If you’re involved with a “gaslighter”—a spouse, coworker, family member or friend who tries to control you by manipulating your perception of reality—the following 16 phrases can help keep you out of his/her destructive vortex. Memorize the phrases that seem most useful for your own situation so that you can pull them out when you need them…

• “You’re right, but I don’t want to keep arguing about this.”
• “You’re right, but I don’t want to be talked to that way.”
• “I’m happy to continue this conversation without name-calling.”
• “I’m not comfortable with where this conversation is going. Let’s revisit it later.”
• “I think this conversation has gone as far as it can go.”
• “I don’t think I can be constructive right now. Let’s talk about this at another time.”
• “I think we have to agree to disagree.”
• “I don’t want to continue this argument.”
• “I don’t want to continue this conversation right now.”
• “I hear you, and I’m going to think about that. But I don’t want to keep talking about it right now.”
• “I’d really like to continue this conversation, but I’m not willing to do so unless we can do it in a more pleasant tone.”
• “I don’t like the way I’m feeling right now, and I’m not willing to continue this conversation.”
• “You may not be aware of it, but you’re telling me that I don’t know what reality is. And, respectfully, I don’t agree. I love you, but I won’t talk to you about this.”
• “I love having intimate conversations with you, but not when you’re putting me down.”
• “It may not be your intention to put me down, but I feel put down, and I’m not going to continue the conversation.”
• “This is not a good time for me to talk about this. Let’s agree on another time that works for both of us.”

How Capable Is Your Gaslighter of Changing?

If you’re involved with a “gaslighter,” you need to decide whether to leave the relationship or stay and fix it. A critical factor in that decision is whether your gaslighter wants to change…and is able to. Here are positive signs to look for…

Does he/she…
…seem capable of understanding and respecting your point of view?
…at least occasionally key in to your feelings and needs?
…at least occasionally put your feelings and needs ahead of his/her own?
…feel remorse about the times he/she hurts you—in a way that leads him/her to change his/her own behavior?
…show interest in changing for his/her own reasons, not simply to please you or to prove what a good person he/she is?

Source: Excerpted from The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life by Robin Stern, PhD, cofounder and associate director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, New Haven, Connecticut. 

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