You May Be The Unconscious Pawn Of Gaslighting.I'm prepared to say that being gaslighted (gaslit?) by my mother, and several exes, is THE formative experience that has made me the direct (blunt) and too-honest person I am today. I simply don't allow anyone to gaslight me, which drives a lot of people crazy because they'd love it if I shut up once in a while.
My mother had this done to her by her own mother, who did it to everyone. It poisoned the whole family, and since abuse is often passed down from generation to generation, I "inherited" that sad history.
I had no idea what "gaslighting" even meant until recently.
I had no idea that it's abusive to invalidate someone's feelings or impressions in the first place!
And just to clarify my post... Although they may sound similar, gaslighting is different from criticism.
Consider this example behavior:
A person in a relationship is consistently late to dates.
The other partner reacts to this by saying:
"I feel completely stressed out by the fact that you're always late to our dates."
Criticism of the reaction would be (among other possibilities):
"Well, don't you think you're asking a little much? I *did* tell you I had to work late..."
Gaslighting would be:
"What are you talking about? It's only fifteen minutes past the time, that's no big deal, calm down already."
Even though you may believe the other person is overreacting, it doesn't matter! It doesn't matter whether or not 15 minutes is "late" in the Grand Scheme of Things. Why? Because what's late to one is acceptable to another. You are dealing with another human being here, not a set of conventions!
Gaslighting just makes the other person feel as though they had no right to feel stressed out, when they do.
It makes the other person feel as though they have no right to feel what they feel.
It really doesn't matter whether you agree with their reasons or not: disagreements are just that, disagreements. Trying to make a disagreement "go away" by pretending it doesn't (or shouldn't) exist in the first place is akin to asking the other person to "not be such a damn bother".
Do you really want to treat people like this?
Do YOU want to be treated like this?
I didn't think so.
As a young child and later a teenager, I was consistently made to feel as though I was imagining my depression because my mother believed I was "overreacting". She told me I was imagining her overly strict treatment of me, which was confirmed later on on multiple occasions, including by therapists.
I was made to feel as though she had the right of every situation when I didn't do exactly as told, and I was just being childish and immature for being annoyed at having all my efforts thrown out the window.
I was consistently told that "the real problem was with me", that "there was no problem", that "I was creating the problem".
Let me tell you this:
If you are at all committed to having a working, healthy, sane relationship with ANYONE (parents, significant other, children, bosses, employees), you will learn to recognize gaslighting behavior, and you will prevent it both in yourself, and in others around you.
Nobody should get to invalidate others' feelings just because they're too lazy to deal with other people.
Here's some tips to avoid it:
If you don't have the time to deal with a situation, clearly express that. Examples:
"I'm sorry, I feel overwhelmed right now, we should talk about this later."
"I can't deal with this right now, it'll have to wait."
"Let me think for a while before I answer."
If you don't know what to say, clearly express that. Examples:
"I have no idea what to reply to that."
"I need to think before I can answer your concern."
(I may add more later.)
The important thing is to make the other person feel as though they matter. Because they should.
Here is more reading for the interested below...
Most of these articles are written from the perspective of women being manipulated by men, but don't let this fool you: my mother was very adept at gaslighting my father, and I know my grandmother was the same with my grandfather.
Wonderatrix 31-35, F 6 Responses 8 Dec 9, 2011