Gaslighting: Signs, Examples, & How to Respond

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hazrakhatoon

08 February 2024

8 Mins

Have you ever felt confused and second-guessed about your thoughts and feelings because of someone? Well, what if we told you there is a term for this called gaslighting that can make you self-doubt and feel less confident about yourself? The person who gaslights makes people question themselves and not believe in their feelings and thoughts to control and influence them.

Let's explore the definition of gaslighting, understand how it works, and find strategies to be confident again.

What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where someone makes you question your thoughts, memory, perception, feelings, or reality by denying things they have said or done. This gaslighting definition shows that for the gaslighter, it can be a way to gain control or undermine your confidence. It can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and a feeling of being constantly on edge. which can be harmful to your mental health and wellbeing.

Gaslighting is a very sneaky thing that can hinder your mental well-being without you even knowing. Talk to a professional expert and understand how to manage it for free.

Where Did the Term Gaslighting Come From?

The term gaslighting comes from a play and movie called "Gas Light," where a husband deliberately tries to make his wife think she's going crazy by dimming the gas lights in their home and then denying that anything has changed. Similarly, a gaslighter may deny something they said or did, making the other person question the truth and facts.

How Gaslighting Works

Gaslighting can happen in personal or professional relationships, which gives the manipulator the power to make you feel unsure about what is real and true. It is important to understand these tactics to protect yourself from this kind of manipulation.

1. How does gaslighting begin?

Gaslighting starts when someone tries to make you doubt what you know is real. It often begins with small lies or denials that make you question your memory or thoughts. The person may say things that make you feel confused or unsure about what is real. Over time, they may tell more lies or make you believe you are too sensitive or forgetful. This can make you feel less confident about yourself and give them the control to do whatever they want.

2. What are a gaslighter’s tactics?

A gaslighter uses tricky tactics to manipulate and control others, such as lying, denying things they said or did, or making you think your thinking is wrong. They could blame you for things you didn't do or make you feel like your feelings are not important to create confusion and self-doubt about yourself. They sometimes even isolate you from friends or family so that it's easier for them to control you.

3. How do you know that you are being gaslighted?

If you often feel confused, doubt yourself, or say sorry even when it's not your fault, you may be experiencing gaslighting. Gaslighters dismiss your feelings and make you question whether what you know is correct or not. Trusting your instincts and talking to someone you trust can help you understand if you are being gaslighted.

4. Is gaslighting ever unintentional?

Gaslighting someone involves trying to control and manipulate the person. However, some people can do it without realizing the harm they're causing. In such cases, the person may not understand the impact of their actions. Whether intentional or not, gaslighting in a relationship can affect your mental health.

5. What is medical gaslighting?

Medical gaslighting happens when doctors or healthcare professionals don't take your health concerns seriously. They may ignore your symptoms or say it's all in your head without checking properly, which can be harmful as it delays getting the right treatment. So, if your health concerns are being ignored, it's important to speak up, change your doctor, and make sure your voice is heard by healthcare providers.

How to Recognize a Gaslighter

To recognize a gaslighter, pay attention to how they act. Usually, they try to make you feel like your feelings don't matter and your thoughts are not correct. If you notice that you are often confused, saying sorry too much, or questioning your own thoughts, it could be a sign of gaslighting. If you feel unsure or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and talk to someone you trust for support. It's important to recognize these signs to protect yourself from this kind of manipulation.

1. What is the difference between gaslighting and manipulation?

Manipulation is when someone tries to control or influence you. Gaslighting someone is a specific kind of manipulation where the person tries to make you doubt your existence. In simple terms, manipulation is about controlling, while gaslighting is about making you question yourself.

2. What is the difference between gaslighting and narcissism?

Gaslighting is a way people try to mess with your mind, making you doubt your thoughts and feelings. Narcissism is more about a person who thinks they are super important and needs a lot of attention. While a narcissist may use gaslighting, not everyone who does it is necessarily a narcissist. Gaslighting is a behavior, and narcissism is a personality trait.

Leaving a Gaslighter

Leaving a gaslighter is a brave step to take care of your wellbeing. Start by trusting your feelings and acknowledging that your thoughts and emotions are valid. Reach out to friends, family, or a support network to share your experiences and get guidance. Creating boundaries and seeking professional help if needed can help you break free from the gaslighter's influence and build a healthier life for yourself.

