The phrase "gaslighting" is making the rounds lately, and with the increased awareness around the term, many people are accusing their spouses, parents, and co-workers of gaslighting them in all areas of life. A lot of times, the accuser is correct, by definition, meaning yes, the person they are accusing may be trying to convince them that what they are saying isn't true, but is gaslighting always intentional? Can gaslighting come from a place of simply being misunderstood or is it always calculated and malicious? In today's episode I cover an article on The Good Men Project's website called: 4 Levels of Gaslighting: From Unconscious to Malicious by Paget Norton, and I also give more listener examples of gaslighting.
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[00:00:15] Come on in, take a seat.
[00:00:23] Well, let me start today's podcast by saying you're welcome, because I'm about to hand you a gift, you will be able to share what I'm about to tell you with anybody today. And I'm going to guess that they will not have heard of what you're going to share. So I had a client in my office. It was a few days ago, and we were talking about the fact that I've done a lot episodes of the podcast now. And I was thinking about it. And I'm almost to the four year anniversary of the podcast. And on one of the very early episodes, I was talking with a guest and we were talking about when clients come in the office and they just assume that, you know, everything about every psychological principle known to man. And this particular client said, well, I'm sure you're familiar with lycanthropy. And I said, I'm really not. And he said, really? Like lycanthropy, clinical lycanthropy. Maybe that maybe that rings a bell. And that was years ago. And I still remember feeling a little bit anxious, thinking, oh, my gosh, did I miss something? It's clinical lycanthropy. This really simple concept that I should have learned, not even in grad school, but in psychology. What one does every student learn early on about clinical lycanthropy? And this was a time that I fell asleep early in class. You know, my bad therapist, because I can't pull this one right out of my head. And so then I said I had to stand there, my confidence, and say I really don't know about clinical lycanthropy.
[00:01:39] And he continued to go on and on about how, wow, boy, if you've been doing this for a long time, I would have assumed you knew this. And it turns out, let me define clinical lycanthropy. Clinical lycanthropy is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the infected person can transform into, has transformed into, or is an animal. And its name is associated with the mythical condition of lycanthropy or a supernatural affliction in which humans are said to physically shape shift into wolves. Now, surprisingly, it is purported to be a very rare disorder. But the point of starting today's episode with this is this particular client who I love and I still see from time to time today is someone who just assumed that I knew all of these things is to the point where then they insisted that I must know what clinical lycanthropy was. And I remember at that point kind of recognizing in a moment and I didn't express this to the client, but I thought, you know, I feel like I'm being Guesclin a little bit here because I feel like my version of reality is is a question. And even to the point where I was starting to think I probably should know about clinical lycanthropy, but in reality, I don't. And that's kind of the end of the story. So it had me reflecting a lot on the concept of gaslighting.
[00:02:55] I know that can be a dramatic example of this concept that it gets talked about often. But then I had another experience where I, I don't have an opportunity to see new clients. Very often my practice is full and I'm grateful for that, all those wonderful things. But I'm talking to somebody new and they are in a relationship or they've been in a long term relationship with someone with very strong narcissistic traits, potentially narcissistic personality disorder. And and so I just say, as they're relating a lot of stories where the story goes from the person expressing themselves saying, hey, you know, I'm noticing this in our relationship. Let's just say hypothetically that the person saying, you know, I would really love to have people over. And I know that this is something that you aren't interested in because they had a long track record or history of this person bringing up. I would love to have people over and their spouse saying, you know, I'm not up for it. You know, I don't like that. I can't believe you're even asking me about that. But in this particular situation, the person express themselves and their spouse responded with, what do you mean? I don't want to have people over. I've always wanted to have people over. I'm one of the most outgoing people that you'll ever meet. So the fact that you're saying that you don't think that I want to have people over is is insane.
[00:04:10] Don't you even know who I am? And this person's thinking? No, in reality, I don't think that you know who I am because this is who I am at my core. And I have been begging for years, if not decades, to do more entertaining, to have more people over. But by the end of this conversation, their spouse had left them feeling like, am I am I crazy? Do I not say that I would like to have people over often? Or are they actually the one that does want people over is am I living in some sort of delusionary world? And so I said, well, you're aware you're familiar with the term gaslighting. Right? And this person just looked and said, I I don't know that term. And I felt like I was all of a sudden the person talking about clinical lycanthropy. I felt like, you don't know, gaslighting it really. I mean, you're with all the talk about it these days and the fact that you're in this relationship, you must know gaslighting. And then I realized, holy cow, Tony, you're gaslighting somebody about gaslighting, which I think is what the kids call meta. But so it it left me thinking about doing a new episode on gaslighting. But then I went into the archives virtual couch archives and I looked at. Some of the episodes that I've done on gaslighting in the past and I found one that talked about is gaslighting intentional? And we go over four different types of gaslighting.
[00:05:27] And it turns out it's one of the most downloaded episodes in the four years and three, four million downloads of the Virtual Couch podcast. So I wanted to bring it back up and I've done a little bit of editing on it. So it should be a little bit more clean, a little more time. But today we're going to talk about what gaslighting is. Is gaslighting a conscious thing? Does the guest later know that they're gaslighting, which maybe you can even see from this opening that not all the time? And then more importantly, what are these four types of gaslighting? And here's the goal is after doing this episode, I remember going to a cabin with my in-laws. My daughter, my oldest daughter got married and the concept of gaslighting was brought up. And we referred to some of the things that I talk about on today's episode. And from that point on, it was kind of a fun weekend where people were saying, OK, I think that might be gaslighting or, oh, did it feel like I was gaslighting you? And so I feel like with that awareness that it was then it was kind of brought this this feeling of curiosity to the table. And everybody I felt like in this entire cabin over this vacation was so much more aware of. Wow, OK, I realize I am I probably am making you feel crazy when I just say something as simple as, oh, I thought you knew that already or I thought you heard me say that earlier.
