Gaslighting may be a new term, but its problems have been around for decades. Here we look closely at it and how you can overcome it.
Gaslighting is a new term for describing an old form of manipulation. This term became popular especially after Donald Trump became the President of the US and that’s the reason why Oxford Dictionary named it as one of the most popular words in 2018.
Politics is just one sphere of life where people can be gaslighted. You can face this situation in everyday life as well.
This term is derived from the Gaslight movie that was released in 1940 in the United Kingdom and 1944 in the United States of America.
But why is this movie so good at describing what gaslighting is?
“After the death of her famous opera-singing aunt, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) is sent to study in Italy to become a great opera singer as well. While there, she falls in love with the charming Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer).
“The two return to London and Paula begins to notice strange goings-on: missing pictures, strange footsteps in the night and gaslights that dim without being touched. As she fights to retain her sanity, her new husband’s intentions come into question,” is written in the synopsis of this movie.
Although a new term, gaslighting refers to older forms of manipulation. Gregory, gradually manipulates his wife, Paula, by making her believe that she is insane.
To have a clearer idea of this phenomenon, you can read the interview with the author of two books and clinical psychologist, Dr Carla Marie Manly.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where one individual strives to cause another person to question their own sanity, memories, or perceptions.
It most often occurs on a conscious level, but there are certainly times when the gaslighting individual is operating on unconscious patterns learned as a child.
It mostly happens during conversations when the manipulating person makes comments that cause the target person to question their own sanity or reality.
Gaslighting can occur by text, messaging, or email – in any form of communication where comments are made that suggest the other individual’s thoughts or perceptions are ‘wrong’ or ‘unsound’.
Some people resort to physical actions as a form of gaslighting, intentionally hiding or moving items to cause another person to question their own memory or sanity.
Who is Most Susceptible?
Those in abusive relationships are often more vulnerable to gaslighting. Given the toxic dynamics in abusive relationships, the abuser can often wear down the abused individual’s resistance to toxic habits.
As well, those who are stressed, anxious, or depressed may certainly be more susceptible to gaslighting given that their mental health is in a weakened state.
Those who do not have healthy boundaries are more vulnerable to negative tactics such as gaslighting.
Gaslighters tend to be manipulative, highly controlling bullies. Many narcissists use gaslighting to achieve their own ends.
In general, gaslighters tend to have lower quality communication skills, poor emotional intelligence, low empathy, and an egocentric attitude.
If your boundaries are strong and you have overall good mental health, it’s likely that you’ll notice gaslighting and not be vulnerable to its negative effects.
However, those who are not emotionally and mentally strong may, especially when they feel unworthy or especially vulnerable, may certainly be susceptible to taking a gaslighter’s comments as ‘truth’.
When you are not in a strong and secure psychologically, it’s far easier to question your own reality – especially at the hands of a skilled, manipulative gaslighter.
You can generally notice if you’re being gaslighted if you feel as if you’re being toyed with or manipulated. If you sense that someone is trying to wear you down or question your own truth, it’s likely you are being gaslighted.
As well, the gaslighter’s attitude will often be critical, demeaning, and lacking in empathy. You can often spot that you are being gaslighted by the gaslighter’s manipulative, controlling energy.
Gaslighting is certainly connected with relationship toxicity. Healthy communication is open and honest; it does not involve the use of manipulative tactics.
Unhealthy communicators tend to employ negative strategies such as gaslighting because they are accustomed to using toxic methods to achieve a sense of power and control.
Sadly, gaslighters often do not realise that their tactics are harmful to themselves and their relationships.
Most individuals who utilise gaslighting, learned this strategy due to the unhealthy modeling provided by childhood guardians.
In many cases, a gaslighter routinely observed a parent engaging in gaslighting and unconsciously adopted the behaviour. In some cases, individuals purposefully adopt gaslighting strategies later in life because they observe them socially, in the media, or in a work environment.
If you feel that someone is trying to control your perceptions or sense of reality, it’s likely gaslighting is at work. If this happens to you, take a step back – even physically removing yourself from the situation – to gain perspective.
In fact, it’s often helpful to talk with a trusted friend, therapist, or mentor to gain perspective on the reality of the situation. Journaling about the gaslighting incident can also help create inner clarity.
Dealing With It
Once you identify that you are being gaslighted, it’s essential to set clear boundaries with the gaslighter. For example, you might say, “I feel disrespected when you engage in that type of commentary. I ask that you not talk to me that way.”
If the gaslighter continues to behave negatively (as they most often do), it’s often necessary to take a step back from the relationship until the individual’s behaviour changes. This step is often difficult, but given the abusive nature of gaslighting, it’s important to create distance between you and the toxic gaslighter.
Those who have suffered from chronic gaslighting often experience trauma and anxiety given the emotionally and mentally destructive effects of ongoing gaslighting. As well, given their manipulative, controlling tendencies, gaslighters also tend to engage in a variety of other unhealthy tactics such as stonewalling.
As a result, those who have been victimised by gaslighting often need support in recovering from overall relationship toxicity.
More psychological facts right here:
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