If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, whether it was your husband or your mother or your co-worker, there’s one thing that they all have in common: the gaslighting attacks.
Gaslighting, of course, is the pervasive manipulation technique that toxic narcissists use to control the people around them and make them do as the narcissist wishes. It’s often about control, but it’s always about meeting some need or desire the narcissist has, not the well-being of anyone else.
What happens inside of a narcissistic gaslighting attack
The attacks start when you least expect them, and no matter how long you’re together, they’ll always surprise you just a little. They’re triggered by the smallest things.
You ask the wrong question, or you answer the phone with a brisk tone that he interprets as anger or annoyance toward him.
Maybe you just look at him the wrong way at the right time. Or maybe you prove him wrong. Or you see through his lies and have the nerve to call him out.
He tells you and everyone who will listen how he tries and tries and you’re just unreasonable. He says he’s the one being abused, even. He has no limits to the levels to which he will stoop to get what he wants.
And that is exactly why he then he uses your own words against you – the ones you expressed the last time you tried to defend yourself when he attacked you.
For example, if you told him that you feel like he doesn’t care about you because of the way he speaks to you during your last confrontation, he may use the same words to claim narcissistic injury during this one.
He repeats those words, almost verbatim, spitting them at you, projecting his own qualities on you – and making you wonder: is he right? Am I really the one at fault?
You are initially shocked to see how blatantly he twists the truth – and this shocked feeling may well continue each time these incidents occur, despite repeated similar incidents over the years.
And even when you’re an old hand at detecting the bullshit, you’ll still fall for it every now and then, if you’re not careful.
If you’re new to this kind of manipulation, or if you haven’t yet identified it as gaslighting, the fight will start to end here, because the narcissist will realize that the manipulation has worked and that you are falling hook, line and sinker for it.
But if you know what and who you’re dealing with, and you stand your ground, he may pull out all the stops.
He will dig through his mental inventory about this time, looking for the hot – button issues. You know, the ones that make you feel really raw and hurt on the inside? That sometimes cause you to lose the ability to stay focused on anything else?
Yep. Those – he will bring them out whenever it suits him, and he won’t be nice about it.
If you had a bad relationship with your mother, he’ll say you’re acting just like her. If you recently lost your job, he will point to your failure and compare it to this situation some how. And it’ll get worse if he’s aware of any kind of mental, physical or sexual abuse you’ve experienced in the past.
It doesn’t matter what the real issue is – he won’t ever address it.
Instead, he will find little things to focus on, picks on tiny little made up issues that make you the bad guy and him the innocent victim. Gaslighting begins and the fight never ends – until you end it. Here are some of my best tips for overcoming this kind of manipulation.
In my life coaching practice, I don’t give people advice, but I help them to discover the answers within themselves. One of the most important tools a coach uses is the ability to ask good questions.
Questions are a valuable tool that coaches and therapists often use to get their clients to the next level and to encourage them to pull the answers from their own heads.
But good news – you don’t need to be a pro to make this work – and you can even use it on yourself! This technique is so easy that anyone, even you, can use it to literally change your life.
By asking yourself questions, you can change your focus and the direction of your life. The proper question can open you up to new possibilities and ideas. Take the time to examine your life and ensure you’re on the best possible path.
15 Life-Changing Questions to Ask Yourself Every Single Day
Ask yourself these questions on a regular basis:
1. Have I seen enough to have an accurate view of the world? It’s surprising how many people have never crossed their state line. The northeastern part of the United States is very different from the South, Midwest, or other parts of the country. Europe is very different from Africa.
You’re missing out on a lot if you don’t explore other places and cultures. What are the odds that you were born in the precise place that fits you the best?
2. Will my finances be able to support my retirement? It’s important to start asking this question immediately, even if you’re only in your 20s. Focusing on the short-term at the expense of the long-term is a common error. You only have so many tomorrows to prepare for the latter parts of your life.
3. Where will I end up in five years if I live this day repeatedly? You might not have a time machine at your disposal, but you can probably predict the future better than you think. Our daily activities determine our future. Ask yourself these questions and project your answers over the next five years. What’s the logical outcome?
4. What did I eat today? Whether we realize it or not, the food we eat directly affects how our bodies feel and react to the world around us. So take a minute and make sure you’re on the right track here.
5. What did I do to earn money today? While it’s certainly not all about money, we all need money to survive. So do something most days to earn money – and ideally, make it something you love.
6. What social activities did I engage in today? People need connections with other people, and you’re no different. So even if you’re a work at home mom, get out there and do some networking! Engaging with other people can benefit our lives in so many ways – just do it!
8. If today were my last day to live, what would I do? You probably wouldn’t spend your day in front of the TV or spend your time worrying about silly things. Whatever answer you receive is a good indication of how you should be spending more of your time each day.
