happened in your journal.

This will help you process these events, and when you review these entries, look for patterns. Doing a retrospective examination of your gaslighter’s behavior is a good way to see the situation more clearly.

That can be hard to do at the moment when emotions are involved. Tracking things in a journal helps with that.

6. Present Your Own Facts

Does your partner always tell you that you’re wrong? Counter this with evidence, including from your journal above. You could also use recordings, text messages, emails, and phone calls. This is tangible evidence that will back up your perspective.

If you feel like your partner always tries to rewrite history, use these records to back up your version of events. This is another quick way to disarm a gaslighter and stand your ground in a relationship.

Again, they won’t like this. They may call you names and make you try to believe that you’re living on a different planet from them. Stand firm.

You know what did and did not happen. Don’t let convince you otherwise.

A man confronts his gaslighting partner at a table
Stand firm in your reality against a gaslighter

7. Take Some Deep Breaths and Stay Grounded

Gaslighters love chaos because they can manipulate it easily. Don’t let this happen to you! They count on you to react emotionally at the moment. So make a concerted effort not to do that.

Take deep breaths, pause before responding, and focus on staying grounded.

This will give you space to respond calmly and objectively – two things gaslighters hate. It might take every fiber of your being to maintain calm and neutrality in the face of some truly irritating gaslighting antics, but that’s how this works.

It might not feel good at the moment, but eventually, you’ll see that by diffusing the energy of the moment, you’re robbing the gaslighter of their primary fuel.

8. Use Their Words Against Them

Gaslighters love to talk, and sometimes they can talk themselves into a corner.

A gaslighter has probably tried to hold you to unrealistic standards or called you “crazy,” but are they being hypocritical? They probably aren’t holding themselves to that same standard.

For example, if a gaslighter says, “We talked about this, don’t you remember?” You can pull out your phone, show them conversations that you have had about this in the past, and show the gaslighter that he or she is not doing what he or she promised. Try to use their words against them.

Will they react favorably to that? Nope. They’ll probably lash out. But that’s how you know it’s getting to them.

A word of caution – the goal shouldn’t be to beat the gaslighter at their own game. You don’t want to join them in their bad behavior. But you’re trying to establish that you’re no longer a target for them.

They may react poorly or even remove themselves from your life, but that’s okay. Your sanity and integrity are what matter.

9. Reality-Check With Others

An external perspective from a friend or family member can help validate your experiences. View them as reinforcements or backups that you can call upon to protect your reality. 

This is a really good case for getting counseling. Therapists are trained to give you an objective perspective and help you navigate these situations effectively.

10. Work on Yourself

Proactively working on yourself and maintaining your sense of self-worth, which gaslighting attempts to undermine, is important. Does your partner or friend try to strip you of your confidence and self-esteem?

By actively working on your mental health and refuting negative thought patterns, you’re building a natural shield against emotional manipulation like gaslighting.

Getting counseling and surrounding yourself with supportive friends and loved ones can also help. The more you focus on your happiness and well-being, the less susceptible you will be to an outside attack on both.

11. Disengage From Arguments

Gaslighters often draw you into circular arguments, which can be emotionally draining. Don’t let them! Remove yourself from these fights to protect your energy and mental clarity!

If a gaslighter tries to bait you into an argument, do not fall for it. Instead, be firm, say something like, “I can see we’re not going to agree on this,” and leave the conversation. Getting into a fight where the other person lies and twists reality is never worth your energy.

Plus, you can’t “win.” So don’t give them the satisfaction of trying.

12. Plan for a Safe Exit

Your health and safety matter. If you feel your relationship with the gaslighter will never change, you should leave. Develop a plan for a safe exit, and make sure you have the necessary resources and support.

If you’re dealing with a manipulative spouse, for example, this might look like s saving money, securing housing, talking to your support network, and seeking advice from a legal professional.

In the case of professional situations, start looking for another job and updating your resume and/or work portfolio.

You Don’t Have To Tolerate Gaslighting

Nobody is entitled to your time and energy. And while some situations are harder to escape, there’s a solution that can work for you.

Reach out for help from loved ones and professionals and take the first steps towards breaking free of your gaslighter.

In a perfect world, we’d be able to turn the tables on our gaslighters and achieve some cinematic, moral victory over them that makes them cower in shame and change their ways forever.

But it’s not a perfect world.

You aren’t the first person they’ve gaslighted, and you won’t likely be the last. What you can do is advocate for yourself and choose the life you want to lead.

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