GASLIGHTING IN RELATIONSHIPS | 2.9.2022
In this episode, Kristen talks about Gaslighting in Relationships - How the term came about, the 14 signs that someone is gaslighting you, and how to work through it.
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Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. You are here for a reason. And I'm so glad you are because this week's episode, we are going to dive into gaslighting. How did this term come about? What are the 14 signs of gaslighting? And then how do we work through it? How do I address it when somebody is manipulating is basically what it is. So we're gonna dive into all of the details here today on this episode. Sure, so you'll want to listen to the entire episode. And before we dive in, I want to invite you to join the mailing list Why join the mailing list. Every week, I hopefully drop some gems into your inbox on Wednesdays, along with new episodes. And you're the first to know any new opportunities that are coming up programmes I'll be offering and just some wisdom on in healing on your journey towards authenticity and working through your pain of the past. So you can join that. If you go to Kristen D boice.com, forward slash free resources and you get a free healing guide. Right delivered to your inbox. So be sure to join the list. And then on Instagram and Facebook and all the platforms you can join at Kristen D Boice. And follow along tag me if there's an episode that you really have found transformational. And as always people find the podcast by reviewing rating, subscribing and sharing. Because I'm passionate about building a community of people that are growth-oriented, that want to have a deeper conversation and more connection. So be sure to join the community on Facebook at close the chapter. Because you matter you're important and you're loved and the shame wants to tell you a totally different story. So I am so grateful you're here. Truly I am looking out my window at the snow. I don't know what part of the world you're in. We have gotten a lot of snow here in Indiana. So without further ado, let's jump into today's episode. Okay, first of all, I'm going to define gaslighting. And then I'm going to tell you some history on the origins of gaslighting because there is a reason this term was developed. First of all gaslighting is when someone demeans, or denies your reality, to attempt to get you to adapt to their own. They want you to doubt yourself. They don't take responsibility. The gaslighter doesn't take responsibility for their choices, they avoided. They twist and they turn it and they make you then question yourself. They they want you to feel like you're the one that's losing your mind that you're crazy that you are insane, that you aren't seeing things correctly or realistically. So they flip the script consistently on you. And this happens so much in romantic relationships, friendships, family systems. It's something that can get passed down generationally. And let's dive into because I thought this history on the term was really important to understand how did the term gaslighting even develop? So let's jump into that the term originated from the 1938 play, and 1944 film adaptation gaslight where the protagonists husband slowly manipulated her into believing she's going mad. The name comes from a part in the film, where the husband is using the gas lights and an upstairs flat, causing them to go dim in his own. His wife brings this up and he convinces her she's imagining it, which is characteristic of gaslighting. Essentially the abuser uses persistent denial, misdirection contradiction in line to make the other person feel unsure of their own sanity. They may use this tactic to make you are the victim so to speak, I'm using that in air quotes the other person feel that they are imagined other abuse or simply disorient them. So they question themselves. And gaslighting can happen like I said, in any kind of a relationship, you just have to be aware of what is it? What's happening. The goal for the gas lighter is to make the victim or the other person, undermine their own judgement and reduce their self esteem making them dependent. I want to use that word on the job user for a longer period of time, because they're looking to the abuser to say, well, maybe, well, maybe you're right, maybe I didn't remember that correctly, because they use memories too. And they'll they'll say, that's not, that's not what happened. That's not what happened. You're you're not remembering that correctly, it can start with seemingly inconsequential physical things, such as the abuser moving an item you put down, then suggesting you misplaced it, when you ask for help finding it. This may then escalate to flat out lying about events, they may deny things, you know, they said, or claim full events didn't happen at all, like abuse or verbal abuse. Or they might have said something and then completely they denied that they even said it.
