How gaslighting can affect us
Narcissists often get away with gaslighting because it is a hidden abuse.
Although some gaslighting is blatantly obvious, such as the denial of facts;
it is true that most gaslighting is very passive and not overtly obvious that it even exists at all.
And the narcissist can easily deny it when caught out.
Gaslighting is insidious, it’s so gradual but extremely harmful to our emotional and mental health.
The victim often feels they are alone, feeling like no one understands or believes them.
This often leads them into thinking that they are going crazy, which is what the narcissist wants them to think.
What appears to be repeatedly small and minor gaslighting,
can ultimately cause trauma, depression, stress and anxiety or PTSD.
Gaslighting affects your positivity, confidence and self-esteem.
Your self love will begin to diminish, and you will likely struggle with holding a positive view of your self-image.
Your life force and soul will feel like it’s literally being drained from your body.
And your independent thinking will always be challenged around a narcissist.
This manipulating tactic is designed to break down our independent thinking,
to make us feel confused and doubt our own beliefs and intuition.
It can leave us with an inability to make confident decisions.
Thus, making us feel the need to rely on someone else to make the right choices or to be able to do anything.
The narcissist wants you to rely on them.
And the longer you are being exposed to the constant gaslighting,
the likely you are to eventually believe the reality that the narcissist is feeding you.
Gaslighting is so covert that most are not even aware that they are being manipulated and psychologically abused.
And many victims can find themselves staying in these toxic relationships for decades,
because they do not understand what is actually happening to them.
Cognitive dissonance is when we hold two beliefs that contradict one another.
It is inevitable to experience cognitive dissonance when we are in narcissistic relationships.
The narcissist often says one thing but their actions go against what they say, and this greatly causes dissonance in our thinking.
For example; the narcissist tells you they love you and you remember how well they treated you in the love bombing phase.
So, it is easy to believe that they may actually love you.
Then later in the relationship, they still tell you they love you,
but they may have cheated on you, lied, physically hurt you or broke all their promises they ever made.
On one hand, we believe that they do love us because they have treated us well before,
they tell us they love us, and the connection we feel with them is so strong because we may not yet understand our own trauma bond.
And they seem to always have a reason why they do what they do, often coming up with excuses that play on our empathy and heart strings.
But on the other hand, we believe that they don’t love us because they continue to physically or emotionally hurt us,
never caring about our needs or emotions but expecting us to care about theirs.
Our mind is forced to make a decision just to feel ok, and we may decide that they do really love us because that narrative makes us feel better.
And we begin to believe their lies whilst rationalizing and excusing their behaviors to suit this narrative,
just so we can feel good through the abuse instead of feeling broken, hurt and confused.
This is cognitive dissonance.
And it is so easy for many of us to continuously give our abusers the benefit of the doubt when we have learnt it as a survival skill growing up in our own dysfunctional families.
The narcissist can also be inconsistent with other examples such as when you catch them out red handed on other lies.
They may speak badly of certain individuals, yet they want to hang out with them all of the time.
Or they say that they are not with you for your looks,
but you find them constantly telling you how you should dress and how to wear your hair.
Narcissists are so contradictive, and most of the time they will change their stories just to feel in power and keep control in the moment.
I remember at the beginning of my relationship with my ex-narc,
he told me he liked his sweet potatoes roasted, whole and with the skin on.
So that night when I served them up with dinner the way he told me he liked them,
he questioned me on why I didn’t peel them and cut them up before roasting them acting as if the potatoes I had cooked was not good enough.
This small action caused great cognitive dissonance inside of me,
because he refused to talk about it and just laughed it off, acting as if he never said anything in the first place.
This is just one small example, but I will always remember it well, because it was the first of many.
And I remember brushing off the thought at the time believing I might have heard wrong but I knew in my heart I hadn’t.