9. Am I happy with my career choice or would I rather do something else? Having multiple careers is much more common than it used to be. If you’re in a career you don’t enjoy, you have other options. Spending 40 years in a career that doesn’t excite you is a hard way to go through life.
10. What are my goals? If you don’t have any goals, how do you know where you’ll end up? Without goals, we’re relegated to choosing the best options that randomly pass through our lives. It’s much more effective to decide what you want and make it happen. Leave luck out of the equation.
11. Which parts of my life are making me unhappy? Becoming happier isn’t just about adding all the right components. It’s also about getting rid of the stuff that makes you miserable. The low-rated parts of your life make you unhappy. It’s not the fact that you don’t have a Ferrari in your driveway. Take out the trash before adding to your life.
12. Am I living my life in a way that supports my health? Young bodies can take a surprising amount of wear and tear without showing any signs of abuse. That doesn’t last. Taking care of yourself today improves the odds of enjoying good health down the road. Eat and sleep well. See your doctor on a regular basis.
13. Am I enjoying my life as much as I could? Are you too busy with work to notice all the good things in your life? Are you too worried to enjoy time spent with your children? You can experience many simple enjoyments every day.
14. What am I grateful for today? Every day, count your blessings. Remember: what you focus on, you get more of – so focus on what you want and what you love, not the other stuff.
15. What can I do better tomorrow? Now that you’ve evaluated your day, take a few minutes to plan your next move – what are you going to do better tomorrow? Write down your goals and consider the answers you’d like to give tomorrow night when you answer these questions again.
It’s easy to get caught up in your old routine and never take the time to look around. By the time you lift your head, you realize you’re not where you want to be.
While many Hollywood couples tend to divorce, there are a few who really stick it out – and among the most famous are Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
The rumored divorce of the couple has been an issue, but Mrs. Smith says it doesn’t bother her – she says she knows who she’s married to and has no worries.
“Marriages go through shifts,” she tells Us Magazine. “And relationships go through shifts because in life, things shift. So people are automatically like, ‘What’s going on? They must be getting a divorce.’ Well, no. But when people feel those shifts and there’s a mystery, they have to fill it with something.”
Mrs. Smith points out that marriage is a journey, one that takes real work and strength. And that’s where a lot of couples fail – they don’t realize that it’s not always going to be all hearts and flowers. The truth is that sometimes, marriage feels terrible – but if you can get through those tough times, you can come out stronger and happier together.
And Money Isn’t Everything
Mr. Smith says that a lot of people don’t understand that having money doesn’t mean your marriage is perfect. You’ll always have to work at it if you want to remain happy and in love.
“I think a lot of people think that when you have money, that everything gets really easy, hell naw,” he said in an interview with Necole Bitchie. “Jada and I have been together for 17 years. If you look at it like a sports record, we are probably like 15 and 2.”
Keep Working to Deserve Each Other
Mr. Smith says that it’s easy to treat one another with love when you’re first getting started, but you’ve got to keep working on both yourself and your relationship, if you ever want to make it last.
“When we got started, we both truly connected on wanting to be better,” Smith says. “That’s where it all started. There were other people that we were dating and other people that we were attracted to, but there was a commitment to constantly be better that was what we connected on.”
“Our whole world and relationship was that, ‘Hey, I know that I may not be all of that today but what I’m not going to do is lay around and not keep working to be better to deserve you,'” Smith says.
Trust One Another, Even When the World Doubts You
Mrs. Smith adds that, despite the rumors of an affair, she trusts her husband.
“Here’s what I trust: The man that Will is… is a man of integrity. He’s got all the freedom in the world,” the Gotham star told Us Magazine. “As long as Will can look himself the mirror and be okay? I’m good.”
She adds that, while some Hollywood couples aren’t on the same page, she knows that her hubby is always on her side.
“When you can look in your man’s eyes and know that he’s holding you down and that he loves you,” she says. “Here’s what’s real: I’m not the kind of woman that believes a man is not going to be attracted to another woman.”
Commit to Yourself First
“The central idea of love is not even a relationship commitment, the first thing is a personal commitment to be the best version of yourself with or without that person that you’re with. You have to every single day, mind, body, and spirit, wake up with a commitment to be better. Don’t make that same mistake tomorrow that you made today,” says Mr. Smith.
Commit to Allowing and Encouraging Your Partner’s Individual Growth
Room to grow is important in any marriage, and Will Smith says that’s one of the secrets to his and Jada’s 18-year marriage.
“The idea is that you are two people together, but in that process, the marriage cannot be a prison,” he said in his Necole Bitchie interview. “There has to be a freedom that allows a person to grow. A person has to be allowed to make mistakes, and a person has to be allowed to become and grow without the threat of punishment.”
