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Are you being gaslit? When it happens in the workplace, you can start to feel undermined or excluded

‘Gaslighting is form of manipulation and abuse where abuser is trying to make victim doubt their reality’

Are you being gaslit? If someone is making you constantly question or second-guess your reality, that’s gaslighting. The manipulation can be so subtle, you can struggle to put your finger on what’s actually going on.

“Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and abuse where the abuser is trying to make the victim doubt their own reality,” says Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy member Ciarán Coyle, a psychotherapist with

Gaslighting can occur in relationships, in families and in the workplace. It’s a classic abuse of power and a form of bullying.

How does it feel?

“It’s all in your head” – if a friend, partner, family member, a colleague or a boss is saying this, be warned. If someone is meeting what you say or do with a roll of the eyes, a disbelieving shake of the head, or you find them subtly discrediting you, watch out.


“Gaslighting can be when someone tries to persuade you that something never happened, that you are misremembering, or that you are just being too sensitive,” says Coyle.

When it happens in the workplace, you can start to feel undermined or excluded. Your confidence and productivity levels can suffer.

“The person can make you start to question your reality. You can feel confused, or start to mistrust yourself and your abilities,” says Coyle.

What’s their motive?

The gaslighter’s game is to control you or the situation, and to avoid accountability for their own behaviour, says Coyle. “They think, if I can get this person to align with what I want, I can get my needs met. If I convince them they are going crazy, then I can get what I want.”

Indeed, gaslighters are always trying to control the narrative for their own ends. “They are trying to get in there first, in a group of friends or in the workplace. They are trying to manipulate others to see you differently,” says Coyle.

How can I stop it?

If you feel someone is gaslighting you, call it out. “Name it. Own your point of view,” says Coyle. “Be clear: ‘This is what I said, this is my memory. I know this is the way it was. I don’t accept what you are saying. Your point of view is not aligned with my reality’.”

Take a pause

If you sense someone is repeatedly trying to undermine you, your natural instinct can be to lash out. Instead, take a breather.

“Maybe you want to respond with anger, but this is giving the person what they want. They can see they are getting to you,” says Coyle. They may even say your anger is evidence that you are being irrational.

“Try to stay calm. Breathe normally and name what you are seeing,” he says.

“Remember, you don’t have to listen to this person. You can disengage and walk away.”

Trust yourself

When someone has been constantly chipping away at you, you can start to doubt yourself. Listen to yourself and reaffirm your boundaries, says Coyle.

“Always go with your gut. Always trust yourself and say, ‘No. I know I didn’t do or say that. My feelings are valid’.”

“The more self-compassion we have for ourselves, the easier it is to combat something like this, because you know their behaviour is not about you. It’s coming from an unhealed part of them.”

Talk it out

It’s only when they talk to a professional that some people can really see what’s going on. “Therapy can be the first place someone notices it. They realise they have been constantly blaming themselves and apologising for everything. They suddenly realise, ‘No, it’s not me’, it can be a shock to them. It goes from, ‘I’m bad, I’m the one causing all the problems’ to, ‘It’s not me, it’s you’.”

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about homes and property, lifestyle, and personal finance