“Gaslighting” is a term we’re hearing a lot lately. While it may prompt us to think of the 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman it describes an act that is far from entertainment. Gaslighting is a manipulative method used by someone to control another. To convince them that they are forgetful, needy, incapable of taking care of themselves or their commitments. It’s a form of emotional abuse that if left unchecked leads the victim to question their perception of reality. It wears down their self esteem and self confidence to the point that the perpetrator can reach their goal of control.
Which is why it’s so important to recognize and remove yourself from a gaslighting situation. For example, the abuser may insist you did something you shouldn’t have, or didn’t do something you were supposed to do. You know that’s not true, that it’s just the opposite. But when you stand up to them to defend yourself they counter with how you’re confused, you’re wrong. And they twist the truth by feigning concern, stating that they’re only thinking of you, that they point out these things because they care about you. And they do it over, and over, and over again.
This clever bit of manipulation puts you in a position where you have to choose to either doubt the sincerity of the person or to trust your own feelings. It’s the thinking, you see. They put into question how you think in order to control you. And their passive aggressive persistence can lead you to where you begin to believe their falsehoods over your own best instincts.
This manipulative behavior can leave you so confused it’s difficult to admit to yourself that something fishy is going on. But there are signs. Assess your situation by making an inventory of any recent behavioral changes you may be experiencing. Are you confused when faced with a decision, second guessing yourself when in the past you were confident and sure? Are you apologizing all the time, especially to your abuser? Listen to yourself, because the most important sign is that nagging feeling you have that you’re changing, that something’s not quite right.
All this may sound dramatic but it’s very real and a terrifying situation to be in. The shame of admitting to ourselves or anyone else that we’ve allowed ourselves to be manipulated, combined with the fear of reprisal from the abuser, can make victims of gaslighting afraid to come forward. Plus, gaslighters often isolate their prey in order to maintain control which can make it all the more difficult for victims to feel they can reach out for help.
Gaslighting can happen to anyone. If you feel it’s happening to you it’s so important you go to someone you can trust for help. If you feel safe reconnecting with friends and family contacting them is a good first step. If you’re concerned about confidentiality you may feel safer enlisting the support of someone outside the situation like a therapist, coach or member of the clergy. They can offer an objective perspective to your situation and give you the help and support you need to regain your clarity. Don’t stay stuck, please reach out. It’s never too late to live the life you deserve.
To speak directly and confidentially to Cindy Feinberg, President of The Recovery Coach NY, you can call her at 631-921-4085. She can also be reached via text to that number and by email at [email protected].
The Recovery Coach NY provides Mental Health Support & Coaching for Individuals and Families as well as Companion and Transport services. For more information on how you, someone you know or someone you work with could benefit from our services, additional information ca be found on our website:
The Recovery Coach NY provides recovery and mental health support services for you and your loved ones. We have years of experience and a vast array of resources that can help those in need find the path to the life they deserve, filled with joy and purpose. We come with an empathetic ear and solution-oriented actions that can begin to bring the relief you and your loved one seek.
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