Inspired by the 1938 film “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy, the term “ Gaslighting ” is now commonly used to describe behavior that is destructively manipulative. This technique undermines your entire perception of reality and can slowly creep into your relationships, friendships, family life and work life. If you’ve been finding yourself questioning yourself and your relationship more frequently these days, you need to read this.
Gaslighting can happen in any relationship, personal or professional. Be it a relationship between partners, a parent and a child or at the workplace. The abusers use subtle techniques that make the victims question their own sanity, feel terrible about themselves, and also can’t figure out what the truth is and what isn’t anymore.
If you identify with these 12 signs, you’re most likely being a victim of gaslighting –
Subtle Tactics Used By The Gaslighter
Gaslighters use a variety of subtle techniques to undermine your reality and portray you as the disturbed and messed up one. These include, for example:
- Discrediting you by making other people think that you’re crazy, irrational or unstable.
- Using a mask of confidence, assertiveness, and/or fake compassion to make you believe that you “have it all wrong.”
- Changing the subject. The gaslighter may divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement usually directed at your thoughts, e.g. “You’re imagining things—that never happened!” “No, you’re wrong, you didn’t remember right.” “Is that another crazy idea you got from your (family member/friend)?”
- By trivializing how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you, e.g. “Why are you being so sensitive?” “You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!” “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”
- Denial and avoidance. By refusing to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, the gaslighter causes you to doubt yourself more and more. For example, “I don’t remember that, you must have dreamt it!” “You’re lying, I never said that.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re changing the subject.”
- Twisting and re-framing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and re-frames what was said or done in their favor, they can cause you to second-guess yourself. Especially when paired with fake compassion, making you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth.
How can You Help Yourself
Firstly clarify to yourself how, when and who is gaslighting you. Think about what ways they make you feel unhinged and like you’re losing it. You must be able to confirm that you’re being gaslighted before you can move on with your life.
Pay attention to the signs of being gaslighted, like feeling confused, belittled, “crazy” or manipulated. Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and center yourself. Set aside regular time for grounding each day through meditation or a mindfulness practice..
Decide whether it’s worth continuing your friendship or relationship. If you’re in a working relationship, think about whether it’s worth staying in your job or not. If you want to stay, think about ways to minimize interaction with the gaslighter until you feel grounded and confident.
Talk to trusted friends or loved ones about your problem. Alternatively, seek help from a mentor or therapist.
Shift your perspective from being a victim to being a warrior/winner or whatever word feels the most empowering. You don’t have to remain a victim for the rest of your life, and by reclaiming your personal power, you’ll also be able to help others in similar