We are not therapists or counsellors, but a term that’s been drifting around for a few years now is ‘gaslighting’, which the meaning isn’t that obvious.
Before finding out, it seemed like gaslighting was making someone so angry it was like adding gas to a flame, or fuelling a fire.
It’s actually not that, although the feeling of being gaslit can feel like being ablaze. The official definition is “manipulating (someone) using psychological methods into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning.”
Here is what we interpret gaslighting, and where you’ll find it in your life:
1. The person denies they said something
It is very hard to argue with someone who seems to 100% believe what they’re saying is true. Keyword: seems. They did or didn’t tell you something, and now they saying they didn’t or did. For example: 2 weeks ago your partner told you they have 2 weeks leave coming up. You get excited and start planning your holidays.
Then they tell you they never told you that they had 2 weeks leave, that they can’t believe you ever thought that, give them proof of when they said they had two weeks leave.
The stinger is the proof - they always seem to demand “when did I say that? Tell me exactly when I said it”. Well I don’t fucking know, I don’t record every fucking conversation we have.
Even when you do the “well, you said ‘i have two weeks leave’ and I said ‘that’s awesome!’ , I couldn’t have made it up on my own” they don’t listen to you. They just double down.
It can be from anyone (friends, coworkers, family, bosses) around something small (telling you they told you to lock the door when they didn’t) to something huge (they never said you would never reach your full potential which has ruined your life ever since).
Gaslighting is more of a tactic to never accept blame, or feel like the one at fault: and for the gaslighter to feel more powerful.
2. Denying they did something
Even when all the receipts are there - you saw them doing it, you have them recorded doing it, you have the messages: a gaslighter still denies they did it.
The difference between a gaslighter and a liar is that some liars, when caught out, either run away or try to make up more lies. They seem to know when they are lying.
Gaslighters do not even care with the proof. They can’t believe you believe the proof, you must’ve seen wrong, it’s not true. They try to have you not believing your own eyes.
3. Making up reactions
To get you to question your observations more, they will make up reactions that go against what you remember, and how you perceive things.
“What you said was so offensive, and my best friend was so upset” - even though you saw the best friend laughing and they kept talking to you. “When I called you that name last year you laughed, so I thought it was ok. You confuse me so much” - when you would never allow anyone to call you that name, and you were the hurt one.
It makes you question your own memories and reality - did you remember your best friend’s reaction wrong? Did you forget that interaction? Somehow now you’re the one who’s hurt the gaslighter when you’re the one with the original problem?
4. Making you feel like you’re going crazy / memory problems / always your fault
Gaslighting is done to keep the gaslighter in the right, to be the victim, never the one to be blamed, to help them feel powerful.
The key feeling to knowing when you’re being gaslit is feeling like you’re going crazy - you seem to not remember the scenarios in the same way, you remember things they said that they swear they would never said, and your proof is nothing.
Once you register this feeling, you will start seeing it more often: it’s where a lot of conflict happens. Unfortunately the only way to respond calmly and say you agree to disagree, and that you will believe what you believe.
Healing a gaslighter shouldn’t be your responsibility, especially when you realise that at the core, they want to be more powerful than you and make it your fault. To be remorseful and want to change means they’re willing to accept blame - which is a 180 to what a gaslighter is.
Sometimes distance is the only way to make you feel better, if interactions with the gaslighter make you feel shit.
Stay strong to your feelings and memory when you next encounter a gaslighter!
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