Gaslighting is a form of abuse when another person denies what you are experiencing and states this denial in a way that makes you think you might be crazy. Common gaslighting phrases are:
- Are you sure your memory is correct?
- I never said that.
- You’re being too sensitive.
- That never happened.
- You’re imagining it.
- It’s your fault.
- I’m only kidding.
- And so many, many other phrases that all signify that something is wrong with you.
Gaslighting is a way of controlling and making oneself bigger and always right (by always making you wrong.) Many movies have been made about this type of control with the most famous being 1944’s Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, where the term originated. The movie is about a wealthy woman married to a cheating husband. He is determined to get rid of the wife by making her think she is delusional. Part of his deception is lowering and raising the gaslight in rooms. The depraved husband employs many of the terms of which “gaslighting” is now used to convince the young bride that she has lost her marbles.
A Common Practice
This might be a movie but, unfortunately, it is also a part of real life and takes place all the time. Many of my clients complain of their partner or family members as gaslighting them. I help them identify these techniques by showing them the chart below. Mostly, this image of words and statements brings a sigh of confirmation that this is what is happening to them and maybe the realization that they are not crazy or always wrong.
“I Was Only Joking”
If you or someone you know is being manipulated with these abusive statements – the most common being – “I was only joking!” – please let them know this is not an appropriate comment to someone’s feelings. The appropriate comment to someone stating that they have been hurt is, “I am sorry. I did not mean to hurt you.” Telling someone that you were only joking or that they are being too sensitive is a denial of their feelings. Everyone has a right to what they feel. No one has the right to discount someone’s feelings. The thing is, when we say these common gaslighting denials, we aren’t even aware of the power it has over another person. Often, I think, we are trying to make them feel better. “Oh, I didn’t really mean it – I was just joking.” We can all be a victim or a perpetrator of this behavior. Most of the time when we gaslight someone else it’s because we are afraid of being wrong.
There are many articles written about this subject. In fact, what spurred me to making this my October newsletter topic was a recent article titled, “6 Common Gaslighting Phrases and How to Respond.” A simple ‘Google” search of the term “gaslighting” and you can discover many more articles.
Personally, I believe we should continue to bring awareness to this topic so we can help stop this abusive behavior. With my clients who have experienced this, I coach them in how to respond and use their voice to state their feelings. I encourage them to utilize the chart as support when dealing with others who are gaslighting them. The first step to end gaslighting is to realize you are not alone and to find material that confirms your reality and verifies your experience. The second step is to develop your voice and stop the offending remarks.
Speak Your Truth
If you feel you lack confidence in speaking your truth, coaching and hypnosis can help. While it is never your fault when someone uses this type of manipulation to control you, you can learn to stand in your own power and avoid being a victim of it. I can assist with that. Confidence is the first thing I help instill in you.
Please schedule a Free 30-Minute Discovery Session with me to discover if hypnosis or coaching might be right for you. At the very least, I hope this graphic and linked article are helpful when dealing with this type of behavior.