Have you ever had a conversation with someone that made you question what’s real? I’m not talking about a spiritual conversation or any cosmic connection. I’m talking about gaslighting. In this discussion, I’ll break down the two types of gaslighting, along with the phases and common phrases associated with it. At the end, I’ll share my number one tip for dealing with gaslighting in the moment, as there’s only one thing you can do that will have any impact.
There are two types of gaslighting, and the first type may not be as familiar, even though it’s probably more common.
The first type is unintentional gaslighting:
You might have been guilty of this at some point. Let me provide an example. Consider a child who scrapes his knee and insists it’s the worst pain he’s ever felt. With good intentions, a parent might try to teach the child not to overreact, saying it doesn’t hurt that bad. This unintentionally tells the child that what’s real to them isn’t actually real. We’ve likely all experienced this as children and may have unintentionally done it as parents.
Another form of unintentional gaslighting occurs when trying something new, like skateboarding or a challenging work project. If someone says, “That’s really easy,” when you’re struggling, it’s a soft form of gaslighting, making you feel like you’re incapable when your reality is that it’s difficult.
The other type of gaslighting is malicious, done with the intention of manipulation. This is often seen in emotionally abusive individuals, although they may also unintentionally gaslight.
Now, let’s discuss the phases of gaslighting. According to psychoanalyst Robin Stern, there are three phases: disbelief, defense, and depression. In the disbelief phase, you question whether the gaslighting was unintentional. In the defense phase, you start losing certainty and may try to logic your way around it. The depression phase is when it begins to erode your sense of self, causing uncertainty and insecurity.
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Let’s get onto the common phrases:
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