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Society has taught us to see gaslighting as a terrible thing.

It has the power to tear relationships apart because it makes your partner question their sanity.

But is it really that bad?

Turns out, there’s a good side to gaslighting that can help you grow as a person and in your relationship. In today’s episode, I’m explaining how you can use gaslighting to reach your full potential in your life and your relationship.

Here Are The Show Highlights:

  • The cold, hard truth about why you gaslight in your relationship (5:28)
  • Why blaming your partner for gaslighting solves nothing and what to do instead to liberate yourself (7:41)
  • What nobody ever tells you about the positive side of gaslighting (12:09)
  • How gaslighting is the only way for you to grow as a person (13:28)

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to www.liberateaman.com and book a call where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the F-word here: Freedom. We'll share, straight from the trenches, what we have learned from leaving our own addictions behind, and coaching hundreds of others to do the same—and since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it. [00:27.9]

Bob: Have you guys ever heard the term gaslighting? I mean honestly that term has been bandied about online here and there. There are times when I see it happening a bunch in some of the groups that I'm in, and it's a big kind of buzzword when it comes to relationships that are semi abusive or where addicts are involved and things like that. Because one person feels like they're being made out to be the bad guy when it's the other person doing the trick. So, this can happen at low levels and big levels, but here's the thing the term gaslighting bothered me and it's being used in such a way that is laying blame and not producing results and solving the problem. And so, what I want to do today is help you understand where the phrase come from. And then on top of that help you understand just how potent gaslighting is in a positive way and in a negative way. [01:23.9]

Yes, I said it folks, gaslighting is positive, but we don't call it gaslighting when we're doing it in a positive way. But it's the same thing, Okay! And I want you to see what this comes from. Cause when I first heard the word I was like, who made up this word? Why would you use it? Cause it just sounds gas lighting. Like you're just blowing up somebody else. Like where did this come from? Who made up this term? Because all it sounds like is, you're just usually came up with the worst possible term you could make so that you can make the other person feel bad. And when I saw it in conversations, that's what I saw is the women saying, yeah, he's gaslighting me and he was doing this or the men saying, yeah, she was gaslighting. Usually it's the women, but I'm in a lot of support groups where there's a lot of wives involved. [02:04.0]

So, I don't know what the proportions is for people using this. And it used to nettle me because I was like, how is that one? How is that helpful? Cool, he's gaslighting you. Whatever the heck that means at the time. Right! But two, how is it helpful to lay a a nasty label on somebody? Right. And all it was doing was these women were venting and they had every right to vent, but they were venting. They were frustrated in their situation and they had found a label for it. And that label gave them some sense of power. Think about it, when you call a person a name, it gives you some sense of power. Dork. When we were young, we used the word queer, right? It gives you some sense of power cause it's like, Oh, I can call you this name and do stuff. [02:42.0]

We'll talk about the power of words here on the next week. So stay tuned, because next week is going to blow your mind. We're going to go off the beaten track. It's going to be awesome. Anyway, back to gaslighting. So, they found a name, you call someone a name, and suddenly there's a sense of sense of power they have. And these women who have felt powerless for so long in the relationship to have something where they can be like, he's a narcissist, he's gaslighting, he's this, he's that, he's an addict. And all of these different things, it helps the brain feel like you're in control. And these women have not been in control, they can't control their husbands. If you've watched my wife's video online, she described this, how she didn't feel like she could control anything, so she was micromanaging the kids. And so, these phrases have come into common usage because they've been empowering. They’ve been giving power and understanding and a sense of control to people who have felt completely helpless for a long time. [03:35.4]

The problem with it is that the term and the label doesn't solve anything. So where did it come from? I decided to do a Google and you can Google it too and you can get all of the facts and figures associated with this on your own and more if you're really interested in it. There was a play written called ‘The Gaslight’ and there were some movies made of this play. And in 1944, I think the more famous one of them called ‘Gaslight’ I think it was still a black and white movie at the time, but was just a film called ‘Gaslight’. In this film there, the house is lit by gas lights. Okay. And the husband is secretly surreptitiously rifling through things in the attic looking for some jewels. [04:22.3]

