We’ve all been hearing about different kind of toxic relationship dynamics and how one partner is treating the other badly, one of the worst kind of these dynamics is Gaslighting, and in this post we shall look at what gaslighting is in depth. First, what does gaslighting mean?
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a kind of psychological manipulation of a person over a long period of time that causes the victim to start questioning the validity of their own thoughts, their perception of reality, and even their memories. This typically leads to a confused mind, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem and a great dependency on the abuser.
What makes Gaslighting so effective and dangerous is that it is a covert type of emotional abuse. All it takes for the gaslighter to mislead the victim is to create a false narrative that makes them question their judgments and reality. By doing this the victim becomes unsure of their perceptions of the world and unsure of their sanity. It’s basically turning the victim’s mind against themselves until they depend only on the gaslighter for direction, a definition of reality and basically everything else.
How Does Gaslighting Work?
Gaslighting can happen in any kind of relationships, gaslighting in a relationship (romantic) is the most common but we have had gaslighting examples between coworkers,, family members and even in friendships. In all these cases gaslighting works in the same way, with the same methods, the gaslighter might not have physically assaulted the victim but as you will see, it is still an unhealthy relationship.
Here’s what gaslighters do;
- They Lie To You.
Gaslighters have lying as their main weapon denying truth is what they do best, they are pathological liars, and they lie so convincingly that you would believe whatever they say. And whenever you try to disagree with them they say you’re making things up and you can actually believe it.
2. They Distract You.
When they can’t lie to you, they distract you, when you call them out or ask them a question they shift your attention away by replying with another question that throws you off balance, they repeat this until you never feel like pressing them to answer whatever they don’t want to again.
.3. They Shutdown Your Emotions and Thoughts.
Anytime you try to express your feelings to a gaslighter, they immediately shut you down with responses like “You’re overreacting”, “Why do you have to be so sensitive”. Hearing comments like this repeatedly start to make you believe that maybe they are actually right.
4. They Conceal Their Actions With Words Of Compassion.
Using words of compassion is what you expect in healthy relationships but that’s not the case with a gaslighter. A gaslighter will use compassionate words when they are being confronted with their wrongdoings. They say things like “You know I would never ever hurt you on purpose, I love you” to distract you from getting angry at them.
5. They Narrate Past Events In Their Own Favor.
Deception is the best tool an abuser in a gaslighting relationship has and they use it efficiently when narrating past events. For example if they stole something from you in the past, they would tell you that you gave them permission to take it. Eventually you might start to doubt your own memories which is what they want.
6. They Shift Blame On You.
Another significant gaslighting behavior is blame shifting. When trying to gaslight someone, the never admit to their own faults, instead they shift blame on the victim and accuse them of everything until it really starts to feel like they are right and the victim is actually the cause if the issues.
What Are The Signs Of Gaslighting?
To learn how to deal with gaslighting you must first learn how to tell the signs, because like we said earlier, gaslighting is covert and very subtle and it is very difficult to spot, especially if you’re the victim. Here are some ways to tell if you’re being gaslighted;
- You Excessively Doubt Your Feelings And Reality.
You don’t believe your feelings anymore, you think you may overthink things or you’re seeing things wrongly.
2. You Are Scared To Speak Your Mind.
Since you question your reality, you may be afraid to voice out your opinions for fear of being wrong.
3. You Lack Self Esteem and Confidence.
You feel on edge all the time when you’re with your gaslighter, you’re afraid you’re not good enough, or you’ll be wrong.
4. You Feel Alone.
A gaslighter will make sure they convince you that you’re weird and behave strangely and this makes you feel different and isolated from everyone else.
5. You’re Always Apologizing.
You find yourself apologizing for everything you do and for acting the way you do.
6. You Feel Inadequate.
If you’re being gaslighted, the constant shutdown of your opinions and emotions will make you feel like you’re never good enough.
7. You Feel Something Is Wrong With You.
You feel crazy and different from everyone else, and you just know that something is wrong with you.
8. You Can’t Make Decisions For Yourself.
You don’t trust yourself anymore so you would rather trust your gaslighter to think and make decisions for you.
How To Respond To Gaslighting?
Nobody can really cope for long being gaslighted. Even though the assault is verbal and not physical, gaslighting can do very devastating amounts of damage.
But here are some steps you can take to protect yourself;
- Get Some Distance.
It may help you to get away from your gaslighter to regain control of your mind and your grasp on reality. This will help you to see things the way the really are without the influence of your gaslighter.
2. Store Evidence.
Make a journal for events, conversations and other things so that you can always go back to check for the truth even when anybody tries to gaslight you.
3. Establish Your Boundaries.
Make your boundaries known in all your relationships so they can know what you’re willing to take from them and what you’re not willing to. Let them know that you won’t take being shutdown, being lied to and being deceived.
4. Get A Second Opinion.
If you feel you’re being gaslighted by someone, talk to another person about it and see what they think, doing this will make things clearer to you. If they agree that you’re being gaslighted then you most likely are and you need to take action.
5. Leave The Relationship.
This is the most difficult, yet the most effective way to protect yourself from gaslighting behavior. Putting an end to a gaslighting relationship will ensure that you’re free of the abuser’s control and you and your mind can be free again.
6. Talk To A Professional.
If you feel that you are being gaslighted, you may also find it helpful to talk to a mental health professional like a therapist or counseдlor. They will be able to give you better insight into the situation, a better perspective, and teach you how to cope better with the behavior.
Always keep in mind that you are not to blame for being gaslighted. The person gaslighting you is responsible for what you are experiencing through their actions.
But now that we have answered your questions of what is gaslighting and told you how to deal with gaslighting you can learn how to make healthy choices and set boundaries with the person who you feel is gaslighting you. And even if you eventually decide that it’s best for you to move on from the relationship, just always remember that you’re not to blame for whatever you experienced.