Why are you making things up? Have you lost it?
No, I didn't do or say that. You keep forgetting things. Remember, you did it?
OMG! You are so dramatic, creating things out of nothing. You always make a scene.
Do these phrases sound familiar? Are you used to hearing these from your partner or a co-worker quite often?
Do these make you doubt yourself? Do you feel something like, maybe they are correct, I am behaving like a freak? Or am I losing my sanity?
Beware! Scenarios like this suggest that you are getting gaslighted.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting meaning: It is a type of psychological abuse or emotional manipulation. It happens when an individual or a group of people brainwash someone into believing that the latter is losing their sanity. And that they are constantly making up things out of nothing.
Continuous emotional abuse burdens the targeted person with self-doubt that gradually makes them question their opinions, thoughts, and of course, self-worth.
It is more like a game plan that some people chalk out to gain control or dominate over others. Most importantly, this abuse is not limited to romantic relationships. Gaslighting exists between family members such as relatives, siblings, co-workers or supervisors, and even child-parent relationships as well.
Where did the term stem from?
The term gaslighting came from a 1938 British play and 1944 American psychological thriller Gaslight. The story revolves around a couple.
The husband happens to change the ambience of their home repeatedly. For example, he dimmed the gaslights and made weird noises, etc. But, when the wife questions the changes, he denies doing the same.
Also, he asserted that the lights were okay and there were no noises around. His denial made his wife doubt her perception and state of mind.
Are you being gaslighted? How will you understand?
The prey in a gaslighting situation often finds it hard to understand that they are in an abusive environment. Instead, they tend to doubt self-perception of reality.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the victim experiences oceans of self-doubting emotions.
Some common signs a person experiences in this emotional manipulation include the following:
● Feeling confused
● Second-guessing or criticizing themselves
● Trouble with decision-making
● Isolating and withdrawing themselves from society
● Constantly apologizing to the abuser
● Frequently asking if they are overreacting or are too sensitive
● Defending the behavior of the abusive person
● Feeling sad, depressed, worthless, and inefficient
Are you also a victim of someone's gaslighting behavior?
To respond and cope with a gaslighter, you will have to identify the behavior in the first place.
As most of these manipulative tactics are a bit subtle, you might not identify those as gaslighting. Therefore, look out for these signs and become aware of the gaslighter.
● Someone's behavior makes you question your sanity
● Those things happen consistently and with an intention to control power, and
● Diminishes your self-worth and self - respect
Being gaslighted can be an overwhelming experience but it’s time to respond and act against it. Here are some of the proven and effective ways to cope with gaslighting:
Stand with your perception
All a manipulative person wants is to make you self-doubt yourself, to dominate you. To counter this, make sure to stand with what you feel, see, hear, or think.
For example, if your spouse, colleague, friend, or sibling tells you, “What you saw was wrong." Tell them, "I know what I saw. I know I am right."
Collect evidence for reality check
Taking photographs is one of the best ways to fact-check. So, when someone tries to prove you wrong (say, at your workplace), you will have sufficient evidence that you are not making up or imagining things.
Keep a journal
Arguing with a manipulative person can be intimidating. However, if you have proof of what a person has been cooking up in your name and what is happening in reality, you will feel more confident to interact and confront. In addition, journaling can help you get a perspective.
Seek social support and share, it really helps
Living or dealing with a manipulative person(s) can steer you away from the truth, making you fall prey to deception over and over again. So, be with people who are realistic, validate your feelings and remember, it’s not your fault and try not to blame it on yourself. It will help you counter self-doubt. If possible, seek the help of a mental health professional on The Wellness Corner.
Distance yourself with the situation as much as possible
You never know if the person or people who have been gaslighting you would ever change. Distancing yourself from such people and scenarios and creating boundaries may help.