Now he doesn't want his wife to know. So he's obviously doing it when she's not around, but every time he turns the attic lights on the gas lights in the house dim a little bit because, well, some of the gases being funneled up to the attic. And so, it's like bandwidth on a computer kind of thing. Right? So, she starts telling him about this and she's complaining, she's, and I haven't seen the movie, so I just read the synopsis. So those of you who are into these old movies, let me know. She starts complaining about how the, there's something, there must be something wrong with the gas and how the lights are dimming. And he starts, he's, he's recognized as possibly what's going on. And he's like, Oh, but he doesn't want her to know that he's been up in the attic. And so, he starts making her believe that she's crazy, that she's making it up, that there's something wrong with her mind. [05:09.2]

And this is what happened throughout the movie, all because the man didn't want to be caught doing something that he didn't feel like she would approve of. Now we take this and we move this into the realm of addiction or porn addiction often with some of the people that we work with. But any addiction, you know, and if you're doing something that you don't want to be caught at and you feel like the other person is going to catch you, it's really easy to make them believe that they're the ones that are going crazy. And so, you lie or you misrepresent information to make them think that maybe they misperceive things. I didn't say that, I never did that, that type of stuff. And more to make them out to be the bad guy. Now it's not necessarily just making somebody out to be the bad guy, but it gaslighting literally is causing to question their sanity to question whether or not they're actually seeing things right and if they perceive things in the right way. [06:07.2]

Now this makes sense. It makes total sense from the movie, why you would call it gaslighting. Because if the movie was a big hit and people were like, no, he was, she was gaslighting me and everybody would recognize the reference. Right? Just like saying Google, Oh, he Googled it. That's not a verb, but it is now because everybody knows what Google is and we go and Google stuff. So in the initial phases of it, using the term made total sense because it was understood, Oh, gaslighting means he's causing me to question my own sanity and my own perceptions because —he doesn't want to be caught and a person inside of a relationship who's struggling and is being questioned all the time by the husband or the wife and made to believe that they're going nutso and that they're really, they're really perceiving things the wrong way to discover. Wait a second, this is actually a thing. [07:01.8]

This person is literally trying to make me feel like I'm insane because it's making them feel innocent and it's, it's getting them off scot-free and it's avoiding punishment for them. They're trying to make me feel like I'm insane because then it will make them the good guy and they can get away with their behavior. If you discover that, what a sense of liberation you might feel. Can you imagine that? Oh wow, I'm not insane. I'm not going crazy. This is actually happening. What an incredible sense of liberation you would feel. But that's not what's happening in a lot of these conversations that I'm reading and hearing and sometimes commenting on. A lot of these conversations are focused on laying blame in a negative and derogatory way, like an accusation. He's gaslighting, but there could venting to other people. [07:51.5]

And so, it's not actually empowering them in the way that maybe it could. It's not liberating them because if you are really liberated, okay cool. I'm not insane. Sweet. Okay, this guy's just doing his thing. But no, it's creating more turmoil because now they want him to suffer for gaslighting or they want him to pay for that as well. And so, there's added resentment and added everything else. And I'm not saying that doesn't exist and I'm not saying it shouldn't exist, but what's happening is as people are using this word, it's creating a tighter and tighter and tighter spiral of negative emotions. That's problematic. Right? And if you're in a relationship where someone's constantly causing you to question whether what you think is right and whatnot, then you know, take a step back and I want to give you permission and I want to free you from that forever mall from now on. You’ll never have to worry about being gas lit again because of one simple truth. [08:43.2]

If you perceived it and experienced it, it was real for you. Maybe it doesn't match onto all the rest of reality, but the experience still happened. It still happened. And if you keep looking at what your experience was and you don't just deny everything that you experienced, but if you keep looking at it, you'll eventually sort your way through it in one way, shape, or form or another. And two people can experience the same exact phenomenon in very, very different ways. Both of them are right. Yes, your experience happened. So it is, and there's nothing wrong with that. Oh, if your memory's faulty, great. I'm experiencing this memory now in this way. So as he, because memory is just something we make up in the moment. If you recall when we talked about memory back several weeks ago. [09:30.2]

