Gaslighting, what is it, and how can I identify it? Let’s be honest. People love to throw the word gaslighting around on the internet without knowing what it means. It’s taken the role of the word toxic. It might just be me, but it feels like all anybody says nowadays is that you’re getting gaslighted if someone lies to you or even in circumstances where the confusion of gaslighting doesn’t even make sense. So what does it mean to experience gaslighting? How do you identify it? And what should you do if you think you are being gaslit?
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships. So no, your significant other lying to you and covering it up isn’t gaslighting. That’s just your significant other lying to you and getting caught. Gaslighting is a very sneaky form of abuse. It’s all about an abuser using a false narrative to mislead someone into questioning their judgment and reality.
If you are a victim of gaslighting, you might feel dazed or confused after talking to your abuser. You might question your judgment, memories of events, or even your self-worth. And they usually manipulate using various tactics and tools.
Someone who gaslights habitually lies. Have you ever encountered a pathological liar who doubles down on their lies even when they get caught? Lying is the key aspect for gaslighters, and even when caught lying, the gaslighter can still be very convincing to the point where you start to second guess yourself.
What better way to make you second guess yourself than when everyone around you thinks you are emotionally unstable. Discrediting someone is something that high schoolers and middle schoolers are known for, but talking about someone behind their back and spreading rumors is an effective way to discredit someone. It’s not about what’s true. It’s about what people will believe.
And the vice versa of rumor spreading is also true. A gaslighter will lie and tell you that others are talking bad about you behind your back. And the gaslighter will do everything in their ability to make you believe that lie. The lie isolates you from people who would otherwise be your friend.
Invalidating Your Feelings
Having your feelings invalidated can be demoralizing, but it’s a power move by a gaslighter to gain control over you. Being told to calm down and that you are super sensitive can invalidate your feelings and leave you thinking that your feelings are wrong or bad. It would help if you were heard and listened to in a relationship and not emotionally manipulated.
So you’ve been lied to, discredited, and invalidated, so what’s next on the list of red flags? Have you ever talked to someone who, no matter the conversation, would end up blaming you for everything that’s happened? On top of everything else, the blame game is a sign of gaslighting. Maybe you’ve tried to talk to your abuser about their behavior and how it makes you feel, and they spin the conversation on you, leaving you feeling like you are the reason for the behavior.
Red Flags and Gaslighting
Someone who has experienced gaslighting usually needs help from a psychologist to help work through the trauma. Overcoming past abuse is never easy, especially when you’ve been led to second-guess your judgment and sense of reality. A gaslighter will pathologically lie to you even when caught, discredit you to those around you, make you believe that those around you are talking behind your back, invalidate all of your feelings, and blame you for everything.
Gaslighting isn’t a fun topic to read about, but the more informed we are, the better and healthier our dating habits. Here’s a quick read on healthy relationship expectations.