Gaslighting is when an individual makes you doubt and question your own reality. They will say and do things using covert tactics so it appears that they are not to blame for your own self doubt. Gaslighting is a psychological tactic that abusers and narcissists use to hurt their victims using their own emotions. They use it so you do not trust yourself and instead shift your trust to them as they know better than you do. They can be your parents, friends, and partner.
The person doing the gaslighting will often lie about certain things you’ve done and convince you it didn’t happen. If an abuser physically harmed you, and you brought it up to them, they will deny it, sometimes in a nice, kind manner, saying, “It didn’t happen. I love you and would never harm you.” Deep down you know this isn’t true as they have hurt you in the past, but you begin to question yourself, thinking that past abuse didn’t happen the way you remember it did. This self-doubt is a result of gaslighting.
Additionally, they may even lie to spin the scenario so that you are the one who is to blame. Since you remember and insist that they physically abused you in some way, they will spin it and say that it wasn’t as bad as you remember, or that it was all your fault entirely. This lie also makes you doubt yourself and begin to blame yourself for the problems. This has life-long consequences as you begin to blame yourself for everything, even things that aren’t your fault.
When you feel as though it’s all your fault, you will often apologize for things that you had little to no involvement in. I’m sure we all know someone who just won’t stop apologizing. Even for trivial things that aren’t their fault, they apologize. This is likely because they were gaslighted by a narcissist as a child and felt like everything was their fault and felt the need to apologize.
The person doing the gaslighting is filled with denial that they have even convinced themselves that traumatic things from the past didn’t happen. Even if you remember it clearly, they have formed a wall within their own mind and blocked it out. So, getting through to this person is almost impossible.
If the person who is gaslighting you is still in your life, such as a partner in a relationship, then you’ll need to have a conversation with them and/or terminate the relationship. If it’s toxic for you, then you can no longer be in the negative environment and must do what is best for you.
If you have been gaslighted by an abuser in the past who is no longer in your life, one of the first things is to realize that it’s not your fault. The doubt within you is what the abuser wanted to make them feel superior to you. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Instead, stand up and reclaim your power. You may feel like they have taken away your power, but they haven’t. You’re just holding yourself back from realizing your true potential.
Let me know how this works for you. Have a great day!
I never knew this term until a few years ago when someone said I was gaslighted by abusers in my life. Sure enough, I recognized the signs and saw how these tactics of making me doubt myself and question my judgement were used against me to lower my self-worth. It took years to stand up to these abusers, but I did to reclaim my power. It was like a weight being lifted off my chest as I began to uncover who I really was and not be held back by someone else trying to control me.