April 19, 2021 at 2:31 pm #65703emilie18Participant
I know what gaslighting is. I have experienced it firsthand. It has been widely discussed in this forum. I recently read an article on mindbodygreen by therapist Alyssa Mancao which breaks down some of the signs of being gaslit, but more interesting to me – how to react to it.
For me, recognizing gaslighting is the first hurdle. When someone tries to convince me not to believe my own senses, when I hear things like: “You’re making things up.”, “That never happened.”, “You’re being dramatic.”, “You don’t really feel that way.”, “You’re blowing things out of proportion.”, “You are overreacting.”, “You are too sensitive.” – all my alarms fire up. It wasn’t always so – I had to learn to recognize these attempts at minimizing my reality as a red flag.
For much of my life, and always in past romantic relationships, I had very low self-esteem and high emotional dependence on my partner. I was naïve and trusting and assumed friends, partners and family had my best interest at heart. Conflict of any kind triggered a range of emotions from confusion and anger to frustration and spinning in circles, especially when I was told that I was wrong in my perceptions.
What I have learned over the years is to trust myself. That was easier said than done. Only when I could step away from the belittling and manipulation could I think things through. In this article, Mancao says that it’s important that you believe yourself—even if your gaslighter is trying to distort your own truths, memories and perceptions of past events. I started keeping a journal and referring back to it when I was told something did not happen the way I thought. I recorded how I felt while things did not feel right. And after I collected my thoughts and validated my feelings and when I felt strong enough to do so, I confronted my abuser.
Mancao points out some of the main methods of gaslighting involve blatantly lying, shifting the narrative and trying to minimize your feelings and experiences. “Entering the conversation knowing your purpose will help you remain centered on a path versus being veered in the different directions that a gaslighting person may take you,” she writes.
One of the techniques she recommends is to simply end the conversation and leave. “The goal of the person who is gaslighting is to have you doubt your perception, so walking away before the gaslighting gets severe is a way to maintain your perception of events,” Mancao explains.
Having some specific phrases in your pocket helps. Mancao suggests these:
• “My feelings and reality are valid. I don’t appreciate you telling me that I am being too sensitive.”
• “Don’t tell me how to feel; this is how I feel.”
• “I am allowed to explore these topics and conversations with you. Do not tell me I am being dramatic.”
• “I know what I saw.”
• “I will not continue this conversation if you continue to minimize what I am feeling.” (Then, implement the boundary.)
Ultimately, try to be kind to yourself—including if that means walking away.
April 19, 2021 at 3:34 pm #65704Jan7Participant
This is excellent!! Thank you for posting this, as aways your articulate post are beneficial to all. 🌷🌷🌷
What my ex would do, was spin the gas lighting conversation into a new gas lighting conversation if I was catching on to his manipulation…then confuse the heck out of me…and then after my mind would race trying to figure out what we were just fighting about (because I literally would forget because he was so masterful with his dialog & gas lighting.
Once I escaped and learned about gas lighting…it was clear how cunning he really is and most like myself back then had no clue about gas lighting. SO glad he is out of my life!!
I see a lot of gas lighting on the tv news, in news papers, from politicians, World leaders, tv programs, health officals etc. It’s shocking once you wake up to the true evil behavior of so many people in this world and how often they use it.
Thanks again for your post.
April 19, 2021 at 7:19 pm #65705sept4Participant
Thank you Emilie, that is excellent.
However I disagree with the last paragraph. In my opinion, once you have realized someone is lying to you, manipulating you, gaslighting you – the best response is to end the relationship.
Starting a discussion about gaslighting, pointing out gaslighting, trying to manage gaslighting, confronting gaslighting etc really does not solve anything. Because the bottom line is you are dealing with a liar, a manipulator, an abusive person. So the best way to shield yourself is to leave that person. Instead of trying to manage their lies.
Moreover, with the worst of these people confronting them about lies can actually be dangerous. If someone is very abusive then they will retaliate once they sense that their victim is getting stronger and they are losing control over their victim. Abusive relationships are ultimately about control. So challenging the abuser and letting him know he is losing control can trigger them to retaliate.
April 19, 2021 at 8:18 pm #65706funluvmusic25Participant
Great tips, emilie! It brings to mind an experience I had with my ex sociopath.
It was very early in our relationship when I was still my own person and before I was under his spell. I can’t even recall the entire conversation, but he was berating me saying I was insecure and weak. At that particular moment and because of what I survived during my childhood, his comment literally made steam come out of my ears! I retorted that he had no idea of my strengths and what I’d been through and he certainly was not dealing with an insecure, weak woman. I then hung up on him. After a few short minutes he called back wanting to apologize in his own weird sociopathic way. He stuttered and stammered finally saying he might have been a bit insensitive. As I look back now I realize how difficult it was for him to apologize because as a true sociopath he had no true emotions, guilt or remorse for what he said.
I’m guessing he was used to his previous and submissive victims taking his crap. He sometimes would say he liked how I would keep him in his place. Obviously, he used other ways to form a bond and an addiction in our relationship. In fact using compliments like me keeping him in his place and then using abusive comments like weak and insecure is love bombing, trauma bonding and gaslighting all in one clean sweep. I would have been smart to walk away at his first remarks. When he accused me of being insecure and weak I’m guessing those were some of his own traits. I would agree with sept4, you cannot reason with manipulative sociopathic personalities and it’s best to walk away.
The good thing to come from all of this is being wiser going forward. Life without chaos brings such clarity.
April 22, 2021 at 10:29 am #65718Donna AndersenKeymaster
Emilie18 – thank you so much for your observations and sharing your experience. Very helpful for all Lovefraud readers.
April 23, 2021 at 3:36 am #65719laylabelleParticipant
This takes me back to when I was first married. My H would suddenly decide to do housework if I left the house. I’d come home to proclamations of how he’d ‘helped me with my chores’. I’d then have to put ornaments back in their place and silent treatment would ensue for a few days after a full blown argument because I’d dared to ask why he couldn’t remember which ones belonged on the mantle. He would actually put them in a different place altogether and blatantly lie that they were on thereto begin with. He would tilt pictures so they weren’t straight, and smirk when I’d go to straighten them. He also told me the exact number of repeats in the wallpaper pattern on the front wall, then smirked when I looked at it. I changed the wallpaper in the end because every night he would passively look at me and then the wall and back at me to see if I was counting!
After he got a rise out of it he’d smirk at me, and then continued to do it once a week simply so he could tell me I was crazy, then flip it round that I had no sense of humour.
April 23, 2021 at 8:35 am #65720funluvmusic25Participant
Lalabelle- You can only imagine how exhausting the life of a sociopath is. To run around behind the scenes trying to make us think we’re going crazy…..to come up with all of the lies and excuses……to lead multiple lives and then lead us to believe everything is “normal.” Who does that?!
No matter the crazy they create and the hurt that ensues, I’d rather be on the normal side of this dynamic even if it means a broken heart in the end. As we go forward without the sociopath in our lives we can take comfort knowing we are so much wiser and finally having a semblance of peace in our lives.
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