[00:06:43] I can't believe you didn't hear me say that because I felt like I said it really loud. And so there's so many ways that we probably do put off this vibe, this energy or this message of, hey, you're crazy, you're wrong. You must believe this thing. I can't believe you don't believe this thing. I can't believe you don't know this thing such as clinical lycanthropy. So I want to sit back, relax. And by the end of this episode, I think you're going to have a greater understanding of what gaslighting is. And I feel like there's going to be two or possibly three big takeaways today. One is just knowing what it is, what it looks like. But I hope that when you are aware of it, that the first thing you can do is hold yourself accountable and recognize if you are doing that. And one of the things I love doing is saying out loud to my wife, whoa, I feel like what I'm saying right now, may I might be putting across this gaslighting type of vibe. Am I making you feel crazy right now? So I feel like that's one just bringing that awareness to it. One of the second things to do is recognize when it's happening to you and even if it's happening and the person isn't meaning it maliciously, but whether they mean it maliciously or not, stand in your calm, confident, energetic self.
[00:07:49] And if there's something that you know and you express it and then someone is starting to make you feel a little bit crazy around something, you're very confident and then just stand in that confident energy. You know, I'm working on. I've got a new podcast. It's about the launch and it's called Waking Up to Narcissism. There'll be some more information coming up on that. And I was working on the intro of the trailer, a lot of these fun things. And I was going back and writing a document about these five rules. I have of sorts of when working with or interacting with someone that is narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic personality disorder. And I'll go into so much more detail about this on that podcast. And I've got a book coming up soon, too. But I have these five rules. No. One is to raise your emotional baseline. I talk about that often emotional baseline that's self care. Get yourself in a position because you have to to feel like you have your wits about you. Quite frankly, my second rule is get your Ph.D. and yes, lady. So I feel like today's episode becomes one of those that is very necessary in order to get this advanced degree and gaslighting to know that you are not crazy or insane and just for fun. The other three things I talk about are then disengage from unproductive conversations.
[00:08:56] When you really recognize what gaslighting is, you, you'll realize that this isn't doing me much good to stay in this conversation where someone is just trying to turn things around on me. Number four is to set healthy boundaries and that can be a real challenge. But sometimes breaking a boundary down at its simplest concept is that, OK, if this person is going to say this, then here's my boundary. I'm going to either leave the conversation, I'm not going to respond to the conversation or I'm going to respond with a certain thing. I was writing a little bit of an article about this yesterday, and an example I gave was in co parenting with a narcissistic parent, finances men finances get brought up all the time, even though there's this agreement from the court. But the narcissistic parent often still tries to push the rules because money just means the world to them. It's their it's their emotional currency. It it's their sense of value. So even when there's a a settlement amount in this scenario, the narcissistic parent, he continues to just try to get more money out of the the wife or have her take less money or, you know, it's just it's just interesting to watch. But so setting a boundary is that any time that he brings up money instead of her trying to then defend herself or refer back to, you know, hey, we've already agreed on this or that sort of thing, she has a copy and paste line that comes back that says, as a reminder, any time that you are bringing up money, I.
[00:10:19] I'm not going to respond other than this, and we need to talk about this with our attorneys, and the more that she continues to respond or hold that boundary, though, he's finally starting to maybe not be as aggressive about trying to change the the relationship that they have around parenting and finances with the kids. But then the fifth rule of interacting in a relationship with a narcissist is the realize that they're you'll never say or do the thing that will cause that aha moment or the epiphany for that narcissist so that then they'll finally say, oh my gosh, I get it, you're right. I'll change all my thoughts and behaviors and actions and emotions. So those are the few things. But I mention that because the gaslighting is a really key piece of that. When I say get your Ph.D. in gaslighting, I want you to leave this episode today feeling pretty confident that you know what it is. You can recognize that you maybe recognize when you're doing it yourself, but more importantly, when you see it happening, know that you are not crazy. This is called gaslighting. And you can remove yourself from that conversation or that situation and at any point to to keep your sanity. So without any further ado, let's jump right into this episode on gaslighting for types of gaslighting. Does the gaslight or no. They gaslight
[00:11:28] Everything you always want to know
[00:11:29] About gaslighted. So much so
[00:11:43] I'm going to talk a little bit more about gaslighting, and I have to admit this is something I get a lot of e-mails about and you start to notice if you really look at the data, the analytics behind the podcast, if I mentioned gaslighting, if I mention something to do with narcissism or something to do with maybe couples counseling,
[00:11:57] Those episodes, I get a lot more downloads than any other.
[00:12:00] So I know that this is a topic that is being discussed often and people want to know more about it. And I also get emails of people that give me gaslighting. Examples, though, still come in almost daily and I think I'm up to about 50 50 or so pages, single spaced of examples that people have sent in. It breaks my heart, but also a lot of the emails that accompany these examples say that until the listener heard a gaslighting episode of the podcast that they weren't aware that there was a name to what they felt like their spouse did, or they just felt like they were the ones going crazy. So I'm grateful that people at least are having some awareness around something that is not necessary, that it's not it's not productive, it's not helpful. It doesn't help a relationship thrive. And so if you do feel like you are a victim of gaslighting or if you feel like you're somebody who you're recognizing me and I do that. I do, yes. Then get help. Read more about it. Go see a professional. This podcast is in no way a replacement for professional therapy, but hopefully it's going to bring some awareness and lead people to therapy. But before I get a little bit further into the episode today, I had talked the last time the episode I released earlier this week, it was part one of what I want to do, a two part series talking about pornography and just saying, hey, this is what it would look like if you're sitting on a couch across from me.
