Gaslighting refers to a situation where someone manipulates you into questioning your own sanity. A typical example is this: you confront your narcissistic parent about a situation and what you thought had happened, then you are told what you thought had happened hadn’t, and you are making a big deal out of nothing.
If you confront your parent about having abused you, you were told your belief is a lie. So, your reality is cancelled, and your perception of reality is overwritten.
The worst thing about gaslighting is the denial of reality; being denied what you have seen with your own eyes and you know to be true, being denied an experience that you know is real. This is worse than the abuse, it can make you crazy.
If you have a narcissistic family you surely have been gaslighted. Sometimes the victim is not aware of it because they have been gaslighted since they were a child. So, looking at the following signs you can recognize if you have been gaslighted:
1. You frequently second-guess. You don’t trust your memory and oftentimes wonder if something you think happened actually did happen.
2. You feel threatened or on edge around the gaslighter even if you’re not aware that they’re doing something overtly emotionally or psychologically manipulative.
3. You feel like you’re the one who needs to apologize and take responsibility for everything that happens in your family. You often feel like everything is your fault and everything you do is wrong or bad.
4. You try so hard to make other people feel happy and you feel stressed or overwhelmed as a result of doing this all the time. Then maybe you feel like it’s all your fault if not everyone is full of joy. You feel like it’s all your fault or there’s something wrong with you.
5. You feel there’s something wrong with you, like you’re too weak or too sensitive or you’re flawed beyond repair. You may have this feeling inside of you if you have been a victim of gaslighting during your childhood or your adolescence.
6. You don’t trust your judgment and you feel like you can’t make your own decisions. You cannot make a decision until somebody else says what you should do.
7. You feel a general sense of uneasiness. It’s not because there’s something wrong with you but because you have been psychologically or emotionally abused. It’s important you recognize that you are not broken but that’s a feeling caused by gaslighting.
8. You feel as though you are a much weaker version of yourself. You feel you could have been confident but during the time you became afraid of speaking up or expressing your needs or feelings, because you believe that they don’t matter and maybe even you don’t matter because you’ve been manipulated in these ways.
The first step to heal from narcissistic abuse is awareness and understanding and being able to recognize what is really going on. One important way to deal with gaslighting is to learn how to have healthy boundaries, express, speak and stand up for your healthy boundaries.
It’s important that you fight this evil strategy, so I suggest some tips.
1. Support your version of events. Trust in your version of reality and do not allow it to be altered on demand. Your gaslighter parent will try to bully you, but by being defiant you will preserve your self-esteem and your identity.
2. Don’t search for accountability. Your narcissistic parent and their enablers will never be able to take accountability for their actions. Your gaslighting parent will never be able to respond to logic or reason and so if you think that you can apply logic and reason you are no longer powerless.
3. Don’t try to change the situation. Talking with someone who is gaslighting you means you will never feel heard, so the solution is to stop engaging and put yourself first.
4. Healthy detachment. If you try to adapt you to gaslight situation, your behavior and thought will become maladaptive. You must distinguish between the world of the gaslighter and the real world.
5. Validate your reality. Let people have their “alternative facts” but validate your reality even if it was disavowed. For example, write or paint your experience.
Excerpts from “Narcissistic Parents. The Complete Guide for Adult Children, Including 2 Manuscripts: Narcissistic Mothers & Narcissistic Fathers. How to Handle a Narcissistic Parent and Recover from CPTSD”
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