(WellnessPursuits.com) – The term “gaslighting” has been everywhere lately, but do you know what it means? Believe it or not, the word originated from the 1944 movie Gaslight. Spoiler alert: It’s about a husband who manipulates his wife into believing she is insane by making her doubt her own perceptions of reality.
The real truth? Gaslighting exists in real life, and it’s a form of emotional abuse you might not see coming.
Here’s the good news: There are signs that someone is gaslighting you, and if you know what to look for, you can remove yourself from a bad situation. Here are some clues to watch out for:
- Your partner denies their words or actions. A gaslighter denies saying things you know they’ve said or doing things you know they’ve done. They might also make up things that you’ve said or done. They question your memory, a manipulative tactic they use to make you question your own sanity — and you just might find yourself questioning what really did happen.
- They always make you out to be the bad guy. A gaslighter finds ways to shift the blame to you, making themselves seem like the victim. They twist your words, leading you to believe that you’re the cause of their bad behavior. As a result, you might find yourself constantly apologizing.
- They tell you you’re “crazy.” Or that you’re “too emotional,” “too sensitive,” “overreacting,” “being paranoid,” etc. A gaslighter tries to make you question your own mental health and your own judgment. They might act like they’re concerned about you and may suggest you seek professional help but will count on you shying away from this option out of fear.
- They tell other people you’re “crazy.” The gaslighter tries to turn people against you by making them doubt your sanity, too. Their hope is no one will believe you when you tell them your partner is abusive.
- They tell you other people are “crazy.” For example, they might say, “Your best friend is just cooking up another one of her crazy ideas about me again. Everyone knows she’s crazy.” By creating doubt about the people closest to you, the gaslighter makes you question your own perceptions of reality and further isolates you.
- Gaslighters isolate you from your friends and family. They make you believe that the people you care about don’t like you — even when no one has said these things. Gaslighters use this tactic to manipulate you into feeling like you have no one to turn to, making it more difficult for you to leave them.
- They guilt you into doing what they want. A gaslighter preys on your emotions to get their way. For example, if they want you to buy them tickets to a sporting event, even though they know you’re broke, they might say, “If you really loved me, you would buy me the tickets anyway.” As a result, you might find a way to buy the tickets because they made you feel like the “bad guy” again.
- They project things onto you. When a gaslighter does something wrong, they tend to project it onto their partner. For example, they might accuse you of cheating when they’re actually the one who is cheating.
You might think that you could never fall victim to a gaslighter, but it can happen to anyone. Gaslighting isn’t an obvious form of abuse, like a punch to the face. It’s quiet and slow, which allows the gaslighter to tear you down over time.
If you see any of these clues of gaslighting in your relationship, it’s important to take action. Rather than falling deeper into a gaslighter’s trap, take a step back and decide if you wish to change the dynamic of the relationship or end it completely. Talking to a trusted friend, a doctor, or a counselor can help.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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