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The rebellious act of self-care in the age of Gaslighting



Curated by Krisha Surana




“If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken.” Selena Gomez

In this article, we focus on understanding #Gaslighting – from Identifiers to self-care.


Gaslighting is one of the most common forms of emotional abuse, however, it is rarely talked about. The lack of awareness regarding gaslighting is a growing concern, more so because victims of gaslighting rarely know that they are being subjected to emotional abuse. There are cases where people are subjected to emotional abuse over a period of years, to the point where it becomes a way of living and a comfort zone for the victim. Gaslighting is the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories and events occurring around them.


It is most commonly found in workplaces, relationships and friendships. However, it can also take place in a family setting. Emotional manipulation - being made to feel guilty for doing what is right for you just because it’s not aligning with the gaslighter’s interests, playing the victim when held accountable for one’s actions and dismissing the needs of the victim are some common forms of gaslighting.


As Philosophy professor Kate Abramson affirms: The act of Gaslighting is not specifically tied to being sexist, although women tend to be frequent targets of Gaslighting compared to men, who more often engage in Gaslighting.

With this statement, it is conclusive to say that not only women, but suppressed genders are also subjected to more gaslighting due to the operant conditioning pushing them to the side of submissions. Women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are often not accepted nor applauded as much as a cis-gendered, heterosexual male would be. That being said, men have their fair share of mental health issues caused by suppression of emotions, and the notion of having to be mentally stronger than their female counterparts.


However, this piece of research makes me think, if the ‘#MeToo’ movement was so delayed due to long periods of gaslighting by men. The fact that more than half of the women that have suffered sexual assault have not even spoken up about it sheds light on this thought. This however can be a double-edged sword, causing women to gaslight men into believing that they have committed acts of sexual assault in some cases. These cases are the obstacles that prevent us from believing and completely supporting noble movements like the ‘#MeToo’ movement.



One of the key reasons to recognize gaslighting and speak up against emotional abuse is because it is highly prevalent in domestic as well as professional backgrounds. It is used as the most common form of sabotage and victim blaming. Key identifiers of gaslighting include:

  • No longer feeling like the person you were,

  • Being more anxious and less confident than you used to be

  • Often wondering if you are being sensitive

  • Always feeling like it’s your fault when things go wrong

  • Constantly apologizing

  • Always questioning if your responses to situations were wrong

  • Having a sense that something is wrong but being unable to identify what it is

  • Avoiding giving information to your friends and family to avoid confrontation about your partner

  • Feeling isolated from family and friends

  • Finding it hard to make decisions and not enjoying activities that you used to enjoy.


People who gaslight suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). People with NPD are highly self-absorbed and think that the world revolves around them. They do not have time or interest for other people unless it serves a purpose for them. They lack empathy and don’t have the ability or interest to understand other people’s emotions and experiences. Narcissists are also attention seekers and crave appreciation and often use manipulation to achieve goals. Some signs of a person suffering from NPD are projection of self-inflated importance, exaggerate their achievements, respond to criticism with anger and use others for personal gains.


The question that begs to be addressed - How do you be there for yourself in the age of gaslighting?

  • The first step to recovery will always be acceptance

  • Recognizing that you are the victim of emotional abuse is the next step of getting help

  • Dissociating from the abuser and taking away their power by maintaining distance will help regaining emotional control

  • Maintaining healthy boundaries and investing in self-care activities can definitely help boost self-esteem


In the age of gaslighting and rampant emotional abuse, setting boundaries and practicing self-care might seem selfish at first but it is imperative to seek help and develop healthy coping mechanisms to ensure good mental health.

 

Krisha S is an ardent advocate of Mental Health and is active in promoting it via her page Reinvigorate. She is an evolving singer who aspires to graduate in Communications. Having been an active part of various NGO’s promoting an array of social causes, Krisha S has developed an in-depth understanding of human emotions and her keen interest in psychology has certainly helped her. Her intimate knowledge of skincare is at par with any skin-care professional, if not better.

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