This week on The Thinkergirl’s Pod Channel, Stacey introduces us to a new term…’gaslighting.’
What is ‘gaslighting’? – a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.
Stace shared her very own experience where a past employer was ‘gaslighting’ her – “a boss of mine at the time would make me feel like the other girls I worked with in the office had a problem with me….he played it out like they had an issue with the way I was running meetings, but I’d see these girls and they’d be so fine with me which made me so confused. It was in his (my boss’) best interest to make me insecure and question myself.”
Women are often more susceptible to being victims of gaslighting and it can happen in all kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones.
So how do you make sure it’s not happening to you? Here are the 11 warning signs of gaslighting to look out for according to Psychology Today…
1. They tell blatant lies.
You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.
2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing.
3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
The things they know you value, will be the things they attack first
4. They wear you down over time.
This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective.
5. Their actions do not match their words.
When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.
6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.
7. They know confusion weakens people.
Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.
8. They project.
Often they’ll accuse you of their own bad behaviour. Ie. it they’re a cheater, they’ll accuse you of cheating. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.
9. They try to align people against you.
Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.
10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.
This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.
11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.
By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.
To hear the whole episode in full, listen here…
*If anything here has triggered you, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for support*
This article originally appeared in Psychology Today