“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth.” ―attributed to various sources
Feeling minimized, smothered, crushed and unable to breathe? Well, unless you’re in a harness at the bottom of the ocean, you might be caught up in the malevolent web of a gaslighter. Gaslighting makes you feel suffocated, alienated, and like you’re going crazy. Dr. Robin Stern, author of The Gaslight Effect, summarizes a relationship filled with gaslighting with these words: “The more powerful gaslighter attempts to define the reality of a less powerful gaslightee — and the person in the one-down position allows that to happen.” Are you feeling like a victim of gaslighting? Here are a few signs to assist you to know for sure.
1. You are always second-guessing yourself
One ominous sign that you are indeed a victim of gaslighting is the state of constant mental confusion it causes you. You begin to feel almost childlike, highly irrational and anxious about any decision you make. To keep you within their malicious grasp, a gaslighter will indirectly or directly gaslight your every request or move. If you ask them out for dinner, they will denigrate either your choice of restaurant, the food or the friends you ask to join you and instead of your meal being a pleasant event, you will find yourself wondering whether it was a good idea in the first place. A healthy approach would be for your dinner date to turn the offer down politely, but the gaslighter has a very foul goal in mind; to completely put your thinking process under his control by making you doubt your decisions.
2. They attack what is most sacred to you
A gaslighter’s end goal is to ultimately break down your walls so that you have no foundations holding you up when his manipulation rains down on your parade. For that reason, there are no sacred cows to a gaslighter. They will go for the jugular, tearing at relationships that are dear to you and desecrating them. They will attack and criticize your kids, parents, friends, workplace acquaintances or religion. In case you try to put up a defense, they will blame and deny everything you say and pile on the gaslighting, until your walls are in breach.
3. You feel like you keep apologizing all the time!
If you consistently feel like you’re walking on eggshells around a person, then this is a red flag that you most certainly in an abusive relationship. The walking on eggshells feeling is brought about by the gaslighter’s intense emotions when denying, accusing or criticizing you for fighting off a reality that is not your own. To avoid these emotional outbursts, you will invariably find yourself apologizing for things you are sure you shouldn’t.
4. Your feelings are constantly trivialized
Any opinions or concerns you might have are often relegated to the unimportant, not urgent or silly corner. This allows your gaslighter to cast you in an overly emotional or too sensitive light, which with time you the victim will come to believe as real. With this approach, your gaslighter can get away with various misdeeds such as flirting, cheating, disrespect and other forms of abuse, by continually telling you that your tendency to overreact over non-issues drive your observations.
5. You are continually making excuses on their behalf
Your friends and family will most like see through the thin veneer of concern a gaslighter might show you. They will most certainly raise objections about their behavior. If you find yourself always trying to explain away their bad behavior or their dislike for your gaslighter, then this should indeed serve as a warning to you, that you are yoked up with an unhealthy human. Another red flag is when you have stopped sharing the ongoings of your relationship with those you trust. This, of course, is done to eliminate judgment from those who are more familiar with what makes you tick, but it is a sign of some cancer you need to attend to.
6. You can sense that you have changed.. And not for the good
If you were happier, more outgoing and confident earlier before you met a gaslighter, this is a sign of bad things to come. You have most certainly fallen into the pit of emotional abuse, and you need to seek help so you can go back to being better.