Is someone gaslighting you?
Do you feel as if you’re tied in knots, not free to speak your mind or show how you feel? Does your partner insist that they love you, even though they continually put you down? Confusing? Does your partner disregard what you say or how you feel, so you find yourself on edge and think it best not to speak or show your feelings?
This form of emotional abuse can lead to you feeling very troubled, unhappy, anxious and depressed.
I have highlighted the main points in bold font if you don’t have time to read all this article.
The term ‘Gaslighting’ has been highlighted in the media recently regarding a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. Gaslighting is quite common in many relationships, both at work, at home and in social settings.
I think it is so important to be aware of gaslighting, and this has prompted me to write this article. I have outlined some of the main points below regarding what Gaslighting means, how to recognise it and what to do about it.
Where did the term gaslighting come from?
Gaslighting was the title of a film in the early 1940’s that depicts a husband who manipulates his wife to make her feel crazy.
How to recognise a person who is gaslighting
This is often a person with a particular type of narcissism who:
- Has a special sense of entitlement and they must always get what they want regardless of anyone. They must have the last word in an argument.
- Has an inflated sense of self, like an inflated balloon! This means that they think they are special, perfect, better than anyone. They are always right and will do anything such as lie, cheat, manipulate to convince others.
- Will project blame onto others, so that what they blame you for or how they describe you is very often 100% accurate to themselves. For them to admit their mistakes or any failing on their part would mean their sense of themselves (their balloon) would get deflated and that would be unthinkable.
- Will avoid taking responsibility, so you will be the person who must do everything and then they can find fault with your actions and choices.
- Underneath this great facade they are lacking in confidence. So, to make themselves feel better, they put you down and lead you to lose confidence in yourself.
- Can be popular outside of the house but ‘behind closed doors’ is a very different person.
How Gaslighting can affect you
- You find it easier to give in to their wishes, but this means denying your own wants and needs.
- You decide to say as little as possible because you are not heard or validated. This type of narcissist will be unable to consider how it is to be in your shoes; they cannot be empathic.
- You hide your feelings because you find you will be judged as being e.g. too sensitive or too serious.
This serves as a way of coping but is at a cost to yourself. Repressing your feelings is essentially what leads you to feel depressed. This also means you feel very much on your own and isolated.
- You find yourself wary and timid in their company.
- Always rehearsing how you might word something you wish to speak to avoid being put down or discredited.
- You doubt yourself, questioning your ability to accurately recall an event or conversation because this person will often twist the truth to suit them.
- You can’t trust your own judgement anymore and you have become anxious about making decisions. This leads to your feeling confused. When you can’t trust yourself, this leaves you fearful and anxious.
What to do if you find you are subject to gaslighting
- The first important step is to be informed and be aware if this is happening to you.
- Read up on gaslighting in Google.
- Pay attention to how you feel, your emotions. How you feel is how you feel and is a clear indicator of your truth. This can help you gain clarity when you are led to doubt yourself. Your mind will come up with many options and confuse you further.
- Promise yourself that you are not going to be a victim. You deserve much better.
- Seek help from a professional and well experienced counsellor.
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About Valerie Ann Adams
Author: Valerie Ann Adams
I deal with clients subject to Gaslighting, as well as a wide range of other issues in my private practice at Galgorm Counselling, Ballymena.
I have over 20 years experience as a Counsellor.
I integrate Psychosynthesis, Psychodynamic and Person- Centred approaches to inform my work to fully address client issues.