Mixed Messages, Gaslighting, Manipulation…

cowlickDo you have a psychological cowlick?

Sometimes I work with a client over a number of months or years. I get to know the circumstances of their lives to a deeper degree and I come to better understand their character and the character of the people in their lives.

Someone may contact me, enraged with their husband. But time proves he’s actually a good man and there’s been some miscommunication or something.  Over the months the person may become upset with their husband again and again because it is a pattern in the relationship. But I can tell the woman is dealing with a man who loves her. The relationship is sustained and things improve.

I try to parse data for clients. I know they’re upset and I know what this is like because I get upset myself at times. I need this service too. Basically I want to tell the story and have someone tell me what they heard in my story.

To do this, I listen very carefully so I can give an objective opinion. But I also listen in-between the lines. For example if the man is saying one thing, doing another, I have to point this out to the client. When I do, I’d better be right. I can’t just say something like that, I have to give evidence. I have to pull the info from their info and show it to them because if I can do this, we are likely to be getting somewhere.

I’m sorry for the long preamble but I’ve been listening to tales of one man for the better part of a year. .. He’s very smart, as is the client. You can never discount that.  You can’t just offer up some platitudes. You’ve got to get the brain to fire to offer feedback and eventually, mine did.

When someone gives you mixed messages and you have an attachment to an outcome, it can be brutal trying to figure out what is going on.  Is the person confused? Are you confused? Is the person deliberately trying to obscure things?  Are you being gaslighted?

I finally feel confident to say this in this case, I don’t think it is any of the above. I think this man says one thing and then the other, almost immediately. He does it subconsciously. It has to be because every statement he makes undoes the one he’s just made and this pattern just repeats itself into oblivion.

“I think it’s subconscious,” I said. “You know how a person combs their hair one way and it repeatedly falls back the way it falls naturally? Your man has a cowlick in his psychology and we’ve discovered it. It’s not malicious, it just is. He’s going to say one things and then say the other, reliably. It’s not because he has this intention, it’s because he has this cowlick…”


Do you have a cowlick in your psychology?


Mixed Messages, Gaslighting, Manipulation… — 40 Comments

  1. I might have a few cowlicks and I know someone who has the particular one you’re describing. It drives me to distraction because I have been a victim of sustained gaslighting.

  2. Definitely. I can’t even begin to say how many times this cowlick has gotten me in trouble! I’m learning to pick up on these subconscious tendencies slowly but surely. It’s nothing short of a relief.

    Thank you Elsa. I knew I wasn’t a liar but people, understandably, find that hard to believe when I’m saying things that conflict with the last thing I just said! Argh!

  3. This kind of thing drives me to distraction, trying to untangle manipulation from gaslighting from cowlicks. It’s nearly impossible for me.

    As for my cowlicks? I’m sure I’ve got ’em, but not sure what I would call a cowlick is something others would perceive. Like I say I want deep relationships, then run from them ’cause they’re scary. 🙂 Cowlick or not? No clue.

  4. I may have in some respects, but I’m damn sure the man does. Gemini Venus anyone? And I bet Gemini Moon is similar…

    I wonder too if it might come from having a Sun/Moon opposition? I think the Man’s does to some extent. You can wake up in the morning with a completely different person form the one you went to bed with the night before. It’s immensely disconcerting and I can only sympathise with your client. In the end, you get so tired of hearing yourself saying, year in year out “But you said….”

    Have you done any astro research on this Elsa, or is it something over which you’ve just had a lightbulb moment?

  5. “Have you done any astro research on this Elsa, or is it something over which you’ve just had a lightbulb moment?”

    That is a good question. I don’t know what it is other than focus. This was my attempt to solve a very complicated puzzle. Because I play cards, I look for “tells”. This guy has tells all over the place but they tell this dual story.

  6. My ex did this! Drove me to distraction. As Blessed Place suggests correctly, my ex had Sun Sag opp moon Gemini…holy moly, extremely contradictory,do and undo in one sentence. Lacks steadfastness, can’t hold them to their word, his words were meaningless and there were plenty of them. Challenging to my Merc in Cap which values sticking to my word with integrity. The Ex enjoyed the freedom to change from moment to moment: don’t fence me in! Cowlick is good, FICKLE is exactly.

  7. The other thing I suspect of being involved in the man’s case is his Pisces Mars. I do find Pisces tends to ‘swim both ways’. I’m very interested in the astrology of this!

    I wouldn’t claim to be totally consistent myself but I don’t think I’m one of those people – under discussion here – who truly is consistent in their inconsistency, and quite sincere when they say two completely incompatible or contradictory things

  8. What I think is interesting is whether this shows a strong or weak personality. It’s come to my attention especially during saturn libra that I am *really* manipulative and the fact of the matter is I have a lot of hidden motives. A couple of times I’ve asked myself if I would really trust myself, if I were someone else.

