what is gaslighting abuse? you may have heard this term before you’re not quite sure what it is, so gaslighting tactic strategy is a mechanism used by very often powerful people or sometimes pretty manipulative to control others, to get others to question themselves and essentially anchor some kind of need of validation from the abuser.
So when you think about like cult leaders, narcissists, dictators, these are often individuals that really successfully and effectively use gaslighting as a form of abuse on other people. being the victim of gaslighting abuse is difficult, it’s challenging and sometimes you’re not even aware that it’s happening.
So here’s an analogy to help better explain this, some of us have heard this analogy many times, when you think about putting a small creature into a pot of water and slowly bringing it up to a boil, oftentimes the creature has no idea what’s happening to it, because it’s such a gradual movement of temperature and finally it’s too late, it’s very different than dropping a creature into a boiling pot of water where they instantly know that something bad is happening. so this is the nature of gaslighting abuse, it’s a gradual series of events often seemingly innocuous and small in the moment, but over time it can turn into a very impactful in a negative way form of abuse to control people.
so what is it that we’re looking for in people that use this strategy to control so people that Gaslight, they are often liars, they often just don’t tell the truth, there’s not much alignment between their actions and their words so it’s really important to be looking at their actions more so than their words, because they will tell you anything to control you and to make you feel good sometimes, so for instance, you might notice that somebody that does this to you can often berate you or put you down and then other times will use some kind of positive reinforcement like praise or even complimenting something that you’ve done, so this can lead to a lot of confusion and lead you to be seeking out that approval from this person. more times than not because you’ve gotten it before in some strange way.
a big tip on that is looking at the thing that they’re praising or complimenting you on oftentimes it’s something that has also benefited them, people that gaslight are typically not dumb individuals, in fact a lot of times they’re very intelligent, really smart and that’s how they’re able to successfully control other people.
something that you might notice an abuser doing is projecting, so what is this concept of projecting? for example maybe somebody heavily uses substances, and you find that that person is often accusing other people of having a problem with substances, this is the idea of projecting and it’s very common for people that gaslight to project, they are doing something that’s probably not the best for themselves or for other people but they often accuse other people or blame other people of doing that very same thing.
other things to be looking for are, they might try to make you feel like you’re isolated, so either they’re gonna try to turn people in your life against you or they’re gonna make you think that they have turned people in your life against you, they might say that somebody important to you doesn’t think that you’ll ever amount to anything, they’re really pretty good at quickly identifying who’s important in your life and what is important in your life, and using that as some kind of ammunition to make you feel more isolated and alone. this is a tactic to make you think that you don’t have anybody to turn to, that you have to second-guess your own gut instincts and your feelings.
how are we supposed to handle this?
if you find that you may be a victim of gaslight abuse, being cognizant and understanding some of these strategies that we just talked about is a great way to prevent yourself from falling into the tight grasp of one of these abusers, if you find that you’re already in, there are some things to be thinking about.
gaslight abusers often will deny that they said something meaning, they’re gonna make you second-guess your memory, so especially in like a workplace environment having physical written records of things will help you maintain some kind of solid memory that you have of them saying something to you or you saying something to them, other things that can be helpful are seeking out support so talking to other people that aren’t involved in this drama, some kind of outside objective perspective to help you see whether you know the interaction feels normal to them or it’s something that could be a red flag.
having a really strong sense of self and building your confidence is also a really good way to better trust your gut and your instincts, when it comes to this kind of abuse that could be happening to you, and at the end of the day, we can’t really expect any kind of victim of anything to be responsible to make the abuse stop, but there are things that you can do to combat some of the things that are happening, such as like I said seeking out support building on your self confidence learning about and practicing strategies to help you become a direct and assertive communicator in order to make sure you’re not being stepped all over.
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