What is Gaslighting?
Here’s what is important to know. Gaslighting can happen to anyone. Even those of us who consider ourselves highly intuitive, even psychic, can get ambushed by a Gaslighter. If you think you have been a victim to Gaslighting don’t feel ashamed or guilt yourself for falling prey or missing it. Recognize it and take steps to heal and move forward.
According to Wikipedia, Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.
Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to a 1938 play Gas Light and its 1944 film adaptation.
Fifteen Gaslighting Signs
- Something is “off” about your friend, partner, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, colleagues, boss, or other person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.
- You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events leaving you psychologically powerless.
- You feel confused and disorientated.
- You feel threatened and on-edge around this person, but you don’t know why.
- You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
- You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.
- You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”
- You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are “too sensitive.”
- You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.
- You find it hard to trust your own judgment, and given a choice, you choose to believe the judgment of the abuser.
- You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.
- You find it hard to make decisions because you distrust yourself.
- You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.
- You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.
- You’ve become afraid of “speaking up” or expressing your emotions, so you stay silent instead.
Here are the manipulative tactics gaslighters use:
- 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.” Therefore, eventually, you begin to doubt yourself and believe their version of past events.
- 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)?”
- Minimizing. 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 reframing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes 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. For example, “I didn’t say that, I said _____” “I didn’t beat you up Johnny, I just gave you a smack around the head—that’s what all good fathers do.” “If you remember correctly, I was actually trying to help you.”
(credit to https://lonerwolf.com/gaslighting/ for signs and tactics)
— DeeAnna Nagel (@HavanaWellness) December 23, 2016
Five Steps to Take Back Your Personal Power
You have read the signs and the tactics. If you are convinced this fits your situation and you consider yourself an intuitive, you are not alone. Take these five steps to take back your personal power.
- If you know you are being Gaslighted but you still doubt yourself, trust your gut; listen to your inner voice.
- To ensure that you are not blowing a situation out of proportion or minimizing that these behaviors only happen “every once in a while,” keep a journal of events. Writing can often bring clarity. Just make sure you keep your journal in a safe place or keep an online encrypted journal.
- Call on the tools you use in other situations with yourself or others, such as oracle cards, crystals, essential oils, prayer and/or meditation to release yourself from the manipulation.
- Set the intention for healthy boundaries. Manifest freedom from Gaslighting. “I have healthy boundaries and healthy communication with (fill in the blank).
- Claim victory and be determined to live a thriving life. Give up the victim stance. Even if you can’t shift the situation immediately, “Act as if” you are free of the Gaslighting behaviors. Be kind to yourself and indulge in a lot of self-care!
Remember to forgive yourself and also, cut yourself some slack if you are feeling like you are trapped and overwhelmed. There is great power in becoming informed. You are your own self-advocate. It can take a while to heal from the aftermath of Gaslighting, particularly if this insidious form of mental and emotional abuse has been going on for a long time. Be glad that you can name it and know it is not you! You just got caught up in another person’s crazy, manipulative game.