How to Deal with Gaslighting
“I never said that.”
“You are being dramatic.”
“You are making a big deal out of nothing.”
Have you ever been manipulated by someone where you doubt your own judgment and feelings? This is called gaslighting, and it’s a form of psychological abuse. Gaslighting is when a manipulator makes you question your own reality and memory.
The term “gaslighting” originated from a 1938 thriller written by British playwright Patrick Hamilton called “Gas Light,” which was later made into a popular 1944 movie. In the movie, the husband, Gregory, manipulates his wife, Paula, and makes her question her own reality. He manipulates her environment, and she questions her sanity. An example, Gregory slowly dims the flame in the gas lamp in their house and convinces Paula that he is not controlling the gas light, which birthed the term “gaslighting.” Gaslighting has become a major part of our lexicon in the past few years. Oxford Dictionary named “gaslighting” one of the most popular words in 2018.
Gaslighting can occur in any type of relationship, such as personal, professional and political. However, gaslighting is most common in romantic relationships. If a victim remains in a manipulative relationship, it can cause a long-term effect on their emotional, psychological and physical well-being. There needs to be an unequal power dynamic in order for this relationship to occur. The person being gaslighted feels powerless.
How do you know if you are being gaslighted?
Gaslighters use a variety of techniques to manipulate and control their relationships. The common tactics include:
- The gaslighter lies … a lot! You catch them in obvious white lies.
- They try to manipulate you into not trusting others, such as your family, friends and coworkers.
- They undermine your emotions and feelings.
- They tell you and everyone else that you are mentally unstable.
- They deny ever saying something and try to alter your reality.
- They use things that you care deeply about to attack your character.
- They project their own insecurities and faults on to you.
- They change the subject and divert the topic to attack you.
You are being gaslighted in your relationship, if you feel:
- Disappointed in yourself
What to do if you are being gaslighted?
- Identify the problem. Recognizing the problem with any toxic trait is the first step to recovery.
- Give yourself permission to feel your emotions. It’s normal to feel these emotions in a manipulative relationship. By accepting your emotions, it makes it easier to heal and to recognize future manipulative situations.
- Get a second opinion. Talk to someone you trust, such as a close friend, relative or therapist. It’s important to have a support system during this time. Also, it’s great to have someone who can be upfront and honest about your manipulative relationship.
- Change your mindset. I know this can be difficult. However, you are not crazy or stupid. You were manipulated into feeling that way. Try to imagine your life without the gaslighter. Are you happier? Do you feel more secure?
- Make a decision or cut ties. You have created a close relationship with your gaslighter, but it’s necessary to make changes that will benefit your well-being. It’s important to remove yourself from the unequal power dynamic.
- Love yourself. Practice self-care and do things that you love, such as reading a book, spending time with friends, etc. Do whatever makes you feel happy!
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