Know Your Deal Breakers
In my marriage, we’ve got three deal breakers – no cheating, no physical violence and no hurting our children.
The Smiths have a different perspective on this, according to Mr. Smith.
“I think that in the concept of our marriages because of our own insecurities, we lay it out in a way like, ‘Hey, that’s a deal breaker,'” Smith says. “I hear people talk about the concept of the deal breakers and it’s really in conflict with loving somebody.”
Divorce Cannot Be an Option
One last hint about successful marriage from Will Smith: if you’re in an otherwise healthy (read: non-abusive) marriage, there is one simple way to stay married.
“What I found is divorce just can’t be an option,” Smith says. “It’s really that simple.”
On Balancing Independence and Marriage
As evidenced by the super-successful and happily married Smiths, it’s clearly possible to strike a blissful balance between your independence and your marriage. You can find a way to make them work together. This will create a stronger relationship that makes both you and your spouse feel fulfilled.
Here are some ideas to get the communication flowing and make the positive changes you need to in your marriage.
Discuss your need for independence. A relationship suffers if one person feels trapped and isn’t able to share ideas. This leads to resentment and anger building up to a dangerous level. You can avoid these issues by talking about your needs with your partner.
It’s important to have an open dialogue about your desire for more independence. First, reassure your partner that you still love them more than ever and want to spend time with them. However, you need space and time to grow as an individual.
You can share that you need to develop your own hobbies or activities outside of the home and relationship.
You can still do activities as a couple, but your own interests don’t have to be neglected.
Plan time with your partner. Despite what a lot of people seem to think, marriage doesn’t create the obligation to spend every second with your partner. Plan to spend some time with your partner and other timesfor pursuing your other interests.
This will help you develop your independence and feel freedom without hurting your marriage.
Find time alone. The time you spend alone can help nurture your independence.
Do you crave a few hours with a good book and no distractions? Do you want to take a long hike alone with your thoughts? These types of activities can help you feel free and give you space from your partner.
Find time for friends. Spending time with your friends can be a fun way to find your independence again.
You don’t have to force your partner to attend every chat, meal, or event with your friends. It’s normal to spend some time without your spouse while you visit with your friends.
Give each other room to handle challenges. It may be tempting to act as a savior and try to fix all of the issues in your partner’s life. However, it’s crucial to give each other space to handle difficult situations on your own. Your partner may not want you to interfere. You can still support each other, but you can also give each other room.
Enjoy your own hobbies. You don’t have to share every hobby with your partner. Although you can enjoy hobbies such as skiing or hiking together, you can also find other activities to do on your own.
Consider the hobbies you liked before marriage. Did you create your own paintings in a small studio at home? Did you take cooking lessons at a local school or learning center? Do you miss the dance class you participated in before you got married?
You can do hobbies on your own without hurting your partner. First, discuss your need for a solo activity and share why it’s important to you. Then, create a separate list of hobbies you can do as a couple, so your partner doesn’t feel neglected.
You can create a balance between marriage and your desire for independence. It requires time and effort from both sides of the relationship, but that time and effort can actually bring you closer together – just ask Will and Jada Smith.
What are your best tips for a long and happy marriage? Share them with the QB community in the comments section.
“Bullies want to abuse you. Instead of allowing that, you can use them as your personal motivators. Power up and let the bully eat your dust.” ~Nick Vujicic
More often than you’d expect, I get comments, messages, and emails from people who tell me that they had no idea they were being abused. You might wonder how someone could be so blind, right? After all, isn’t ABUSE pretty hard to miss?
Yes, and no. See, there are different kinds of abuse. Most people understand what physical abuse looks like, and while there are way too many people actively dealing with that, there’s another, more subtle kind of abuse that goes on in all kinds of relationships all over the world. It’s called emotional abuse.
What is emotional abuse?
In a nutshell, emotional abuse is also referred to as psychological abuse. It’s a form of abuse in which a toxic person (often a malignant narcissist) subjects or exposes you to repeated behavior that often results in long-term psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or a form of post-traumatic stress disorder called complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
How do you know if you’re dealing with emotional abuse?
Do you hide your relationship problems from people in your life?
Would anyone in your life be shocked if they knew what you were really dealing with behind closed doors?
Do you deal with regular episodes of your significant other raging against you, expressing extreme anger, frustration, or outrage — and have a significant amount of seemingly unnecessary drama in your relationship?
Ever feel like you live with, work with or love your own personal bully?
How do you feel after spending time with this person? Do you feel happy, relaxed, loved? Or do you feel stressed, angry, fearful, or sick?
If you are embarrassed to share details about your relationship with friends, there is a reason. Examine it and ask yourself why. Be honest with yourself. It’s just you and me here. Try this free narcissistic abuse self-assessment if you’re not sure.