[00:13:08] And here's the approach I'd like to take. I just always thankful for the wonderful feedback. I really do appreciate that. And I alluded to recording on a new program and I didn't really say much about it. And I just wanted to talk for two seconds about that because I'm actually going to have a couple of people from the company on the podcast and the not too distant future, because it's just it's a it's a nice story. And it's one of those stories where sounds like people, various backgrounds and different companies following a passion, following their dreams, putting out a program. And so I read this thing called Pod News. Every day comes in about 4:00 in the morning. And I like to get to my office really early. That's when I feel like I can do some writing or recording, that sort of thing before clients come in. And I'm reading the pod news and there's a link to this. It says A new company called Octopus Acebes and said that octopus is has this new technology, this new recording technology and the recording technology is it just helps you put together an entire podcast with the intros and with the music. And then not only that, but these are all former audio engineers that have pretty pretty impressive resumes, careers. And so then they take care of all of that, the leveling of sounds and just making things sound nice and crisp. And even so, it's this professional recording sound. And it's also put together in this program where you just click a button and you record and it has cool music and that sort of thing.
[00:14:25] So so I can talk about impulsive. I just clicked on it and and I just recorded that episode. And so after I recorded it, I felt like that was that was fun. It was exciting. You go to this part of the page where you just click build the episode and an error message came up. So I panicked. I really did. And I realized that I had from the time I clicked on the pod news link to the point where I had recorded an episode was probably less than forty five minutes and the episode was about forty one minutes long. So I really didn't know what I was doing. And so I immediately sent an email to their support and I heard back within I think it was a few minutes and they were just, hey, thanks so much. And here's what we found. And so then it was over Memorial Day weekend and they just went back and forth with me and they identified some issues. They were grateful that I had jumped on really quick to try the program. I think it's still in beta. And and just by the time I'm sitting there in a hotel room on Monday morning on Memorial Day, I'm still trading emails and they're there. They've got it fixed. They've got the episode completed. I uploaded it. And I just really it's fun to work with. I'm a fan of new technology. I spent ten years in software before I became a therapist.
[00:15:32] I talk about that on some of the episodes. And so I know I enjoy that. It was fun. But when I put the episode together and then all of a sudden we get this error message. So there was this part of me that thought, oh my gosh, I, I didn't record a up. Sometimes when I record interviews, I'll record, I'll have a recording one on my phone just as a backup. When note to myself, I am not doing that right now and I'm recording again through August which is exciting. But so I just thought that was a fun experience, interacting with a company that is exciting and eager. And so they put the episode together and I just I'm using it again today and I think it's going to be a lot of fun moving forward. So if you are looking to record podcasts, the check them out. OK, post.com, I don't get anything from HSBC, Dotcom, and it's just this all in one recording platform, which is pretty impressive. All right, let's get to it before I even go more about the gaslighting, I think I talked about something that I'm noticing. So here's here's the scenario is that I often have people say to me, hey, did you really tell my teenager this or did you really tell my spouse this? And and I have to tell you, I my goal is a therapist. And I'm not saying that maybe I was perfect at this from the very beginning, but, boy, you just
[00:16:38] Got to be honest and you have to be authentic and all of those kind of things.
[00:16:40] And part of the reason I love having a podcast is I can tell somebody here's this model that I feel is effective in marriage, communication, emotionally focused therapy, F.T. And sometimes when I'm telling somebody when they hear for the first time that, you know, you're putting out this emotional bid, you're being vulnerable. And if your spouse is not having empathy for what you're putting out there, then, of course, you're going to eventually have these walls built up or you're going to get angry or you're going to withdraw. And I know that at times people feel like I'm just saying what they want to hear, especially for the fact that they're paying me. So I love having a hundred and something podcasts up there where I can say, hey, here's half a dozen episodes on F.T.. And so I promise you, I'm not just blowing smoke. This is this is a real thing or the acceptance and commitment therapy stuff or that's a big reason. I want to record that episode about the pornography addiction earlier this week, because I want people to know that, no, I'm a strength based guy. I'm telling you, shame does not work in this situation and we've got to keep trying. And so I know those can sound cliched, but I want people to know that I'm being as honest and open, sincere, that sort of thing. So the same thing applies when I'm working in couples therapy, because at times you'll have one individual in and then you'll get the spouse in the next time.
[00:17:49] And so here's the here's the setup. In the past, I would hear, hey, my spouse said that you told them that they're doing nothing wrong. Is that true? And it's like, no, first of all, I'm not going to tell. So you're doing something wrong, going to lead them down that path to recognize the things that they're doing that don't go that are there may be counter to the their goals, but am I going to tell somebody, look, I me. Are you doing the wrong thing? Kind of not not my style. But here's what I've always thought in the past or another good example is when I will have a mom reach out to me. I may be seeing a teenage boy for pornography addiction. And she says, Do you really tell him to play video games, turn to video games? And I was like, well, yes. So you're thinking, I'm just telling him, hey, champ wants you to play more video games. But when it's you're trying to break somebody away from watching hardcore pornographic videos in the world of harm reduction. Yeah. Let's see. Let's turn to a video game instead, because we have to start working towards something more strength based or positive, and that is not viewing pornography. So so I know there's various ways where my words are used against me. And typically I will tell someone that does ask me, did you really say whatever they're going to say is that a couple of things are at work.
[00:18:53] One is that you have to factor in that when someone hears something, especially in therapy, they are going to hear it through their own filter. They're going to hear the things that they want to hear. They're going to take away from the words that I say or an article that they read or a podcast that they listen to, the things that they really feel apply to them or the human nature. They're going to they're going to typically hear the things that they want to hear. Then you've got to then they're going to talk to their spouse. So they're going to talk to their parents or they're going to talk to their whoever whoever is in their life. And they're going to now conscious or subconscious filter that once again an hour into that good old game of telephone. So now it's going to be well, Tony said this and a lot of times I'll even tell my clients, hey, if you if you're in a in a job and you really know what you need to do, but you're afraid to tell your partner that this is what you need to do and that scenario, sure. You can you can blame it on me. If I'm if I tell a guy who's trying to overcome pornography addiction that he needs to I don't know these to do some meditation or if he needs to, to get a daily routine together.
