Monday, July 13, 2015

Gaslighting

We all forget what we said or who we said it to from time to time. We all are guilty of being forgetful and then claiming we're not. None of us can always be right. However, if you are constantly doubting yourself, feel the need to apologize for everything you say, or if you notice yourself avoiding saying certain things because of you're afraid of someone's reactions - this is not a healthy relationship dynamic.

Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. Gaslighting is an intentional and manipulative tactic used by people to get their way, to make it seem like the other person is at fault.

The term comes from the play, Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton. In the play and it's film adaptations, Bella is convinced that the gas lights in their house are dimming. Her husband, Jack, who is indeed dimming the lights tells her he sees no difference. He attempts to convince her she's insane by denying over and over the fact that she sees the change in illumination. Whenever it comes up around others, he still sticks by his story, claiming she's gone crazy.

The goal of gaslighting is to make the victim no longer trust their own judgment which makes them buy into the assertions of the manipulator, thus coming under their power and control. More often than not, this will start off with little seemingly trivial things (like the gas light) that you feel silly even arguing about. It will be slow and subtle then can escalate over time. They target a person's "gut feeling" of being tricked. Their gut tells them that they should be defensive and then the aggressor plays it off as being "over dramatic". When the victim can't find any clear motive for this behavior, they start doubting or questioning themselves. The abuser wins by getting the victim to back down or give in.


Here are the signs that you are possibly being gaslighted:


1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself
2. You ask yourself, "Am I too sensitive?" a dozen times a day.
3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work/home.
4. You're always apologizing to your mother, father, partner, boss.
5. You can't understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren't happier.
6. You frequently make excuses for your partner's behavior to friends and family.
7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don't have to explain or make excuses.
8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person - more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
13. You feel as though you can't do anything right.
14. You wonder if you are "good enough".

At some point in your life, you might encounter an emotional abuser - whether it be a friend, family member, coworker,  or partner. This person will be more interested in controlling you than loving you. This is never okay. Reach out to the people who don't make you doubt yourself, who you truly trust. Have faith that they won't push you away or judge you if you ask for help. Please know, it is not your fault. You don't have to stay with people who make you unhappy. You are allowed to express your feelings. Above all, always trust yourself and don't trust anyone who makes you doubt your one true ally - you.

Until Next Time,
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