What are the effects of emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse can completely destroy you over time. It’s insidious and can cause you to sort of lose your identity. And, if you’re dealing with a narcissist, chances are that spending time with them is very bad for you in several ways.
A narcissist will mess with your head in order to get control of you. When these attacks happen, your whole world will feel like it just stops, and you won’t be able to function until it’s over. Even then, your ability to feel normal may be gone for a long time. And speaking of gaslighting, let’s define it.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslightingis a pervasive and highly effective tactic meant to manipulate you into questioning your own sanity, to put it mildly. Often, narcissists use this tactic in toxic relationships as a way to confuse you and cause you to feel helpless. This allows them to feel more in control of you and to gain “narcissistic supply.”
How does it feel for a ‘narcissistic supply’ after a gaslighting attack?
As you sit in the cold, numb aftermath of yet another attack on your personal character, your thoughts are dulled and foggy. You can’t seem to form a complete thought as the sharp, cutting insults replay over and over again in your head.
This torturous soundtrack is accompanied by a small voice in the back of your head, the part of you that remains indignant about the abuse, the part that still knows it’s not normal and that you deserve better.
That part of you quietly counters the insults, reminds you that they’re all a part of the manipulation tactics the narcissist uses to gain control.
That’s the same part of you that truly knows that you’re not in a “healthy” relationship and that there’s little chance you’ll successfully change this person.
That part of your mind races, struggling to form a plan to fix things, to make your escape or to at least find “normal” again.
And it’s that part that will ultimately help you to not just exist and survive, but also to really thrive and become the fully realized person you deserve to be.
The longer you remain in a toxic relationship, the more you deny your truths in order to avoid the wrath of this narcissist, the quieter this voice becomes.
When you deny your feelings – when you allow yourself to be told that you’re not a real person and that you don’t matter – you begin to act as if that is true.
And this leads you to draw more of that “I don’t matter” energy to yourself. That’s because you begin to vibrate that sense of “I’m not good enough.” And you become inferior because you believe that you’re inferior. You feel me?
Being in a relationship with a narcissist is like snuggling up to your personal bully. No matter what a narcissist says – you are a real person and you do matter.
So, how do you resolve this? How do you stop feeling inferior and start feeling like you matter? How do you stop allowing other people’s opinions of you to define you?
How do you learn to trust your intuition after narcissistic abuse?
Everyone always says you’ve got to trust your intuition, but what does that really mean?
You’ve got to listen to that voice, or you may lose the ability to hear it. And don’t just listen. Take action and do what you need to do until your life feels good.
Can you remember how it felt to have a life that made you feel good? Can you imagine a life that is good?
If you have a few minutes, imagine what would happen if you woke up tomorrow morning and found that a miracle had happened overnight and all of your problems are gone. What do you see? What does your ideal life look like?
When you can begin to imagine what you consider your perfect life, you can begin to claim it for yourself.
When something doesn’t feel right in your gut, trust that feeling and act accordingly. That’s your intuition kicking in and it’s almost always to your benefit to listen and act accordingly.
As a narcissist’s supply, we conform to his expectations to the best of our ability, which of course is never quite good enough. We do this, in part, because it is our nature to want to keep the peace and also to please others.
Narcissists are drawn to empaths because they are easily triggered into action by the emotions and emotional outbreaks that are so common. While some people would recoil and be repulsed initially by their behavior, empaths are wired to want to help emotionally struggling people.
And so we spend our lives trying to fill an unfillable hole, to reach an unreachable standard.
But what we fail to realize is that it doesn’t matter how hard we try – the narcissist will never be satisfied, at least not for long. Still, we convince ourselves that we just need to do a little better, try a little harder – change a little more, and everything will be okay.
We see ourselves becoming a “not good enough” version of someone else’s ideals, rather than a beautiful, vibrant, and fully realized version of ourselves. And if we keep this up for long, our true selves are left for dead, quietly whispering our truths in the back of our minds as we desperately seek to quiet them, to shut them up and out.
All of this, so that we don’t have to risk the pain of the emotions that we will inevitably face when we fully realize (and admit to ourselves) the disservice we are doing to ourselves by allowing this abuse to continue.
Want more? See my books at BooksAngieWrote.com. There are several on narcissism and recovering from narcissistic abuse in relationships, as well as several that will help you to boost your confidence and create the life you really want.
Your Turn: Tell Me What You Think! Now, I want to hear your side of it. Have you been affected by a narcissist’s gaslighting attacks? Do you see yourself in any of the above ideas? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below this video.
If you’ve been reading my work long, you know that not only have I given away FitBits in the past, but I am madly in love with mine. You may also know that, in my opinion, it’s an important and incredibly useful piece of technology that can help almost anyone feel and look better because it makes them WANT to move more. I love it!
And it’s part of what helps me to keep the weight off.