They might call you crazy. And a bid to make genuinely to make you believe that you are crazy, slowly erode away the difference between what's real, and what's in their own head. gaslighting eventually tries to have isolate the other person. And so they don't have a healthy support system, checking the reality of their own thoughts, their own memories, their own self worth. And this can obviously lead into consequences such as depression, anxiety, trauma, so I want to make sure that we're addressing some of the signs of gaslighting, because when you hear some of the signs, I want you to kind of check in with yourself one, do you do this? And two, has this been done to you. And then we're going to talk about how to handle it and deal with it. And again, when you say you're gaslighting mean to somebody, that's not how we're going to handle it. Because they're going to go, No, you're crazy and turn it back on you. So they flip the script, I think I'm going to say that a lot. And it's up to you to develop a healthy sense of self and a secure sense of self to be able to handle the recommendations I'm going to have for you.
So here's 14 signs of gaslighting, and you don't have to have all 14 of these signs. I just want you to recognise when gaslighting is on the table or when you might be doing this, because again, we can't change someone else we can only work on ourselves. Alright, so let's jump into what are the signs of gaslighting? Okay. First of all, they're making you doubt yourself in order to overcome you with power, they, they, you start to surrender your idea of reality to theirs. And that's the first sign when you start self-doubting. And sometimes we do have to check our reality because sometimes our memories, memory isn't foolproof. The whole bottom line is, are you willing to take ownership of your contribution to issues in your own issues? And are they willing to take ownership of their own issues, if there's no ownership, that's a red flag. If you're not willing to own your own issues, if they're not willing to own their own issues, that's a red flag, I can't make somebody take radical ownership of their issues. But I need you to know someone that doesn't own their own contribution to challenges in a relationship is a red flag. Flat out is a red flag. And again, you have to focus on you owning your own issues. If you're not doing that, that's, that's where we begin. So let's jump into these 14 signs. Number one putting you down when calling them out. And when I say calling them out. When trying to address an issue and you're naming it specifically you're using an I feel statement. Like I feel sad because when you said I was an idiot, I'm not okay with that. It's not okay to call me names. And then they say, Well, I never called you an idiot, you're making that up. That's gaslighting, because if the facts are they did call you an idiot. They want you to doubt that they ever said that. And you're the crazy one. So that's a first sign if they make you, if that's actually a fact your memory is correct. And they're making you wrong, or that your memory is is not accurate. That's a sign of gaslighting number two twisting your memories, which is what I just alluded to, to see it their way. So you start going well, maybe they didn't call me an idiot. Maybe I just made that up in my head. Maybe I am the one that just doesn't see it correctly. Maybe my memory is going. Maybe that's not at all what they said and I just thought they said that maybe I didn't hear them correctly. You start going down this path of questioning yourself questioning your memory questioning whether you did get it wrong, it causes self doubt, severe self doubt. Okay, number three, what you're addressing is turned back to you. This is common, I see this a lot in relationships. I just had a friend. She's in real estate and she had a client. I'm not going to disclose details, but she was telling me the story of the client not wanting to own the fact that they did not tend to an issue with a roof. And they had a buyer and the buyer found out that there's roofing issues, and he basically blamed it on her the realtor and said, it's your fault, that they're not going to buy the house and essentially get someone out here. Well, it's hard to get contractors out these days, and flip the switch and made it about her questioned her character and the integrity called her a liar. And basically flipped the switch and made it all about what it's her fault. And it was she didn't disclose that he knew about this roofing issue prior to her signing this contract and in the disclosure agreement, you have to disclose if there's any issues with the house when that'd be great in relationships, if we had a disclosure agreement, just saying, hey, that's why I love premarital counselling and what my husband and I did. Basically, we said, hey, here's our, here's, here I am, we got our we got all of our issues out on the table, not all of them, because clearly they evolve over time. We at least got a foundational disclosure on here's my childhood stuff, here's yours, here's my past relationship. Here's my trauma, here's yours. And then we got tools to work through it. So back to the real estate example. That was it. That was a example of gaslighting not taking ownership. And then she started to question ourselves like, well, maybe this is my fault. Maybe I maybe I should have looked into this. And then she's like, Well, no, this isn't my fault. I How am I supposed to know there's roofing issues. And then her broker had to get involved because he was questioning her integrity and her character. And it's a form of manipulation. It's a form of manipulation. Okay, let's define before we get back into our list, what is manipulation? Exactly, because there's so many different definitions. Here's the definition of manipulation. When you confront a person with what you they did, quote unquote, wrong or what, what wasn't okay? And they don't want to take responsibility for their own actions, they will manipulate you by putting the focus back on you. So it's flipping the script. That's what I call it, flip the script. Anytime you bring something up, they flip it back onto you and say, Well, you are the one that started yelling first. Well, you were the one that called me a name first. That will bring up something you did or need to do using your imperfection or your humaneness as a way to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. They actually like knowing your difficulties or imperfections because they use that as weapons. This gives them ammunition and they have something to hold over your head to use against you.
