Underhanded and Stealthy, Gaslighters effectively use manipulation to gain control and power
Gaslighters display certain operative traits that can help identify whether you are being subjected to such behavior. The following list is not all inclusive, but a start, as the more you are aware of their methods, the faster you will be able to spot them and avoid falling prey to the gaslighter’s snare.
They use confusion to diminish your stability.
In order to lessen your feeling of stability, perhaps, normalcy – a Gaslighter will make you constantly question everything and create doubt. They want you to see them as your source for the stability you seek.
They steadily wear you down.
Gaslighters are systematic and wear you down slowly – a backhanded comment here, a fib here, a fabrication there. Over time it gradually increases, we never realize what is happening to us.
Their actions do not match their words.
Like the old saying goes ”actions speak louder than words”, pay attention to what the gaslighter does, not their words. What they are saying means nothing, empty talk; what they are actually doing is the important issue.
They know what is important to you and use it against you.
The Gaslighter knows your identity and reputation are important to you. If you have children, they know your children are important to you. These will be among the first things targeted by them. The Gaslighter will undercut your reputation behind your back, your trustworthiness. They will do this with anyone who will listen, including your children. All the while reinforcing themselves as the upright, reasonable and trustworthy person – all at your expense.
They bamboozle you with positive reinforcement or a compliment.
Gaslighters are always looking for ways to get you to question your reality. So why not throw you a bone by praising you for something you did. Mind you, this is the same person that has been cutting you down, making you question your own self-worth. The gaslighter wants to lull you into thinking, “Geez- maybe they really are not so bad.” Hold on a moment, YES the Gaslighter really is that bad. This is just another calculated move on their part.
They outright lie and deceive.
Even when a gaslighter is caught “dead to rights” – “caught in the act”, they will look you straight in the eye and proclaim their innocence. Consistent with their goal, they want you to question your reality, your understanding of events, and, instill doubt. They may even tell you that you are the one who is crazy, that you are the one losing your mind. Remember, look at what they do and not what they say.
They plot and backbite to align people against you.
Gaslighters are experts in seeking out and finding the persons they know they can manipulate, and, will unquestionably stand by them. They will and do use these people against you; be it family, friends, co-workers or whomever. Their goal is to isolate you. They will make statements that so-and-so said this or so-and-so said that. However, there is a good chance these people never said any such thing, as the gaslighter is a consistent liar. They are increasing your feeling of who can you trust. Isolation provides the gaslighter more control.
They state to others that you are crazy.
A Gaslighter wants to get everyone to believe that you are fragile and unstable. They openly question your sanity in order to preempt any information or claims about the gaslighter’s intent or abuse. This is one of their most effective tactics.
They project their behavior.
Gaslighters constantly accuse you of the behavior and/or emotions they themselves are guilty of. They project their conduct onto you often enough that you now are the one defending yourself, for things you have not done or are guilty of. They are shifting the light off of themselves and onto you, a distraction providing cover for their behavior.
They never own what they have said.
A Gaslighter makes a statement about someone or something, or represents they will do something – you know what they actually said and you know you absolutely heard it. However, they outright deny saying any such thing. You may even have proof, but the gaslighter sticks to their denial. It makes you start questioning your reality, perhaps I got it wrong. In actuality you have it right, but now you are starting to accept their reality.
They never own the troubles they have instigated.
Gaslighters will avoid having to explain themselves or take responsibility for their actions. They will state that others are to blame, are overreacting or were wrong to bring the situation up in the first place.
They never own or keep the promises they have made.
To a Gaslighter, a promise is nothing more than words in the moment. Their promises are empty, as they never intend to fulfill or keep them. As the saying goes, a gaslighters’ promise is an “empty promise”.
They will put you in a quandry using 'Double Binds'.
A Gaslighter will give you two options, both of which are undesirable. Or, they may send opposing messages your way. One message negates the other. You quickly find yourself in a no-win situation.
We hope this sheds a little light on what to be on the lookout for. Keep in mind, gaslighting is a tactic used to gain power and control over a person and everyone is susceptible to it. The manipulation is done slowly, over time, to make one doubt their own reality.