    But at least I have motives and I know what they are. What’s up with people who don’t? Who really don’t know what they’re saying and just say whatever or open their mouths and what comes out is exactly what they think you want to hear? It’s alarming to know you’ve been lied to but even more terrifying to deal with someone who doesn’t know *how* to mean what they say.

  9. I had a supervisor who gaslighted me for months, trying to make me either quit or go insane. It was one of the most stressful periods in my life.

    I had a cowlick like the boy in the photo. I had to keep my hair short like that because if it grew it was totally unmanageable, until I learned to let it grow very long. It’s a good analogy and I think you’re on to something. My hairline has receded a bit now, but it’s still making its influence felt. I think I am more gullible than most and I am an terrible at telling lies and not so good at keeping secrets.

    Do teens, my daughter for example, automatically have a cowlick in their personality? They have a lot of conflicts, which you can see even with the Saturn opp. and Jupiter sq. at that age.

  10. I think I have had this. I wish I knew what the horrible transit was but I’m almost positive it was a dark Lillith thing and my Libra in the 12’th. Balance was my issue, and at the time I knew I seemed insane in the world and also to myself. I put it down for want of some justification, to being objective to an extreme detriment. do you think that is a possibility? Also, I wondered how vulnerable I was at the time to ‘mirror’ what other people’s projections were to the point of no boundaries. (I attributed that a possibility in relation to extensive meditation I had been doing without a guide). Not enough grounding…for what its worth. (natal: lacking any earth placements)… Your analogy is remarkable Elsa, you always amaze me.

  11. could it be, once it’s been spoken and heard by one’s own ears that suddenly(like a brain storm) he gets all this peripheral perspective that until he heard himself utter the first thing, something was blocking his awareness so then became immediately gets juxtaposed. ?

  12. Ah, this sounds like fancy talk for plain ol’ passive agressive behavior to me! Say one thing, do another – make the other person think he/she is going out of their mind. It’s a fun game, I guess, as long as you are not that other person!

  13. Laura and passive aggressive behaviour.

    I think I know what you are thinking of, and wonder if passive aggressive would be without the element of conscious or sub-conscious awareness may make the difference. (?) What you said reminded me of something I once heard in In Al-Anon and AA, with the concious ‘intention’, is that referred to as ‘crazy-making’? ‘Deliberate’ sabotaging of others.

  14. …for attention-getting. I also remembered what Julia Cameron said about people doing it WITH INTENTION to those involved in ‘personal creative process’….. hmmmmm

  15. What a way to start a day! Catching up on the articles on ‘gaslighting’ and normals I stopped to comment here, because of the picture. Cowlicks where I come from are called ‘giddy-giddy’ (spelling?) and always came with ‘he’s/she’s trouble’ I have one of those, but never knew it (a cowlick)until my sister-in-law was cutting my hair years ago. She said, “You’ve got two, back here!”

    Putting that info and the posts/comments that tag along are great for me. I was raised by ‘gaslighters’ but never knew to call them that. Even now, to put it here I feel the ‘disloyalty’ bubble up. But…that is good, because untill you know it’s the cowlick and it was set there at the get go, the self and the real me is always spinning tales that go into themselves.

    I’ve done lots of work to see and deal with the cowlicks at the back of my head. Rather then appear to ‘be normal’ I’ve learned to simply and diligently get to know the spin of my cowlicks and write my way through them … like white-water rafting. Boy, there’s a lot here. Yes! And, it’s a lot more efficient and go down stream believe it or not.

  16. Wow, long process but worth it 🙂

    I probably do have a cowlick. It’s easier to see in others than in myself. On occasion close friends of mine have mentioned tendencies to me that I have never noticed. Then they are clear as day. It’s good to have the outside perspective – like this client does, especially without judgment.

  17. I have Sun conjunct Neptune and know that there are a few holes in my storytelling. I’ve caught myself inadverdently leaving core info out (I also do it purposely at times), but if someone is really interested in clarification, I’d hope they’d ask.