They put the focus back in, here's the here, they put the focus on you. When you try to bring it back to them. It's flipping that script, consistency consistently. And that's what gaslighting basically is. It's a form of manipulation. So let's go to number four bringing in other people they to say your so if someone says will you call me an idiot? And I'll say, well, our neighbour, Joe, I'm making this up also thinks you're an idiot. They said you were or let's say they say you're, you're you're really mean they flip the script. And they say you're really mean and the neighbour thinks so too. And you know, your best friend, they think you're mean to they told me one time that you they thought You're so selfish. And now you're starting to feel really small, you're starting to shrink, you're starting, they use kind of an army, and a lot of it's made up, or they twist it to gain momentum and power and control and to get you feeling small to get you believing you're the problem. Instead of taking ownership, the foundation of this of gaslighting is flipping the switch, which is manipulation to get you to believe you're the problem. So they don't take any ownership. They don't take responsibility. And let's face it, we've all done this on occasion. So I think of gaslighting as a continuum. How often do you do it? And have you done it without knowing you're doing it? The main thing I'm inviting you into in this podcast is taking ownership for your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. And don't put this on somebody else to make you feel worthy. And the danger zone of gaslighting is if you feel not good enough, which we all do, and you don't know how to soothe through that self soothe, you don't know how to work through your triggers, you don't know how to work through your shame, you don't know how to work through your anxiety, you're right candidate for buying into a gaslighter. Because they can take you to the bottom of the barrel, they can take you into your inner child, and make you feel like you share problem, you're the problem, you're crazy, you're not, you're not the one showing up responsibly, they make their they if you're already a people pleaser, if you're already a placate, or if you're already one that uses those to kind of gain security, they're going to play on that. If you want to be liked, oh, they're gonna use that against you. Because they know, that's one of the things you struggle with. So let's move on projecting and accusing you of what you're guilty of. So projection is an issue you have within yourself. So let's say you don't feel good enough, and you put that on your partner to make you feel good enough or for your children. Let's say you feel anxious about starting the first day of school, because you just feel scared, they're not going to have friends are going to sit by themselves and you don't self soothe through that you will project that onto them. And then they will now have fear of the first day of school. But it's really your own fear that you've put on to that they were fine. Before you started going well, who are you going to sit with on the bus? And who are you going to sit with at lunch? And are you scared? And oh, are you scared to be by yourself? Are you scared, no one's gonna sit with you. That's all your own stuff that you're putting on them. And that's what gaslighting does, they're projecting their own sense of lack onto you. And then maybe they want you to feel less than so they feel better doesn't work. But this is this is their objective. And then they will accuse you of what they're doing. So they're like you, you called me a name. And you're like, I didn't call you in the hip. You just call me an idiot. They're like, you called me a name, before I even called you a name. So they will. Maybe you did, maybe you've called them a name in the heat of things, and they're throwing it back in your face. And the first thing we're going to work on with gaslighting is owning what is yours and not only what isn't taking several deep breaths. So we're going to get into these strategies. As your mind starts going. Well, maybe I did to that. Well, did I do that, starting questioning things.
