I’ve always found the concept of theatre to be intriguing. Actors on stage overdramatizing a scene, fully exploring the potential of their character illustrates the relationship between an abuser and victim in gaslighting. In this case the abuser fully explores the potential of their victim’s vulnerability.
What is gaslighting?
It is a psychologically abusive tactic aimed to plant a seed of doubt on an individual’s sanity, feelings, perception of reality or memories. The worst part of it is how slowly and gradually it’s done that you are barely able to recognize the action. It comes off in subtle comments and actions that make you feel dumb.
Motive behind gaslighting
Gaslighters have a deeper underlying issue and need genuine mental assistance. They have an urgent need for domination that may stem from narcissism. They desire control over a victim’s judgement hence influencing major actions in their lives. You may think after one action they’d have enough but no; they need constant control in order to validate their feelings or existence. If you find yourself a victim of gaslighting, trust me, you are not the problem.
Signs of gaslighting
I have been a victim of constant gaslighting, worst of all from people I hold dear to me. I came to realize that they are simply projecting their own insecurities on me. But here’s how to notice that you are not in control of your decisions. Remember this is a form of manipulation so the first sign is that you are in constant doubt of yourself.
These abusers deny their words or actions even if you have proof. They make you question your own reality no matter how clearly you remember it. Let’s say someone promises to call you in the evening, and they don’t, but when you remind them, they completely refute their own words and say words such as “you must’ve been dreaming”. No, you weren’t, someone is trying to discombobulate your memories.
They attack the foundation of your being by triggering a reaction through your mistakes to cast themselves as victims. Here’s the funny part, they’ll do something that doesn’t align with you, then criticize you for reacting. They use small abusive statements to describe your reaction. like “selfish” or “aggressive”. Their goal is to get you to start acting hostile in a way that you’ll believe them when they say you’re not fit for the social scene; hence you start pulling away from people you love and become dependent on your abuser.
Effects of gaslighting
Honestly speaking, the effects are exhausting and mentally draining. I mean if you can’t trust your own judgement you live in a constant state of anxiety. There is a heaviness that weighs over you due to a decreased level of self-esteem and hopelessness. You start noticing how it has affected your social life because your abuser manipulated you into isolation. They dim your light and convince you that you are unworthy and unlovable. In my opinion, the worst action is making me doubt my perception of reality. Not only is it disturbing but it leads to dependency on either other people or your abuser. Imagine depending on the parasite that’s draining you?
How to protect yourself
All hope isn’t lost because we can fight these pests and the first step is in recognizing its presence. This helps you at least seize your reality back. The next step is in learning to listen to yourself and grounding your decisions. If it feels right by you, let no one else tell you otherwise. Dismiss anyone who makes you doubt yourself because they do not have your best interest at heart, that’s how it starts. Don’t sacrifice yourself to spare anyone’s feelings. When you are offended by someone’s actions, embrace it and speak your mind. Call them out and tell them how you feel about their actions. Never let someone criticize your emotions because you aren’t carrying the emotions with them.
Remember you are not alone, but you always must put yourself first. Victims of gaslighting can always heal through positive affirmations and validation from loved ones.
In case you know a victim, be there for them as much as you can to fill their lonely void, help them recover relationships and verify their memories. Make them aware that they’re loved. Love is good, spread love.
Do you think you are an abuser/victim? How do you feel about your current mental health? Share with us your experiences and thoughts in the comments