Jargonbuster - Gaslighting
Posted on 5th April 2022
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that often occurs in abusive relationships. It is a covert type of emotional abuse in which the bully or abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality.
Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to feel unsure about their perceptions of the world and even wonder if they are losing their sanity.
Gaslighting is usually performed over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories. This can lead to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, and uncertainty of one's mental stability. A common result of this is a dependency on the perpetrator.
Gaslighting primarily occurs in romantic relationships, but it's not uncommon in controlling friendships or among family members as well. People who gaslight others may have mental health disorders. They use this type of emotional abuse to exert power over others to manipulate friends, family members, or even co-workers.
It's important to recognise when you're experiencing gaslighting. Ask yourself if any of the following statements ring true:
You doubt your feelings and reality: You try to convince yourself that the treatment you receive is not that bad or that you are too sensitive.
You question your judgment and perceptions: You are afraid of speaking up or expressing your emotions. You have learned that sharing your opinion usually makes you feel worse in the end, so you stay silent instead.
You feel vulnerable and insecure: You often feel like you "walk on eggshells" around your partner, friend, or family member. You also feel on edge and lack self-esteem.
You feel alone and powerless: You are convinced that everyone around you thinks you are "strange," "crazy," or "unstable," just like the person who is gaslighting you says you are. This makes you feel trapped and isolated.
You wonder if you are what they say you are: The person who gaslights you says words make you feel like you are wrong, unintelligent, inadequate, or insane. Sometimes, you even find yourself repeating these statements to yourself.
You are disappointed in yourself and who you have become: For instance, you feel like you are weak and passive, and that you used to be stronger and more assertive.
You feel confused: The behaviour of the person gaslighting you confuses you, almost as if they are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
You worry that you are too sensitive: The person minimises hurtful behaviours or words by saying “I was just joking" or "you need thicker skin."
You have a sense of impending doom: You feel like something terrible is about to happen when you are around this person. This may include feeling threatened and on edge without knowing why.
You spend a lot of time apologizing: You feel the need to apologise all the time for what you do or who you are.
You feel inadequate: You feel like you are never "good enough." You try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable.
You second-guess yourself: You frequently wonder if you accurately remember the details of past events. You may have even stopped trying to share what you remember for fear that it is wrong.
You assume others are disappointed in you: You apologise all the time for what you do or who you are, assuming people are let down by you or that you have somehow made a mistake.
You wonder what's wrong with you: You wonder if there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. In other words, you worry that you are not well mentally.
You struggle to make decisions because you distrust yourself: You would rather allow your partner, friend, or family member to make decisions for you and avoid decision-making altogether.
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