[00:19:53] And if for some reason he's saying, I can't tell my wife that she'll think it's an excuse, then it's like I blame it on me, you know, that's fine. So in those scenarios, I think it's a little bit different. But what I will often hear, did you really tell my husband that I'm the one that's crazy or that sort of thing or that, again, that he's not doing anything that's bad and those are just times where it's like, well, no, no, I didn't say that. So here's the here's my big epiphany. This week is the whole a model. What I what I preach, I model the methods that I use. And in the emotionally focused therapy world, it is all about when somebody is talking, when somebody is putting out what we call an emotional bid, when they're trying to open up, when they're trying to be vulnerable, when they're trying to make sense of where they're at in their life. The job of, I feel the therapist or in a healthy relationship, the job of the partner is to have empathy. It's to tell me more about that. What is that like for you? When do you think this is the first time that that came up? That must be difficult. Give me examples. And sometimes when someone is being heard for the first time maybe, or when they are having given the safe place to really explore their emotions and where things came from and and start talking about things that they've maybe suppressed for a long time that feels good and it feels validating.
[00:21:06] And so what I have started to notice is that I've had a few examples lately where someone then goes home after I have just felt so connected to a client in a session and just validated the heck out of them and really made sense because for the first time they've said, man, this happened when I was a kid. This happened when I was in elementary school. Here's what happened in middle school. Here's when I tried to put myself out there in high school. Here's the way my parents reacted. And so, man, makes sense why now? Here's what I'm doing or here's why I did the things that I did. And so when I'm when I'm validating somebody and just say I'm that I hear you like that, that's incredible to put that together that it feels like. We're making progress a lot of times I now recognize that that person leaves the office and says Tony agrees, Tony thinks I'm right, when in reality that just was empathy, that was validation. Maybe that was something that they haven't had before. So or there are times where I will have somebody just look at a case in couples counseling. I often say I'm a bit of a one trick pony.
[00:22:00] I know emotionally focused therapy. I know that model. I know that when somebody is putting out the emotional bid, here comes the empathy. So when someone is sitting in front of me and they are telling me repeatedly over and over that they feel like they've done everything that they can do, then I have to validate that. I'm telling them. Well, I don't think so. I know a lot of people say, well, you just need to be real with somebody. But that's saying you just need to force your agenda on them, which is not helpful. It's not productive. So when I'm telling somebody, man, it sounds like if you feel like you've done all you can do, then, yeah. Sounds like you may feel like there's not a lot of hope left. But then I feel like then what the person misses is what comes next. I will have that empathy or validation. But then oftentimes I'll say, but let's let's throw that through the model. So I'm hearing you. You feel like you've done everything you can, but when your partner is saying, I don't I still don't think this is going to work, just humor me. What's the example of it? It's then it's tell me more. Tell me why you don't feel this is going to work. And and and I feel like that's the part that often after somebody feels validated, they feel heard and then they feel like basically I'm telling them, you're right, I agree with you.
[00:23:01] Let's get the pitchforks and go Yinnar, that at that point, I don't feel like they're hearing the next part where it's the OK, but let's get back to the work we're doing. What would that look like in the Nifty World? And so so that's just been a little bit of an epiphany that I've had. And and so even just the last two or three weeks, I've been doing this for a long time. So I love the fact that in this field you can continue to grow. But in the last couple of weeks when somebody is now, I can tell they're feeling validated literally just the last few days even I've said, hey, so I want you to know, like I this is empathy. This is this is what we're trying to model in your relationship. And and I do hear you. And I can I can only imagine how hard that would be. But now let me make sure that I'm throwing the here's the F.T. example back into the frame. And so but anyway, I just wanted to share that because I feel like sometimes when when we don't feel validated ever, or very often that when we do get that validation, I think at times that's what we want to go complete cliche and what sometimes drives someone into the arms or into the lives of someone else other than their partner.
[00:24:02] It's when it's because that the other person, the new person is validating this person in their relationship. So as a marriage therapist, that's all I can do to say, OK, let's let's try it and work on how that validation works within the relationship. Now, sometimes the person who lacks empathy or doesn't really understand what empathy really looks like, and I have empathy for them for not understanding empathy because that comes from something way back in their past as well. But but I just I thought that was interesting is something I'm going to keep an eye on. And if you feel like your if you start agreeing or validating your partner, here's an email that I got. I didn't even pull it up so this could paraphrase it. But this just came to me is I have a woman who is she been listen to all my podcast. And she said that she's she's trying to be more empathetic toward her husband. Now, her husband doesn't know he doesn't want to go to therapy, that sort of thing. But she said the more empathetic than I am toward him, she said, actually, I feel like the more angry he's getting or the more empowered he feels. And I think that this is part of that. So she's saying, I have to start putting these F.T. skills into play. But what's happening is the husband's insane in his mind. Finally, somebody gets she she understands that she's at fault.
[00:25:13] And and no, that's not the point. She's trying to have empathy and have more of an understanding of maybe what he's going through. So I just want to talk about that a little bit. OK, let's get to Gastly. I've got a few Gasolina examples. But one of the questions I get often in therapy, out of therapy, via email, out in the wild is the more that people are talking about gaslighting, the more that the question comes up of is it intentional? Is it always malicious? Because and this is this may I think about this often. And I think I shared either one of my podcasts or even I think it was the Julie Lee podcast where I see you podcast where I was a guest on hers. I've had her in mind as well. But she just started talking about gaslighting and and she's like me. And I think she said, I realize that that's something maybe I do from time to time. And I and I let her know. My wife straight up said a few weeks ago, she's like, I feel like your gaslighted me right now. And my first response want to be, are you kidding me? But then I realized, OK, you know what? By definition, she is correct. She's trying to explain something to me and I'm going right into that. No, no, that's that's not right. You're not really here and where I'm coming from or you're not understanding.
