The line between gaslighting and emotional bullying is a slim one.
Often they can be one and the same but not always. While emotional bullying can be a component of gaslighting, gaslighting is far more than simply emotional bullying.
Why is it called “Gaslighting”?!
Gas lighting is best known for its namesake, the 1944 US film “Gaslight”. In gaslight, the heroin is complaining that the lights keep flickering. Her oppressor convinces her that she’s imagining it even though he is in fact making the lights flicker. He does this to convince her that she’s losing her mind and that some of the bigger discrepancies in the relationship are part of her insanity.
Why is gaslighting a popular term today? The reason is, that we all engage in a little bit of gaslighting. To the extent that we want other people to see our point of view and be in agreement with us, we engage in gaslighting. To some extent, the polarization of our politics is both denial and gaslighting. Both sides are in denial that there may be flaws in their point of view. Both sides are desperately bullying, controlling, manipulating, and trying to convince the other that their view is correct.
So… What’s Emotional Bullying?
Emotional bullying has several forms. The bluntest form is the use of emotional abuse in the form of rage to terrorize the other person. A milder form might be taking a stand with your partner that if they don’t agree with you, you’re walking out. ” It’s my way or the highway ” is a form of emotional bullying. Of course, there’s everything in between and combinations of all.
Gaslighters are committed to their worldview. Committed to the idea that the other person must see things your way no matter what. Gas lighting may include emotional bullying, but the range of tools in gas lighting is far greater. Basically, emotional bullying is a tool in the gas lighter’s toolbox. An emotional bully on the other hand it’s far more concerned with maintaining their own worldview. They’re less concerned that others actually buy into it.
Things Gaslighting and Emotional Bullying have in Common
What the gas lighter And the emotional bully have in common is they usually have a deep hurt that they’re protecting. It could be a sense of low self-esteem. Or an incident that was so traumatic that it hasn’t been healed. Whatever the precipitating event, they don’t want to look at it directly. They may want to act it out over and over, but they don’t want to actually think about The original event. That would just be too painful.
The gas lighter is willing to go much further than the emotional bully. The emotional bully will tend to say ” this is reality if you don’t agree we’ll talk another time “. The gas lighter will say ” this is reality and you must agree, if you don’t you’re wrong, crazy, etc “.
The emotional bully can be won over to a new perspective. A gentle approach will work. Through identifying shared values and common ground, the emotional bully May slowly drop their defenses and become more available.
Why Gaslighting and Emotional Bullying Are Different
The gas lighter on the other hand will almost never surrender. Anything that you say to them they will turn around on you. They don’t do this because they are necessarily evil people, they do it because anything that’s not in alignment with their worldview feels very threatening to them.
While the emotional bully is reachable through shared values and open-ended questions, the gas lighter is always on the alert. They are always on guard.
When these happen inside your marriage, you may need to consider getting help.