Have you ever encountered a lie so blatant that it seems improbable someone would use it? So improbable that you start wondering if maybe you are missing something or misremembering a story? Has anyone ever made you question your reality? Have you ever been gaslighted?
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Gaslighting is a kind of emotional abuse, a kind of manipulation where someone makes you question your reality, and leaves you in a confused state. If you have ever experienced an incident where you went to a friend of yours to talk about something that’s been bothering you, and deep down in your heart you were confident that your point is fair, but once you talk to them you start questioning yourself and your beliefs and if that point of yours was even valid. If yes, then alas you were gaslighted by your very near and dear friend. People around you can make you believe that what you were thinking or feeling was completely invalid, and that can hover your confidence. It is an art of manipulation.
Gaslighting can sometimes look like:-
“I don't remember saying that. I think you made that up." This is the go-to phrase that a gaslighter will use to intentionally get you to question your experience, behavior, and thoughts in order to take the focus off of them.
"It's your fault." people who gaslight will neglect any responsibility for their actions or for a situation. Instead, they will directly blame others. This can be a repetitive cycle where you may be made to feel like something is your fault even if it isn't. You may even apologize for things that aren't your fault to make peace with them.
"You're too emotional." This implies that your characteristics are seen as flaws. And this can make you question your own sense of who you are.
"It's not a big deal." People who gaslight have a tendency to minimize the impact that something has on them. They may make you feel like you're making a bigger deal out of something when you are within your right to talk about things that are bothering you and express yourself openly.
"Why are you so defensive all the time? You're attacking me." This is a common phrase used when you challenge a gaslighter. They have a tendency to flip the conversation towards you and make it out like you are the one who is in the wrong by accusing you of being defensive and that you're attacking them. Then they become the victim.
Gaslighting is common these days, and people use it as their defense. They have their own tactics. The situation becomes worst when you do it with yourself i.e. when you gaslight yourself and you might not do this intentionally I mean ya who does?
The relationship we have with ourselves is the one that matters the most. This relationship could fall into a healthy, thriving relationship or a toxic and abusive relationship. Ascertaining which one you’re presently engaged in can be as simple as analyzing your inner monologue.
Let’s look at what are the possible signs that can show you have been gaslighting yourself:-
1. You make excuses for someone’s bad behavior
Instead of acknowledging someone’s toxic behavior, you blame yourself. Haven’t we all done this to ourselves? I know I have. There are instances in my life where I’ve made so many excuses for people hurting me or saying something to me that was hurtful. This type of gaslighting deflects from the other person’s abusive behavior and directs it inward. You find yourself excusing what they did and blaming yourself for their actions. The way a person behaves towards us is out of our control. Still, we can recognize when their steps toward us are abusive and call them out on it instead of making excuses and thinking that something is wrong with us to the point of justifying their behavior.
2. You Minimize Your Thoughts and Feelings
“It’s not that bad. I’m overreacting.” Is your first instinct to tell yourself that your feelings are wrong or too emotional? Often, people see this as a way of being strong or resilient. “I’m not mad,” they say when something is clearly affecting their nerves. No matter what your feelings are, you should always take the time to fully understand why they may be bothering you at that current level. Not doing so is practicing emotional abuse.
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3. You believe you’re too sensitive
You feel a deep-seated shame for showing any form of vulnerability, and so, again, you suppress your emotions as opposed to feeling and acknowledging them. For years this was my modus operandi. I believe being vulnerable was a weakness, and I thought I needed to wear armor and build an impenetrable fortress around my sensitivity. I labored under the incorrect notion that being sensitive was the opposite of being strong, so I constantly told myself to ‘suck it up and keep it moving. The reality is this is a lie. Your feelings are valid, and there is no such thing as being too sensitive or too vulnerable. Being sensitive and listening to your intuition is a superpower, not a weakness.
4. You Always Find a Way to Blame Yourself
“There must be something I’m doing wrong to cause this.” Do you constantly look for a reason why you are the cause of something external to you? We are all capable of changing our circumstances, but we are not always the cause of our present circumstances. If you find yourself reaching out to explain why you are the cause of Person X acting this way or Company Z having a certain kind of culture, then you are self-gaslighting. These things are out of your control and not your fault. You cannot control the narcissistic person in your life, so you can’t blame yourself for the way that they’re acting. By blaming yourself, you take away the actions you can control, such as distancing yourself from the person.
5. You don’t trust your judgment
You spend most of your time second-guessing yourself, not listening to your inner voice, and not trusting your intuition. This sign of gaslighting can lead to deep insecurity and trust issues. How can you trust anyone if you don’t trust yourself? To get over this sign of self-gaslighting, you need to build your relationship with yourself. An insecure person has nurtured self-doubt to the point of perfection. Your intuition will never lead you wrong, but sometimes our life experiences, abusive relationships, and childhood trauma dampen the trust we have in ourselves. To mitigate this, you need first to acknowledge that it is happening and then hone your listening skills to your inner voice. Deep down, you know what is best for you, so trust that inner voice and develop your intuition.