What You Need To Know About Starlighting, Gaslighting's Spiritual Cousin

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woman in darkness with light on her face

What is starlighting and why is it called gaslighting's spiritual cousin? How is it similar to or different from gaslighting? 

First things first, you need to know what gaslighting is.

Psychology Today defines "gaslighting as "an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. Victims of gaslighting are deliberately and systematically fed false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, often about themselves."

RELATED: 18 Signs Of Gaslighting & Examples Of How It Plays Out In Abusive Relationships

Perhaps, you’ve been gaslighted as I have.

My second husband was a clinical psychologist who used his training to frighten and control me until my inner work paid off and I awakened from the nightmare.

Or, perhaps your parents programmed you to believe you were what they wanted you to be so that you lived according to their plan, not your own. This is the first experience of gaslighting that many people experience.

The most violent example of parental gaslighting surrounds sexual abuse, in which parents manipulate their children's memories to protect the parental abuser or the silent parent who was complicit in the abuse — all of this is gaslighting.  

Anyone who attempts to control your thoughts, or your choices is a gaslighter. 

What is Starlighting?

Starlighting is much like gaslighting as they are each based on human psychology and manipulation.

However, starlighting implies that because someone meditates or does yoga or has had a near-death experience or has any of the hallmarks of a "spiritual person," then that person is right and you are wrong.  

Gaslighting uses logic and data and is a left-brained approach to domination. Starlighting uses the focus on visionary and emotional skills and yet it is just as dangerous because it is just as controlling.  

When did gaslighting shift to starlighting?

With the advent of psychedelic drugs in the 1960s, the United States split into two factions. There were parents who were focused on the three-dimensional — money, power, and property. 

The American Dream, essentially.

Conversely, there were teens and young adults who were open to experiencing a different reality, and they began to experiment with marijuana and LSD and found an entirely new reality that appealed to them.

They experienced God and merged with the infinite so that the accumulation of things and "the rat race" became less and less appealing.

These young adults are now Baby Boomers, the largest segment of the American population that has ever existed. Their preferences have weight because so many Baby Boomers have prominent positions of influence.  

As screenwriters, producers, transformational speakers, and authors they affect the entire population with their opinions just as their parents affected earlier generations.

RELATED: How To Know If Someone's Racially Gaslighting You — And 10 Ways To Respond

That power leads to the temptation to become just as dominating as their parents were when they were busy gaslighting.

The irony is that gaslighting and starlighting are identical methods of control. They are each caused by the same emotion: fear.

Fear that people thinking for themselves is dangerous.

What are the key dangers if you’re one of the millions of  "spiritual" people yourself and why should you avoid saying or doing anything that seems like starlighting?

Your children might avoid meditation and yoga if you demand or force instead of learning to motivate and inspire them to take up the practice.

Your partner might avoid any and all spiritual activities unless you lighten up.

Your family might label you as a nut... or worse.

Everyone will pay a high price if you attempt to force or starlight someone.

The incredible value of meditation, yoga, chanting, alternative health practices, organic supplements, and the hundreds of spiritual practices that I've enjoyed for 40 years and that you may wish to recommend will be lost as walls will be erected and then will become higher and higher.

Motivate and inspire — don’t starlight.

How can you inspire people you love to trust you and try something new?

The best way is based on you being the demonstration of the benefits experienced by the activities that you recommend.

Instead of preaching, show how limber you are because of yoga.

When you meditate regularly, your face begins to glow.

What is the common denominator that is missing in both gaslighting and starlighting? It’s respect.

When you respect someone’s autonomy, you don’t want to tell them what to do. You don’t want to prevent them from making their independent choices.   

Gaslighting and starlighting can be a vicious cycle.

If you were gaslighted or starlighted yourself, you were being trained to do it to others. The beliefs that were foisted on you — that’s the true definition of a cult and you were "drinking the Kool-Aid."

It’s never too late to learn to make the best choices for yourself and to encourage others to do the same.  

RELATED: 5 Signs Of Gaslighting You Need To Watch Out For With Manipulators

Susan Allan is a certified mediator and communication expert who created The Marriage Forum, Inc. For a complimentary consultation, visit Heartspace or contact Susan at