What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships. It’s a sneaky, often subtle kind of emotional abuse in which the bully or abuser causes the target to doubt their own judgements and reality. After a while, the victim of gaslighting begins to doubt their own sanity.
Gaslighting is most commonly seen in romantic relationships, although it can also happen in dominating friendships or among family members. Toxic people utilize this sort of emotional abuse to gain control over others, manipulating friends, family members, and even coworkers.
How does Gaslighting Works?
Gaslighting is a deception tactic that skews one’s view of reality. You may doubt yourself, your recollections, and your senses when someone is gaslighting you. You may feel bewildered and question if there is something wrong with you after conversing with the individual gaslighting you.
Gaslighting can perplex you and make you doubt your own judgment and mental health. It may be beneficial to learn more about the techniques used by someone who is gaslighting someone.
I’m Telling You Lies
Gaslighters are compulsive liars who lie on a regular basis. Even when you call them out or present proof of their lying, they will continue to lie and refuse to amend their statements. They could remark something along the lines of: “You’re inventing stuff. That was never the case.”
The foundation of a gaslighter’s damaging activity is lying. They may be incredibly persuasive even when you know they are lying. In the end, you begin to doubt yourself.
Gaslighters propagate stories and talk about you among their friends and acquaintances. They may act concerned about you while implying that you are emotionally unstable or “crazy” to others. Unfortunately, this method may be highly powerful, and many people will sympathize with the abuser or bully without fully understanding the situation.
Furthermore, the gaslighter may deceive you by telling you that other people believe the same thing about you. These folks may never say anything negative about you, but the gaslighter will do all in his power to make you feel they do.
When you ask a gaslighter a question or call them out on something they did or said, they may react by asking a question rather than responding to the problem at hand. This not only throws you off, but it also makes you wonder why you should pursue a subject when they don’t feel compelled to answer.
Minimizing Your Thoughts and Feelings
The gaslighter gains influence over you by trivializing your feelings. “Calm down,” “You’re overreacting,” or “Why are you so sensitive?” are examples of remarks they could say. All of these remarks downplay how you’re feeling or thinking while also implying that you’re incorrect.
When you’re dealing with someone who never recognizes your feelings, ideas, or views, you could start to doubt them. Furthermore, you may never feel acknowledged or understood, which may be quite distressing.
Another classic gaslighting approach is transferring blame. Every conversation you have is twisted to make you blame yourself for anything that happened.
Even when you try to talk about how the abuser’s behavior makes you feel, they might manipulate the conversation so that you believe you are the one who is to blame for their poor behavior. They say that if you acted differently, they would not treat you in this manner.
Bullies and abusers are well-known for denying doing anything wrong. They use this to avoid accepting blame for their terrible decisions.
The victim of gaslighting may feel invisible, unheard, and as if the impact on them is insignificant as a result of this denial. This strategy also makes it difficult for the victim to recover from the bullying or abuse.
Using Compassionate Words as Weapons
When confronted or questioned, a gaslighter will sometimes use gentle and kind words to try to diffuse the issue. They could remark something along the lines of, “You’re aware of how much I adore you. I would never intentionally harm you.”
These comments may be exactly what you want to hear, but they are untrue, especially if the same action is repeated. However, they could be just enough to persuade you to let them off the hook, which is all they want.
A gaslighter may recount stories in ways that benefit them all the time. For example, if your spouse slammed you against the wall and you later talk about it, they may tell you that you tripped and they tried to stabilize you, which caused you to fall against the wall.
You could start to mistrust your recollection of what happened. This perplexity or second-guessing on your side is precisely the goal.
Lying, diverting, minimizing, denying, and accusing are some of the methods used in gaslighting. When dealing with someone who utilizes gaslighting as a kind of manipulation, pay attention to what they do rather than what words they use.
Signs of Gaslighting
Gaslighting may lead to anxiety, sadness, and other mental health issues, including addiction and suicidal thoughts. As a result, it’s critical to understand when you’re being gaslighted. Consider if any of the following assertions are correct:
You have doubts about your own sensations and realities. You attempt to persuade yourself that the treatment you’re getting isn’t so horrible or that you’re being overly sensitive.
You begin to doubt your own judgment and views. You’re apprehensive about speaking up or expressing your feelings. You’ve discovered that expressing your viewpoint typically makes you feel worse in the end, so you choose to remain silent.
You’re feeling exposed and uneasy. When you’re with your spouse, friend, or family member, you frequently feel like you’re “walking on eggshells.” You’re also tense and low on self-esteem.
You feel weak and alone. You’re persuaded that everyone around you believes you’re “weird,” “crazy,” or “unstable,” just as the gaslighter claims.
You’re unsure if you’re who they claim you are. The comments of the gaslighter make you feel stupid, stupid, inadequate, or mad. You may even find yourself repeating these statements to yourself from time to time.
You’re dissatisfied with yourself and the person you’ve become. For example, you may feel weak and submissive, despite the fact that you used to be stronger and more forceful.
You’re perplexed. The conduct of the gaslighter perplexes you, almost as if they are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
You’re concerned that you’re overly sensitive. “I was simply joking,” or “you need stronger skin,” the speaker says, minimizing damaging acts or remarks.
You have a feeling that something bad is about to happen. When you’re with this individual, you have the feeling that something bad is about to happen. This might involve feeling frightened and on alert for no apparent reason.
You spend a lot of time making excuses. You always feel the need to apologize for what you do or who you are.
You’re self-conscious. You never feel like you’re “good enough.” You make an effort to meet others’ expectations and requests, even if they are unjustified.
You’re doubting yourself. You regularly doubt your ability to recall specific things from the past. For fear of being mistaken, you may have given up attempting to express what you recall.
What to Do If Someone Is Gaslighting You
There are several things you may do to protect yourself if you are being gaslighted in a relationship. Among the things you could accomplish are:
Get some breathing room. Taking a step back from the overwhelming feelings that gaslighting may elicit can be beneficial. Physically leaving the situation can assist, but relaxation techniques like deep breathing and grounding exercises can also help.
Keep the evidence safe. Because gaslighting might induce you to doubt yourself, try to keep track of your encounters. Keep a diary, preserve text messages, or save emails so you may refer back to them later and remind yourself not to doubt or question yourself.
Define your limits. Boundaries communicate to others what you’re prepared to put up within a relationship. Make it obvious that you will not tolerate the other person trivializing or rejecting what you have to say.
Get some fresh eyes on the situation. Talk to a family member or a friend about how you’re feeling. Having the viewpoint of another individual might assist clarify the problem.
Put an end to the connection. While quitting a relationship with someone who frequently gaslights you might be tough, it is typically the most effective approach to stop the abuse.