The feel minimized by someone, lost and uncertain of yourself at the hands of another.
As a result, you are constantly second-guessing yourself, your feelings, your perceptions, your memories, and a small, suffocated part inside of you wonders whether you are actually going crazy. Why am I not good enough anymore? It is like being a hampster on a wheel, never achieving what you need, except exhaustion.
You feel neurotic, hyper-sensitive and you feel an overwhelming sense of alienation.
What is wrong with you?
If you can identify with what I just wrote, you are most likely experiencing a sophisticated manipulation technique known as Gaslighting. This technique undermines your entire perception of reality and can slowly creep into your relationships, friendships, family life and work life.
Although you might feel minimized, undermined… maybe even crazy, there is hope. You may be a victim of Gaslighting!
But, what is Gaslighting and who are ‘gaslighters”
Inspired by the 1940s films “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy, the term “Gaslighting” is now commonly used to describe behaviour that is inherently manipulative.
Gaslighting, at its core, is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that slowly eats away at your ability to make judgments.
A Gaslighter works their negative, harmful or destructive words and actions in their favour, deflecting the blame for their abusive deeds and pointing the finger at you. This is often done by making you feel overly sensitive, paranoid, mentally unstable, silly, unskilled, unconvincing, unhinged, and many other sensations, which cause you to doubt yourself.
Commonly adopted by psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic types of people, Gaslighting tends to eat away at you slowly until you realize that you’re a shell of the former person you once were. Who are you now? Very different!
There are many reasons that someone would gaslight someone else, but it is always done for personal gain. The abuser has very little interest in their victim, other than using them for their own twisted benefit. When the victim becomes so low down that they are no longer of any great use to the gaslighter the relationship will die out. The abuser will distance themselves by ignoring their victim and using silent treatment as an intense form of emotional torture.
The victim will have no idea what to do to please or satisfy their abuser, and will often try anything to win over their abuser to regain the affection that was shown in the beginning stages. By now though, it is far too late. Any little amount of respect that the abuser had for their victim will have been completely depleted and it is very unlikely that the dynamic will change again.
The abuser will often walk away from their victim leaving them with a deep sense of frustration, shame, guilt, anger and often riddled with anxiety and depression. The victim is usually left in a vortex that they will struggle to climb out of, however, this will be compounded by a deep sense of relief that this vicious dance is over.
The abuser will walk away with a great feeling of satisfaction having won each and every battle and will move onto their next innocent victim with even more skill and experience, so they can begin this horrendous war once again.
How to Know Whether Someone is Gaslighting You?
Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns. So the question now it: are you being gaslighted? How can you know whether you’re experiencing this subtle form of manipulation in your life?
Here are some key signs:
There is something ‘off’ about your friend, partner, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, colleagues, boss, or other person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.
You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events.
You feel confused and disorientated.
You feel threatened and on-edge, but you don’t know why.
You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.
You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”
You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are too sensitive.
You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.
You find it hard to trust your own judgement, and given a choice, you choose to believe the judgement of another.
You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.
You find it hard to make decisions.
You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.
You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.
You’ve become afraid of “speaking up” or expressing your emotions, so you stay silent instead.
What are the tactics used by the Gaslighter?
Gaslighters use a variety of subtle techniques to undermine your reality and portray you as the disturbed and messed up one to both yourself and others. Slowly you are eroded emotionally and physically as your energy is spent on trying to understand why you are not yourself. Their tactics include: for example, twisting what you say and discrediting you, among so many other techniques. But, the baggage is theirs.
Healing the Wounds Ignited by Gaslighting
Gaslighting causes us to doubt our own memories, perceptions and judgements, throwing us emotionally and psychologically off balance.
If you feel as though your self-esteem, confidence, skills and independence has withered under the flame of Gaslighting you are not alone … and there is hope!
Almost all of us, including myself, have experienced one form of Gaslighting or another throughout life. The good news is that knowledge and awareness is the first step to healing your life and rebuilding the person you are!
While it is true that in some situations we genuinely might be overreacting, or might genuinely be exhibiting irrational behaviour, it is also important for you to listen to your instinct, or intuition. Do you have a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach? Do you feel weighed down and oppressed? Do you feel depressed? These are signs that you have unconsciously picked up on deception and “foul play.” While we can consciously be fooled, unconsciously we can’t, and often we will have a lingering feeling that “something just isn’t right.”
Youmay need counselling and support to build yourself back to a stage where you have confidence and can trust your own mind and intuition.
Make sure that you listen to this feeling and seek professional help by booking appointment with experienced psychologist, Trudy Sheffied now.
You will not be judged. You will be understood and helped.
Remember: There is a high likelihood that we have all been gaslighted by someone at some stage in our lives, even if only on a small scale.
Unfortunately, many people fall victim to it within their intimate relationships, or even in dealings with family members and friends.
Gain help…. Regain your control and confidence!