[00:26:15] And so I'm trying to basically tell her, hey, what you're saying is wrong and let me tell you why it's wrong. And and and I can't believe you think it's wrong. They even said that because I was getting so passionate about I feel like this is so clear and that you're not seeing this. And that was that was a humbling moment for me because I had to step back and go, wow, how often do I do that? And so so that's where I feel like gaslighting isn't always intentional and it's not always malicious. So I just wanted to find out. I was like to find a little. The data behind this and pretty, pretty neat website called the Goodman Project, so it's Good Men Project Dotcom and an author, and I'm probably going to butcher his name, Padget Norton, and says, is it intentional? The the gas lighting four levels of gas lighting? And again, is it intentional? So here's here's what Norton said. I'll do that. I remember when in school you would always say the person's last name, so I'm going to say that. So here's what Norton said. The following are four levels of gas, unconscious gas lighting to awareness that something is off three intentional. And I like the distinction made here. Intentional, more aware of an impact, but no intent to seriously harm, because I feel like that's maybe where where a lot of people end up and for is malicious intent with desire to harm.
[00:27:25] And I feel like that's that's what a lot of people just assume when they hear the phrase gaslighting that, oh, my gosh, my partner is doing this malicious intent with desire to harm form of gaslighting. So first, Norton talks about unconscious gaslighting. They say the person is totally aware, unaware there is a big difference. Right. Person is totally unaware that they are engaging and in fact, they perceive that they're being very reasonable in their intentions because they have no clue about the impact of what they're doing. They might even lack the capacity or willingness to question their own viewpoint in consideration of another's viewpoint. And and I feel like that's what I was doing when I had this awareness that I was complete unconscious gaslighting. And the author says here is what it can look like. The quote, I don't get it act over the course of a week. I said I explain and re-explain the company's vision to my colleague numerous times. I teach English as a second language for for a living. So I'm intimately familiar with how to break down concepts, reword definitions and give examples. This was a totally different issue. My colleague continued to claim confusion over and over again. When somebody says they're confused, it makes no effort to dove into why they're confused. They continually put the onus on you to explain. I love that concept. So when they're saying, look, I don't get it, they're just saying this is on you.
[00:28:28] And so the hard part is that when you're trying to explain, you're coming from all different angles to explain, then that's the part where I can just start to feel like there's this crazy making. So. So Norton said it not only becomes tedious, but it has you question what you're saying. So I said I began to wonder, why am I not getting through? How is it that he's not understanding these ideas that I'm explaining? Then it hit me. He actually didn't want to understand, but likely he didn't know that somebody who truly wants to understand makes efforts in that direction. I love that concept in general, not just in communication and in gas. I had a client earlier in the week that was talking about I'm struggling with some ADHD related things and just saying, there it is, it's my ADHD. And their their wife was was frustrated with that. And I understand it is a card carrying member of ADHD, substantive type, also known as attention deficit disorder. Add that a lot of times I can say, doggone it, what just happened is a little bit of maybe a function of my ADHD, but that doesn't mean period, end of story that there's a big difference of is somebody really trying to understand and then how do I improve or work with that? Or are they just saying there it is? So I think that somebody who truly wants to understand or change will continually make efforts in that direction.
[00:29:34] And then, Norton says, coexisting in a parallel universe. Along with ignoring my words, my colleague addressed issues he claimed I had raised. This is as though I had mentioned ice cream. And his response was, well, when you talked about cheesecake and I love that right. So as you can imagine, this was incredibly baffling. What was he addressing? Who is he addressing? Was he addressing me of bit out of the words like this raised a different issue for me X then I would have understood. Instead, he would say things like your point about X, but when I refer back to my messages to see if I discussed X, it hadn't been raised and I began to wonder if we were existing in a strange and parallel universe with alternate forms of ourselves. I love that because sometimes you do feel like I had a couple of instances with clients in particular. There was there was one where I really felt like a wife and a husband and I were all on the same page and a wife went right back to a behavior that I remember spending half an hour talking about in a session and then just just just blank stare at me and said, I know we never talked about that. And it was like, oh, maybe that was a parallel universe kind of thing. All right.
[00:30:30] So the second form of gaslighting, according to Norton from the Good Men Project, is awareness that something is off. In this case, they say, I believe the gas lighter senses that something isn't working, but still isn't aware of the impact of the gas light. Likely the gas slaters had previous experiences similar to this. One has come to feel an uneasiness around the interaction, but still firmly trudges on ahead. Why would you change in approach if you think that you're right to engage as if you've been doing right to me love? When you read on the fly, you don't really do so well. All right, let's try that again. Like with a gas lighter has had previous experiences similar to this one has come to feel an uneasiness around the interaction, but still firmly trudges on ahead. Why would you change in approach if you think you are right to engage as as you have been doing and still don't fully understand why people aren't interested in engaging? So here's what that would look like. Calls it the flood of words. I would send a short message to my colleague only to receive a deluge. In response, one sentence would receive a multiple paragraph response and it was overwhelming and had the effect of totally wiping out anything I had said. I understand some people are more verbose and I will take a pause here and say I'm a bit guilty of that. I got a text from a friend the other day who said, Hey, you win the The World's Longest Text Award.
[00:31:37] And it's kind of had then I felt bad and I. Explain that I'm texting on my MacBook Pro, and so I've got a full keyboard and I type like a 50 secretary, and so, yes, I do tend to get a bit verbose. So they said, OK, so somebody does that. So they say so I'm well versed in such a flood of words. At the same time, I would continually wonder, where did this come from? What was I asking? I wasn't asking that and so on. I felt my reality quivering. How how did what I wrote and Nessa's necessitate a response that not only didn't acknowledge my words included a conversation I had never started and was massively overwhelming in quantity. Furthermore, the flood of words did not seem to be my colleague's attempt to understand me or have an interchange. Instead, he created a wall of explanation from his own point of view and endless tide of justification to push back and obliterate what he likely perceived as a challenge the flood of words. So I really do appreciate that. Where I thought this was going the first time I read it was I had a couple of experiences this week where, you know, you ask a pretty simple question and in a text and you get back to something completely different or you ask two questions and you go back in answer to one cineaste, the other one, and then you still don't get an answer to that one.