We're going to go through that deep breathing and re centering is critical for that prefrontal cortex to come online instead of your fight flight freeze or fawn response. Because if you're functioning out of that brainstem, the fight-flight freeze or fawn, which is the people-pleasing response, placating response, you will not have rational thinking, your inner child will be online and you can totally self soothe that little girl a little boy or a little soul inside to get you back into that prefrontal cortex. But it's essential when you're working with the dynamic a gaslighting, you've got to get back into that CEO of the brain, the rational part of the brain that says no, that's not true. This is all form of manipulation. You're trying to manipulate me into believing that it's my fault, that I'm the problem. And the minute you start thinking about that, now, there's times where you might be the problem, not the problem, but you might have something own in this. That's not gaslighting, that somebody's inviting you into feedback and wanting you to see how you're contributing to the dynamic. They're not using it to manipulate you. There's a big difference. We already went over what manipulation is. Okay, the next one is you leave the conversation more confused than you were before. Confusion gives them power. So if there's confusion and they create confusion inside of you, you've lost your footing. You've lost your centre. Because you went into the conversation clear as a whistle you came out of the conversation with confusion. You need to write out what you're confused about. You need to reality check it by therapist are helpful. Is there helping you regain your centre because that is on you. If you're codependent which means you're giving your power away to someone else to make you feel worthy and lovable and enough and that you matter. That's where the danger zone comes in, because you are not centred and secure with who you are. Okay, the next one consistently insulting your character, versus your behaviour. So that example with a real estate, he was calling her a liar, which is a character. That's her character. That's her integrity, that's her reputation. And they're not going after behaviour, they're going after the jugular, they're going after for the integrity, the character of you, and that is painful. If someone's coming after you in questioning your character and integrity, that can send the alarm bells off. And you want to protect yourself, you want to keep yourself safe. And with somebody, especially on a continuum, if you've got someone who's very narcissistic, which I don't throw that term around lightly, I think it's been way overused. Because underneath that is often trauma neglect, it can be a smothering situation as well, in a family system. There's so much underneath that. And what can happen is on this continuum of gaslighting, you have to know if it's, if you need to get out of this situation. If this is unsafe for you, you need to go to a nonprofit locally, that helps domestic violence, or anybody that's going through emotional abuse, they can get you a protective order, and help. And usually there's no cost in that because they're a nonprofit. There are so many options available. If you need help getting out, you just have to know is this more of a relational issue that needs to be addressed in therapy is this somebody that can own some things, they just get really defensive. You can go back and listen to the defense's episode, just scroll through or you can go through on on iTunes or even on my website, you can go to Kristen D boice.com. And scroll through those episodes. Because it's important that you're managing your own defences, that you're owning your own issues. And people want to come into therapy and point the finger at somebody else. And I'm like, Are you walking this walk? Are you doing the work and if you are, you will have such clarity on what to do if you're being gaslit. If you feel really insecure about yourself, gaslighting, you're a prime candidate for gaslighting. We all have insecurities, I don't want to paint this picture like oh, we all have this all figured out we don't. It's important you recognise where you need some work to feel better about yourself. And when you don't feel good about yourself when you are in shame, you know how to work through it intended that and I've done so many episodes on that. And we'll talk through that, as we get closer to the strategies on how to deal with this.
What they here's another one, what they say is not how they behave. Okay, what they say doesn't match up with their behaviour. So there's a misalignment. So their behaviour, their their words, and their actions don't match up. And that's really important to notice that using kindness and charm to distract and control you. And this is one of the things I see a lot where they'll give you compliments. They will tell you how wonderful you are. They'll tell you all the things they love about you. They might even give you gifts. And you feel bad, then you feel like well, I was really unfair, I really, I really, they are really kind and it's just me, I'm the one with the issue. So you need to notice if that charm is second you into this unhealthy dynamic, denying anything that might make them lose power. So denial, the defence system of denial is a huge part of this pattern, they will deny that they're the problem, they will deny their own contribution to issues denial blocks somebody from gross. So we all have denial. It's just a part of being a human because we're trying to protect ourselves. And if we're not living in truth, which is radical ownership of our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, then chances are we're not going to we are going to block any healing. And they will use denial and flip the switch on you. Well, I didn't do that. You did that yesterday. You got really dysregulated yesterday, they might not use the word dysregulated. Here's the therapist and we coming out. They might say you did that yesterday. I did it once and now you're going to get upset with me. It's denial of their own ability to look within and see their own patterns because they feel we all get defensive. It's just part of being a human. Is it a pattern again, I'm looking at consistency in This real consistency in this pattern. Okay, wearing you down accepting things you never, you would never do. So wearing you down is a big one, they just consistently keep going and going and going, and they