Don’t know how to deal with gaslighting from that toxic person yet again?
Do you stress that all that hard work and rehearsing will only leave you feeling speechless when the time comes? Or worse—reacting in a way that’s nearly as toxic?
That’s why I want to give you the steps to knowing exactly what to say when someone blatantly lies to your face. They can help you keep your peace and walk away from that interaction feeling rather pleased with yourself.
One caveat: This is not a one-size-fits-all script. However, the steps you’re about to learn can be applied to whatever the gaslighter throws at you. Also, this isn’t just a ‘say this, not that’ type of article. We’re going to dive deep. Because I’m concerned more about your mental, emotional, and spiritual health, than I am about just giving you a predetermined script.
Gaslighting is a common form of manipulation that occurs when one person tries to control and deceive another. This form of ‘witchcraft’ can take place in any relationship—parent, partner, pastor, coworker, or friend. It can even be your hairstylist who tells you you’re seeing things, or your doctor who dismisses your symptoms.
Whoever is doing it, gaslighting can be incredibly distressing as its intent is to cause you to question your own reality.
Many people who realize they are being gaslit often jump to unsustainable solutions like crumbling under victimhood or calling the other person out. And that’s not always wrong. (Well, the victimhood is.) But calling someone out is maybe not the best strategy. And the reason why is simple.
Knowing what to say to each and every scenario a gaslighter throws at you can be daunting. It can feel almost impossible to know how to respond in those moments and not spend the next three days beating yourself up over what you shoulda, coulda, and woulda said.
Knowing what to say and how to say is like expecting to start climbing a ladder on the fourth step, without taking steps 1, 2 and 3. Unless you’re a cat or a ninja, you’re likely to struggle to jump all the way up there. And that could be a big reason why you get flustered when the narcissist hurls another invalidating insult your way. It’s difficult to ask yourself to do something you aren’t fully prepared and trained to do.
The steps that we’re about to take are going to build a confidence ladder that will help you make your way to the top without tripping over your own two feet.
How to deal with gaslighting
Step 1: Determine whether it’s truly gaslighting.
The term gaslighting has become so over used and abused. The truth is, not every denial and difference of opinion is gaslighting. Not everyone that calls you out is gaslighting you.
But if you’re on high alert for being gaslit, you can see flames where there are none. Sometimes you’re simply dealing with an emotionally immature person who needs to learn how to better finesse their words.
Granted neither one is easy to deal with, however, it does determine how you respond.
Step #2: Identify your triggers
Yes, we’re starting with you, not them. Why? Identifying YOUR triggers helps you get to the core of the issue. I know I know…the gaslighter is the problem, but in case you haven’t noticed, they’re not changing.
What can change is YOU! And the truth is, there’s truth behind their lies and that’s why it’s hitting you so hard.
If Timmy the bag boy at the grocery store said, I never said I’d bag your groceries, you’re crazy! You wouldn’t spend the next three days stewing in frustration.
You’d recognize that Timmy’s got some issues. Maybe you’d pray for him. And then you’d go home and enjoy your butter pecan ice cream.
That’s because you have no pressing need to see Timmy change. You don’t need love, validation, companionship or support from Timmy the bag boy. (At least, I hope you don’t.)
Your gaslighter, on the other hand, holds the key to something you need. And it’s your job to determine what that something is. Until you figure it out so that you can get that need met through more godly means, there’s no script comprehensive enough to give you the right words to say, because your need will override it.
Step #3: Know the truth
What if I told you that it was your job to prove to Satan that he’s evil. You’d look at me strangely, for sure.
Just like it’s not your job to prove to Satan that he’s a liar, it’s also not your job to prove to the gaslighter that you’re onto him or prove that what she’s doing is wrong.
You can rest in the truth for yourself. But you have to know the truth be able to rest in it.
If you’re confused about whether what they’re saying is truth or lie, there’s two places I want you to go.
- God’s word
- Wise counsel
If you’re being told something contrary to scripture, then you can reject it as a lie and embrace God’s truth.
If you’ve been gaslit for so long that you don’t know what’s lie and what’s truth, be sure to get with a good counselor. This can be a trusted friend, pastor, mentor, or licensed professional. Whatever you do, make sure they are grounded in God’s truth.
If you need help, we’ve connected with Faithful Counseling to provide a counselor that is right for you.
It’s hard enough to reject the lie and embrace the truth, but it’s near impossible when you don’t know what the truth is. Find truth.
Step #4: Speak the truth (in love)
When you’re confident in who you are and whose you are (and remember, this comes from knowing the truth) THEN you can respond from a place of peace and confidence.
You’ll kiss those days of over-explaining, justifying, calling out, or wasting your precious energy or defending yourself goodbye.
NOW you’re in a position to respond to those comments designed to deceive you, because you know the truth and you aren’t relying on this person for your emotional well-being.
So let’s take a moment and talk about some common gaslighting phrases and how to respond in a calm, controlled, Christ-like manner.
Defensiveness is a common reaction to a gaslighter’s accusations.
When they say things like:
You’re the problem
Instead of saying:
No I’m not
Why are you saying that?
You could say:
I’m not interested in debating that with you.
My experience says otherwise, are you interested in talking about it?”
It seems like you’re bent on blaming me. I’d be happy to discuss this with you when you’re willing to have a mutual dialogue ”
Gaslighters have a nasty habit of talking circles around you and changing the subject to avoid the topic at hand. They can’t stay on topic because they don’t have any interest in finding resolve, so they will change the subject to distract or dominate you.
Instead of chasing the rabbit trail, you could simply say:
I’d be happy to discuss those other issues at a future time, but it’s important for me to stay on subject, so we can find a resolution? You do want to find a resolution, don’t you?”
Many gaslighters will claim that they forgot or that they never even said something. It can drive you insane, as you can’t possibly imagine how they don’t remember such an important topic. But instead of employing your elephant-like memory, recognize that they didn’t actually forget. Stop spending your time trying to ‘jog’ their memory, as it will prove to be fruitless.
You could say:
Yeah, we all forget things sometimes, are you willing to (state your request)?
It seems that you often forget things that don’t work in your favor. Is this intentional?
Some well-meaning people will gaslight you unintentionally by saying things like, Oh, come on she’s your mother, just forgive her. I’m sure she loves you.
Minimizing can be a form of gaslighting.
They think they’re being positive or encouraging you, but they’re actually minimizing your feelings and experience.
Instead of getting frustrated or trying to prove to them that you’re justified in being hurt, you could simply respond (depending on the closeness of the relationship) and say something like:
I was hoping for some emotional support from you. I do understand that your experience may have been different with (toxic person) but that doesn’t negate my negative experience.
If you’re not able to walk with me through this, I understand.
Or you can challenge the person by saying
How can you be so sure if you haven’t experienced it?
It can be challenging to know just what to say when someone gaslights you.
So, when in doubt, ask questions. Just avoid questions that begin with ‘why.’
Instead, ask questions that start with ‘what’ and ‘when.’
What do you hope is going to come out of saying such a hurtful thing?
When are you available to circle back and talk about this?
Would you be open to discussing this or is your intent just to dominate the conversation?
When dealing with a gaslighter, remember it’s best to be direct and detached instead of desperate and defensive. Your goal is not to change them—leave that to God.
Your goal is to not get sucked into the toxic dynamic they create. Discover effective strategies and techniques on how to deal with gaslighting.
Need biblical proof that God considers gaslighting emotional abuses? Check out this episode here.
Be sure to grab your FREE Toxic People Survival Guide to help you identify and deal with all the difficult people in your life.