Changing Your Habits of Gaslighting and Recovering From Gaslighting
Do you stoke the flame?
Gaslighting can be difficult to identify, it can be even harder to identify if you’re the gaslighter. The main concept of gaslighting is an assertion of power and control. Denying other people’s feelings and perspectives and further reiterating yours is the only one that matters. In this regard the gaslighter attempts to alter other people’s version of reality, memories and perspectives.
This form of manipulation can be intentional and calculated. However, it can also be a subconscious assertion of power that you don’t even know you possess and are inflicting upon others.
Here is what to look out for:
The way you react to peoples differing opinions
People are entitled to their own opinions and differing perspectives but they way you react to these alternate versions of reality.
If you find yourself compelled to counteract other people’s thoughts and opinions. Replacing or enforcing your own ‘right’ opinions and encouraging them to disregard their ‘incorrect’ ones despite how this could make them feel. This is a form of gaslighting.
You lie about small things regularly
Everyone has been there, you forget about a coffee catch up with a friend or a work event and tell a little white lie to cover it up for just this once. But where is the line meant to be drawn with lies? Well, usually gaslighters regularly lie even for the smallest things that shouldn’t require a lie. These actions can make the victim doubt their own version of reality.
“Maybe I got the coffee date wrong.”
“Maybe the email about that work project got sent to the wrong person.”
The act of the other person doubting themselves and their version of events, adapting the gaslighters version because of the regularity of the lies is a form of manipulation.
Downplaying other people’s emotions
If you find yourself downplaying other people’s emotions, telling them to “get over it, you’re just wanting attention” or “stop being so sensitive, it’s not a big deal.” This can be another sign of gaslighting.
Gaslighting is not only denying the person their own feelings but goes one step further. Convincing the person they don’t actually feel the way they do. This emotional manipulation reinforces the victim to doubt themselves and their emotions, questioning their validity and confidence.
To counteract these conscious or subconscious thoughts, here are some things you can work on:
- Accept that gaslighting is something that you do. It can be hard to admit but you have already taken steps to better yourself and there’s no shame in that.
- Stop making excuses for your actions, own them.
- Fix what your actions have broken, such as personal and professional relationships.
- Identify a trigger, can you find a pattern. If you can, you will know when you are more likely to gaslight and can put steps in place to prevent this.
- Seek professional help, this is a big thing to tackle on your own. Some extra support can be helpful.
Healing the burns: Recovering from gaslighting
Gaslighting can have some serious effects on the victim that can last for years and be so deeply embedded in their subconscious that the recovery duration can last years. Increasing one’s self-confidence is a primary step to recovering from gaslighting and reinforcing self-confidence and validation.
Some other actions to consider:
Listening to yourself and your needs, practicing validation of your emotions and accepting the way you feel, knowing you have a right to all your feelings. Gaslighting is an alienating form of abuse, separating you from your own thoughts, feelings and memories. Re-establishing that connection is a significant step to recovering.
Keep a journal
Keeping a journal to document your thoughts and feelings is another way to be able to validate your own thoughts and feelings, connecting you to your subconscious. Writing a tangible reflection and acknowledgement of your own thoughts can also act as a separation device from the opinions of the gaslighter.
Affirm your feelings and opinions
If you find yourself turning to other people to validate your own thoughts and feelings, you can be further contributing to your own self-doubt and lack of confidence in your own decisions and feelings. If you feel the urge to go to someone for validation, instead try to write it down or ponder it yourself. Alternately, try and give yourself the validation you are seeking.
Seek professional support
Recovering from manipulation and abuse is a difficult and taxing journey to undergo by yourself. Hence, try turning to a professional for support. A professional can offer reaffirmation and help provide a perspective to help further separate your thoughts and feelings from those of the gaslighter.
The recovery process from being a gaslighter or a victim is a difficult process to undertake. However, the first step to bettering yourself and healing is moving forward and finding ways to improve your way of life for yourself and the people around you.