Do you feel extremely low all the time? Do you have this crushing feeling and you always second guess yourself and your actions? Are you not confident enough about yourself, your skills and your abilities? Do you constantly feel suffocated and extremely sensitive and are unable to make decisions because you feel you’re always wrong? Do you feel like an alien within humans? Can’t figure out what’s so wrong with you?
This post may help! If you can relate to everything or even some things above, it probably means you’re a victim of a form of manipulation known as gaslighting.
Gaslighting can affect anyone entire perception of themselves and can not just affect the individual’s mental and physical state, but also their social life, family, friends and relationships in general. It can also then slowly move on to affecting the person’s creativity, skillset and efficiency at work.
So What Exactly is Gaslighting?
The term gaslighting is used to describe manipulative behavior, which is derived from the films Gas Light released in 1940 and 1944 where the husband manipulated the wife into thinking she was crazy.
Just like other forms of emotional abuse, gaslighting tends to affect your ability to make proper judgements. It makes you feel bad about yourself for things that aren’t your fault, and the person who’s attempting to manipulate you probably does that just to make you feel that you’re harmful, negative and the one to blame for everything that’s wrong around you. Then, they’ll also proceed to tell you that you’re being too emotional or paranoid or are even crazy, silly, mentally unstable and that you need help. All of this will eat you away slowly and will end up making you believe just that.
3 Examples of Gaslighting
Gaslighting can occur in many different settings from a husband and wife relationship to a family setting.
Let’s look at an example in a family setting. Andrew is a young boy who has a father who is abusive and angry. Because of this, Andrew is always scared of being himself and displaying his emotions, thoughts and feelings because he feels he might get his father angry. When Andrew finally decides to take up the courage and talk to his father about his behavior, his father shuts him off and tells him that he’s being overly sensitive.
Now let’s look at one in the relationship setting. Jane is married to Mike for 5 years and they have two young children. Jane is now trying to start a business that she’s passionate about, but when she approaches her husband for help, he gets pissed off. He blames her for being too materialistic and not being a good mother to the kids. When Jane approaches him in a calm manner and explains how he hurt her, he shakes it off and tells her that she’s over-reacting.
And now let’s understand one in the workplace setting. Sophie is a hardworking person who has been serving a company for 5 years. She is now promoted to another level and has a higher salary. However, she is also put on a trial run period for her abilities to be evaluated and to check if she is fit for the post or not. Her new supervisor initially does everything correctly, but then starts to hand over minor chores that are not a part of her job, and becomes more and more demanding. Finally, when the time comes for her to be promoted, her supervisor says that she’s not worthy enough for the position just yet. When Sophie approaches her about it, she says that she needs to learn work ethics to be worthy of the position.
How to Know if Someone is Gaslighting You?
From stress and anxiety to depression and sometimes even suicidal behavior, gaslighting can really mess with your brain. So how do you know if someone is actually doing that to you? Given below are a few signs that may help you understand that.
- You feel there is something wrong or off about that person in your life who’s manipulating you, but you just don’t understand what it is.
- You tend to second guess yourself a lot. Whether it is about making decisions or anything else.
- You tend to become disoriented and confused easily.
- You feel there’s something really wrong with you. Like you’re losing your mind.
- You always feel threatened.
- You never feel you’re good enough for anything.
- You frequently feel as if you’re misunderstood.
- You tend to feel depressed and isolated.
- You apologize all the time even when you’re the one getting hurt.
- You tend to find it hard to trust your decisions and judgement.
- You avoid making decisions, even small ones.
- You feel like you’re the weakest version of yourself. When you recall your past it is usually about how strong and confident you were.
- You feel guilty for everything that’s wrong around you.
- You’re afraid of speaking up for the wrong that happens to you.
Healing From It
Gaslighting can have a huge impact on the way you think, your perception, your mental health and your personality in general. If you feel yourself doubting your self esteem, confidence and your motivation, here’s a little something to help.
Once you’re aware that you’re a victim of gaslighting, move forward and identify the individual who is doing that to you. Consider the ways that person might be having an impact on you. See how you can remove that impact that they have in your life.
Whenever they make an attempt to manipulate you, take a deep breath, clear your mind and engage in some mindfulness meditation or a grounding exercise. This will help you stay calm and more in control of your emotions.
Decide and evaluate whether it is worth having that person in your life. Consider cutting them entirely if they influence you too much that it affects who you are as an individual.
Seek help from friends, family and other trustworthy people. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim. Instead, focus on maintaining your personal power and see how it influences them.