[00:32:40] But this is more talking about. You're trying to make a point. Then you get back a complete just flood of words about something, something different. So that can be you're just aware that something's off. The third type of gas I and they talk about intentional. And here's where I really like this concept intentional. More aware of an impact, but no intent to seriously harm. OK, so that and I think that's the key is that no intent to seriously harm. So this is a person who has more awareness than the gas letters in the first and second examples, number one or number two, they know what they're doing is harmful, but they would never describe themselves as gastly there. That's for truly malevolent individuals. They're not trying to hurt someone or drive them crazy, but they are into power struggles and winning. I that's the key to this concept. Here's what it looks like. No one stonewalling, refusing to answer what's been said. In fact, my colleague not only did that, he simply acted as though what I said never existed. Messages would be exchanged and I was left wondering if he had actually read my words, had my message gone through. I was certain that it had. Why was he so oblivious to what I had said? How come every word made little to no impact? My words disappeared into ether, never to be acknowledged again.
[00:33:48] The second bore. So they're stonewalling. That's part of this third example. There's a and then they also talk about, I like this phrase, whiplash, communication. The final straw came when one of our last communications, that's when the communication went from I'm upset to you don't have to respond to I'm betrayed. And you said you would, too, but you don't have to. By the end of the message I was left wondering if I should respond, should not respond, had done something wrong, had inadvertently impacted him in a negative, but didn't need to say anything. Right. There's so many kind of mixed messages there. On the one hand, I think the gas later in the situation is likely confused by what they are feeling. And on the other hand, it's not their first rodeo. I love that they have. Sometimes I talk about if I jump back into the world of narcissism where gaslighting is an art form, there's there's steps that you go through when you're trying to help someone in a relationship with a narcissist. One of those is recognizing what guest learning how to disengage. You use that phrase often disengage. On a side note, you're helping somebody learn boundaries. You're helping them raise their emotional baseline. And you're really working on this concept that there is not going to be that aha moment. The thing you will say or the thing you will do or the the narcissist will go, oh my God, I'm wrong.
[00:34:47] But but this whiplashed communication makes me think of so with those skills at hand, oftentimes someone will stay in a an argument or a conversation with a narcissist where they are truly being gassed. Let anything they say is going to be no, no, you don't understand or it's like I never said that. And they're in this kind of conversation back. And I often say that you will eventually find what their exact phrase is for some for people with have got a few people. When one person was telling me about, you know, that they're they're narcissistic person in their life will all of a sudden kind of just talk about their oh, my gosh, my blood, my my blood pressure's dippin. And so that's that's their excuse. And so it's like I got to go sit down or somebody with chronic pain, my my my legs hurting or that sort of thing. But typically what it looks like is the you know what? This isn't even worth talking about. And that means, OK, I got to the end of the I got I made sense of something or it's that I can't believe we're having this conversation or a lot of times the person will just respond with anger or they'll just say, I can't believe you don't understand this or that sort of thing. So at that point, then the the nurses, the gas, later they've run out of there dodging and weaving and stonewalling and whiplash communication.
[00:35:53] And so they have to put it into it somehow or the other. So back to the Nortons part about this whiplash communication says on the one hand, I think the gas later in the situation is likely confused. Right. But then back to that. This isn't the first time at the rodeo they've done this before. They know that others end up hurt, angry and unsettled by their actions. Sometimes when the gas light doesn't understand the gas light or simply tells them, here we go, you don't get it. In my case, it was true. The paradoxical pieces didn't make sense as a cohesive whole. But here is the one that I think people often think is what all gas lighting is. So I'm glad for this article. And we were able to break down those those ones that maybe weren't malicious the fourth time. They say malicious intent with desire to harm. This is this is textbook gaslighting, is what Norton says. And he refers in Stephanie Circus's article. She outlines the warning signs, blatant lie. Denial, manipulation, wearing the gas lady down, mismatching actions and words, aligning others against you, weaponize in confusion, projecting, etc.. Holy cow, we could do episodes on each one of those concepts. Let me read those again. Here's the warning signs of malicious intent with desire to harm form of gaslighting, a.k.a.
[00:36:57] textbook gaslighting, blatant lies, denial, manipulation, wearing the gas lady down mismatching mismatching actions and words, aligning others against you. Weaponize and confusion. Projecting, projecting. It's like, what do you say about me? Oh yeah. Well, that's what you do. Or projecting what their insecurities are on the person that's you on the partner or the aligning others against you is fascinating. This is one of those where it just doesn't happen in the real world. So I would never say to my wife if I wanted to bring something up to my wife, I would never say, man, when I was talking to a lot of people, people, church and our neighbors, your your your family. And we all think that you really need to do this thing that I really want you to do that is just not normal. So it's it's amazing when I watch where people will, you know, often say, yes, I was talking to a couple of other people, too, and they all think that you're a little bit too sensitive and like, really and it's interesting when people finally recognize this as as part of gaslighting, this aligning others against you, you'll see people get a little empowered and to say, oh, OK, well, ah, they'll say, yeah, I was talking to my my sister and she agrees that you've really been this way for a long time. And the person will say, you know what, I feel so bad. Let's call your sister.
[00:38:06] Let's let's just clear this out. Well, no, no, no, I don't bother about it. It's so wild to watch that aligning against others. But so then we've got the blatant lies, the denial, the manipulation wearing down. So Norten talks about gathering the army. This was the most malicious piece I experienced with my colleague. He had other people look at his project and informed me that they thought it was fine. I had to step away if he was going to gather the masses against me and continue to prove his point against mine. Actually, the company's point, where was I to go with it? Nowhere. One person against an army is useless, and it certainly had him questioning what he was proposing, Norton said. Gas is much more prevalent than we think. Sometimes it occurs as micro aggressions from people who don't know they're doing it. I would imagine most people are guilty of this. Aimen. I agree microaggression. Some people don't even know they're doing it. Those come from insecurities. Those come from not knowing how to communicate or not having effective communication. Sometimes we know something's off, but we still pursue a line of inquiry. Then things take a turn for the worse and we can be left feeling like our reality is starting to quiver like a minor earthquake in. And then he said, the author says, In my case, it wasn't until somebody else pointed it out that I began to see it.
