Gaslighting is a phrase we hear more and more of lately. While we’re all becoming familiar with the term and know that it’s not a good thing, many of us still aren’t entirely sure what gaslighting is or how to recognize if we’re a victim of it.
The best way to explain gaslighting is that it’s a form of manipulation. In many cases, the gaslighting starts out as something minor and then turns into something much more serious and sinister until it’s a form of emotional and mental abuse. It is usually started by someone who is in a position of power or someone you’re close to.
The idea behind gaslighting is that it’s a form of manipulation that’s specifically designed to alter your beliefs and even question your own judgment. As time passes, it wears away at your confidence, putting you in a position where you turn to the person responsible for the gaslighting. Gaslighting is often done in the early stages of domestic abuse situations. It is also frequently seen between healthcare workers and patients, employers/co-workers, etc.
If you’re not sure if you’re being subjected to gaslighting, here are some things you should consider:
- Does the person you think may be gaslighting you frequently question your version of events?
- Do they frequently say you either have or haven’t done something until you find yourself questioning your own memory?
- Frequently accuse you of being over-emotional
- Often subtly alter facts so that you appear crazy, silly, or are to blame for things that went wrong
- Fail to even consider the idea that they may be wrong
Recognizing that you’re being gaslit is a good first sign. Once you understand that you’re the victim of manipulation, you can take the steps needed to extract yourself from the situation and start repairing the damage the situation has done to your mental and emotional health.
One of the best things you can do after you’ve been a victim of gaslighting is to turn to close friends and family members. It’s up to you to decide if you want to tell them what you’ve gone through. Some people find the act of telling their experiences cathartic. Others don’t. Whether or not you discuss what happened, you’ll find that simply spending time with people who genuinely love you, who want nothing but the best for you, and who want to build you up and see you become the best possible version of yourself to be just the medicine your self-esteem needs so that it can begin to heal.
Depending on the severity of the gaslighting, some people find that getting professional therapy is massively helpful. Others find that they do best when they cut the person responsible for the gaslighting out of their life.