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  • PERMA Mental Health

What is Gaslighting?

This exercise can be used to help learn about Gaslighting, how it has played out in your life and then to reconnect with your emotional truth and validate your own emotional data and insights.


What is Gaslighting?

Usually we think of extreme cases of getting someone to go crackers.

Definition: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

The much more common form of gaslighting is simply doubting one's "senses"

  • you didn't see what you saw!

  • you didn't hear what you heard!

  • you don't feel how you think you do!

  • you shouldn't feel that way!

  • you're not sad, you should be happy! grateful! joyful!

  • you shouldn't be afraid!

  • etc. etc.

Gaslighting is ubiquitous throughout cultures and time

  • It is often subtle and well meaning

  • Parents often have good intentions such as protecting their children or trying to make happy.

  • Gaslighting is an epidemic and deeply destructive.

If a person cannot trust what they see, hear, smell, feel, like, dislike, want, don't want...

  • it's an attack on their sense of self

  • it's dehumanizing

  • they become easily manipulated and controlled by others, society...

  • it leads to depression, anxiety, addiction, paranoia, psychosis, bad decisions

  • it destroys relationships--trust, love, being seen, being known

Gaslighting sources:

  • any person

  • society

  • culture

  • religion/spirituality

  • perhaps most powerful and insidious: ourselves

We gaslight ourselves

After being brainwashed and gaslit by our society and culture, we often become:The "Self-Gaslighter"

  • we tell ourselves that we shouldn't feel how we feel or want what we want

  • we tell ourselves that we don't deserve to feel sad because so many others have it worse

  • we repeat the lies we've been told without question as we are harsh to ourselves

  • we don't validate our emotions as truth; we question them, try to fix them or change them

  • it's as silly as trying to make yourself believe that green is red or blue is yellow.

  • Gaslighting = Crazy making


1. Ask yourself to think of an example when someone (a parent, friend, teacher, society or even themselves) made you question their own emotional reality.

Were you made to believe they didn't feel what they felt? shouldn't feel how the felt?

Did they say you didn't have a right to have certain emotions?

2. Analyze how you were led to question yourself. Who was able to get you to doubt your own emotions? What did you believe that undermined your own sense of emotional reality?

3. What applications, insights, epiphanies have been gained? How will this change your future relationships with others, with society and, most importantly, with yourself?

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