Gaslighting – are you a victim or a perpetrator?
Triggered from an unlikely place a few months ago – a management training on Assertiveness – identifying passive-aggression and dealing with it. Once you start being aware, its difficult to stop. You start noticing the ever so subtle smaller stuff. Ever notice how people around you project their feelings onto you? How they behave a certain way, or try to control your behavior. Or how quick they are to pass judgement on your feelings ? Strangers, colleagues, friends and family. Each judging you according to their own beliefs. Each expecting you & nudging you to behave a certain way. To fulfill some need of their own. Instead of being aware of their own feelings and needs, they find it easier just to shrug it off on you. Ditto for the self.
Yashar’s post struck a raw chord. On how society and women are conditioned “to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?” He’s said it so well.. that I’m just giong to quote him from TheCurrentConscience.
Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction — whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness — in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.
Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.
It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.
Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute.
These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.
When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, “Forget it, it’s okay.”
That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking.
No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.
They say, “I’m sorry,” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.
You know how it looks: “You’re late :)”
These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.