“Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves … Gaslighting often develops gradually, making it difficult for a person to detect.”
Gaslighting occurs when there’s betrayal, abuse, or we’re living with a narcissistic partner or spouse.
Common symptoms of gaslighting include the following:
- Feeling disoriented and confused; not knowing what is true and what isn’t true; questioning your understanding of reality; questioning your memory of events
- Wondering if you’re crazy
- Feeling anxious about making decisions, even very simple decisions
- Constantly second guessing yourself; always wondering if ‘you got it wrong’
- Constantly asking yourself if you are far are too thin-skinned and sensitive; feeling like you need to apologize all the time for who you are or what you say and do
- Feeling as if you have lost yourself; not knowing who you are any more
- Losing your confidence; feeling stupid, incompetent, worthless and unlovable.
Recovering from Gaslighting
If you’ve experienced gaslighting, and you’re trying to move on, and you want to learn to trust yourself and follow your own heart – then here are a few things to, maybe, bear in mind:
1. It’s important to allow yourself to make mistakes: It’s absolutely fine to make mistakes and get things wrong. It happens to us all, and simply shows that you are human.
2. Start choosing for yourself: You’re allowed to make decisions, and to choose for yourself. This is actually your right, and it’s something you can do! From your choice of food or clothes, to the way you spend your time, to your views on politics … and a million other things.
3. Let go of the need to understand what really happened: The fact is … You were the victim of a person who played games with your mind, deliberately deceived you, and manipulated you. Also, it’s likely that your memories are scattered, vague and patchy. So put the past on hold, and just focus on today.
4. Allow yourself to be emotional, and to release the buried feelings: We tend to push down our feelings when we’re being manipulated. We don’t know what to feel, and we think we might be wrong. So when the truth comes to light, all the feelings get unleashed (and it’s likely we’ll be suffering from PTSD, too.)
5. Try to see the positives in being vulnerable and real: You weren’t wrong or dumb to take your partner at face value. It is actually a sign of being trustworthy yourself. We are meant to trust and love, and to be genuine and open. It means that you are healthy, and able to love well. That is, it doesn’t mean you’re weak, or you were stupid or naïve.
6. Don’t set goals for healing; healing follows its own course: You don’t have to follow timelines, be happy all the time, be healed from being triggered, or feel confident and strong. It’s an ongoing process, and one you can’t control. So give your brain permission to heal in its own way.