1. What is “hoovering”?

"Hoovering" is when someone tries to pull you back into a relationship or situation after you have distanced yourself. It is a trick to make you come back, using things like compliments or promises to change, which is done by people who want to control you and keep you under their influence.

2. How does gaslighting change a victim?

Gaslighting messes with your mind and can make you feel less sure about your thoughts and feelings. Over time, it can lower your confidence and self-esteem, make you feel anxious or sad, and make you start depending on the other person for approval.

Examples of Gaslighting

There are several types of gaslighting, depending on the different circumstances and relationships you have in your life. So, here are some of the common examples you should know to better deal with its after-effects.

1. Example of gaslighting during an affair

In a relationship, if one partner is having an affair and the other confronts them about suspicious behavior, the cheating partner may engage in gaslighting. They could deny the affair, call the questioning partner paranoid, or accuse them of being overly jealous, making the victim doubt their instincts and feel like they're imagining things.

2. Example of gaslighting among close friends

Suppose a person notices that their close friends are excluding them from activities or conversations. When they bring it up, the friends may dismiss it, saying the person is being too sensitive or imagining the exclusion. This can lead to questioning your social perceptions and feeling isolated within the friendship group.

3. Example of an abusive mother gaslighting

In a family setting, an abusive mother may belittle her child and then deny the hurtful words when confronted. She may say the child is exaggerating or making things up, causing the child to doubt their feelings and experiences and reinforcing a cycle of emotional abuse.

4. Example of a boss gaslighting an employee

A boss may promise an employee a promotion and then deny ever making such a commitment when the promotion doesn't happen. The boss could accuse the employee of misunderstanding or misremembering the conversation, making the employee question their competence and credibility.

5. Gaslighting after a sexual assault

In a distressing scenario, a victim of sexual assault may confide in someone about the experience. The person they trust could react with doubt, questioning the accuracy of the victim's memory or suggesting that the assault never happened. This form of gaslighting can compound the trauma and make the victim hesitant to seek support.

6. Example of gaslighting between siblings

Sibling relationships can also involve gaslighting. For instance, if one sibling breaks a shared item and denies it, they may accuse the other of being forgetful or clumsy. This tactic can create confusion and tension within the sibling relationship, with the victim questioning their memory and sense of reality.

What to Do If Someone Is Gaslighting You

If you suspect that someone is gaslighting you, maintain a strong sense of self-awareness and keep a record of instances where you feel confused or manipulated. Here are some of the ways in which you can deal with gaslighting incidents confidently:

  • Trust your instincts
  • Keep a record of manipulative instances
  • Seek support from friends, family, or professionals
  • Set clear boundaries
  • Educate yourself about gaslighting
  • Consider seeking professional help
  • Prioritize your well-being
  • Distance yourself from the gaslighter if necessary

When to Get Professional Help for Gaslighting

If constant self-doubt, anxiety, depression, or a decline in self-esteem are outcomes of gaslighting, consulting with a mental health professional becomes crucial for support and coping strategies.

Whether this is happening in personal relationships or professional settings, it is important to improve your well-being by seeking guidance from therapists, counselors, or support services. If you find it challenging to deal with the effects of gaslighting on your own, asking for help is a proactive step toward regaining control, increasing resilience, and promoting overall mental and emotional wellbeing.

It is important to seek help when you do not know how to tackle gaslighting; talk to an expert and get to the bottom of it for free.

How Can Now&Me Help?

If you're facing gaslighting in your relationships, Now&Me is here to support you. Our platform provides a safe space for you to discuss your feelings and seek guidance from qualified experts, starting at just Rs 30/-, ensuring that professional help is accessible to everyone.

In addition to therapy, Now&Me offers valuable self-help resources such as articles, guides, and forums to help you deal with gaslighting issues. What sets us apart is our community, where you can freely share your thoughts without fear of judgment.

Now&Me offers a comprehensive approach to handling gaslighting with professional guidance, practical resources, and a caring community. Take the first step towards understanding and healing in your relationships by downloading the Now&Me app.

Sources

Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.

However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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