What is Gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that often occurs in abusive relationships. It is a covert type of emotional and psychological abuse where the bully, angry person, narcissist, or abuser misleads the target by creating a false narrative, projecting their issues upon you, blame-shifting, and making you question your judgments and reality. All these various forms of “manipulation” can be woven into one big gaslighting event to throw you off balance and question your sanity. Do not be fooled. Please step back and view it from a different/healthy perspective.
It can be extremely challenging to catch a person gaslighting you when you are thick and deep into an argument. It can be very therapeutic if you step back and review what was said. Here are a few examples of what a selfish person can and might say to you. I must point out that some of these comments can be used years or even decades later to wound you intentionally. When someone plays these games, it is considered “not fighting fair.” It is an immature way of dealing with conflicts. They are taking the focus off them and projecting their issues upon the target (YOU). Instead of resolving a dispute healthily, the abuser will use it as leverage to break you apart. Here are a few examples I have heard before.
- You are the crazy one.
- You lost custody of your child because you are unstable.
- You lost custody of your child because you are crazy.
- You are unstable.
- The police even think you are crazy.
- You are a joke.
- Everything you say is a joke.
- You’re crazy to think you can trespassed on my property (when you thought that person was your friend or family member).
- You are a drug addict, when if fact they are a drug addict.
- You need to speak to your therapist.
- I hope you are still taking your medication.
- You’re crazy. Don’t talk to me. You need to get off my property. When in fact you are not on their property, but on the sidewalk or street trying to have a decent conversation.
Now there are lighter forms of gaslighting, but still it is very destructive. Here are a few other examples.
- Oh come on. I never said that.
- You are being overly sensitive.
- Can’t you take a joke?
- I do not know why you are making such a big deal over nothing.
Gaslighting is a POWER DYNAMIC. It can happen unintentionally and is not always malicious. Your child, friend, parent, lover, spouse, and boss can gaslight you. It can be used to soften a blow, avoid an argument, put you in your place, motivate you to do better in a way that is self-serving the other person, and escalate a dispute. And, when the narcissistic individual tries to bring in another person, such as a family member, the police, friend… they are creating the triangle effect-abuser, rescuer, victim. Be warned. It is a tactic to create fear. If you did nothing wrong and did not break the law, you have nothing to fear. You can let them play their games and stand in your TRUTH.
People can gaslight each other. Here is a good example.
- You need to speak to your therapist. Response – I graduated from therapy, but I sure you still need to see a therapist because you have unresolved anger issues.
- Your crazy. Response – No! Your crazy. And it goes back and forth. We see young kids and teenagers do this often to each other.
- Your crazy. Response – At least I am not the angry one, yelling, and acting like a toddler by making a scene.
When someone gaslights you, it is best to let it go. It is not worth it. They are not worth your peace of mind. That dirty look they give you is not worth it. Eventually, you will have enough. Gaslighting makes it so challenging to have a decent conversation. When someone gaslights you, it is time just to walk away. Let them think they won the argument. Suppose the person gaslighting you is NOT willing to accept responsibility for their actions, apologize, and speak in a calm and supportive manner. In that case, you will most likely not get the positive results are seeking. Eventually, you will get tired of the games. The sooner, the better.