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Mental Health Tuesday: What is Gaslighting?


First off, I think it is important to say that I am not a doctor or psychologist. I am just someone who is very familiar with gaslighting and other forms of abuse.

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What is Gaslighting? 

Quite plainly, gaslighting is when someone manipulates you into questioning your sanity by twisting reality. They do so in a gradual manner. By planting seeds of doubt, you are left questioning the validity and sanity of your own thoughts and memories. Leaving you to feel crazy and confused.

Essentially, you are incorporating their thoughts with yours to create an altered reality that the abuser ultimately controls.

What is its purpose?

Gaslighting is often used by abusers to establish distrust in yourself in order to create a dependence on them. Over time, you lose confidence in your ability to discern truth from deception and your reality becomes closely aligned to what the abuser dictates in that moment.

It is a gradual process of lies and manipulation that may leaving you feeling like you are losing your mind. You may feel that you aren’t seeing things the “right way”, maybe even overreacting because you “assumed” that they said what they actually said- even though they deny saying it.

Examples of Gaslighting

Source: Crazy Head Comics
  1. “I never said (or did) that”- When you saw (or heard) them do it
  2. “You are making that up”
  3. “I talked to {insert person} even they believe that you …”
  4. “I was just joking”
  5. “You are too sensitive”
  6. Using those close to you to gang up against you- to make you seem crazy or out of touch
  7. Blatantly Lying
  8. Only telling part of the story
  9. Only giving you part of the information
  10. They say something extremely insulting (or give an extreme accusation) and then suddenly back away from it – maybe even offer an grand compliment afterwards
  11. “I don’t think you feel like {x}. You feel like {y}.”
  12. An surprise insult followed by making light (or a joke of it) after you negatively respond. Causing you to feel guilty for “overreacting.”

Here are some other detailed examples of gaslighting.

Ways to Overcome Gaslighting

  1. Talk to someone you trust: Consider confiding in a therapist.
  2. Go “No Contact”: Cease all contact with the abuser. Keep in mind, they may try to use family and friends to get back into your life.
  3. Journal: Take the time to understand how you feel and see things by writing them down. Even the smallest of feelings can offer great insight.
  4. Get out of isolation: But do so at your own pace. Abusers will often isolate you from those you love. It is important to get in touch with other safe people where you can be yourself without fear of criticism.
  5. Give yourself some grace: You are not to blame for the behavior of the abuser. Nor did you know you were being deceived. Forgive yourself for not knowing and taking action on the abuse earlier. Know that going forward, you will make mistakes and, contrary to the abuser’s belief, that is okay. But know that,  going forward, making a mistake does not mean to abandon the trust in yourself to abide in someone else’s faulty reality.
  6. Start creating boundaries: Although difficult at first, begin to create physical and emotional boundaries with others. Set the expectation as to how you will be treated, acceptable limits and behavior, and consequences for not abiding by the boundary.

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to leave your comments, below!

Sources and Resources

If you want to learn more about gaslighting, here are the articles that I have used to make this post or having found useful.

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