If you or someone you know is looking to drop the F-bomb of “Freedom” in your life, whether that's from addiction or depression and anxiety, or just anything that's making you feel flat-out stuck, but you have no clue how to shake it and just want help doing it, head on over to LiberateAMan.com and book a call, where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you've been missing. [9:57.2]

So, your experience is 100% true and accurate to what you experienced and their experiences 100% true and accurate to what they're experiencing. And if they're trying to make you doubt your experience, you can say, look, that's just what I felt. Whether or not it's true, that's what I felt, that's what I heard and this is what's going on for me. And you can hold on to that. Nobody can take away your experience. Nobody! You may look at it 10 years down the line with a totally different lens and think, oh man, I was nuts. No wonder that was going on. Ah, I wasn't really, Oh, I was experiencing that, but I didn't have to cause this other thing was going on and I didn't even realize it. That's okay, but you never ever, ever even a crazy person whatever they're experiencing, they're experiencing. It's real for them. [10:47.7]

And if the only measure of whether something is real is whether or not it happens in concrete reality outside your head in terms of experience, then like that cuts out a lot of subjective experience. What are dreams then? What are, you know, our dreams just flashes of light in the skull. What about the content of, what about the emotions that come from and all that other stuff? There's too much human experience that happens outside of what we can observe in concrete reality. It's helpful to know what's really out there and with your own experience always question it. I mean, this is a guiding principle from everything that I do. If I want to know the truth, I always have to be questioning my assumptions. So cool. Maybe I was wrong, maybe not, but okay, cool. If you told me I was wrong. Cool. First time. Alright, second time. All right, third time. Okay. I'm starting to get a little bit suspicious like okay, for time, okay, I'll pay attention to what I'm feeling. Perceiving. [11:38.3]

Maybe he is lying to me, maybe not. But that doesn't mean you're insane. It only means that what you perceived was a certain thing and you're open to the possibility that it might not be a hundred percent accurate, but keep paying attention as I'm constantly constantly say, right? So, whatever is happening, if you're in a relationship where you're feeling like gaslighting is happening or if you're watching a relationship where you feel like it's happening, just honor the experience, right? Whatever you experience is true for you. That's what you experienced and that's awesome. Now, here's the positive side of of gaslighting. Cause I promised, I promised we'd get there. The positive side of gaslighting is this. If you want to grow spiritually, if you want to grow financially, if you want to grow mentally and emotionally, if you want to grow in terms of personal development and skill sets, you have to go and challenge all of what you believe to be true about a thing. [12:32.0]

Someone, a coach, a mentor, a guru, a prophet, a, an ecclesiastical leader, someone somewhere it could be an author, has to challenge what you believe to be true and has to make you believe that you're a little bit insane for believing that thing. The only way to step into a new reality, the only way, is to finally realize the futility of the reality that you're holding onto and to question it, to call it into question, to see how insane it really is. So, what Einstein said, the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result. You have to change your way of thinking, right? You can't solve a problem at the same level of thinking you were at when you created it. So gaslighting in one sense, the idea that you're going to make someone question their sanity and their ability to perceive life, right? [12:24.2]

In order to get away with something that's the negative side of things. But in order for you to grow, in order for you to reach a higher experience of life, the ultimate experience of life, everything that you believe about life right now has to be called into question. And you have to begin to doubt whether or not you're seeing it correctly. And you have to begin to doubt whether or not you were saying when, when you made up those assumptions. And that's the only way to grow because you have to see a new reality. So, I get that gaslighting is this really negative thing inside of relationships and inside of inside of marriages that happens and whatnot. But at the same time, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having what you believe to be true questioned. And in religious circles, this happens a lot. [14:09.0]

You know, I grew up in a very, very like devout kind of faith where once a month everybody got the opportunity to step up and declare what they believe in, in the, in the congregation, in the meeting, during the meetings. And they gave their testimonies, right? And so, they would get up and they would say, I know this and I know that these true churches, the true church, and I know that and I know whatever else. And inside of those circles when you have that, then anytime you step outside of that, anytime anybody questions what your beliefs are, automatically it throws you into a panic, throws you into this panic because you're like, “Oh no, what if what I believe isn't true?” And that's a similar experience that people have inside of relationships when they're being gaslit and people have faith crises and they leave their church and they leave their religion because what they believed to be true growing up, suddenly they saw a different possibility and it was questioned. [15:01.5]

