Gaslighting is an abuse tactic used to instil chronic doubt to condition the victim into questioning their own memory, perception of events and sense of reality. It’s a form of psychological manipulation and emotional abuse. The gaslighter avoids responsibility for their toxic behaviour by lying and denying and making you question facts, your memory and your feelings. Basically the gaslighter makes you feel crazy and confused.

In psychology we use the term “gaslighting”  when we refer to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions. 

Gaslighter’s are toxic people, a trait commonly found in narcissists who condition others to believe that it isn’t the abuse itself, but instead your reaction to it. They blatantly deny their own manipulative behaviour and ignore evidence when confronted with it . They are dismissive and critical if you attempt to disprove their fabrications with facts. Instead of addressing their own inappropriate behaviour somehow it will always be your fault for being “too sensitive” or “crazy”.

One gaslighting example is when a husband convinces his wife she’s imagining seeing him with another woman. He tells her that he wasn’t there, and she must have seen someone who looks like him. When she reiterates what she saw, he tells her she’s always bad at recognising people or that she isn’t very observant. He knows he was with the woman, but he doesn’t want her to know it. He wants to keep her in the marriage.

People who gaslight someone tend to use specific techniques. 

These include:

  • Countering: telling you that you remember something incorrectly
  • Trivialising: making you feel like your thoughts and feelings don’t matter
  • Withholding: pretending they don’t understand what you’re saying
  • Stonewalling: refusing to listen or engage with you in conversation
  • Blocking: changing the subject
  • Diverting: questioning the validity of your thoughts
  • Forgetting: pretending to forget things that happened
  • Denying: telling you something never happened
  • Faking compassion: telling you they’re doing something harmful for your good
  • Discrediting: convincing others, you’re insane or unstable
  • Reframing: twisting your thoughts, behaviours, and experiences to favour their perspective

It may be a persistent part of their behaviour to control others by any means necessary to get what they want. … The gaslighter makes everything about their own needs and desires.

10 signs you’re being gaslighted

  • They tell outrageous lies deliberately
  • They deny things even tho you have proof
  • They target your self esteem and weaknesses
  • The lies build up over a period of time that wear you down gradually
  • Their actions don’t match their words
  • They mix lies with positive reinforcements leaving you unsure with what you believe 
  • They project their behaviour onto you, leaving you on the defence even tho they are the ones committing the poor behaviour
  • They manipulate relationships with people around you, leaving you dependant of them
  • They get you and others to question your sanity
  • They make you believe they can be trusted
  • Blatant lying and continual cover ups 
  • Manipulating others to see you differently
  • Actions contradict words. Always Broken promises 

Gaslighting is one of the most difficult types of emotional abuse to recognise. Most kinds of emotional abuse are easy to spot if you can look at the situation rationally rather than emotionally. Someone puts you down constantly, criticises every move you make, shames you, blames you, calls you names, refuses to show you affection until they get what they want, punishes you, or keeps you away from friends and family – all in an attempt to control you. These are more obvious forms of emotional abuse.

Gaslighting is different, though. Instead of abusing you in obvious ways, the gaslighter controls you by manipulating, hiding, and distorting the facts of your situation. You become confused and disoriented because the gaslighter has caused you to doubt your sanity. Being controlled by someone else is never easy. Being gaslighted is especially hard to deal with simply because it’s such a sneaky form of abuse. The person who gaslights you wants to control you, just like with other types of abuse. They just don’t want you (or anyone else) to know they’re doing it.

The first things you can do to free yourself from gaslighting is to understand exactly what gaslighting is, learn how to recognise it, and find out what to do about it.

A personality disorder in which gaslighting may be evident is narcissism. The gaslighter makes everything about their own needs and desires. Narcissists may frame their actions as being helpful to their victims, but they all revolve around building their ego.

They may not know or understand the word gaslight, but they know how to do it. No matter how you slice it, they want to rule you.

Narcissist Gaslighting Checklist

  • I was just joking 
  • I didn’t do that
  • You’re imaging things 
  • You were with us
  • You make stuff up in your head
  • Don’t be so sensitive
  • You have issues 
  • You’re upset over nothing
  • Stop imaging things
  • You need help
  • Its always something with you
  • Here we go again
  • No one likes you
  • I never said that
  • They’re lying
  • I don’t have time for this
  • There is always drama with you
  • I never did/ said that 
  • You’re crazy/ over reacting
  • You need help
  • What are you even talking about 
  • You have a wild imagination
  • You need to learn to take a joke
  • You’re the one who said/did that

If you are just beginning to understand gaslighting, it may be difficult to understand what this means to you and your situation. First, know that a relationship or work situation in which your gaslit is toxic. You might be able to stay in the relationship or situation if something changes, but that’s highly unlikely. If it doesn’t, you’re putting your mental health at risk to continue in it.

Licensed counsellors are a great resource if you want to know how to define gaslighting in more personal terms and explore how it affects your life. Talking to a counsellor is the surest way to identify instances of gaslighting behaviour. With a counsellor’s support, you can regain the self-confidence that the gaslighter took away from you. You can learn to love who you are, trust your sanity, and set your sights on a happier life.

Shanny x

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