I’m sure you’ve heard of gaslighting, but do you know exactly what it is and how it sounds?
Gaslighting happens all the time and could be happening to you without you even knowing it. So, first, let’s define the terms and then see if it’s happening in your life.
What is gaslighting and what does it mean to gaslight someone
Gaslighting is a term I heard frequently, but I never took the time to define the gaslighting meaning or to understand how it works. That being said, I was fully confident that I had been gaslighted before, and I hoped I was not guilty of gaslighting someone else. Many of us know that gaslighting isn’t a good thing but not the gaslighting origin or that it is a form of brainwashing.
The term originated from the 1938 play (and 1944 film adaptation) Gaslight, where the protagonist’s husband slowly manipulated her into believing she’s going mad. The name comes from a part in the film where the husband is using the gas lights in an upstairs flat, causing them to dim and confuse his wife in his own apartment.
Recently, I ran into a conflict with a friend. When I told my therapist about our conversation, my therapist informed me that I was being gaslighted. I was shocked, but it was finally starting to make sense — I decided to explore the concept of gaslighting more deeply.
What does gaslighting mean
Simply, gaslighting is the act of manipulating someone into questioning his or her own sanity. It is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group underhandedly interjects doubt in a chosen individual. This makes them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, and often evokes confusion, self-esteem, frustration, etc. It can be either direct or very subtle so it results in emotional abuse but not obviously abusive.
Gaslighting examples include whole laundry list of toxic behaviors from blatant lying to projecting everyone else as the liars. This is happening a lot in politics right now. I chose to review some examples that surprised me as being gaslighting — it encompasses such a wide range of manipulations. I was shocked! Gaslighting is a form of abuse that is commonly used by narcissists. Here are 5 examples of gaslightling
Denies what’s happening
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Or another popular one, “That’s not how I remember it.” You know the gaslighter said what he said or did what he did, but he denies it all. The gaslighter may push you to “prove” the issue, because he know you have just a memory and no tangible proof. This behavior starts to make you question your reality and what you remember. You may begin to think that the gaslighter is right and begin to accept what he is telling you.
Promises the world but never delivers
Gaslighters have no integrity with any situation. They can promise you the world or sincerely apologize for hurting you. It sounds great, but they never deliver. They talk and talk, but their words mean nothing. It is important to look not at what a gaslighter says, but rather what he’s really doing. The issue lies in the lack of positive action or improvement. For example, apologizing for something and promising to make a change, but never delivering. In this example the victim is constantly hopeful and repeatedly hurt.
Builds you up and tears you down
Gaslighters will begin by telling you you’re great and wonderful, and they love you. Then they tear you down bit by bit so that you feel you’re not good enough. This breaking you down is done so they can build you back up again. Then you feel safe and appreciated or heard. But then, the abuser will tear you down again. This cycle gives the abuser control over you and makes you think that they aren’t so bad at all.
Projects blame on you
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. If a gaslighter is an habitual liar, he will project that trait on you and claim you are the liar. If the gaslighter feels abused or angry, he will claim that you are the abuser and angry one. In fact, whatever toxic behavior he is doing he will project the blame on you. This makes you defensive and constantly have to stand up for yourself. This also redirects any attention from their behaviors onto you, as you are focusing on defending yourself and not what the abuser is doing.
Constantly calls you crazy
A gaslighter has already set you up to question your sanity, so they will continue to affirm the confusion with this phrase. After time, you will start to believe that you are crazy because you feel disconnected with reality and are continuing to hear that you are. The gaslighter may take it a step further and tell others you’re crazy. This way, when you approach others to check your reality, they already think you are unstable.
Basically, it’s incredibly toxic and if you recognize any of this behavior in your life, you may want to read more about this or talk to someone safe or in a professional setting. It’s no fun to feel crazy or like you shouldn’t feel hurt when you are in fact hurt. Learning the signs and then finding ways to manage it will help!
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