Is your trust being undermined, or are you a target for psychological manipulation? You might think you are losing yourself, but just hang in there because you can reclaim reality by realizing one of the most potent manipulation tactics people wield — gaslighting.
In this article, we will shed light on this pervasive phenomenon. Not only will gaslighting be demystified, but you’ll find ways to move away from doubting yourself, to an empowered person who believes in himself/herself, thereby blocking the insidious effects of gaslighting.
Related media: 10 Examples Of What Gaslighting Sounds Like
Imagine a particular memory comes up, one that still carries the weight of a heartfelt argument during a moment with your partner, and you recount it with certainty and precision.
As you recall the memory, a bewildered expression takes over your partner’s face, and they say, “I don’t remember it that way at all,” in a calm, almost patronizing tone, ignoring the words that were exchanged and the emotions that swirled around during that pivotal moment.
Your heart skips a beat, and you start questioning your memory and judgment. Whose report are you trusting? You or your partner? It’s as if reality itself is in question.
Dear friends, more often than not, this is the first subtle whisper of an insidious manipulation tactic known as gaslighting. In the next few moments, we will arm you with insights that will lead you to answer the question that lingers in your heart, “Am I being gaslighted?”
Psychologists use the term gaslighting to point to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else to question their reality, memory, or perceptions. It may not be always straightforward to identify if you or someone closer to you is in a “gaslighting tango.”
It may start in subtle ways, even in insignificant situations, but be wary of the fact that it can snowball, making you unable to negotiate your life with a clear mind.
Whence Cometh Gaslighting?
The concept of “gaslighting” comes from a 1938 play, ‘Gas Light,’ where a husband tries to convince his wife that she is losing sanity by manipulating small elements of her environment so he can keep her at a mental institution and steal her inheritance. The play was remade into a widely known movie ‘Gaslight’ (1944).
Where Can Gaslighting Occur?
Gaslighting happens in almost every situation where two or more people interact. We can mention an abusive spouse or even parents. A manipulative boss or a colleague worker who preys on a subordinate are also examples in professional settings.
How Gaslighting Occurs
The following are techniques a gaslighter might employ to manipulate someone, according to the US National Domestic Violence Hotline’s fact sheet:
- When the manipulator pretends to forget what happened, or in some instances denies something he or she initially agreed to.
- When the manipulator trivializes the victim’s needs, encourages them not to be overly sensitive.
- When the victim’s thinking is questioned.
- Countering the gaslightee’s memory of the event.
- Finally when the gaslighter refuses to listen or claims they do not understand, making it difficult for you to understand the situation at hand.
Gaslighters may try to isolate you from friends and family, making you more dependent on them for validation and information. They make it challenging to discern fact from fiction because they usually mix up lies with the truth. They may also enlist the assistance of others to support their version.
Signs And Red Flags
Gaslighting is an unfortunate situation that happens in almost all facets of human life and recognizing these red flags is the stepping stone to breaking the chain of this psychological manipulation.
- You are constantly apologizing.
- You feel something is wrong, but you just can’t figure.
- You tend to always cover up for your partner’s behavior.
- You feel divided and fuzzy about your beliefs and thoughts.
- You can not differentiate between healthy disagreement and manipulation that you always feel like you are in an argument you did not intend to have.
- You are always second-guessing yourself.
- You constantly have trouble making decisions.
Common Expressions In Gaslighting Scenarios
These statements are prime examples of how gaslighters shift blame, project their actions onto their victims, and among others:
- “Oh come on. You’re being just overly sensitive.”
- “You are making a big fuss (deal) out of this and I don’t know why.”
- “I never said that!”
- “You’re overreacting.”
- “You’re the one who caused this problem.”
- “I think you’re the one who’s been unfaithful.”
- “You may have a terrible memory.”
- “You’re confused.”
- “You’re just being paranoid.”
- “You are so needy.”
What Do You Do If You Are A Victim?
Robin Stern, associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence suggests the following:
#1. Identifying the problem is the first step. When you are aware of the situation, that is the only way to find the right medicine. A handful of various cases have been provided previously which can help you identify if you are being gaslighted.
#2. Accept that you now question your worth, decisions, and beliefs as a result of gaslighting.
#3. Be ready to make a big sacrifice. If something undermines your reality and emotional well-being in general, you cut that thing off to save yourself. You may have to give up that person in the relationship.
We acknowledge it is mostly tough to do that because we care so much about the person, or we have become attached to whoever the person is. But you need to cut them off to regain your lost sense of self.
#4. To empower and heal from such emotional abuse, start making small decisions, one step at a time. You may ask a family member or a friend you trust if they share in your thinking.
#5. Lastly, have compassion for YOURSELF. You are responsible to yourself, so cut your mental well-being some slack and save it from the insidious manipulations of people. The goal is to stand up for the truth and believe in your worth and thoughts.
If any part of this article resonates with your life, you are not alone, we encourage you to share it. Seek guidance and assistance from experts or trusted people because gaslighting can take a toll on your emotional well-being. Gaslighting thrives in silence, remember to find your voice.
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Written by: Nana Yaw Assiamah, Fri, Sep 08, 2023.