Join our therapists as they share their candid thoughts on some of things they encounter most in their work at the Marriage Recovery Center. Sharmen and Jonathan talk about gaslighting, what it is, ,how to tell if someone is gaslighting you and what you can do about it. Find out what advice they give to people who experience gaslighting.
How To Tell If Someone Is Gaslighting You
Understanding the Manipulative Art of Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a term that has gained significant attention in recent years, and for good reason. It’s a manipulative tactic that can leave you questioning your own reality and sanity. In this article, we will explore the nuances of gaslighting, differentiating between covert and overt forms of it, and provide insights into identifying and dealing with gaslighting behavior.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which one person seeks to make another person doubt their perception, memory, or reality. It often involves tactics aimed at destabilizing the victim and fostering confusion and self-doubt. Gaslighting can occur in various types of relationships, from personal to professional.
Covert vs. Overt Gaslighting
Gaslighting behaviors can range from subtle and covert to blatant and overt. Understanding this spectrum is crucial for recognizing when it’s happening to you.
Covert Gaslighting: This form of gaslighting is more subtle and may not be intentional or malicious. It often involves statements like, “I don’t understand,” “I don’t remember,” or even manipulative flattery, such as telling you that you’re smarter in certain areas. Covert gaslighting can be challenging to identify, as it may not be conscious.
Overt Gaslighting: On the other end of the spectrum, overt gaslighting is intentional and malicious. It involves outright denial of facts or events, even in the face of evidence. Overt gaslighters may resort to tactics like case-building, where they bring in others to support their version of reality. This type of gaslighting is destructive and insistent.
The Impact of Gaslighting
Regardless of whether gaslighting is covert or overt, its impact on the victim can be profound. Gaslighting leads to psychological distress and a constant questioning of one’s reality, memory, and sanity. Victims may begin to doubt their own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, eroding their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Identifying gaslighting behavior can be challenging, especially in covert forms. Here are some signs to help you recognize when someone might be gaslighting you:
- Constant Denial: They consistently deny facts or events, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.
- Shifting Blame: Gaslighters often shift blame onto the victim, making them feel responsible for the gaslighter’s actions or emotions.
- Minimizing Feelings: They downplay your feelings, making you feel overly emotional or irrational.
- Withholding Information: Gaslighters may withhold information, leaving you in the dark or feeling confused.
- Projection: They project their own behaviors onto you, accusing you of things they are guilty of.
- Undermining Confidence: Gaslighters may make you doubt your abilities, intelligence, or judgment.
- Isolation: They may isolate you from friends and family, making you more dependent on their version of reality.
Dealing with Gaslighting
If you suspect you’re being gaslighted, here are some steps to help you navigate the situation:
- Trust Your Gut: Your feelings and perceptions are valid. Trust your instincts when something doesn’t feel right.
- Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries in the relationship. Communicate your needs and expectations.
- Maintain Self-Awareness: Focus on building self-awareness to withstand gaslighting. Strengthen your sense of self and confidence.
- Seek Support: Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your experiences. They can provide valuable perspective and support.
- Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to reduce stress and maintain emotional well-being.
- Consider Professional Help: If the gaslighting is severe and continues despite your efforts, consider seeking professional help, either individually or as a couple.
In conclusion, gaslighting is a harmful form of psychological manipulation that can have devastating effects on its victims. By understanding the different forms of gaslighting and recognizing the signs, you can take steps to protect yourself and maintain your sense of reality and self-worth. Remember that you have the right to your own perspective and feelings, and you don’t have to prove them to anyone. Building self-awareness and setting boundaries are essential tools in dealing with gaslighting and maintaining your emotional well-being.
Also read: The 5 Stages of Trauma Recovery Explained
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.