Are you being gaslighted?
I learned a new word today — “gaslighting.” I admit I am fascinated by words and having used them for years to make my living, I am constantly amazed at new discoveries even at my age. My good friend, Rusty Cluck, is a wordsmith, though he won’t likely admit it to many. He comes up with some real winners from time to time, and I find myself looking for them in his writings. I wonder if Rusty has come across this word, which was new for me today.
In an article found in “Emerging from Broken,” Anna Valerious wrote, “Gaslighting occurs when a person you trust to tell you the truth about reality, is, in fact, bending reality with lies. When this happens consistently over a period of time, it causes you to question your sanity.”
I tried to imagine the situations in which gaslighting might appear, and I am not referring to lighting the lamps or even the furnace in our homes. Neither is the original article writer referring to powering the home energy system with natural or propane gas.
My first imagination of this occurring is perhaps in a relationship between two people. Perhaps one is more dominant than the other and they find it convenient or even exciting to stretch the truth to his or her partner. They may be wise enough to use enough truth to glue the idea together, but change, add or even delete the honest facts of the matter, or change it up so that it no longer means what it seems. A gaslighter is first of all selfish. He thinks only of himself and is willing to go the extra mile to assure himself and those around him that he is the best, the most intelligent, handsome and appealing, and witty and clever. One of the tools in his arsenal is putting the other person down, condemning and criticism their every action, questioning commitment, morals, goals and ability. They may use the physical appearance of the partner in constant comparison and scrutiny.
Sad thing is that after a period of time, the recipient of the action begins to believe it is true. I witnessed one example of this practice. A young mom had allowed her weight to increase after the birth of two children. She knew she was heavier than she wanted to be, and she wanted to correct the situation, but with the care of her home, her job, her children and life in general, she did not lose the weight quickly. Her husband started the practice of gaslighting. He first told her he was very concerned about her health and that she needed to lose weight for that reason. He pointed out surveys, advice from medical professionals, and photos of women he found attractive. He became so obsessive about the matter that he hammered her day and night. Truthfully he was very prideful and he wanted his young wife to appear to be the trophy wife that would make his friends jealous of his ability to attract and keep such a beauty.
He started to call her unkind names, point out her many faults, talk about her openly to his friends, and belittle her in public. She lost much of her own self worth, became less confident at home and at work, and soon became physically ill.
Other incidents noted from experience is when a person wants to dominate a community, a civic organization, a church group or a family. They will lace the truth with lies and tell them with straight faces. Often, they’ve done it for so long without being checked that they may even believe it is true. For instance, they will ascertain that they are the only ones that can do the job, when in truth, many could, if given the opportunity. They quote false facts, intimate rules, share purported conversations, and the like building their own egos and hurting the very group they claim to love and want to help. They are gaslighting big time.
God is truth. Our family members, friends, and neighbors deserve truth. Each individual is responsible for his or her actions. God help us all to keep ours pure, honest, and above all, without two-faced falsehoods.