What Exactly is Gaslighting?

And, Why You Should "Slow Down" To Go Faster

Welcome to this edition of Idle Impact where we aim to improve your life with a few impactful and potentially life-changing insights.

Today, we’re talking about what exactly gaslighting is and exploring the paradoxical wisdom of 'slowing down to speed up.'

Whether it's your mental well-being or your productivity at stake, we've got some eye-opening insights for you. Let's get started!

Apologies about the uncomfortable image, but that’s exactly what gaslighting can feel like…


What is Gaslighting?

I decided to write about gaslighting since the term has been trending in recent years and I think many people are aware of this phenomenon but just don’t know what it’s called.

In short, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse and mental manipulation where the abuser tries to make the victim question their own memory, perception, or sanity.

Gaslighting can happen in any type of relationship (romantic, family, professional) and victims can experience some very real and serious psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, and a loss of self-confidence.

By the way, I’m writing from experience since a few colleagues and I experienced some of this firsthand while working for a “psychopathic” boss - but that’s another story!

It’s hard to explain gaslighting without examples, so here are a few ways someone might try to gaslight you and what it might sound like:

  • Lying and Rewriting the Past: They’ll make up frequent and/or blatant lies to distort reality or retell events in a way that favors themselves.

  • Countering: They’ll question your memory.

    • “Are you sure about that? You have a bad memory.”

    • “I think you forgot what really happened.”

  • Withholding: They’ll pretend they don’t understand or refuse to listen to make you doubt yourself.

    • “Now you’re just confusing me.”

    • “I do not know what you’re talking about.”

  • Trivializing/Minimizing: They’ll belittle you or show little regard for your feelings.

    • “Don’t be so serious. It’s just a joke.”

    • “You’re too sensitive.”

  • Denial: They’ll refuse to take responsibility by pretending they forgot what happened, claiming they were not involved, or blaming you or someone else for their behavior.

    • “You made me do it.”

    • “It’s not my fault.”

  • Distracting/Diverting: They’ll change the focus of a discussion by questioning your credibility.

    • “That’s just nonsense you read on the internet. It’s not real.”

  • Stereotyping: They might use negative stereotypes (gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age) against you.

    • “No one will believe you because you’re a [INSERT LABEL].”

You might have experienced some form of gaslighting in a previous or current relationship. Depending on the situation, it can either be a minor case or escalate to something very serious, especially if you experience some of these signs:

  • Frequently questioning your own memory

  • Feeling confused or crazy

  • Constantly apologizing

  • Withholding information to avoid feeling upset

  • Feeling isolated from friends and family

A lot of these things above might sound straight out of a psychological horror movie, but gaslighting is a very real and serious phenomenon. If you think you’re a victim of gaslighting, here are some steps you can take to help yourself:

  1. Trust your instincts and feelings. If something feels off, it probably is.

  2. Seek outside perspectives, preferably from professionals or trusted individuals.

  3. Clearly communicate your boundaries and consider cutting ties with persistent gaslighters.

Of course, you might also be unknowingly gaslighting others, even those you care about so hopefully this will cause you to be more aware of your actions.

All in all, I hope this has brought some clarity about what gaslighting is, how to identify it in others (or yourself), and what you can do if you’re a victim of gaslighting.

Need for Speed? Sometimes, slow is the way to go!


Slow Down To Go Faster

At first, this might sound like a paradox. After all, how can you go slow and fast?

I think a saying from the Navy Seals puts it best: "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."

Sometimes, instead of rushing ahead, we need to first slow down in order to reach where we’re going smoother and faster.

This aphorism is often used in a business setting - for example, when companies fail by rushing into executing a project without proper planning.

I believe this can also be applied to your personal life, particularly for decisions or tasks that are important (and that you are not sure about).

Let’s take a look at what can happen if you go too fast in these kinds of situations:

  • You’ll be more stressed

  • You’ll make more mistakes

  • In a business setting, you’ll end up having more miscommunication with coworkers but in your personal life, you can replace this with “friends, family, or others.”

Making a large decision or working on an important project is already stressful enough. If you rush through it, you're only making the process even more difficult for yourself.

My mom often tells this story that's become a bit of a cautionary tale in our family. When I was younger, my parents bought a wooden dresser that came in a flat-pack box, much like IKEA furniture.

My mom reached for the instruction manual, ready to follow each step. But my dad, full of confidence, said, "Who needs instructions?" He grabbed his toolbox and started assembling the dresser without even looking at the manual.

Fast-forward to the almost-finished product, and my dad realized something was off. The drawers were screwed on completely backward. Swallowing his pride, he had to take apart the entire dresser and start from scratch.

Now, whenever we have to put together any furniture, the first thing my dad does is reach for the instruction manual. It was a humbling lesson, and one that stuck: sometimes, slowing down (and following directions) saves you more time in the end.

By the way, here are some ways that you might “slow down” when approaching an important task or decision:

  1. Do more research - Maybe you need to get an outside opinion or learn more about a certain subject.

  2. Think about it longer or deeper - You can weigh the implications of a certain major decision by creating a pro/con list or sleeping on it before you’re more sure. By the way, this is a great tip if you’re pondering a pricey purchase.

  3. Create a clear and detailed plan - It’s better to have a plan (and maybe a backup plan) instead of jumping right in before you know what you’re actually doing.

If you're like me, you probably find yourself in a rush to finish tasks that seem urgent. But for the important stuff that you're not quite sure about, it's worth taking a moment to slow down.

It sounds counterintuitive, but taking your time at the start can actually help you get things done faster and with fewer headaches down the line.


Quick Tool to Convert Case

I just wanted to share a great tool that has allowed me to go “faster” in some of my work. Sometimes you might need to change text from lowercase to UPPERCASE and vice versa or change some text into “Title Case Just Like This.”

If so, check out this tool capitalizemytitle.com

It’s helped me a lot for personal and professional projects so check it out!

Thank you for joining us on this hopefully enlightening journey. We've tackled the unsettling world of gaslighting and the counterintuitive yet effective strategy of taking it slow to move fast.

We hope you walk away with not just knowledge, but actionable steps to improve your life.

Got any thoughts or tips you'd like to share? We're all ears at [email protected]. Until next time, take care!

- Kevin and the Idle Impact Team

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