gas·lightˈɡaslīt/verbgerund or present participle: gaslighting
- Manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. 2. Mental abuse. 3. Method of psychological control over another person.
Gaslighting is a word that comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight where a man mentally manipulates his wife by making subtle changes in the home and then denying there is a change which causes the wife to doubt her sanity.
This psychological technique has been in use by the military and CIA at least since I was a child. My father belonged to an Army Psy-Ops Unit and he was a master at the gaslighting technique. It is certainly being employed by the current U.S. President and Administration, and is a tool used by many shadowy organizations and powerful people.
It’s also used by abusers in relationships A LOT. The abuser may not know the name of the trick they are pulling, but they definitely know they are playing a game of control with the other person. They know they are manipulating. They know they are lying. They know they want the other person to feel crazy and completely dependent on the abuser for what is true.
Some signs you may be under the abuse of a gaslighting:
• The person wants you to believe they are the source of truth in your life and the only source of truth. Everyone else is lying and cannot be trusted.
• You catch them in a behavior and they deny it even though you saw it with your own eyes or heard it with your own ears.
• They put you down and then tell you how much they are giving up to be with you and how much better their life would be if they weren’t doing things for you.
• They use your wounds against you by throwing up your past in your face or telling you that you deserved some trauma that happened to you. They love to tell you to “Just get over it.”
• They lie, deny, lie, deny, lie, deny and on and on until you are exhausted and can’t fight it any more and you just accept what they say is true because you are too mentally tired to put up the fight.
• They accuse you of doing the things they are really doing.
• They call you crazy and tell other people you are crazy.
• They tell you that you are overreacting, overly emotional, say you are upset at them because of something someone else said or did, or even that you are “hormonal”.
• They refute your memory of events and who did what or who chose what so that you eventually can’t make even simple decisions anymore because you mistrust your own thoughts.
• They blame you for their behavior.
It’s really hard to get out from under a gaslighting situation and recover from this kind of abuse. Emotional scars are deep and hidden and can stay with you a very long time if you don’t know how to heal or even that you’ve been manipulated in this way. Self-care and self-awareness are two of the best medicines for someone who has gone though gaslighting. Time alone to really get to know yourself, what you believe, what your dreams and passions are, and learning to trust yourself are vital to healing.
But, what if we can learn to detect this behavior and stop it before we are hurt by an abuser? What if we can become immune to the mind tricks that manipulators like to play? What if we can learn from a history of this abuse and be ready to defend against it next time? Can you reclaim your power after this kind of abuse?
It’s absolutely possible to prepare and defend against this type of psychological control. In fact, I would say it’s vital that we learn this skill with the daily assault on our senses we are under right now in the U.S.!
How to Become Immune to the Gaslighting Technique
1. Self-awareness is the key. Know who you are and what you want in life. Know your own code of ethics and morals. Know that you are mentally competent and a fully capable human being!
2. Connect with your soul voice. Work with your intuition and listening to your inner-voice. Meditation is a great place to start! Trust your inner-voice because it is your connection to Divine support. Your soul doesn’t lie to you!
3. When you are refuted on your recollection of events, make notes of what you remember. You can return to your notes when you aren’t being confronted to double check your memory. You can also reach out to anyone else who can recall the same event. If a person gets in the habit of contradicting your memory, begin keeping an account of dealings with them.
4. Know this – we don’t remember everything that happens in our lives and we don’t always remember everything accurately. That doesn’t mean we are crazy or that our memory can’t be trusted. Our memories can sometimes be a little off depending on the emotions and significance placed on the event you remember. These are subjective things, like how you felt or your interpretation of someone’s attitude. These are things we can easily get confused on or remember differently than someone else at the same event. Objective things don’t change. These are facts. Trust your memory and trust the facts you remember.
5. Write down instances of denial from a person when you know they did or said something that they now refute. Write down if you catch them in a lie. Why write it down? So you can look back over the abusive behavior and decide when you’ve had enough of it!
6. When they call names, make accusations, or try to use your past to hurt you, realize what their goal is – to control you with this pain. They want to distract you, to change the subject, and to confuse you. Don’t fall for it. Be calm. Let it roll off your back. Stay focused on the truth. They want you to act crazy so they can convince you that you are crazy!
7. Self-care is so important. Make time for you to de-stress. Clear your mind. Fill your cup. Feel joy and happiness. The higher you vibrate the harder an abuser has to work to bring you down!
8. Spend time with friends and people you trust. Talk with like-minded people. Know that you are not alone.
9. Know that it isn’t your job to change someone who behaves like this. There isn’t anything you can do to make them a better person. Your only job is to be responsible for you and your growth.
10. Decide if you really want someone in your life who uses gaslighting to manipulate and control you – and if you do, then take responsibility for that decision by seeking to find out why you would accept this in your life.
I hope this helps you stay mentally and emotionally healthy out there in the world. It’s tough out there! Stay strong and confident in YOU!