    • Hi Namaste, talk about Namaste, I recognize myself in you… I also have Sun conjunct Neptune, which is why I say Namaste a lot!!!
      I would love to discuss the Sun Neptune with you ; maybe we could fill in a lot of blanks/holes by sharing our experiences with this dynamic… (on that note ha let me clarify what I mean MORE NOW so you don’t have to ask or wonder other things haha) … largely in the realm of this discussion about linear storytelling challenges etc that can look to others like it’s *purposeful obfuscation or worse ; ‘lying’. Or as the full article was discussing; looking like one is trying to confuse others or make them feel crazy (Gaslighting)… rather lets do some fire prevention and accordingly past events based fire extinguishing haha

      • Hi Namaste, talk about Namaste, I recognize myself in you… I also have Sun conjunct Neptune, which is why I say Namaste a lot!!!
        I would love to discuss the Sun Neptune with you ; maybe we could fill in a lot of blanks/holes by sharing our experiences with this dynamic… (on that note ha let me clarify what I mean MORE NOW so you don’t have to ask or wonder other things haha) … largely in the realm of this discussion about linear storytelling challenges etc that can look to others like it’s *purposeful obfuscation or worse ; ‘lying’. Or as the full article was discussing; looking like one is trying to confuse others or make them feel crazy (Gaslighting)… rather lets do some fire prevention and accordingly past events based fire extinguishing haha

        And double that by 2 people with the same Namaste type archetypal aspect, how Namaste can you get
        i.e. ‘Well then same Source in a human body, with similar astro, Where do I begin and you end?’

  18. I’m having this with my recent ex bf who I’ve just split up with ….he is a pisces and a gemini rising – it helps that he has taurus moon but he says there is no chemistry between us anymore even though he loves me but yet feels we are more like friends but yet cuddles and kisses me on the lips so to me it is like there is chemistry between us – so confusing!

  19. Well the question here is “Do you have any Cowlick in your psychology”? If I do, I don’t see it. I have Mercury conj. Saturn and am pretty deliberate in what I say. But the gaslighting that I got was from someone with Merc in Libra sq. Moon in Cancer. It was not only their need to re-balance everything they said, but also what mood were they in when they said it the first time? If the mood changed the next time I talked to them, so would the answers and it got to the point where it was just like talking to the Mad Hatter.

  20. I’m laughing, laughing, laughing to see this cutie pie cowlick kid again. Yes, those damned cowlicks were working overtime (unconsciously) as I sat here.

    @Jennifer about the holes in ‘my storytelling’ that is so true of my stories too … it may be a reason for retelling stories again and again.

    Thanks again for re-posting this.
    I remain The Cowlick Queen

  21. Actually, I’m half bald.

    “It’s not malicious, it just is.” Beautifully put. You took the words right out of my mouth.

  22. Is he an Aquarius? It is my experience that Aquarians do this a lot for some reason. Though they usually don’t flop more than once. They usually start out embracing something, in my experience, then very reliably flop to rejecting it shortly thereafter, and they never flip back to embracing it. They’ve decided and it’s done, but I never trust an Aquarius’s first comment/word because they are sure to flop over to the opposite point of view shortly thereafter. At least, in my experience.

  23. Some people seem to need to say something out loud before they realize they’re talking through their hat (cowlick?). Then they revise their statement, quite often to the exact opposite.
    I was involved with a Sag once who used to do this. He said one thing and suddenly he was saying something else. This upset me no end until I recognised his habit. So, if his first statement upset me, all I had to do was wait a while and he’d say what pleased me. He was a Sag with Cap Moon.
    At one time, I realized that many (NOT all) of my Sag and Pisces friends told some very tall tales – to tell the truth, some of them were downright liars! Why on earth could these two very different signs have such a weird thing in common, I wondered. As I learned a bit more than simply Sun Sign astrology, it struck me: the common thing was Jupiter, Sag’s ruler and the traditional ruler of Pisces. And perhaps also the fact that both of them are double-bodied signs (someone mentioned that the two Pisces fish swim in different directions). Hmmm … and the third double-bodied sign, Gemini, is notorious for not always sticking strictly to the boring old truth.

  24. I have Merc in Sag as mentioned above and I abhore liars and I really don’t like to lie, makes me feel ill but If I have it was only to protect someone from unecessary pain. If that’s a “cowlick”…ok I have one. But I never purposefully would tell someone one thing and change my mind and do or say another. That’s just dishonorable.

  25. MOST Sag’s are exceptionally honest. And Pisceans are the BEST. And Geminis are always amusing. They are probably my top favourite signs.

  26. My husband is a double Gemini and I always told the kids, “Don’t worry, he’ll be a totally different person in 20 minutes”. I think that’s due to the fact that he digests and considers all the arguments you gave him and it just takes time to assimilate. How does the apple you have become yours? Digestion and assimilation. It’s a normal process. And it takes time. Makes you ask yourself how did I take in what that person had to say or even, did I take in any of it? Just sayin’….

  27. My Gemini husband does this continually, he says one thing, then contradicts himself in the next sentence. I don’t even bother asking him questions anymore. After 40 years, it got tiring. I think I’ve figured out why he does this – he wants *me* to make the decisions so he doesn’t have to take responsibility.

  28. Can’t focus righr now but I’m sure I have a few of those. That kid is too cute and the words cowlick sounds ticklish. I can’t help but think about cows listening to the accordion in the fields.

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