“I feel like I’m going crazy. I know what I saw, but my mom swears up and down that never happened! I don’t know if I can believe myself anymore.”
If you’ve ever found yourself questioning the evidence of your own senses, starting to believe someone else’s interpretation of your experience over your own, or questioning your sanity after your experiences are categorically denied, you have probably experienced gaslighting. Gaslighting is a frequent flyer in my office, since so many of my clients have been gaslit on a regular basis. Gaslighting is a subtle form of manipulation that is highly effective at chipping away at self-confidence, disorienting and confusing the recipient, and increasing dependence on the gaslighter’s interpretation of events. It’s often difficult to spot in the moment, and can have devastating effects on a person’s sense of self.
So how can you tell if you’re being gaslit? And if you are, how can you protect yourself from the effects of gaslighting? I’m glad you asked! Gaslighting can look like….
*Stating or insinuating that you have misinterpreted a situation that does not flatter them.
“When I said that outfit made you look fat, I wasn’t calling YOU fat, I was saying the outfit made you look fat. You took that the wrong way, that’s not my fault for you interpreting it that way.”
*Denying or dismissing your emotions as exaggerated or invalid.
“You are way overreacting. I didn’t mean it like that and you know it, so stop crying and expecting me to feel bad.”
*Denying they said anything to warrant any kind of reaction.
“I never said that! I never called you fat, stop lying and let it go.”
*Ascribing intent that is inaccurate.
“You’re just crying to make me feel bad. I didn’t do anything wrong, you’re just trying to manipulate my by crying.”
*Giving “backhanded” compliments.
“I think it’s great that you’re going to the gym more. You’ll feel better about having a big butt when you lost some more weight from your waist. You’re working really hard, it’s too bad it takes so long for anything to show on the outside.”
Does this sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably been gaslit. Tune in tomorrow for Gaslighting: Part 2, where I will post some tips on protecting yourself from gaslighting in relationships!