DAY 20 & 21 – WHAT IS GASLIGHTING? | 100 Day Self-Attunement Journey

“Never be bullied into silence.” – Harvey Firestone

Hi everyone. I’m combining days  again – #20 and #21. You may have noticed that I haven’t made a video in the past few days. I know that some of you prefer videos to posts so thanks for being patient. The videos will be back soon. In the past few days, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, meditating, and centering on my life and where I want to go from here. Perhaps I need some time to ponder it all, and writing comes easier at this point in time.

Today I would like to discuss a quite popular emotional abuse tactic called gaslighting. This can take on many forms and is very damaging to a person’s sense of self and emotional balance. 

Gaslighting is an emotionally abusive tactic where the perpetrator perpetually skews the victim’s perception of reality. A gaslighter’s agenda is rooted in power and control, thus they behave in damaging and enraging ways that leave the victim confused, off-balance, questioning reality and their own sanity, and emotionally exhausted. A gaslighter uses your past shortcomings and emotional vulnerabilities as leverage for their inappropriate and abusive behavior. Common gaslighting phrases the perpetrator uses include:

“You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly” (Countering).

“You’re imagining things, that never happened” (Countering).

“You provoked me” (Blame-shifting).

“You’re too sensitive” (Minimizing & Avoidance).

“You’re exaggerating, I don’t want to hear about this again. You always blow things out of proportion” (Withholding, Stonewalling, & Minimizing).

“I never said that” (Denial & Avoidance).

“You’re lying” (Twisting & Blame-shifting).

“You’re taking things too seriously” (Minimizing, Avoiding, & Trivializing).

“You imagined that. What I actually said was…” (Twisting, Reframing, Discrediting, & Denying).

“Are you crazy? Is that something you heard from your family?” (Reframing, Twisting, Discrediting, & Diverting).

As you can see above,  gaslighting is an encompassing term that speaks to a range of emotionally manipulative tactics that shift blame from the perpetrator onto the victim, thus skewing the victim’s perception of reality. This is done through blame-shifting, deflection, reframing, invalidation, discounting and negating, trivializing, countering, discrediting, and stonewalling.

When done perpetually, this causes a victim to mistrust their own instincts, memory, judgment, and interpretations, thus contributing to further erosion of self. The victim finds him/herself:

  • constantly anxious,
  • frequently second-guessing themselves,
  • constantly apologizing,
  • making excuses for the perpetrator’s behavior,
  • in a constant state of confusion, fear, & insecurity,  
  • trouble making decisions, even simple ones,
  • thinking that they used to be much happier and more confident.            

As you can imagine, all this impacts an individual’s ability to function independently and confidently.

Gaslighting tactics are also used by the perpetrator to evoke confusion and denial in the victim about their perception of the emotional abuse and dysfunction of the relationship as a whole. Gaslighting is used in order to render the victim as dependent on the perpetrator as possible as a way to further control and dominate them. 

One of the scariest parts is that this doesn’t happen all at once. There are gaslighting stages and the abuse is perpetrated covertly and gradually over time, thus making it more difficult for the victim to identify exactly what is happening. While everyone can forgive an occasional slip-up or quite infrequent but still inappropriate comments after a ‘bad day,’ what makes gaslighting so dangerous is that everything gets intensified over time. Again, this is why the victim usually feels blind-sided, confused, and off-balance.

Even worse, gaslighters usually vacillate between ‘good and appropriate’ and abusive behavior, which only reels the victim further in and makes him/her feel like he/she is ‘crazy’ for thinking anything negative about the abuser. The gaslighter’s blatant denial of things they have previously said or done further makes the victim question their sense of reality. This is done over time so that the victim, in desperation and concession, begins to accept the abuser’s account of reality which then gives the abuser full control. 

Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow!


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