Why the Narcissist uses Gaslighting and How to Deal with it

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What is Gas lighting?
Gas lighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilise the target and delegitimise the target’s belief (wikipedia.org).

The term was taken from a 1944 film by the same name, about a woman whose husband manipulates her into believing that she is going insane. In the movie, the woman’s possessions would go missing and the husband would tell her she removed them, however she had no recollection of doing so, she would hear footsteps coming from upstairs and the gaslight dim and brighten but her husband would claim it was her imagination. He continued to gaslight her as his plan was to have her declared insane and committed to an asylum.

Gas lighting is a tactic that the narcissist and manipulative abusers use to cause you to question your sanity and reality, its also used to break down your will to fight and resist. You’re left doubting and questioning and wondering about your own perception of situations and circumstances. The narcissist purposely denies things they have done, and makes out like you are going crazy. He does this so convincingly, you almost begin to believe that you’re wrong, and he is right. It starts of little by little, one small thing here, another there. Gas lighting is designed to break you down mentally to the point where you cannot trust your own judgement or reasoning. You’re always confused and you’re always second guessing yourself (did I get it wrong…is he right…am I going crazy?). Gaslighting occurs in relationships, in the workplace etc.

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Why do Narcissists do this and what are the effects?
Its all about control, just about everything the narcissist does is about controlling you. They want to control the way you think, the way you talk, who you associate with – your whole life. It’s a power trip for them. They want to fill you with shame and guilt.
They’re jealous of you, and hate all that is good about you and your character. Deep down inside they know there’s something wrong with them (they just don’t want to admit it)and they’re not willing to change and be better human beings. They know they can’t be like you so they want to break you down, make you crazy( “I can never be as good as you – so I will destroy you!”). They want to mess you up so that you’ll be of no use to anybody when they’ve finished with you.
Gas lighting is also a way of protecting themselves against feelings of shame which is what they try to avoid at all costs. They don’t want to carry the shame of being wrong so they want to project the fact that they are wrong on to you ( I’m not wrong, you are, I’ve not made a mistake, you have made a mistake).

Gaslighting destroys your self confidence, and self esteem, you’re always thinking everything’s your fault. You’re overly sensitive and anxious and people who are close to you will have noticed the change in you. Even you yourself will know that something is not right, but you won’t be able to identify what it is.

My Experience with Gaslighting
The Narcissist in my life would discuss some issue with me and decide a course of action, (of course he would not carry it out) then because he hadn’t done anything the following week, he would deny we ever had a discussion or came to any decision. He mostly does this to cover up his inaction. I’m left wondering whether we actually did decide or had the discussion.
I was accused of not doing things properly and generally made to feel like I was crap, it really affected my self confidence and self esteem, which I’m only just recovering from. The funny thing is , when he was left to do the same tasks, he was worse than I was. When I pointed this out to him, he claimed that he never insinuated that I was not good at my job, that it was my imagination or I was lying.
He would tell me some thing very personal about his childhood and then when in conversations with him, I would bring it up, he would adamantly claim he never told that, it must be my imagination because that was definitely not true and he never told me anything like that. That was when I realised he was lying (I didn’t realise it was gaslighting at the time) because there is no way I would have imagined the details of his life like that. It’s just crazy and so devious how they behave, it just reveals how mentally messed up they are.

It got to the point where everything that went wrong in any situation, I was at fault. I was supposed to have done this or this and I would question whether we had a discussion about it, and he would give the time and place we discussed it. And I would have no idea what he was talking about! Sometimes he would go on a rant and say things like, ‘ do you think that you are good, well, you’re not because you did this or that”. He made me question myself, my character.
I didn’t realise all this until I read about gas lighting, then I realised I wasn’t going mad and that it was all him.

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How to protect yourself from Gaslighting
Here are some tips to deal with and protect yourself from gaslighting:

Just understand and realise that it’s not about you at all. There is nothing wrong with you and everything wrong with them. They’re the ones who are mentally and emotionally unbalanced and they’re trying their best to mess you up too.
If you’re in a situation where you’re feeling confused or unsure about details of certain discussions/ events, or you have no recollection at all ( and you know you have a good memory) then you’re probably being gaslighted. Trust your intuition. Don’t accept what the other person is saying as absolute truth unless it can be proven.
If you’re in a relationship with the person, if it is a friend, you should consider cutting all ties with that person at least for your own peace of mind. You should really think about whether you want such a toxic person in your life- a person who makes you feel like you’re going crazy. If the person is your boss or co-workers you should also seriously consider whether you want to continue working in that environment, find out if you can transfer to another department or team.
If possible, try to keep a record of any private conversations in a diary . With the narcissist in my family, I make sure I record conversations with him on my phone, just for private use, of course(ideally you are required to inform a third party if you’re recording them) just so I can refer back to the conversation again if I’m in doubt.
Don’t argue with them, that’s what they love and you’ll never change their perspective. They are master manipulators, you’ll never win an argument with them. They live in their own little world where they are always right and everyone else is always wrong. Just get as far away from them as possible.

