The term “gaslighting” is fairly unknown among the masses. What is so shockingly interesting about this, is that many are victims of gaslighting – yet unaware of what it is. Is it possible that you’ve fallen victim of gaslighting, but have no clue? A little background first. The term comes from an old film from the 1940’s in which a husband attempts to convince his wife that she has lost her mind – and is going insane. Of course she wasn’t, but it was a form of manipulation on his part, that made her believe so. If you would like to learn more about the film and another angle on gaslighting, here is a great resource.
Gaslighting is described quite plainly as: (to) “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”
Many spouses who are unfaithful in their marriages love this technique. Bosses who are adding more workload onto their employees than they can handle use this technique as well. It is used as a form of manipulating victims into thinking they were in the wrong. An example would be when a wife suspects her husband of cheating, and has valid and completely justifiable reasons to not trust him. He may then use gaslighting to tell his wife that she is “super paranoid” and is “freaking out over nothing.” See how common this is?
Gaslighting can occur between spouses, friends, co-workers, and your boss could even be gaslighting you. It oftentimes is more subtle than what meets the eye, but there are telltale signs. Here are the ways to know if you are a victim of gaslighting:
YOU QUESTION WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE GOING INSANE
If after an interaction with someone, you ask yourself, “Am I going crazy?” You quite possibly could be a victim of gaslighting. This usually happens over a fairly long period of time. The feeling of going insane gets worse as time passes.
YOU’RE TOLD HOW YOU FEEL
It should be a red flag, but sometimes it happens so much it’s just normal. Does someone in your life tell you how you feel? Something just isn’t right here. If you have to argue with someone just to deny how they say you feel, you may be a victim. This one is really common in romantic gaslighting relationships. A spouse may tell another “You want me to fail at my career!” when you simply don’t hear what they were saying about their day at work. The gaslighter may tell you, “You don’t really want to eat Chinese, you want Indian food.” Of course it’s usually much more serious than that, but you get the drift.
YOU ARE CONSTANTLY APOLOGIZING
It’s not normal to say sorry an obscene number of times per day. For victims of gaslighting, that is a surprise to hear. If you are constantly apologizing over and over again for anything and everything, take heart. It is a common reaction for victims to apologize to prevent any more possible repercussions from believing something different than the gaslighter.
YOU TRY ANYTHING TO AVOID MISINTERPRETATION
At times victims of gaslighting try to avoid life to avoid being misinterpreted. If your world feels like it is getting small, it probably is. Do you feel like you are always keeping your mouth shut? Not because you don’t have anything to say, but because you don’t want someone to twist your words again.
YOU DON’T TELL THE TRUTH TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Ah, the coverup. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to tell family where you’re really at. That’s if everything is going smoothly. Imagine telling your family where you’re at when you are constantly being put down and made to feel insane. If you’re hiding aspects of your relationships to friends and family, that’s a red flag. It’s time to question your involvement with those who make you hide parts of your life to those who are important to you.
YOU’RE WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP
Of course you never know when you are going to be hit with another altered version of your own reality. You may have even come to wait for these things to happen. You are always bracing yourself for impact.
LYING IS A DEFENSE MECHANISM
When you have to lie to avoid being made to feel small, something’s wrong. Many victims of gaslighting often times lie day in and day out. They know the truth will be too much for the perpetrator to handle, so lying is an easy fix.
YOU THINK YOU ARE TOO SENSITIVE TO BE LOVABLE
All of this gaslighting is hard on a person. If you find yourself thinking you are in the wrong because you are too sensitive, there may be more to look at. If you feel like your value is less because of your sensitivity, chances are someone put that idea in your head.
CONFUSION IS A WAY OF LIFE
You always seem a bit disoriented. You feel like your life is one big jumbled up mess. Usually gaslighting makes you feel confused. You no longer know the true from the false.
If it turns out that you are a victim of gaslighting, you aren’t alone.
It is currently unknown how many people exactly suffer from gaslighting, but there is help. It may be helpful to seek professional help and sort out your feelings with a counselor. A professional can help you sort out the true from the false – beyond your distorted views imposed on you by the gaslighter in your life.
By Derrick Ivey