Douse gaslighters with fire extinguishers

Dear World,

Don’t you ever let anyone gaslight you into believing that an issue they caused is your fault. Don’t allow anyone to gaslight you into believing that any issue or difficult situation is a result of your shortcomings and yours alone.

Douse them with the contents of a fire extinguisher and add water on top of that to dampen their foul play.

People are known to do that. In doing so, they guilt trip you, confuse you, lie to you and will literally make you feel like the issues occurring are all your fault by dissolving any responsibility they may share in the matter. It perhaps doesn’t even include them but rest assured, they’re gonna butt themselves in to make you look bad.

They actually thrive on you accepting their scapegoatism. All gaslighters need is a little spark and if you don’t stand your ground, you’ll end up adding fuel to an unnecessary fire. You may even get tricked into giving them a proverbial lighter or some matches to make the fire worse.

The minute you see this happening, nip it in the bud. Pull the pin from the fire extinguisher and spray them. Throw away the gasoline and the matches.

I’ve been in situations where people (who are perceived as more powerful than I am) would tell me that a particular problem is a problem because I didn’t do this or that – totally avoiding their role in a matter. And! When I defend myself and read them like a book, I become the angry Black woman. You know, the lack of accountability and appropriate action for those who are at fault.

This usually continues into a finger pointing game where there’s really no resolve.

Want some clues on what gaslighters do? I did some amount of Google searching. I found some ’empirical’ data about the topic. Here are the results:

So, according to the good folks over at Psychology Today, “gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control.” Gaslighting victims are “deliberately and systematically fed false information.” This usually leads to questioning reality and folks end up doubting their memory and what they know to be true.

It’s important to note that gaslighters are people who we have some kind of relationship with. This doesn’t have to be an intimate relationship – it can be platonic and it can also be professional. From my experience, these asses usually come in the professional setting and the intimate setting.

Sherri Gordon over at Very Well Mind recently addressed this topic in a virtual article on the Very Well Mind website about gaslighting. She really goes into it. One of the many points she makes highlights the tactics of a gaslighter…”Gaslighting can include a range of tactics [such as] lying, distracting, minimizing, denying, and blaming,”she says.

Sherri also says that we ought to be mindful of what gaslighters do and not the words they say. I disagree with her on this. We should be mindful of everything they do and say. It’s a lethal combination and your psyche will get all the way messed up if you feed into any one aspect of who they are in any situation.

In addition to all that, the good people from Psychology Today emphasise that anyone can be susceptible to the tactics of a gaslighter. So be careful, eh!

Sherri and the Psychology Today folks will also give you insight into how gaslighting became what we know it to be today. The term comes from a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton, known as “Angel Street” and later developed into the film “Gas Light” by Alfred Hitchcock.

I encourage you to read into these linked sources though, they speak some heavy truths.

So, to bring it back to my personal level, I’ve had gaslighters in my life try to say formalities weren’t followed at work because I was unable to attend a meeting. Bish, send an email. You use emails for every other thing under the sun.

I’ve seen where “teammates” say that they couldn’t follow through with assigned tasks because the procedure was too difficult and it’s only easy for me because I do the tasks daily….and because I’m not making myself available on my days off, they’re having issues. Bish! You’ve been doing this task long before I came along, you have procedural documents.

I’ve had a situation where a boyfriend said I was the reason he was going through issues that had nothing to do with me but everything to do with his desire to not hold himself accountable. You know, blaming their problems on me.

All I’m saying is, don’t let nobody play you.

Though this is about the gaslighters, it would be remiss of me to not encourage us to hold ourselves accountable in situations that we really do have responsibility. It would also be remiss of me to assume that we don’t sometimes fall into the category of ‘gaslighter’.

Through and through, thread lightly and be careful. Don’t play nobody and don’t let nobody play you. Practice self-preservation and call people out on their bullshit. Keep a watchful eye and hold everyone accountable – including yourself.

At this point, I’d say that there’s no empirical data to support my claims but I did a little bit of research this time. Instead, I’ll say that this post is barely supported by any kind of in-depth, peer-reviewed research. Whatever is used isn’t enough to hold too much water because it’s still based on my own experiences and thoughts.

I thank you.

Signed with love,

The Suburban Girl JA


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