Narcissists and Flying Monkeys /Enablers

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I just want to spend some time to explain some terminology that I’ve learnt during my studies/research in connection with my experiences with narcissism. And also how I was able to overcome and deal with the issues that I had with my narcissistic husband. This has been an especially educative and learning process for me and I hope it will be for others reading this blog.

What are Flying Monkeys?
The term was taken from the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in which there were flying monkeys sent to do the evil bidding of the evil witch. ‘Flying monkeys’ is a popular term used to describe people who the narcissist uses to do his dirty work. They are used by the narcissist to gather information for him in order to use against his victim, or just to have one up on them. Flying monkeys can be anyone including colleagues, friends even family members, like children. Yes, narcissists will use their own children, they have no shame, as long as it gets them what they want.
Narcissists are masters at manipulating and exploiting others for their own gain. They are very crafty and experts at reading and discerning people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They can assess and instinctively know their targets, those who will believe their lies. I guess it’s because they have learnt to do this throughout their life, so they’ve had years and years of practice. In most cases flying monkeys do not realise they are being manipulated by the narcissist, they are given the impression by the narcissist that they are the victims in the situation and that their partner is the abuser, when in actual fact, it is the other way round.

How they operate.
Let me give an example, David is separated from his wife, Judy and his children and he doesn’t know their whereabouts. He contacts Mabel, a friend of Judy to find out information. David gives the impression that he’s concerned about his children and will covertly imply that he believes they are being neglected. David says Judy is a great mother, but she has some mental issues, or struggling with substance abuse, alcohol issues etc. It’s always something negative, to spark concern and action from the friend. Mabel or the flying monkey will be appreciative of his concern and will assure David that she will investigate the matter. David will insist that Mabel does not let Judy know he is in contact with her, because of course, she will not be forthcoming with information. Mabel, believing that she is helping, has actually been influenced by David, the narcissist, to get information that he would not have been able to get on his own.

Flying monkeys can also be described as enablers, because they enable and empower the narcissist’s to continue their toxic behaviour.
With regards to my own situation, the enablers, in my case, were my children and they were manipulated by narcissistic husband. He would tell them lies about me and they would believe it. After all, why would their father be lying about me, he loves me… right? I denied everything but my children didn’t believe me. He successfully turned my children against me and used them to spy on me. Narcissists are pathological convincing liars.That is something my husband would do a lot, he would just lie and lie and lie! And that was what worked for him all the time. And why we would he want to change if he gets what he wants by lying!
My children were enablers in the sense that they were accepting his behaviour, he bought them their first cars, anything they asked, he would give. So it was not difficult for my husband to convince them of his lies. I don’t really blame them though, because it is difficult to stand up to him. Besides he has bought all of them cars and in a sense he has bought their loyalty and silence.
For somebody who has not had any experience with narcissism, it may be hard to believe all this. You might ask the question, “Well, it can’t be all his fault, you must take some of the blame also.”
I will say this, I do have my faults. I think as humans we are not perfect at all and I certainly don’t claim to be. But I do try to be a good person and treat others fairly as the Bible says we should (Matthew 7:12). But when your behaviour affects lives, causes divisions , disunity, mistrust in the home, in the church, causes mental anguish; low self-esteem, self worth that is unacceptable!

He would send my youngest daughter to spy on me, to find out what I was doing and then report back to him. She would feed him information on what I was doing in my room, which was where I spent a lot of my time when I wasn’t at work. I felt like everyone hated me.
The narcissist goal is to isolate his victim (target) and turn everyone close against them. With no one to turn to for help, this can cause the victim to descend into a depression. That was what happened to me, I was isolated and depressed in my own home. The only person I could speak to was my mother; who called me continuously to make sure I was ok; and my youngest daughter. I had to be careful what I told her, because he would ask her and she would tell him. I was alone and depressed.