wear you out until you're like, fine. It must be me. You kind of give in, in a sense, using your most important things as ammunition against you. So your children, they'll say, Well, if it's let's say, it's one of your kids, they'll say, well, they also think you're crazy. They also think you're a lunatic. They also think you're mean they also think that you don't love them. Insert whatever they're using the children as a weapon to manipulate you. And yeah, our kids are gonna think this about us, I'm sure my think I'm that's half the time. Because I'm always asking how they feel. And so I have to tolerate that that's okay, that they think that it's not a threat to me. So if you are feeling shame, and they use that to, it feels like a threat against you. That's when we're going to either gain some help, we're going to set a boundary, that doesn't mean they're going to fly, oblige, oblige you in it. And that's where we're going to get into some strategies on how to deal with this, can you change someone to that gaslights? No, nobody can change another person. Can you work on you and how you're approaching this? Absolutely. Is it going to be easy? No, because somebody that's in denial and very defensive, and doesn't want to own or take responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, opinions and behaviour. It's tough. You can't change them, you can only work on how you respond to it, and improve your way you feel about yourself, honestly. And when you feel in shame, that you can nurture yourself through that. uprooting you from your perception by casting doubt in it. This is the one thing I have kind of mentioned all the way throughout. You feel pretty clear in your perception of reality, and then all of a sudden, you walk away from that feeling like well, maybe it is me like the realtor example. Or maybe it is me. Maybe I, maybe I am being, you know, maybe I didn't maybe I didn't see that. Maybe he did tell me. And I just forgot, he told me, but they make you question, your memory, and your perception of reality.
And a lot. Here's another example. I've had clients tell me, I brought up, you know, an issue of let's not talk about politics. Let's take that, for example. Because that's been a prevalent one here the last couple years, or COVID. Let's not, I don't we have different opinions. I don't, I think it's best if we just agree to disagree, and keep bringing it up only light gas into the fire, right? Hence gaslighting, and they keep you get in a car and you feel trapped with them. And they bring it up. And they're like, What do I do? And I say, Well, what are your options? There's many options, you have to work on what's best for you. But the first thing is to stay regulated. The more you engage in it, the more the person's going to go on and on with it. Now, if it's truly a safety issue, you call 911. I mean, there's ways around this, but we're talking about just You're, you're in a non abusive relationship, this just seems to be one of those patterns that gets developed. How do I handle it? We're going to talk about that. Okay, we're going to get into last one, and then we're getting into strategies on how to handle this, making you believe everyone's a liar, to only believe them, making you believe everyone's a liar, to only making you believe them, so everyone else is lying. And then you're like, Well, maybe everyone else is lying. Maybe you're not lying. It makes you question everything. That's just the bottom line. Okay, so we've gotten into gaslighting is a form of manipulation that attempts to make you quench question your sense of reality, and uses language of guilt to take you down a path to make you feel bad, and to flecked them from any responsibility about the situation. That's a summation. Now, how do we handle this? This is where I want to tell you. You have to be realistic about your expectations. First thing I'm going to say is take a deep breath. That recenter is you several deep breaths. So that's the first thing you're going to do. The next thing you're going to do is check your own patterns. Check your own patterns. Are you engaging in this? Be honest with yourself? Are you engaging in this? How defensive Are you? How much do you live in denial? These are important explorations because you can only work on yourself. The next thing is determine boundaries of what's okay and what's not not okay with you. And it might look like I'm no longer going to engage in this conversation when you want to come back. And we can both take responsibility for our part in that I'm happy to reengage boundaries, don't control another person. So that's the thing people like I set a boundary and they didn't do anything different. Yeah, because that's not what boundaries are. I can't control someone else. I can only articulate what will work and what won't work for me what I will and won't handle. The next thing is you've got to work on your shame. You've got to work on your sense of self worth. Because you're prime candidates to buy into what they're selling. And I saw you say that a lot. I'm like, Are you buying what they're selling? And they're like, Yeah, I'm like, Okay, what part of you is buying it? What part of you is not buying it in the part of you that is buying it is probably a younger part, an inner child part that may have some trauma there, this was a pattern done to you in your childhood. And that needs to be tended to. And we can reprocess some of that with E M, D, our eye movement, desensitisation reprocessing, it's a form of therapy, that is empirically researched, you can go back and listen to the podcast on that, to help you work through that. So you have a stronger sense of self. What I mean, by stronger, I mean more secure. You can also use brainspotting, any form of therapy, internal family systems, because that part of you is the part that will just buy what they're selling, they'll they're basically buying into, that you are not good enough, that you're stupid that you are making, you're crazy that you're buying into a narrative. And there's probably a fear deep down inside that you're going to turn out like one of your family members that you don't want to be like. And so it's important that you're working through that fear. So you can have more clarity, and you can articulate what's okay with you and what's not okay with you. And the deepest issue for this is, if you're buying what they're selling, you need to you need to make sure that you're rumbling through that that is actually the truth.
