Gaslighting is known to be a manipulative behavior that can be dangerous to other people’s mental and emotional health. Sometimes, it is masked as a disagreement or a plain misunderstanding, but gaslighting can make you question about the validity of your feelings. It is important to learn what gaslighting is to protect yourself by creating a protective boundary against those who may try to take advantage of you.
The worst thing gaslighting can do is stir mistrust in yourself. With this, the gaslighter can gain control over you.
1. Gaslighters will invalidate your feelings.
“You’re being too sensitive” or “you’re so weak” are some of the common phrases gaslighters use when you express your emotional needs or feelings. They don’t take your emotions and opinions into account with the goal of molding your reality that will fit their needs best. Gaslighters will do whatever they can to get rid of the need to take accountability for their own misbehavior or flaws.
Always remember that first and foremost, your feelings are valid. The ability to speak out your emotional needs is a sign of emotional maturity.
2. Gaslighters will make you question both yourself and your sanity.
Disagreements aren’t always bad. In fact, they can broaden what’s been narrow and help shift our perspectives from a limited thought process. Gaslighters won’t just stop at invalidating your feelings, but they will cultivate self-doubt within you that will linger even if the disagreement or situation is over. After the conversation, instead of having clarity and peace, you will only be left unsure about yourself and the situation as a whole. Your perception will be manipulated by the hurtful remarks you’ll hear about your emotional incapacity, lack of intelligence or even memory capabilities. And all this will lead to brainwashing you into thinking that they are right, you are wrong. Their perception is accurate, yours is not.
But how do you stop this? Don’t engage. Refuse to react to their words and disengage. Maintain a strong sense of self.
3. Gaslighters will make you feel small.
Healthy disagreements can benefit the relationship when both of the parties involved have the goal to gain better understanding of the situation and each other. But in gaslighting, disagreements have the goal to make you feel small and undervalued (and worse, alone.)
You’ll notice that gaslighters use words that will benefit them and make them gain the upper hand in a conversation. But when you know the gaslighters intentions, you can quickly divert the conversation and protect yourself.
4. Gaslighters won’t take responsibility and avoid being held accountable.
Whenever you argue with someone, it’s common to say your apologies and accept theirs. Gaslighters, on the other hand, instead of taking responsibility and saying sorry for hurting you, they’re more likely to lie and make statements like, “I’ve never said that before,” or “No, I’ve never done that.” And when they don’t admit to their mistakes, it’s difficult to refute their lies. But it’s important not to allow their attempts to skew your reality to succeed. If you can discredit them vocally, do it with a sense of conviction. If not, then move on. That’s what’s important for you and your mental health. Choose to move on even if it means not getting the apologies or fairness you deserve.
5. Gaslighters make you feel anxious.
A strained relationship makes both parties feel tensed. Interacting makes you feel anxious. But if you start to find yourself walking on eggshells for a particular reason, consider it that maybe it’s because they’re making you feel negatively about yourself. These negative tendencies can cause you to want little interaction with them as possible. This is so difficult to avoid most especially if the gaslighter’s your partner, a family member, or someone at work or school.
Think about how your gaslighter had made you feel negative in the past, and write down in which ways you could’ve responded. Remember, not all discomfort is caused by gaslighting. These negative feelings could be due to other reasons.
If you feel like relating to any of this, just remember you’re not responsible for how gaslighters act. It’s not up to you to make them change their ways. Their inability to do such is also not a reflection of who you are as a person, and most importantly, your worth.
It’s so good to be back! 2021 was a tough one for me. Wishing everyone a late happy new year! Here’s to more content from The Joe Diary.