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What is Gaslighting and What Do I Look Out For?

With today’s society growing attached to social media, I’m sure almost everyone has heard of “gaslighting”. But what does the term really mean? To put it simply, gaslighting is a form of manipulation. It can have someone questioning reality and question their judgements. It can even cause someone to feel like they are losing their sanity. The term gaslighting can be thrown around lightly at times but it really is a serious form of manipulation and even abuse. Gaslighting typically occurs in romantic relationships, but it can also occur between family members, friends, and even colleagues. Individuals often gaslight others to gain a sense of power of others.


Here is what gaslighting can look like:


Lying


People who gaslight others are often pathological liars. Gaslighters will lie to the point where they believe their own lies, even if you question them or provide proof that they are wrong. They will then begin saying things like, “you’re crazy” or “you’re making things up”.


Discrediting


They will lie and spread rumors about you to make you seem like you’re “crazy”. Unfortunately, this tactic seems to work and leave others believing that you may be emotionally unstable and will actually believe the things the gaslighter is saying.


Distracting


Someone who gaslights others will often respond with another question when you go to question them about their behavior. This is used as a distraction tactic to derail you from pressing the issue.


Minimizing thoughts and feelings


A gaslighter will never validate your feelings, but rather will say things like, “you’re overreacting” or “why are you so sensitive?”. These statements can have someone questioning themselves and their thoughts/feelings.


Shifting blame


This is a common tactic used by gaslighters. Everything is always twisted to somehow be the victim’s fault which can cause them to feel unvalidated.


Using compassionate words as weapons


This is another common tactic used when someone is gaslighting someone else. The most common phrase is, “You know I love you and would never hurt you on purpose.” The words tend to be exactly what the victim wants to hear but the behavior never changes. This will have the victim believing that the love the abuser has for them outweighs their negative behavior.


Re-writing history


This is when the gaslighter re-tells stories that are in their favor. For example, if the abuser pushes someone down the stairs, they may re-tell the story to say that the person fell down the stairs and they rushed to their assistance. You begin to doubt what really happened and doubt your judgement all together.


These are all things that happen to someone when they are being gaslit. But what if you’re unsure if this is happening to you? Here is a list of signs that you may be being gaslit in your life:


1. You doubt your feelings and reality.

2. You question your judgement.

3. You feel insecure and vulnerable.

4. You feel alone and powerless.

5. You wonder if you really are what they say you are.

6. You worry that you are too sensitive.

7. You spend a lot of time apologizing.

8. You feel inadequate.

9. You second guess yourself.

10. You always believe others are disappointed in you and you aren’t good enough.

11. You struggle to make decisions.


If any of these signs resonate with you and you believe you are a victim of gaslighting, it is important to seek help. Gaslighting can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health. Reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for assistance and feel free to book time with a trained clinician at www.theravaultllc.com.




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