Optical illusions play with what we see. Gaslighting plays with what we think is real.
As I explained in my last post, Gaslighting is the use of psychological and manipulative abuse or intimidation to make other people doubt themselves or their version of reality.
If the Gaslighting is done by a full-fledged narcissist or other well-practiced, toxic individual, then look out! They can play a verbal game that will leave your head spinning — unless you know their game.
Proficient Gaslighters work their way up to full alterations of reality. The following three examples would only work on someone who values the person talking and wants to please them and get their approval:
“Only my ideas are valid.”
“There is only one way — my way — to run this company. I tried other ways (insert a long-winded, well-rehearsed story that *proves* his reality)…I know you think you have the right angle on this, but I did it that way, and it never worked…You are too inexperienced to understand. I’m just trying to help you avoid looking like a fool. Plus, I will not let this company be hurt by your attempts to change it for the worse.”
“I’m not what they say I am.”
“Why of course I’m not like that — your family is all wrong. They just want to separate us and control you. Didn’t they tell you they can’t stand me? Besides, Honey, don’t I love you in all the right ways? Sure, I do a little meth, but lot’s of people do and that doesn’t mean I’m mean…I only struck you once when I was drunk and mad at our neighbors. You can’t blame me for than, besides you promised never to bring it up again. I love you so much I can’t stand it sometimes… No, I don’t think counseling will help. Those guys will put their nose in my business. You know I don’t like that. We will be fine just you and me, you’ll see.”
“Your efforts are never enough.”
Why didn’t you volunteer to come in this weekend and work on the convention booth preparations?…Don’t you know others are looking to you for leadership and when you bail on something this important you look bad? You don’t want others to think less of me, this company, or you, do you?…What kind of signal does it send that your staff will come in, but you won’t?…It doesn’t matter that you think they are OK with this. It’s about perception…Of course they’ll say it’s alright for you to go to you aunt’s funeral, but you know deep down inside you need to be here for your staff or you aren’t being a good leader. And you know, I value leadership when it comes to promotions.
Gaslighters can be relentless when they invest fully in a certain *reality* and when they are a powerful person, emotionally engaged with you, or have authority over you. One way to handle the person is to set boundaries. Some examples of general boundary setting are here.
Best strategies against this:
- Be aware that Gaslighting does exist and being on guard against it. (Don’t think, “She’d never do that to me.”)
- Realize you do matter! Your opinion, your worth, your perspective, and your choices are not for someone else to dictate. People pleasing isn’t a virtue.
- Find other people who can give you a different view and listen to them. (If many people think your boyfriend is abusive, listen to them!)
If you have any specific ways a Gaslighter has tried to manipulate your reality, please leave them in the comment section so we can all know more about this subject!
UPDATE: You may also want to read this ezinearticle.com written by Trish Lambert, “Have You Been Gaslighted Lately?”
Want to know more? Take a look at
The Narcissist — A User’s Guide
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I offer free information on the abusers and users known as narcissists here.
Photo: D’Arcy Norman