[00:39:04] With that new perspective, I was able to hit a huge sigh of relief and understand the furniture in my home had never been rearranged. Someone was just trying to make me believe that it had been. So I just I love that article and I'm going to put a link to that in the show notes as well. I think that there's an actually the Good Men project has a lot of good a lot of good articles from just taking a look there. So let me get to the example so this doesn't go on too long and have changed a couple of things. I'm not going to lie because you don't want this to be completely somebody. I mean, somebody people submit these all the time and a lot of people say, hey, you print this as is if you think it would help, because I know that my partner is never going to listen to a podcast. But I still I'm just letting you know, I respect people's privacy, confidentiality, even when they're sending me things. So but here, here's a few examples. Here's one. Very early in our marriage, he pulled me to the point that I wouldn't even drive in a car with him. It was it was always I was always either going too fast or I was going too slow. I parked too far away. I was too jerky in the way I drove. And then if I ever pointed out to him that he was going fast, well, that was different.
[00:39:58] We were in a hurry and we were in a hurry because I was the one that was late, apparently. And if I tried to point out that I was actually ready to go, then he's like, OK, well, you never let me know that I've asked you a million times. Let me know when you're ready. So the gas line just keeps on coming, keeps on coming. So then she said, I didn't understand it was different if he parked far away. It was because I made him because he knew I'd throw a fit if he tried to get closer, find a closer parking spot or waited. She said, I eventually just got to the point where I just hated getting in the car with him. But then even then he would say, why don't we ever go anywhere together? So what a prime example of gaslighting. The second one that I put down today is as I was thinking through the dozens and dozens examples of gaslighting, the first thing in my mind was any time I've been training for a race half marathon, a marathon, my husband worked at the time. But instead of being supportive, like I would hear some of my running partners husbands were, I was often told that I that I needed to make sure that my running didn't interfere with his, quote, real life and that he wished that he had the luxury of going on runs whenever he wanted.
[00:40:52] And then you put a side note. He always went to the gym on his way home from work, but he worked out that wasn't running. Whenever he said, I didn't want to go, I said I didn't want to go at four a.m., but I had to and I had to build in time just in case something happened. And I couldn't get back in time because I made that mistake. One time when we were in college, we had no kids. I pulled something, I'm assuming like a muscle or something, she said. I called him and I asked him if he'd just come get me. He asked if it was a bad can you walk? I said, yeah, I can walk barely. And she said at the time I felt like he was being empathetic or even sympathetic. And then you said you would actually be better. And he said, How far are you away? And I said, about a mile. It's like actually be better if you just maybe walked home, because if I don't get to school at least an hour before my class, I don't get good parking. So unbelievable. Right. And the hard part is it and she didn't even go on about this, but I had those type of sessions before where that's the part where something is just off when there is not even a healthy relationship, when we're trying to use the tools, the emotionally focused therapy tools, that's a that's an emotional bid.
[00:41:53] Like I've never heard you weren't there for me. I needed you. I pulled something. And I feel like you put the parking spot or even if it was OK, parked far away and walked the mile that I just had to walk with a with a pulled calf, for Pete's sake, to let me know that you care about me and then and you want the person to that's hearing that empathy and go, oh my gosh, yeah, I hear you, I was a jerk move. But instead I will often hear well OK. What about my emotional bit. If I don't get there early, I don't get the park and it's like, OK, technically true. But the whole point of this is that we're going to be vulnerable, open up, have empathy, shared truths, and then the theory there be are you there for me? Statement of innocence, pulling a calf muscle, walking a mile when the person could have swung by and got her is going to rule the day, so to speak. All right. Here's another one that will I know he will not actually do the dishes. One time I asked him just to put away the leftovers because I was so tired. After a long day, he said, you made the mess. You need to clean it up. Your hard day is nothing like my hard day. So she said.
[00:42:51] So it's always my job to clean the kitchen because I'm the one who cooks for the entire family and I quote, make the mess. Here's another one. And this one's pretty fascinating. This person said, my wife said her love language is words of affirmation, which makes sense when our counselor is confident that maybe she has some narcissistic tendencies. She won't go to counseling anymore because she thinks the counselors and does not know what what the counselor is doing, because the counselor, my wife's actions, not as much of the mine. Anyway, we discussed this and she said she really wanted me to compliment her in front of the kids as well. All right. No problem. I can do that. So she would make dinner something that I know she doesn't enjoy and I would make sure to compliment her for the dinner and think of her making it right. Assuming that he did well, he said I would compliment her on how the house looked. And after after she cleaned, I have a compliment her on her looks as she got ready for church at night while lying in bed, she would ask, Why don't you ever give me compliments and why you don't you tell the kids how amazing I am. So he says, I scratch my head and a reminder of all the times that I complimented her. And she says, Yeah, but you're only complimenting me for the things you like me to do.
[00:43:51] So this is again, I step back and scratch my head and I say, So you don't want me to thank you and compliment you for the things that I appreciate you doing her response. You're patronizing me. Me, really? You can't tell. I'm genuinely appreciative of what you do and what you're doing and that I am sincere. My gratitude her. Well, I know you're sincere, but you don't compliment me for the other things I do me. So you don't want me to compliment you on these things even though I am truly grateful for them. Her, I want you to compliment me on other things and say how amazing I am me. So you don't really want me to compliment you on the things that I'm really grateful for. But you want me to compliment you on other things that you know, I'm not really OK with and then say how amazing you are for doing those things that I'm not really comfortable with, that we really don't see eye to eye on her. Exactly. Now you get it. I said scenarios like this brain confusion leave me not wanting to give any compliments at all because they will now come across as patronizing unless I compliment her on the very things that took us to the counselor's office. She wants me to compliment those actions as if there's no compliment at all, unless it's for the very things that we have issues on. He's like maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense to me and I get that right.
