I read a nice article today by E.B.Johnson in Quora, and it inspired me to think about how much our whole culture has been vulnerable to “Gaslighting”.
In case you don’t know the term, gaslighting is a description of an abusive and manipulative strategy being used to disempower and de-fraud someone, usually a wife or child. The term originated with a film in the 1940’s where an abusive husband persuades his wife that she is a kleptomaniac and imagines a false reality, when actually he is trying to drive her crazy and steal her inheritance.
In our world, we are being persuaded that we aren’t good enough or smart enough or cool enough, and we need to buy things in order to cover up the fact of our being “abnormal” or “unAmerican”, or “different”. This is a gas-lighting strategy that is completely manipulative and abusive, which dis-empowers us and has succeeded in cutting us off from our instincts, our needs, and our self-esteem. Yes, our inheritance is being stolen.
Our culture has set up a strange dynamic of consumerism and power domination which is unnatural and out of balance with all of nature. There is another way of being: in harmony with each other, listening to each other’s needs and wants, listening to our own needs and getting clear on our own boundaries.
Strategies to Escape Gaslighting
- Self-Esteem building: Love yourself, and make yourself a safe place for confidence to bloom. Do NOT allow others to demean you.
- Record of incidents: keep a hidden personal journal with dates and shorthand descriptions of incidents, just enough to remember what happened. It’s good to record body language, listen to the words, the space between words, and the real meaning behind the words. How you feel when they address you. Do you feel like an equal or small? Review the record and see patterns.
- Take a stand but don’t argue. Figure out what you want, state it and walk away. Make a stand for your feelings and needs: state your Peace. It will take some bravery to tell them that you’re removing yourself from the situation.
- Present examples where you were dismissed, undermined or where responsibility was flipped onto you, when it shouldn’t have been. Say how you felt when that happened.
- Create a time limit for them to apologize or explain themselves. If that doesn’t happen, then walk away.
- Lean in to your support systems: those people that love you unconditionally and who you love. Ask for their advise, ask if they can support you emotionally as you try to overcome and heal. Listen to their advise, and see yourself and your situation from another perspective. Do not isolate with feeling ashamed to be in this situation. Please. Reach out for resources
- Build stronger boundaries: Make rules for happiness, for others around you and for yourself- be aware of the same dynamic in other relationships and don’t be willing to be manipulated.
- Set limits on yourself for the relationships you’ll pursue, and the types of people you’ll bring into your life. Be honest and take mindful action.
In our world, unfortunately there are many insecure and power hungry people who may try to diminish and demean those around them in order to get control and feed the need for superiority.
There’s another way of being that’s about mutual benefit, service, and co-operation. There’s a way to communicate with empathy, compassion and understanding. There’s a place for you in that world! And we are creating it as we go. Empatharian.