Just think about it – there may be people who might want to gaslight you to pursue their wicked ends! The term gaslighting covers several techniques that result in the victims beginning to doubt themselves, employed to gain control over a person, and even break down their sanity. And, if the truth is to be told, quite a lot of people are subjected to gaslighting, mostly women. As seen from a police report of 2018, 95% of the victims of such unholy influence are women. What are the signs of gaslighting?
The word comes from a 1944 movie called Gaslight in which a man leads his wife up a garden path until she doesn’t know whether she is sane or mad. There are always people who are in for manipulating others: dictators, people creating cults, abusers, narcissists. They use techniques that leave people uncertain about what they really think or feel.
Symptoms of having been subjected to gaslighting
Those who have had some gaslighting techniques used on them are apt to feel befuddled, disorganized, checking themselves repeatedly, and unable to make decisions.
More symptoms by which you can suspect gaslighting at work:
- when people are too ready with apologies
- people don’t believe in their ability to accomplish even simple tasks
- they keep feeling worried, anxious, having misgivings
- they are not self- confident
- they believe other people are highly sensitive
- there’s a feeling of disconnection from one’s own identity
- if something goes wrong, such people believe it is their fault
- they always expect the worst without good reasons and say something is going wrong even when things are proceeding right
- constant emotional numbness, loss of purposefulness, and belief in the future.
Stages of Gaslighting
This kind of influencing people is vastly different from common lies, attempts to insist on a different opinion, or arguing. It involves subtle techniques that make gaslighting difficult to detect.
Most often, a gaslighting process includes three different stages, although in some cases, these may not be so distinct and separate:
Disbelief. When you sense gaslighting in action, you may put it down to a casual occurrence without a long-time purpose.
Self-defense. When you feel pressure from gaslighting, you begin to take defensive measures.
The onset of depression. The last stage starts when, in order to escape conflicts, or for some other reason, you come to accept what they instill and play along with their wishes. Actually, it means you get drawn away from reality. This leaves you without energy, belief in yourself and feeling down.
Phrases most often used during gaslighting are as follows:
“You’re fooling yourself.”
“That didn’t happen.”
“Actually, it wasn’t so bad” or “it was much worse.”
How gaslighters commonly deport themselves and operate:
They are innocent
Whatever happened, the gaslighter would elude any responsibility for their part in the event. They will be the innocent ones in the relationship.
They lie shamelessly
You may be well aware that these are downright lies, but they insist on it with a poker face. It is necessary to establish a precedent. That means that once you have swallowed their massive lie, you will always be hesitant about the reality – you will become dependent on whatever they feed you. They are going to keep you unsure of most things.
They persuade you that everybody around is a liar
Further distortion of your personal reality is achieved by introducing and solidifying the idea that everything is made of lies: the media lie, all your friends and relatives lie. Since it is a tall order, it becomes difficult to understand that it is a humbug, so the notion sinks in gradually. That leaves the gaslighter as the only trustworthy source of information (which they certainly aren’t!).
If they are obviously mistaken, they nevertheless deny it brazenly
You may remember very well how they promised to be somewhere or do something. For you it is an undeniable fact. Still, they deny having made the promise in your face. It sets you off doubting – what if your recollections are totally out of kilter? But they do it repeatedly, and there’s nothing left for you but to take their word.
Your feelings get dismissed easily
When you have an issue to discuss with your partner or seek to express your opinions, they begin to explain to you that you are struggling under a misconception, and your ideas are out of joint. In a healthy relationship, your partner is supposed to acknowledge your feelings and address your issues. But if your partner is a gaslighter, they will react differently, saying something like “You’re taking it too seriously,” “You mustn’t take it like that,” or even saying that it couldn’t have happened at all.
They make war on what you associate yourself with most
Gaslighters are out to destroy your identity. That’s why their main aim would be the things and concepts that are close to you and that you relate to most. They tell you that if you didn’t hold to this or that you would be a much more attractive individual. While as you are not worthy.
They gradually wear you out
The factor that makes gaslighting so efficacious is that it is done over a long period of time. Starting with small lies and sarcastic remarks, building up, it can enmesh every kind of person – not excluding the cleverest and most understanding individuals.
In an argument, you are not allowed to talk
When there’s a heated argument, what they are certain to do is not to let you open your mouth – they will interrupt you whenever you want to explain what you think and substitute your thoughts and feelings for theirs.
Their doings do not tally with their words
Once you have noticed that the person’s actions and words are poles apart, take care. Mind what they are doing, never what they are saying – their words are always meant to delude. Now this is what none of the gaslighters can do – behave consistently.
When they are positive, it is because they want to be more confusing
So the individual who has been putting you down lately, lowering your self-esteem, started to shower you with lavish praise. It is unexpected but it is also highly befuddling. You thought they didn’t like you, but they seem to do. Probably they won’t ever be hard on you again. But they will – this bout of pleasantries is nothing but a trick to put you off the scent. They have got you doubting the reality once again. Also, what you are being lauded for must be a favorite for the gaslighter.
You feel guilty whenever you find your voice
Since your gaslighter doesn’t usually give you the floor, the idea of voicing your feelings and expressing your opinions has faded away from your mind; so when you wish to say something meaningful, you might feel guilty. That means you are under their influence.
They turn the tables
Whatever they may be guilty of – overindulgence in alcohol and drugs, cheating – they will be denouncing you for the same misadventures. It distracts your and everybody else’s attention from their bad habits.
They do their best to turn other people against you
Being manipulative people, gaslighters can make many of those around you start to believe that you are worthless – and introduce the idea that they consider you to be so in your mind. When you hear them say that somebody said you weren’t up to the mark, bear in mind that they may have just made it up to enhance their influence over you.
With this technique succeeding, you won’t have anybody you could appeal to for a sincere conversation or help – there’s only the gaslighter who remains in the picture. Thus, they have isolated you and gained complete control thereby.
Finally, they make you out as crazy to you and others
This is what the gaslighter intended to do in the first place – gain total control. As it gets around that you are not quite in your right mind, your friends and acquaintances will not quite trust your stories about how abusive and oppressive the gaslighter is. They may think they are figments of your sick imagination.
This is how deadly gaslighting is. It is lasting torture that slowly deprives you of the sense of reality, of every vestige of your identity. You will end up doubting everything that comes your way – and your own feelings and attitudes first.