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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    How to Protect Yourself From Ambient Gaslighting

    The gentle flutter of a butterfly’s wings on the shoulder might signal something too subtle to detect; silent and insidious, it has the potential to wreak havoc upon a life and ruin relationships if left unrecognized. Could it be the psychological phenomenon known as “ambient gaslighting?”

    Gaslighting, as defined by New York psychologist Dr. Danielle Forshee LLC is “a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a target individual or group, making them question their own memory, judgement, or sanity.” It is an insidious process, one that can also occur without the intentional manipulator being aware of it, unintentionally planted during seemingly innocent conversations.

    The subtle disagreements and discrepancies that comes with a base level of disagreement between two people can lead to emotional distancing and further misunderstandings between parties. These disagreements, ultimately, erode trust. This serves as a breeding ground for ambient gaslighting—where the underlying feelings and intentions are not accurately perceived by either participant.

    At this point, sensing those underlying emotions is difficult. One party may not even be in tune with having any kind of awareness for these dynamics at play- and yet, the manipulation still occurs. When the manipulation is ambient- as opposed to more direct- it manifests itself in a more deceptive way. The trick is recognizing when this is happening.

    Those who have personally felt the effects of ambient gaslighting may recognize snippets of conversations that seem pleasant, but add up to a feeling of being slightly manipulated. Although the words may not have been outright abusive, the implications of them cut deeply and linger. When trust has been broken due to someone's lack of awareness, or purposeful attempts to gain control of a situation, the outcome slowly reveals itself- much like the way a butterfly slowly reveals it’s beauty in spite of it’s small wings.

    To protect oneself against future manipulations, knowledge is key. It is important to recognize whether or not the conversation is strangely difficult to understand or identify. look for subtle inconsistency as a sign of duress among the parties involved.

    Gaining understanding of yourself and your mental process is also paramount- remind yourself of your worth, and provide yourself with reminders that your mindset matters, regardless of whether or not someone refuses to meet you at a place of understanding.

    It’s also imperative to speak up and draw attention to the mannerisms and attitudes from other parties. Transparency is key, and will further prevent further gaslighting by virtue of making it a subject of discourse.

    When it comes to protecting yourself from ambient gaslighting, it's more important than ever to stay empowered. Allow yourself to vocalize that you are feeling wronged, and empower yourself to put yourself in a position of right. Reach out to those who you believe will understand, and stand up for yourself against others.

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