[00:44:57] And that just brings up that whole concept of I'm sure that if I had him in an office, he would talk about just feeling like this concept of never quite feeling like anything's enough or right or feeling like he's walking on eggshells. I get to hear that phrase a lot. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells in a healthy relationship and in a relationship that's working on a secure connection and a relationship that's based on trying to work through these emotionally focused therapy models, being able to go to our partner with anything and knowing that our partner is a secure attachment is going to say, tell me these kind of things are the opposite. If somebody feels like they're walking on eggshells, that is the one 180 degree opposite experience of feeling like you can tell your partner anything. Instead, it's the I don't know how he's going to react. I just don't. And that's the part where man breaks my heart and just please, please seek help, go to a therapist, do all that you can, because that's not the way that life is supposed to be live. If you listen to the episode, I did it a week or so ago about do I really need my partner? Man, I've had so much feedback on that one, just about that whole concept of of what's attachment and how we're designed from the factory to to want to attach to others.
[00:45:58] And so when we have a secure attachment, you always talk about this to a couple of yesterday. And I hope that this makes sense and and they'll try to wrap things up. But when we're so worried about what we are going to say or what we don't want to say or if we're so worried about what's my partner's response going to be, sometimes I can't even imagine the amount of mental gymnastics and mental calories that are being burned in that kind of a relationship. And I was explaining, here's what the future looks like when you know that you can go to your partner with anything. Then those times where you are not where you're not in front of your partner and talk to your partner are not spent on man. Why did that not go well? Why did that conversation go south or. Oh, I can't talk about this or how should I. Those kind. If thoughts are gone, the new thoughts are now I'm thinking more about the things that my partner and I talked about because I can't wait to get back to him and talk to him about, hey, I was thinking more about what you said about this and and do you think this might have affected this part of your life or. I loved what you the questions you were asking me about the thing that I shared with you and I was thinking about that even more, and I want to talk about that more.
[00:47:00] And it just dawns on me at times where that is a completely different ballgame. That's a whole different relationship. Imagine that relationship. Imagine the freedom that your mind has to then contemplate and think about the mysteries of the world and know that you can go back to your partner and you've got this attachment and they're going to want to know more. And then every time you bring an emotional bit or an attachment back to your partner, it's an opportunity to not only connect and feel validated, but then also to hear what their thoughts are. And then now I know something more about my partner. We have secured our attachment even more. That is the way a relationship is supposed to operate. I will end with that one. I'd had one other note here actually in the guest say somebody had also said that if I bring something up from the past, he would always say, well, you should hang on to things. Yeah, because they're traumatic. And that's so I love when I get that's again, one of those kind of nice red flags when a new couple comes in and the guy will say, we're here, but I don't I don't want to go digging through the past. We're here. We want to make changes and let's just move forward. And that is red flag, ginormous red flags that it's like, I don't want to die.
[00:47:59] I don't want to hear anything that I may have done wrong. Let's just move for it. The whole emotionally focused therapy concept is we can go back and look at the game film and and say, hey, here's here's what that was like for me. Here's what I was feeling when you did this and having your partner say, I had no idea. I wish we had better ways to communicate around that back when we were going through that. But thanks for thanks for sharing that with me. That is a much more productive way than we're not talking about the past, are we? So, anyway, hey, thanks for for listening and feel free to continue to send in examples of the gaslighting if you feel like that is therapeutic. Still gathering those. Got a couple of things that I'm working on that some of those might and I want you to know this isn't just a me saying tell me stories. I get that all day as a therapist. The I cannot even express the types of emails, the amount of emails that I get now. I never anticipated that. I was telling somebody a couple of days ago that when I first started the podcast, I didn't know if anybody would listen. And I would say, hey, feel free to email me if you have any thoughts, questions, or just want to share what your thoughts are about a particular episode.
[00:48:59] And and I would think that be cool to get an email. And now I just I feel so bad because I can't I can't get to him. I can't respond to them all. And that part is hard because I know people are really pouring out a lot of things in those emails. And I know that it's therapeutic at times to just write things out and to send things and just know that I do. I feel like I do get a chance to read all of them. I just I respond to more. But my whole point with that is that when I do an episode like this one today and I give these gaslighting examples, I guarantee you somebody is going to hear this for the first time and I'm going to get the email and it's going to talk about, man. Thank you. I just thought I was crazy. I thought I thought that I just had to just just be quiet and just listen to whatever I'm being told that I'm wrong about. And over time, that just starts to really eat who a person really is. And if you've ever heard any of the well, the podcast they do on and, you know, individual therapy, this acceptance and commitment therapy model, or when I talk about addictions or whether it's food or pornography or screens or anything, that those all come from this void. When we don't feel connected in our marriage, we don't feel connected.
[00:50:00] As a parent, when you don't feel connected in our career or health or faith, any of those areas, our brain is like, man, I got you. I got to let's just go to something that's just going to feel good and numb out. And then over time, that just becomes a quick fix and immediate gratification. And and when you have a secure connection in your marriage, when you are both working on a a solid parenting foundation, when you're in a career you enjoy, when you're really, truly honest and explore and your faith when you're when you're really trying to make progress on health or food or those sort of things, not perfection, but progress. Life is is pretty darn good thing to be living. And so anyway, so when people send in examples and that sort of thing, they lead to episodes like this and then people hear them and then people become motivated and they try to get help and they change. So I'm grateful for all of you who listen, who spread the word about the virtual couch and who do send in comments. I grateful for that. I think at the beginning of the top, I forgot to say head over to Tony over Match.com and sign up their email list, because there really are some super cool things I never imagined that are coming up. And I would love to keep you informed on those. All right. Until next time I will talk to you on the virtual couch.