Gaslighting: Phrase 2
“Oh Don’t Be Silly!”
Today we’re continuing with gaslighting, a strategy commonly employed by pricks to help them get their own way.
“Oh don’t be silly”, or alternatively, “You’re just being silly”, are gaslighting phrases that call into question your capacity to evaluate what’s really happening. After all, how would you know better than the all knowing prick? Make no mistake. The real message isn’t, “Oh don’t be silly”. It’s a lot more sinister than the words themselves. The real message is that you’re just plain stupid, or incompetent, or both.
I’m going to tell you a true story about how the main character (‘Deprick’) in my book, (‘Prick Radar’) gaslighted me with this phrase.
I was carrying a box about the size of a fruit box from my car to my house. It was heavy, but I was handling it okay. Deprick was there.
Deprick: “That’s too heavy for you, you shouldn’t be carrying it.”
Me: “No it’s fine.”
Deprick’s response was, “Oh don’t be silly, it’s too heavy for you. You shouldn’t be carrying it.”
It’s difficult to imagine anyone being so arrogant that they believe they can better assess the weight of something than the person lifting it, or assess the level of effort needed to lift it better than them. Ah hmmm. THAT’S just silly! But there it is. Pricks do that. Really, it’s a pretext: just another way of taking control, another opportunity to make it appear that you’re incompetent.
So what did Deprick do next? He put his hands on top of the box, and, with all his strength, pushed it downwards, forcing me to lower it to the ground.
No amount of explaining to Deprick that I knew what weight I could handle, and that he had no right to take control like that, did any good. He just stuck to his guns, “Oh don’t be silly, you shouldn’t have been carrying it.” He wasn’t interested in what I had to say. As far as he was concerned, he knew what weight I could and couldn’t handle, and he had the right to intervene. Yep. He’s a prick. And yep, he gaslighted me.
My mistake was trying to explain to him logically why he was wrong. But you can’t reason with pricks. Deprick had his agenda, in this case to make me look weak and incapable. He was going to persist with that agenda no matter what, so he just kept parrying every quite reasonable point I made.
Like every other strategy pricks use to get away with their behaviour, “Oh don’t be silly” is basic bullshit.
These days I wouldn’t make that mistake. I’d simply tell him to get out and have nothing more to do with him. Separating yourself from someone who gaslights you is pretty much your only option, unless you’re prepared to fall foul of the law by smacking them in the teeth. No matter what you do, they’ll never admit they’re wrong. You either put up with the gaslighting, or you remove them, or yourself, from the situation.
What’s your choice?
Until then - P.J. Cavē