How To Identify & Extinguish Gaslighting

Image Source


Have you heard of the term called gaslighting? Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or a group of people come together, and make you question your own reality. It’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity. It is the worst form of emotional abuse ever! While political figures, cult leaders and influential people use it the most, it is more common than you think. 

Gaslighters are usually people who have a thirst for control and power and don't think twice before manipulating people for their own satisfaction. They’re self-absorbed and don’t have time or interest in others unless it serves a purpose for them. They aren’t empathetic and don’t have the ability, or the interest, to understand what another person is feeling or experiencing. While all gaslighters are narcissists, not all narcissists are gaslighters. Gaslighters are usually people who are close to you and know you well to a large extent. Since this is a form of emotional abuse that is hard to put a finger on, you need to watch out for the signs. Has this happened to you anytime recently or anytime ever?

~ Has someone told you that you are being too emotional for no reason?

~ Has someone told you that you aren't worth anything?

~ Do you feel a heightened sense of anxiety before you meet a few people?

~ Do you end up apologizing often even if it is not your fault?

~ Do you think that it is your fault no matter what goes wrong?

~ Do you feel you're being isolated from your friends and family?

If you answer 'Yes' to even one of the above questions, you my friend, are being gaslighted. It wasn't very hard for me to identify the gaslighters around me. When you come from a family of gaslighters, it becomes pretty easy to spot one. These people make you feel like the ugliest person on the planet, find faults in everything you do, blame you for your choices and end up talking ill about you to everyone they come across. They make you question your choices, your actions, your reactions, and eventually your own sanity. I learnt to ignore this at a very young age. I made different choices, questioned what was wrong, lived life the way I wanted to and always walked with my head held high. I was always too bold, too rebellious, too proud, too emotional for a set of people. Well, so be it.

A few years ago, I cut ties with two people who were very close to me. In-spite of being married to other people, they were having an affair. Now, if there is one thing that I just cannot tolerate, it is infidelity. It is the worst thing that one can do to their partner and it is something that I would never forgive, no matter who was involved in it. I cut ties with them that very instant. Funnily enough, I was blamed for not recognizing that the affair was on and later for not choosing sides. From "I thought you knew" to "I am being manipulated, support me", it led to them blocking me on all possible platforms. I decided to stop talking to these people because they did something unforgivable and yet the thought of removing them from my social media accounts or blocking them did not cross my mind. But they did. For a few days after this, I kept questioning myself if I did something wrong. Was I so blind that I couldn't see the obvious? The problem is that when you trust people, you kind of miss the obvious. It took me therapy to realize that I was not wrong here.

Gaslighters use various methods of manipulation. Their favorite being targeting those who are near and dear to you. A bunch of gaslighters who can barely stand each other and spare no occasion to bitch about each other, suddenly come together to target you. They reach out to your family and claim that your are doing certain "undo-able" things. The family in turn calls and questions you. You in turn end up questioning yourself for doing something. I've been a victim of this before, but no more. I don't question myself anymore. I know what I did and why I did it, I have absolutely no regrets what so ever. They then resort to cheap tactics. They won't talk to you, but they'll talk to people around you who they have never spoken to all their life. The idea here is to isolate, my response here is to laugh out loud.

Now, how do we extinguish this gaslighting? When it isn't very easy to identify gaslighters, it gets a tad bit hard to extinguish it. This is what I did.

~ Try to recognize the pattern. If there is constant bullying and complaining, see where you can draw the line. Question the other person, not yourself.

~ Gaslighting usually isn’t about you. It’s about the gaslighter’s need for control and power. Often the gaslighter is a very insecure human being. Stop feeding their ego. Learn to not take them seriously.

~ Rethink the relationship. If it is not worth putting a damper on your self-esteem, cut it off! One stroke. If the gaslighter is your boss, start looking for another job. If it is a family member, put some distance between you guys. God forbid, if your gaslighter is your partner, then you definitely need couples counselling. If things don't change then, it is pretty clear what you must do. 

~ Be strong. Work on yourself. Build your confidence and self-esteem. Remind yourself that you are an amazing person, regardless of what the gaslighter thinks or wants you to think. Trust yourself. This will build the shield against gaslighters.

~ Build a support system. Gaslighters love isolating you. "Everyone talks about you like this", "Nobody thinks that what you are doing is right", "I'm sure no one will stand by you"; these are common lines that gaslighters use. Have the right set of people around you who will make you realize your sense of reality and worth no matter who says what.

~ Seek professional help. If people continue to make you feel worthless and doubt yourself, reach out to a medical practitioner for help. They will help you look deeper into yourself and find your self-worth.

The instances I have mentioned here are not the only ways one can be gaslighted. I can only talk for myself and these are situations that have actually happened to me. Gaslighting is not a term that your throw around often, it is also not a word that you hear often. But, all of us have gone through it at some point or the other. The key is to recognize it. The need of the hour is to fight it. Because, nothing comes before your self-worth and sanity. Absolutely nothing.

14 comments:

  1. Yes I am aware of gaslighting and have faced it first hand. Don't you feel that women are subjected to this much more than men? That case of two of your friends is utterly disgusting. And to think that they blamed and shamed you! God! I am glad you got rid of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, women face it more and that's a topic for another post :)

      Delete
  2. This is really helpful... especially the red flags to look out for.

    Damyanti at Daily (w)rite

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am sure most of us would have faced this in our life some or the other time... So thanks Sowmya for writing on such topics..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting and reading, Rajshree.

      Delete
  4. What your friends did is very disgusting. You did good, Soumya. Now that I think about it, back in college the group of girls that I considered were my friends gaslighted me when S and I started dating. Suddenly, I was the bad one when they used me in every way possible. I just attributed that to my bad luck in friendships and them being not so good people. But now that I think about it, going back to all those things they said to me and behind my back, gaslighting makes sense. It's a good thing I cut them off my life from the very beginning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, people start doing that. These people don't deserve to be in our lives and I think we did right by cutting them out.

      Delete
  5. I am glad that you wrote this, it is reassuring that I am not stupid to have trusted and to have gone great lengths to protect undeserving people and worthless friendships. This can happen to any unsuspecting individual. It destroyed me mentally but I am super proud that I cut them off at the root and have no contact. They did come back of course, because no other self respecting human would be friends with them, and the phoenix bird that I am never took them back. I am so glad that I took that call to cut it off. It was long due. My life has changed and I love myself to have done that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you could relate to it. Sometimes cutting out people can be the best thing you can do.

      Delete
  6. I wasnt aware of this term till I was about 40 or so. And then I recalled so many stuff done to me by friends and family that it made my skin crawl. I have an elderly uncle who to date goes around talking ill about me. Can you believe it he spoke ill of me to my mom who swallowed it, scolded me and..... She is still on every pleasant terms with the gentleman while I have stopped visiting his house/family and dont interact with them at all.

    I have moved away from a whole load of people because of this as I value myself too much now than ever before!

    You did the right thing and this post is very important (thanks for putting it out there) as so often we are only putting ourselves down and on top of that we have these toxic people too. I have sworn off each and every one of them and wont ever be including them in my life again.

    Hugs to you Somzie XOXO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cutting such people out of your life is the best thing you could do. They are like leeches, just meant for sucking out the life outa you.

      Hugs love!

      Delete
  7. This is something new to me. Thanks, very interesting post, now I know a lot more. I am definitely interested in this topic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just hope you never have to face this. Thanks for reading.

      Delete

Care to leave a word or two? Thanks for dropping by :)