A friend has sent this link to Yashar Ali’s article ‘A message to women from a man: you are not crazy. ‘ … gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals … to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat/a-message-to-women-from-a_1_b_958859.html
At first I thought “Yes, yes, yes, I know … it happens all the time …” and then as I continued to read, I began to realise how his words not only resonated with my own experience, but how deeply they effected my emotional state. I found myself back in so many situations in the past where my thoughts, suggestions and objections were trivialised and ridiculed by another. My face was burning with the same sense of shame and unrecognised injustice I felt in the face of such indignity.
I’m afraid I’ve probably been guilty of being a ‘gaslighter’ myself at various times, and over the last months and years I have been slowly implementing new strategies into my life to address this. My aim is to raise my consciousness … to develop a higher awareness of myself, and of how my words, actions and behaviours impact on others. And in dealing with the words, actions and behaviours of others, I am working to cultivate a conscious space where I can have a bit of leeway before I either melt into a trembling mess, or charge in with vitriolic comments in defence.
In the article, Yashar quotes Gloria Steinem, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” (interestingly, incorporated in my recent thesis) and I am drawn strongly to this notion. We need to become aware of what we have learned about ourselves … to recognize the truths that resonate for us … and to identify the author of these truths. Often the comments that come from others (whether conscious or not) are veiled attempts to oppress us – to control us in some way. My experience is that through taking time to reflect on the story of our lives – on the people and the circumstances that have influenced the construction of our identity – we are able to unlearn some of our conditioned responses to such situations, and to respond in a way that empowers all to grow in authentic strength and truth.
Take some time to read the article if it speaks to you, and see what response you have to Yashar’s thoughts