And I want to give you something that my dad gave me, it's probably the most profound lesson. I love my dad so much for this. Even if it, if this was the only thing, he gave me, it is worth all of the gold in the world. This one lesson and dad, if you're listening to this, God be with you for this one. When he was, he was at the war, he went and fought in the first desert storm war the Gulf war desert storm and he was, he was a fighter pilot. And so, he was out dropping bombs on Kuwait and whatnot. And he was gone for about seven months and he went through a bunch of turmoil on the inside. And so, did he when he was a missionary for his church. And then I went and I served a mission for the church for my church. [15:43.3]

And I was out preaching for a couple of years and I was down in Brazil and as I was there preaching, I started to have all these questions. People come into me from different faiths, different religions, presenting a new possibility. And my dad wrote me a letter, he wrote me a letter about, cause I had written to him, I'm like, dude, can you guys tell me about your conversion story and how you came to believe these things? And my dad wrote me this letter and in this letter he, he brought some examples from ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’ like book, if you guys know that one, it's like the new physics. Oh, my dad, he's awesome. Ah, anyway, so dad, how was your testimony? “Well let me teach you some physics.” Anyway, so he sent me some examples from that and then a couple of other examples from his life where his testimony was called into question. [16:31.0]

In other words, his though his way of seeing the world was challenged. Right! And at the end he said, I realized this, that if I have a question, there is an answer. And until I get an answer, I'm not going to do anything rash. I may not have an answer right now, but there's no point in throwing out all the good in my life just because I don't have an answer. So, I'll just put it up in a little shelf in my mind and lock it away. And I'll sit with the question. Now, Rainer Maria Rilke, who is a he, he wrote the book, not a book, but I'm looking it up online right now as we, as we're doing it the, the quote, so I can read it to you, but he wrote the letters to a young poet now he was a poet and he said this, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.” And the point is to live everything right? And then he goes on, he goes on to say this, “So live the questions now, perhaps then you will gradually without noticing it, live along distant day into the answer.” [17:51.3]

And that's the gift my father gave me, that when my reality was questioned, when my faith was questioned, when everything that I thought I knew to be true was questioned. I could just say, look, if I don't have an answer now, there is an answer. And if I don't have a really good answer, then I can just sit and keep the goodness in my life without throwing the baby out with the bath water until such a time as the answer is given. And that's what needs to happen when you're trying to grow. So, in these religious circles, when your faith is called into question and you want to grow and someone gaslights your faith, guess what? What you have experienced up until now is still valid, and if you keep looking at your experience, you might discover a question or you might discover a bigger view. [18:36.9]

And what I've found is as I continue to look, life gets richer and richer and deeper and deeper. So, there's two points to this podcast today. The first is if you're experiencing gaslighting, I want you to know that sucks, but that there's nothing wrong with having your, what your perceptions called into question, but I want you to know that your perceptions are real. You did experience that and no one can take that away from you. No one can and only you can look at them deeper and harder and question them and you don't have to accept anyone else's word for the matter. You can just go with what you know and keep paying attention. Keep looking, keep validating your experience and if you'll keep paying attention to it, you'll grow. But the second reason I wanted to do this was because I want to give all of you guys permission to challenge everything that you hold as fact in your life. Scientific fact, we've talked about that a couple of episodes ago. [19:34.0]

Itself is not actually a real thing, it's only what has been observed. So, everything that you think you know about life from the sun rising and setting in the from the East to the West, from the way that the plants grow and everything else. These are all descriptions the people have made up as they've taken a look at life. And if you will give yourself permission to just look at life, then the descriptions that you had that no longer serve you, you can throw away and you may find bigger, deeper, simpler, richer, more profoundly empowering descriptions and ideas than you ever thought you could experience just because you were willing to gaslight “Your own life, your own faith, your own assumptions, your own conclusions”, and step into a reality that was bigger than the words and ideas inside your head. [20:29.4]

And that's it for today's “Alive and Free Podcast.” If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your ear buds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcasts from. And, while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you. Plus, it's just nice to be nice. [20:50.2]

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