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June 13

Behavior & Mindset

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Understanding the Manipulative Tactics of Gaslighting

Gaslighting, a manipulative tactic that can leave you doubting your own sanity, has become a widely discussed topic in recent times. It involves the deliberate manipulation of someone’s perception of reality and self-worth, often leading them to question their own thoughts, emotions, and experiences. While it’s hard to believe that this is actually the intention of the gaslighter, I want you to know about it so you don’t think you’re going crazy if this is happening to you.

An Example of Gaslighting

To illustrate the impact of gaslighting, here’s a story of a nurse named Sarah and her gaslighting partner, Alex. Sarah is passionate about her profession and takes lots of pride in being a nurse. However, Alex constantly undermines her by belittling nurses and dismissing their qualifications, labeling them as mere “wannabe doctors.” Despite Sarah’s lack of interest in pursuing a medical degree, Alex’s baseless criticism gradually erodes her confidence and pride in her chosen career path. This example highlights how gaslighters employ unfounded assertions to undermine and control you, regardless of the truth behind their claims.

More Examples of Gaslighting

  • Your partner frequently denies or downplays your feelings, saying things like “You’re overreacting” or “You’re just being too sensitive”.
  • Your partner tries to convince you that you’re crazy or wrong by questioning your memory and reality, such as “You must be imagining things” or “That never happened”.
  • Your partner accuses you of making things up or lying, even when you know you’re telling the truth.
  • Your partner makes you doubt your own judgement and decisions, saying things like “You’re too naive” or “You can’t trust your own judgment”.
  • Your partner tricks you into believing something that isn’t true, such as saying “I never said that” when they did.
  • Your partner withholds important information or facts from you, leaving you feeling confused and manipulated.
  • Your partner deflects blame and responsibility onto you, even when it’s not your fault.
  • Your partner isolates you from your family and friends or criticizes them to control the dynamics of the relationship.

A Wide Range of Tactics

Gaslighters employ a range of tactics to make you doubt your own knowledge and perception. They may resort to blatant lies, only to deny them later on. Or, they may conveniently forget or deny having said something that you distinctly remember. These behaviors are deeply disorienting because it contradicts the expectations of genuine and honest communication. For example, if a friend wants to meet for coffee, you wouldn’t anticipate them denying ever making the plans if they were confronted about it. These consistent distortions of reality leave people feeling confused and questioning their own memory and judgment over time.

What Else to Gaslighters Do?

In addition to distorting reality, gaslighters employ mental and emotional tactics to isolate you. Their ultimate goal is to establish control by creating dependence and cutting you off from support networks. Gaslighters may criticize and undermine your friendships, pointing out perceived flaws or even making up stories to paint their loved ones in a negative light. At the same time, they make derogatory statements about you, exploiting your insecurities and sowing seeds of doubt and instability. Comments like: “Don’t mind her; she always takes things personally” or “He tends to read too much into things; it’s just the way he is” aim to undermine the person’s confidence and create a sense of isolation.

Projection is another common tactic used by gaslighters. They project their own thoughts, feelings, or beliefs onto you, accusing you of harboring emotions or beliefs that they themselves are feeling. This manipulation destabilizes you emotionally, as you feel compelled to defend your true feelings and correct the gaslighter’s misperception. However, when their attempts to clarify their position fail, the gaslighter seizes the opportunity to reinforce your supposed confusion and uncertainty. In some instances, the gaslighter may even blame your perceived inability to think clearly for any issues within the relationship, further undermining their self-esteem.

Recognizing the Signs of a Gaslighter

Recognizing the signs of gaslighting is essential for reclaiming your personal power. Nobody deserves to be a victim of gaslighting, and it is crucial to seek support if you experience any of these behaviors. Reaching out to trusted friends, family members, or professionals who understand and can help can provide a safe space to share your experiences and gain perspective. It’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there are people who can offer support and guidance.

Don’t blame yourself. You might wonder why you choose to stay in relationships with gaslighters. Gaslighters are not consistently abusive; they throw in moments of kindness, thoughtfulness, or compliments with their manipulative tactics. These intermittent positive experiences have a significant impact, creating a sense of hope and attachment. Similar to a smoker craving nicotine, you eagerly await and seek these moments of validation, clinging to the belief that the gaslighter is not entirely terrible because they showed some kindness. Also, we’re often blindsided by these behaviors because we’re expecting the gaslighter to have qualities, morals and character similar to ours…and they don’t.

Now that you know you’re on the receiving end of gaslighting, it is essential to take proactive steps to address and overcome it.

What Can you Do?

  • Set boundaries: Setting clear boundaries and sticking to them is crucial for establishing personal autonomy and protection.
  • Ask questions: Asking thoughtful questions when your reality is being distorted can help you seek clarity and challenge the gaslighter’s manipulations.
  • Speak up: Speaking up and expressing your thoughts and concerns when something doesn’t feel right is essential for asserting your own perspective.
  • Seek Support: Seeking support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals can provide a supportive environment to process your emotions and gain insight into the situation. If needed, considering the assistance of a certified Post Betrayal Transformation (PBT) Coach or Practitioner, who possesses the expertise to guide you through challenging situations, can be beneficial.

By taking these proactive steps, you can regain control of your life and restore your sense of empowerment. Remember, you are not alone, and with the right support, you can overcome the challenges posed by gaslighting and emerge stronger and more resilient. Nobody deserves to be manipulated, and equipping yourself with knowledge about gaslighting and its tactics is a powerful shield against emotional manipulation.

Dr. Debi-A Trusted Resource in an Untrusting Niche

Dr. Debi Silber, Founder and CEO of The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute is an award-winning speaker, bestselling author, holistic psychologist, a health, mindset and personal development expert who helps (along with her incredibly gifted Certified PBT-Post Betrayal Transformation Coaches and Practitioners) a predictable, proven multi-pronged approach to help people heal (physically, mentally and emotionally) from the trauma of betrayal.

About the author 

Dr. Debi

A Trusted Resource in an Untrusting Niche

Dr. Debi Silber, founder of The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute https://thepbtinstitute.com is an award-winning speaker, bestselling author, holistic psychologist, a health, mindset and personal development expert who’s created a proven multi-pronged approach to help people heal (physically, mentally and emotionally) from the trauma of betrayal.

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