Your date is a charmer, clever, and exudes confidence. However, he is excessively controlling. Your partner goes too far in his teases with another lady at an evening gathering. When you talk to him about it, he accuses you of not trusting him enough and of being insecure and controlling. After a long quarrel, you apologize for giving him trouble. My dear, if this happens consistently over a period of time, your situation is a typical example of a gaslight.
So what is gaslight?
The 1938 play, “Gaslight”, tells the story of a lady whose husband controls her in an attempt to steal her diamonds that she had inherited. He controls her to the point that she accepts that she has lost her sense of reasoning and that anything he says is real is true. When she saw the gaslight in the kitchen flicker, she asks him why that was happening. In response, he says that what she sees is not real and only exists in her mind.
The term “gaslighting” is used by psychologists when referring to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator or “gaslighter” tries to get a person or group of persons to question their own reality, memory, or perceptions. Gaslighting happens in many circumstances of life but in this article, the focus will be placed on gaslighting in relationships.
Why is gaslighting dangerous?
Gaslighting is dangerous because it undermines an individual’s feeling of self-conviction or self-worth. If you keep telling someone over and over again that a particular thing is true as against what they think and believe, in the long run, such person will start to doubt what they have always believed to be true and begin to believe what you believe. They might begin to doubt their mental and emotional capacity and depend entirely on your perception of the world.
Places where it can happen
Look out for bosses/supervisors/administrators who routinely:
- Take credit for your work
- Ridicule you before other workers
- Pretend not to understand you
- Falsify assessments
- Blame everything on you
- Question your memory of occasions
- Cancel planned occasions and don’t let you know
- Spread lies and deny doing as such whenever confronted.
- In relationships and marriage
- In religious gatherings and groups
- In government
Gaslighting is a strategy wherein an individual or element, so as to acquire power, makes an injured individual inquiry their existence. It works far superior to what you may think. Anybody is powerless to gaslight, and it is a typical procedure of abusers, despots, narcissists, political and religious pioneers. It is done gradually, so the injured individual doesn’t understand the amount they’ve been mentally conditioned.
Gaslighting is not the same as sensitivity
It’s important to separate gaslighting from genuine disagreement, which is common, and even important, in relationships. Not every conflict involves gaslighting, and, of course, there are healthy and helpful ways to resolve conflicts. Gaslighting is distinct because only one of you is listening and considering the other’s perspective and someone is negating your perception, insisting that you are wrong or telling you your emotional reaction is crazy/ dysfunctional in some way.
What are the signs of gaslighting?
As the old saying goes, “a leopard cannot hide its spots no matter how hard it tries” so it is with gaslighters. These indications could show if you are being gaslighted:
- You continually doubt yourself.
- You often wonder if you are excessively sensitive or touchy.
- You wonder if you are adequate or if you care enough for your partner or spouse.
- You experience difficulty making choices.
- You also second-check before you raise subjects of discussion in your relationship.
- You blame friends and family for the faults of your partner or spouse.
- Before your partner gets back home from work, you go through and list of activities in your mind to check if you have messed up the day for them.
- You buy clothes for yourself and other household items based on what your spouse likes not based on your likes.
- You begin to go through a colleague or friend of your spouse to talk to your partner for fear that you might offend them.
- You feel miserable and sad.
What are the Gaslighting strategies?
It’s important to know the notice the early signs of gaslighting. They are
- Confusion: when an individual is gaslighting you, they need to make you question yourself. They will purposely confound you over some lofty idea. The objective is to make you wonder what is and isn’t genuine. When you begin to doubt yourself, the other person has won.
- Projection: the gaslighter pushes their idea into you gently, making you believe what they want you to believe and with the time you cannot doubt anything they say because you hold it as true.
- Lying: a typical system that gaslighters use is lying. No one can tell what to accept when they’re talking with you.
- Verbal maltreatment followed by praise: if the individual who was gaslighting you were mean constantly, you likely wouldn’t remain in the relationship. That is the reason gaslighters utilize encouraging feedback to keep you holding tight. They dangle praises before you and afterward remove them. You remain with them in the expectation that thoughtful words will return.
- Attacking who or what you love: one manipulative strategy that gaslighters use is to attack what’s essential to you. They may reprimand your activity, or offer scornful remarks about your close friends. These comments cause you to feel unreliable or insufficient about yourself.
How to leave a gaslighter or a toxic relationship
A relationship with a gaslighter is a toxic one. So if you notice that you are being gaslighted or in a toxic relationship, it is important to leave that relationship or risk living in a state of slavery. Here are some tips
- Awareness of narcissistic abuse: be aware that you are being gaslighted. The gaslighting technique is such that you become unaware of yourself and surrender your power of reason to the other person. Awareness is getting that power back.
- Understanding that the behavior is abusive: be aware that you have been abused. See the evil in the act. Do not attempt to make any excuse or exonerate the person from the wrong that he or she has done. This is not about judging the person, it shows you the enormity of the evil done.
- Accepting that the behavior is destructive: this acceptance will give you every reason to run away from the perpetrator.
- Re-Awakening eroded aspects of the Self: as has been said before, this process is about getting your power, your control over self from the person who has held you in ‘slavery’. Tell yourself that you are not worthless and that everything you feel is real.
- Attempt to Build a Strong Support System: reconnect with family and friends. Look for support groups or a person who can show that you have worth and you are beautiful.