Hindsight can only be 20/20 if you are viewing it through a filter of reality and honesty. But what if your sense of reality was taken away from you? What if you no longer knew what to believe or who to trust? I first experienced gaslighting in relationships with friends and family members when I was a child; I just didn’t know there was a term for it. And as long as you don’t know what gaslighting is, you’ll not only think that *you* are the problem, but you’ll be dependent on whoever is gaslighting you, to be your eyes, ears, and mental health assessor.
Gaslighting is something that I have experienced in romantic relationships, friendships, familial relationships, and in business. I’ve coached thousands of people all over the world who are victims of gaslighting. And even when they are able to take a step back and see the manipulation for what it is, it’s still incredibly hard to accept.
What is Gaslighting and where does the term come from?
Gaslighting is when someone manipulates you into questioning your mental health and reality.
The term originated from the 1938 play, Gas Light (which has two film adaptions). It centers around a husband who attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights in their home (the lights were powered by gas at the time). When the wife notices and points out the dimmed lights, her husband denies that the lights have changed.
The most horrific example of gaslighting that I have ever seen depicted on-screen was in the movie, Rosemary’s Baby. Rosemary is gaslight from the conception of her child (where she was drugged and raped but led to believe that she got drunk and sexually aggressive with her husband) to the birth… by an entire community (including her husband and neighbors; even her doctor). This doesn’t just happen in the movies. Gaslighting happens everywhere, every day. How does this happen?
Unfortunately, very easily.
I speak from personal experience when I say that once you’ve been gaslight, you start to allow the cynical audience in your own head to gaslight you. This starts an internal war with your intuition, which leaves you feeling completely helpless (and even more of a sitting duck for anyone whose egoic meal ticket is total control over your emotional weather). This is something that I still struggle with every day. I have to remind myself that the proverbial light has actually been dimmed and that I’m not just imagining things – as heartbreaking as it is to remind myself of. Continue Reading