Gaslighting is quite the buzzword these days, and frankly I’m happy about it. I’m so glad that it’s being brought to light. The more we talk about these awful abusive tactics, the more victims realize that they’re not crazy and they’re not alone.
However, something not talked about enough is self-gaslighting.
I realized this was an issue when my DMs were suddenly full of questions like “Is it possible to gaslight yourself?” and “Does this mean I’m the problem?”
This question breaks my heart because so many beautiful people are dealing with the aftermath of abuse even after they get out.
In today’s post I’m sharing all about self gaslighting and how to break the cycle.
What IS gaslighting?
The definition of gaslighting is to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”
I go deeper into the origin in this post, so check it out.
Basically, what this does is convince you that the reality you see isn’t the real reality around you.
Here’s a video I shared on my Instagram where I talk about gaslighting yourself.
This particular response stems from the fact that I had undiagnosed chronic pain and chronic illness until I was 17.
For the first 17 years of my life, doctors told my mom that I was just being over dramatic and making up the pain. It was a way that I could get attention and it was working, so she just needed to be harder on me.
I was told that I was a baby, that I just needed to suck it up, that all I was good for was an example of what not to be.
I was told this by several people in positions of authority.
At 17 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and arthritis. While it felt good to know that I wasn’t crazy, the damage had been done and I still question my sanity to this day.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
We gaslight ourselves because we have been gaslit and manipulated so much in one or more areas of our lives that our brain began to take it as reality. When things are said to your brain over and over again, it creates neural connections based on those things and it becomes a part of the brain.
This is particularly present in abuse victims. Gaslighting is usually one of the first things that happen because they need to break you down in order to get away with continued abuse.
But even after we’re out, these thoughts become pervasive and take over your life. Just like I questioned my own reality regarding a panic attack, you may question your reality about work, friendships, romantic relationships, etc.
When you’ve been manipulated, your brain things that the manipulation was the real reality. And even after you realize you were gaslighted, you begin to question that as well.
How do we break the cycle?
Breaking the cycle of manipulation isn’t easy but it is possible. The first step is to commit to the work. You have to decide that this work is worth it (it is, but you have to come to that conclusion) and that YOU are worth it.
After you make that decision, you have to continue to make the decision every time you wake up in the morning.
Once you become aware of what gaslighting is, you take SO much power back. When you begin to catch yourself doing it:
Ask yourself, “is this true? Or is this someone else’s opinion?”
Ask yourself if a friend would say these things to you. If not, then chances are it’s not true.
Get an outside perspective. I have very solid support group that I can talk to about this. If I can’t figure out if my response is valid, I take the situation to them. Having someone else’s perspective helps center me back into reality.
Create some solid affirmations and say them consistently. You can check out this podcast episode where I share the step by step to creating your own, but here’s a good start:
- My feelings and opinions are valid and I’m allowed to express them.
- It is ok to feel my feelings.
- Even if it’s uncomfortable, I’m allowed to share how I feel.
The whole concept of gaslighting is completely nauseating. When we catch ourselves in the act, it can feel totally dehumanizing. But you have to remember that the number one rule on the road to recovery is this: give yourself grace.
You need to give yourself more grace than you could ever think possible. This is not your fault. This is an unfortunate normal response to your brain processing trauma.
You are not broken. You are not a lost cause.
You are incredible. You are whole. You are just wounded and need to take time to heal.
This process isn’t easy, but it is possible.
I promise that you’re never as alone as you feel. You’ve got people in your corner cheering you on.
Myself being one of them.
When you’ve been manipulated your whole life, or even just for a season, you can lose sight of who you are. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there.
But the fact of the matter is that you deserve so much more than that.
If you’re ready to finally start living your life instead of just surviving, I’ve got something for you.
My FREE confidence course was created just for you. This is a five day crash course in confidence so you can move forward on your recovery journey. These are the exact same skills and frameworks that I give my clients for them to go after their best, most confident life.
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