If you're buying it, then there's a deep part of you that does that just feels defective. And that, again has to be dealt with in therapy. And when you can see it, you can no longer tolerate it. And you can say I'm not going to tolerate having the flip switch, I'm willing to own my part, I want to be in a relationship where you can own yours. And sometimes we just have to decide not to be in relationship with someone that has a toxic level of gaslighting. If they're not willing to get help, they're not willing to go to therapy, when you've requested specifically that they go to therapy, or get help. You have to decide, do I want to have this in my life if this is a pervasive issue. And if this is something, a pattern that you've been doing, you I'm really encouraging you to take radical ownership of it and get some help with it. The deep breathing helps you get that prefrontal cortex online so you can think clearly. And you cannot be in the brainstem of your trauma response or your survival response. You can be clear and direct. And that's what I invite you into clear and direct communication. So it looks like I will no longer tolerate the flipping the switch. If you want to own your part in this. I'm happy to re engage in the conversation. I'm willing to own my part. And then you have to be clear on what's your part, what's not your part. Can you change someone that gaslights not unless they want to do that work? You can ask them? Do you want to work on this directly? Do ask yourself, Do I want to work on this? Ask them Do you want to work on this? And name it? Do you want to work on this pattern of flipping the switch? I like saying that better than gaslighting. I feel like gaslighting can be very triggering for people. So I like flipping the switch or flipping the script where it gets shifted on to me rather than us both owning our parts and are you willing to work on that? They say no, you have a decision to make. Can you live with that? Can you live with that? If you can't then I think therapies in order if you can. I also think if they're willing to own it. That's a lot of progress. Yes, that's that's, that gives you the sign that they are willing to take responsibility for their part. So, I hope this episode was helpful, I wanted to take a deep dive into it. gaslighting really begins in childhood where someone is controlled, manipulated, suffocated, neglected or abused. And it's rooted in trauma. Oftentimes, it does not give someone permission to do it to you, I want to make that very clear, are you to do it to somebody else, we have to take ownership for our pain of the past, so we don't recreate it in the present. And I am so grateful you're here, you are willing to do this work because you're listening to this episode. And be sure to share rate and subscribe if you find this helpful. And maybe this is going to be helpful to someone you care about or love, please share the episode. I am so grateful for that because I want to help as many people as possible, find healing, find freedom and find more joy. And when we can spread the word. You're part of the solution. You're part of working through how we get to the other side of all this stuff that we're dealing with. And I really encourage you in this journey. To be in your truth free in your integrity, check your own issues, stop looking for someone to make you feel better. Meaning your partner your children, you got to do that for yourself. And I've done so many episodes on that nurturing your inner child nurturing your part of you that feels not good enough because we all battle that. It doesn't just disappear. Even doing this work. You learn ways to tend to that part of you, that feels less than an I want to tell you you are worth it. You do matter. You are lovable. You are not defective. We are human beings that have have a past and the past doesn't define us the past can liberate you in and have you be more compassionate and empathic towards others in yourself. So don't give up hope. Keep going. And I am so grateful for you. Until next week. I hope this episode is transformational in your life. Thanks for listening
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