I had a long talk with a close friend today about taking responsibility for your actions and how difficult this can be for so many people. It’s much easier to blame someone else versus looking at yourself. As a therapist, I know this well as I hear clients tell me everyday how they are made to feel responsible for another person’s actions and when they try to defend themselves, the blame becomes even greater. There’s a clinical term for this – gaslighting – and it means psychologically manipulating someone else into thinking they are to blame for someone else’s actions or problems. The victim in this case begins to question his or her own sanity. It’s a technique often used by those with narcissistic and/or borderline personality disorders to deflect any responsibility from themselves. The victim of gaslighting often asks “what did I do?” and finds themselves eventually questioning and second guessing everything they do.
The biggest consequence of victims of gaslighting is their eventual lack of self-confidence, and if the person seeks therapy and builds self-confidence and rebels against the gaslighter by setting boundaries, the person will often be ostracized by the gaslighter and sometimes “kicked out” of the family or friend situation. I’ve had several clients be disowned or rejected by family members when they no longer allowed the gaslighter to project all their issues on them…when they have said “no more!” I’ve sat with clients through many tear-filled sessions as my clients finally realize that they are not the source of the gaslighter’s problems, and will no longer accept that they are so bad to be rejected in such a way. It’s their first step to empowerment and taking back their lives
When asked why people treat those they profess to love in such a way, my answer is that there are a lot of toxic people in this world (many of whom also have the title of mom or dad) and who are unable to face their own problems and stop the toxicity loop that often started in their childhood. It’s part of the mental illness behind some personality disorders that unhealthily embraces the idea that it’s better to destroy someone else than find help for yourself.
If you recognize yourself in this post, there is help for you. I’ve been on the receiving end of a gaslighter’s actions and know how it can hurt to be attacked in this way. Fortunately I am a strong and resilient woman, with the ability to not let the gaslighter take me down. That’s the warrior in me. I can help you find your inner warrior, and if for some reason I can’t help you, I know other therapists who can. Make it your 2020 resolution to no longer be the victim of a gaslighter or the target of a person with narcissistic or borderline personality disorders. One of my greatest joys is when a client tells me that they no longer want to be someone else’s verbal punching bag. In doing so, they are stopping the cycle of abuse and victimhood. Call me at 720-707-9119 and let’s talk. You have an ally in me.