‘Once you know what you are worth, you will stop giving people discounts’
Gaslighting is a term you may or may not have come across, it takes its name from the movie Gaslight, in which a man manipulates his wife into thinking she is losing her mind and is a gradual and harmful form of manipulation and control.
Anybody is susceptible to gaslighting and it something which I see in my clinic regularly where both men and women are victims, so this more common than perhaps people realise as the most effective gaslighters are often the hardest to detect.
At the beginning of a relationship the gaslighter will employ a tactic known as the ‘love bomb’ where the other person feels that they have met their soulmate and can see an amazing future together.
It is a tactic so that the more quickly a person falls for them the more quickly the next stage of the manipulation can start.
The reason a gaslighter takes their time is best described by the metaphor of a frog that is put in a pot of water. If you put a frog straight into boiling water, it would jump straight out. But if you have tepid water and slowly increase the temperature the frog will stay there.
This way, by doing it slowly, the victim of gaslighting doesn’t realise that bit by bit their identity and self-worth are being eroded away.
The type of tactics a gaslighter employs can vary but some of the more common ones that I hear clients speak about in sessions I will briefly cover.
The lies they tell will start off about simple things and over time the amount of misinformation soon starts to grow and grow. They are so convincing and believable with their lies that it keeps the victim off balance, which is what they want.
Even if you are standing with proof, they will deny having said or done something which then starts you doubting yourself and may even turn it onto you and tell you that in fact it is not them but you who is lying or said or done something.
By doing this it wears you down. Over time it keeps you weakened, as most of us like to feel that sense of balance and stability in our lives and we look to other people to help us maintain that balance which in this instance could be the gaslighter.
To add to the sense of imbalance a victim feels, the gaslighter will throw in some occasional positive reinforcement. This confuses a victim even more as the gaslighter has been chipping away and cutting down your sense of self-worth and value and now they suddenly praise you for things you have done.
The victim may then start thinking that the relationship and the person are not so bad and that the relationship does have good moments. So the tactic to keep the victim unbalanced is a calculated attempt that works to help them maintain control. While doing this they may also try to align family and friends against the victim by telling them that their family and friends know they are lying or losing their mind as well, which leaves the victim not knowing who to trust or turn to.
This is what the gaslighter exactly wants - the victim isolated.
Leaving a gaslighter can be complicated and difficult as the gaslighter may employ another tactic known as hoovering where they tell the victim how much they love them and praise all their positive qualities.
They tell the victim how things are going to change between them and when the victim agrees to stay there will be a honeymoon period where the gaslighter is on their best behaviour then gradually things go back to way they were before.
Can you heal after this kind of relationship? The answer is yes, but healing takes time and recognising what has happened to you is the first step to take towards making that change.
This is where counselling can help as it gives the victim a safe space to be able to tell their story and have it heard while offering them tools to be able to start the process of being able to show themselves self-compassion and start rebuilding their sense of value and self-worth. It can help you regain balance in your life and empower you by helping you once again see your self-worth and value.
There is an old saying which I love which is ‘once you know what you are worth, you’ll stop giving other people discounts.’
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