Gaslighting is a very common manipulation technique used by a narcissistic mother, but how do you know if your mother is gaslighting you and what can you do about it? Read on to find out some helpful tips.
How Do You Know?
Gaslighting is a term used to refer to someone’s intentional attempt to manipulate you by causing you to doubt your own perception of events and your feelings about those events. It’s a favorite technique of the narcissistic mother.
To answer the question about how to know if you are being gaslighted by your own mother, it’s important to understand the different examples of gaslighting. If your mother does any of the following, then she is gaslighting you.
This involves minimizing your feelings by either suggesting that what you feel doesn’t matter or accusing you of overreacting. When she’s minimizing your feelings, your mother might say something like, “You’re too sensitive. There’s no reason to overreact.”
This is when she tries to change the subject every time you try to voice a concern you have about something she did. She might also suggest that you’re making something up. You might hear her say, “You’re imagining things,” or, “You must be going crazy.”
This gaslighting technique involves denying that something you say did happen ever happened at all. She might also claim she can’t remember the incident. She might say something like, “That’s not what happened,” or “Nothing like that ever happened.”
This can really be a problem if your mother is able to talk to other important people in your life like a boss or spouse. With this technique, your mother might tell other people that you get confused or can’t remember things. She might even say that you make things up. That can create significant problems for you.
What Can You Do About It?
Now that you’ve got an idea of what kinds of behaviors constitute gaslighting, you’re probably wondering what to do about it. Let’s take a look at four helpful techniques you can use to counter this powerful manipulative tool when it’s used by your narcissistic mother.
1. Write it down.
It can help to write down what happened as well as your feelings about it in a journal. If you can do this shortly after the incident occurred, you’ll be best able to document the reality of the incident and your feelings.
Journaling is also a great way to process the negative emotions that gaslighting inevitably causes. This seems like a simple technique, but it is actually very powerful. It will help you grow your confidence in your own perceptions. It will also help you ground yourself in your own reality, and that robs the gaslighter of her power.
Your documentation in the moment will also be useful later if the gaslighter denies the incident even happened.
2. Get away from the situation.
Gaslighting creates strong emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, or sadness. They are all equally valid, but they are not helpful for forming an immediate reaction to the situation.
If you can distance yourself from the situation, you can calm down and respond more effectively. If your mother sees that you’re distressed, that can encourage her to continue trying to manipulate you.
Taking some space to calm down will also allow you to focus more on what you know to be the truth so that your confidence won’t be shaken. Distancing yourself can be as easy as taking a short walk or even just going to the bathroom.
If you can’t get away, try counting to ten or taking some deep breaths, the kind that really expand your stomach. These kinds of techniques can give you just enough time to refocus and approach the situation more calmly.
3. Trust your version of what happened.
While it is true that everyone remembers things a little bit differently than how an event actually happened, those types of misremembering usually only involve small details. The gaslighter would have you believe that you completely imagined things or that what you believe happened is radically different than what actually happened.
The truth is that your brain usually doesn’t fabricate entire memories, and so, it’s likely that what you think happened is the correct version of the incident. While arguing with your narcissistic mother will only make things worse, you should remain confident in your version of what happened. In fact, it’s helpful to even repeat it calmly with confidence.
If your mother continues to deny your version of events, you should just avoid discussing it further by saying, “It seems we don’t remember things the same, but I don’t really want to argue with you about.” Then, leave the room. That robs the gaslighter of the satisfaction she gets from causing more tension and anxiety.
4. Practice good self-care.
When you’re being gaslighted by your own mother, it’s particularly important to take extra special care of yourself. It’s critical to improving your state of mind.
Good self-care involves things like dedicating time for relaxation, meditation, and exercise. You want to use these wellness practices to feel stronger and more capable of dealing with the challenges presented by your narcissistic mother.
Another great self-care strategy is to spend time with friends or family members who understand what you’re going through. Just talking out what you’ve experienced and the emotions it provoked can make you feel immensely better.
These self-care activities will also help you sleep and that will improve your ability to deal with anything that comes your way.
Gaslighting is a particularly distressing manipulation technique that is commonly employed by narcissists in general, but narcissistic mothers are particularly adept at the practice. It’s one of several other ways your narcissistic mother abuses you. It can leave you feeling unsure of yourself, and it can erode your self-confidence and faith in your perceptions.
That’s why it’s particularly important to find ways to counter the technique, and since confronting your mother is unlikely to give you any satisfaction, you’ll have to employ a variety of techniques you can use to strengthen your confidence in your version of reality.
As you gain more confidence in your own interpretations, you’ll soon understand that you’re not the problem. Your gaslighting, narcissistic mother is intentionally trying to manipulate you. Once you know that, it’s much easier to deal with the situation.
Gaslighting is just one way a narcissist deceives you. Check out the post, “The 9 Most Common Lies of a Narcissist” to learn some other lies they tell you.