“Gaslighting” has become one of the most popular psychological terms recently. But what does it indeed mean? According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. It often occurs in abusive relationships; it is considered a covert type of emotional abuse in which the target is misled by creating false narratives and making them question their judgments and reality.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A GASLIGHTING?
Gaslighting is usually based on the motivation to control another person or to get away with something, and there is an ulterior motive. It is important not to mistake a gaslighter for someone who is simply in a bad mood, has solely poor communication, is a temporary event, and is something immediately apparent.
Nonetheless, an individual may try to manipulate you without being conscient of it. However, a gaslighter still enjoys wielding control over the mind and behaviour of the victim, even if they cannot articulate or acknowledge this fact.
Therefore, it is essential to recognize when you are experiencing gaslighting as it does have consequences, such as:
- Panic attacks
- Somatic complaints
- Suicidal ideation and behaviour
Here are some of the signs of Gaslighting
- You doubt your feelings and reality
- You question your judgment and perceptions
- You feel vulnerable and insecure
- You feel alone and powerless
- You wonder if you are what they say you are
- You are disappointed in yourself and who you have become
- You feel confused
- You worry that you are too sensitive
- You have a sense of impending doom
- You spend a lot of time apologizing
- You feel inadequate
- You second-guess yourself
- You assume others are disappointed in you
- You wonder what’s wrong with you
- You struggle to make decisions because you distrust yourself
If you are experiencing any of these signs in a relationship, there are some steps that you can take to ensure your well-being. For example, it is encouraged to gain some distance from the intense emotions it may evoke, whether by physically distancing yourself or using relaxing techniques such as deep breathing or grounding exercises.
You can also save the evidence since it can make you question yourself. Try to keep a journal, emails, and save text messages so that you can look back at them later and remind yourself that you shouldn’t doubt or question yourself. Another option is to set boundaries by clarifying that you will not engage in such actions.
You can also get an outside perspective by talking to someone close to you about what you are going through, and it can help make the situation more transparent for you. Lastly, it is suggested to end the relationship if this person repeatedly gaslights you. While difficult, it can be the most effective way to end emotional abuse.
Gaslighting. (n.d.). Psychology Today. Retrieved August 18, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/gaslighting
Gordon, S. (2023, May 1). Is Someone Gaslighting You? Learn the Warning Signs. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/is-someone-gaslighting-you-4147470
Moulton Sarkis, S. (n.d.). GASLIGHTING: Help Clients Escape and Rebuild from a Narcissist’s Emotional Abuse [Slide show]. Psychotherapy Networker (PESI).