For some people, the flying monkeys could be your colleagues at work and the narcissist your manager or boss. Your manager would feed them some negative information that is not true about you. Your colleagues would then avoid you or give snide remarks. Or they would report back to the narcissist anything negative you say about him or her. Narcissists love to create conflict, it makes them feel powerful and in control and the workplace is just the right atmosphere for them.

Set Boundaries.
You cannot fight them with their own tactics , you will lose miserably. They are masters of that game, remember they are pathological liars, and masters of the art of deception. I decided to set boundaries to protect myself from this emotional abuse. I let him know that I would not discuss with him and the children any issues that needed to be sorted between ourselves. And if we both can’t resolve any issues we have, we will ask our parents or a trusted third party to intervene, NOT the children. I set boundaries with other toxic behaviours that I would not accept or tolerate. The Bible says you should guard your heart (set boundaries) Proverbs 4:23. I have found this to work for me.

No Contact What you can do if you believe that your narcissist is employing flying monkeys against you is don’t give them any information about yourself or what you’re doing. Also; especially if you’re separated from the narcissist; have no contact with the narcissist and anyone you believe is helping him.

Having a fervent effective prayer life. And also, pray for them that they will change. It is very easy to become bitter with people because of they way you’ve been treated. But bitterness does not help your situation, it will only hurt you spiritually, because you are internalising everything. You have to let bitterness, anger, resentment go, because it will only make you sick. There are so many people in the hospital or psych ward because of bitterness, anger and resentment which can lead to depression.
The bible says love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you. Pray for healing for yourself and him
The situation in my home is much better now, for a long time there was a lot of tension and animosity, which I believe is due to saturating the atmosphere with prayers (The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16)

A Story of Abuse

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I did mention in my first blog post, among other things, I would be sharing some personal experiences. This is very hard for me to do because I’m a very private person. But I feel compelled to do so.
I have been a victim. I have been a victim of narcissistic abuse, I didn’t know it at the time, but I knew there was something wrong in my relationship, I couldn’t just place my finger on it. When you’ve always been told that you are the problem, there is the tendency to focus more on oneself; to work on being a better person. But at the same time, I kept thinking that I am not the problem( I believe that is the work of the Holy Spirit). So you are quite conflicted in your self and confused, which is where the devil wants to keep you( he is the author of all confusion) Until the light shines through the darkness, illumination and revelation appears.
It appeared in the form of an article, I read online, which explained in detail, everything I was going through. One day, I can’t remember if I was fasting and praying at the time, I was just thinking about my situation, just blaming myself I kept saying to myself it must have been something I did or have been doing. While I was pondering on these thoughts, I happened to glance on an article written by a female Christian author. In the article she explained narcissism and outlined the symptoms of a person with narcissistic personality disorder. When I read it, it was like a light bulb came on in my head, all the symptoms , the behaviour traits were the things I was experiencing with a family member
I thought I was the problem because I was always told the issues we were facing was all my fault, and I was trying to figure ways I could change; ways to be a better person.
The article mentioned that narcissists were:
Pathological liars – Narcissists lie all the time, Blatant lies, in- your- face lies.You know they’re lying, but they do it so convincingly that it would fool any other person. They do this to control people and especially to protect their image.
Gas lighters – almost the same as lying- they will tell you they will do something, later on when you question them on it, they will deny they ever said it. If you are a victim of this on a regular basis, you will begin to lose all sense of perception of what is real or false, because they will make you feel as if you’re going crazy.
Attention Seekers- they love to be the centre of attention, if you are in conversation with a group of people, they like to be the focus of everyones attention, if the conversation focus changes to someone else they will always steer the conversation towards themselves again.
Extremely Selfish/Lack empathy- Narcissists are extremely selfish and uncompassionate people. They lack the ability to empathise, they cannot identify with or feel for other people’s pain, discomfort , suffering. They will not be bothered by it and fell it is an inconvenience to them.
Fault finders/blame shifters. Narcissists never accept responsibility for anything. They always put the blame on others, it’s always someone else’s fault.
After reading the article, I just said out loud, ‘Thank You, Jesus!’. It truly wasn’t me after all! I knew it was God that led me to that article. I decided I was going to do some research and find out more about narcissism. I went online, read books, listened to podcasts, I have learned so much. I am a Christian and my faith in God has given me the strength to overcome the tough times. I want to share my experiences and all I’ve learnt with others. Maybe it can help someone who is experiencing or know someone who is experiencing the same issues.