Gaslighting – Word of the Year

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By: Dr Rohi

The word “gaslighting,” defined as “the act or practise of severely deceiving someone especially for one’s own advantage,” has been named the 2022 Word of the Year by US dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster. Searches in the online dictionary show that interest in the term has increased by 1,740% during the previous years. Gas Light, a play by Patrick Hamilton that was produced in 1938, is credited with coining the phrase. In the 1940s, two films based on this play were produced.

Later, mental health professionals developed the word “gaslighting” to clinically characterize a type of extended coercive control in abusive relationships. When someone gaslights you, they constantly contest your perspective and dismiss your problems as the result of “over thinking.” Have you ever had the impression that someone was trying to influence your thoughts or get you to doubt your own judgement? If so, there’s a possibility that you’re being gaslighted.

Knowing about this condition is important, especially in modern times when we are constantly surrounded by people. They accuse you of acting irrationally and overreacting to events. And when you decide to approach them about how their words have wounded you, they accuse you of fabricating events and beginning to imagine things. They claim that you are overly sensitive and making a big deal out of nothing. But this is incorrect. If this goes on for a while, it will begin to consume you from the inside out, making you think that maybe they’re right and you’ve gone insane.

Gaslighting is essentially psychological trickery that leads you to believe that the events you have experienced, perceived, remembered, or understood are illogical. Although it is a severe issue, it is rarely discussed. Gaslighting could occur both personally (with an abusive family member or partner) and professionally (a manipulative boss or co-worker preying on a junior). Additionally, it’s critical to recognise the warning signs that suggest you might be a victim, whether it’s occurring in a marriage or an office environment. The signs may include constantly doubting own judgments, lack of self-confidence, poor self-esteem, issues with self-identity, engaging in self-blame and self-criticism.

How to cope with gaslighting.

  1. Learn to spot gaslighting when it occurs. When someone is gaslighted on a regular basis, they begin to exhibit symptoms of poor self-esteem and emotional reliance on the abuser. They might feel a variety of things, including rage, irritation, and perplexity. Some phrases include; you’re inventing things, that didn’t happen, you’re exaggerating things and being dramatic, I am sorry you think that i hurt you, you have a terrible memory, and you are too sensitive, respectively.
  2. Be true to yourself. Keep your truth strong to fight gaslighting. That entails having faith in oneself, one’s emotions, and one’s convictions.
  3. Put things in writing. Writing down your thoughts might help you stay true to yourself. Write in a journal about your experiences, and make it a practise to read back over your entries. Record everything that occurs. This will boost your self-assurance in what you already know to be true.
  4. Maintain a straightforward communication. A person who is gaslighting will lie openly, change the story, and downplay how you feel. Therefore, be aware of the goal of your talk. This will prevent the individual who is gaslighting you from leading you astray and keep you focused on one track.
  5. Recognize when to end a conversation. Your perception is what the individual who is gaslighting wants you to question. When you begin to notice indications that your reality is being downplayed and rejected, give yourself permission to exit the conversation.
  6. Do not attempt to outwit the gaslighter. Disengaging is the best strategy for thwarting a gaslighter. A gaslighting individual will continue to deny the proof despite you producing it, including films, recordings, and more. Therefore, it would be wiser to leave.
  7. Expand your network of supporters. Especially after we have been gaslighted, we occasionally require approval from our friends and family to boost our internal confidence. When you speak your facts to trusted individuals, the psychological and emotional weight might be lessened.

In reality, very few of us have the ability to recognise gaslighting when it occurs, and even fewer would ever dare to tell someone directly that they were using gaslighting. You won’t doubt or question yourself if you are aware of the reality. By itself, this can increase self-assurance and make it simpler to deal with gaslighting in the future. Own your reality and give yourself enough credit.

You can get in touch with the author, a columnist at [email protected]

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