What is gaslighting, you ask? It is a terrible tactic used by a narcissist to shut you down, bottom you out, and leave you questioning your sanity.
If you wonder, what is gaslighting, it is important to understand, in case it happens to you! There are many types of abusive people or relationships you can find yourself in. The hardest and most destructive one is loving a narcissist. A narcissist is someone who cares for no one but themselves.
Named after the mythological character Narcissus, Narcissus loved himself so much that he fell madly in love with his own image in the water. Although the narcissists use many hat tricks to confuse the people they love, gaslighting messes with you the most. [Read: How to get out of an abusive relationship]
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a tool that a narcissist uses to throw all sorts of emotional shit at you to make a situation blow up so you can’t see what is real and what isn’t. A beautiful tactic, like throwing gas on a fire, before you know it, everything is out of control. You find yourself trying to put it out any way you know how.
When a narcissist is questioned about their actions or character, their instinct is to fight back with all they have. Pulling things out of the closet that you did years ago, bringing other people into a fight they don’t even have a dog in, and leaving you wondering which way is up, if that is how you feel half the time, guess what? You are being gaslighted. [Read: 14 clear signs a narcissist is gaslighting you and playing mind games]
How do you know if you have just been gaslighted?
One of the biggest reasons why people stay in relationships with a narcissistic personality is that they use tactics like gaslighting to make you think that you are the problem. Masters at a very unique talent, you find yourself begging, pleading, chasing, being someone you have never been before, and then the worst part? You feel bad for being that person for days after the fact.
That is when the narcissist has got you. When you submit and take the blame, even if you aren’t at fault, and start your apology tour for everything that you have ever done in your life. They kick you, and then they kick you when you are down some more, until you are left a shell of yourself and just begging for them to kick you a little harder next time. [Read: 25 signs of covert narcissism – A special kind of mind game]
9 characteristics of the tactic of gaslighting
So what is gaslighting? To understand this, you need to understand the effect a narcissist can have on you. Therapists all describe the same scenario of people coming out of a relationship with a narcissist. They feel like they aren’t themselves anymore. They don’t know where their strength went. They don’t know why they have been chasing a person around like a damn crazy person.
The person who finally sees their way out of a narcissistic, abusive relationship just knows that they no longer know what is true and what is not. That is the problem with overcoming a relationship with a narcissist.
You are not alone if this resonates with you. There is a way to break the cycle of abuse and to find out the truth, not just about who you are, but what has been done to you. Gaslighting is just one tactic, but a very powerful one used to systematically rob you of mind, body, and soul.
#1 They use your insecurities against you. When you approach the narcissist, either about something you are unhappy about, something they did wrong, a lie they were caught in, or threaten their ego in any way, they pull out their arsenal.
#2 They bring up all your past indiscretions to prove that you are just a shitty person. Since they make a mental note of all the things you have done to hurt them, they take advantage by throwing them all in for good measure to confuse and befuddle you.
Before you know it, you apologize, plead, and wonder what the hell went wrong. They never forgive, and they never forget. They just keep all the ugliness you have ever shown them and put it in their bag of tools to hurl at you when they want to shut you down. [Read: 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]
#3 They push your buttons to get you to react and then point the finger at you. If you leave every confrontation asking yourself how the hell did that happen? How did I go in thinking that I was right and come out screaming like a banshee and apologizing for three days? I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, you are probably being gaslighted.
#4 You go in upset and end up apologizing. If you are upset and know they did something wrong like lying to you, if you broach it with them, they turn the entire situation around to make you feel as if you are just too needy and it is all your fault.
You go from trying to have a civil conversation about how they hurt you to begging and apologizing for losing your ever-loving mind.
#5 You lose your ever-loving mind. If you used to be a pretty docile person, but all of a sudden you can barely deal with anything without losing your mind, it is because what was up is now down and what is down is now up.
Gaslighting isn’t a one and done thing. It is a continual mind fuck that has you questioning who you are, doing things you didn’t think you were capable of, and cutting ties with other people in your life. [Read: How to cut toxic people out of your life]
#6 Gaslighting is meant to knock you off kilter. When a narcissist gaslights you, they don’t ever give you specifics like, “My friends don’t like you because you are rude to them.” Instead, they throw out generalities that make you feel as if everyone is against you.
Not only does everyone not like you, the narcissist refuses to tell you what you did. They say things like “It is just you, you make people uncomfortable.” They leave you questioning who you think you are on the inside and what people really think of you.
#7 Everyone is drug into the fight, indirectly. The chief tool behind gaslighting is to make it sound like it is a consensus. The narcissist starts a character assassination long before you even see it coming. Soon enough, people aren’t talking to you. But, you don’t know why. So, when you ask the narcissist’s best friend, they say they don’t know.
The truth is that the annihilation of your character’s ground layer was laid a long time ago. So, when gaslighting you, the narcissist has a “team” on their side to use against you.
#8 What you say to them gets twisted and turned to make you the villain. If you make a comment about them spending more time with their friends than you, they say you control and isolate them from their friends. Gaslighting is how they take your words and use them against you.
And, even if they are in writing and you read back over them, you wonder how on earth they heard what they did out of what was said. The more you explain, the more they twist. You are left in ruins, rolled up into a ball, wondering what the hell just happened here. [Read: 13 ways toxic love can harm you permanently and how to get out]
#9 They are super aggressive and threatening. It isn’t just about the words that come from their mouth. When you are gaslighted, the narcissist threatens you with aggressive behaviors and over the top intimidation.
Telling you they want to hurt you, screaming at you, or running from you, so that you end up chasing them and pushing you to the brink, it is all about threats and intimidation of every form.
There are many abusive things that a narcissist does to their victim. That is why it is so difficult for you to break free from them. Convincing you that you are crazy, it is all your fault, and pushing you to be someone you aren’t, are all cornerstones that you are with a narcissist.
So what is gaslighting then? In its essence, gaslighting may just be one tactic, but it is the best one that a narcissist has in their arsenal. The supreme mind fuck, gaslighting is both a physically and emotionally threatening tactic they employ to shut you down by making you question yourself, your sanity, your goodness, and what you are and aren’t capable of.