Gaslighting – Abuse couched in care!
When care becomes a scare by Ritu Garg
“You must move the zip from left to right while closing a suitcase so that it is then easier to open it from right to left.”
” Put your money in the inner most pocket.”
“Why are you checking your phone while boarding the flight?”
”Why do you buy tote bags? They don’t have zips. You will have to upend everything.”
“Why do you want to have Thai? Indian food will be better.”
“Why are you opening your bag with your cell phone in the hand?”
“That is not what I meant at all. You haven’t understood what I was trying to say.”
Vacation or suffocation?
Have you seen the 1944 American mystery-thriller film, Gaslight? It’s about a woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into believing that she is going insane. He reduces the flame of the gaslight of the house imperceptibly every day. When she points out the change in light, he denies that the light changed at all. Since then the term “Gaslighting” is used for tactics employed by a person to weaken another person’s confidence.
Many a times, owing to our position, experience, knowledge, wisdom and even love, we tend to over-instruct or guide our loved ones such as siblings, spouses, seniors and even dear friends. We feel we are being these cool dudes and dudettes, all protective and caring.
The person at the receiving end might not welcome it. They might be unable to resist it, though, owing to either their fear, awe or love, financial or social dependence or trust for us. This is not a compliment to you.
They begin to get used to this incessant interference and give in, often to keep the peace. But the repercussions of such behavior is that it leads to a slow erosion of their self-confidence and decision-making capabilities, even in the simplest of situations.
This dynamic is counterproductive to the gaslighted person’s wellbeing.
If we are the ones being the interfering person, we should make sure that:
-Our care doesn’t become a scare.
-We should be an oak tree that gives shade and not an ivy tree that suffocates.
-There is not just one way of doing things.
-People are wired differently. And in this case, it’s your wiring that is misfiring (you can verify this with any qualified therapist).
-Being watchful is different from being a watchdog.
– Command and reprimand should be used sparingly.
-Our instructions will definitely help them survive, but we should step back if we want them to Thriive.
(Ritu Garg lives by the words, for the words and of the words. And, her before-the-sun’s-up tea).