“With gaslighting, you feel as though the ground is always shifting beneath your feet, like you have no center of gravity…”- Ariel Leve
In a world where phrases like “your truth” and “my truth” exist instead of simply “the truth” gaslighting has become not only something that appears in abusive relationships but indeed also in everyday correspondence. Gaslighting is when one is made to question one’s sense of reality by manipulation.
Nowadays mainstream media, social media, and our inner struggles really work to Ilude and manipulate our reality. Things we have seen and know to be true are disavowed and cancelled. Most of us also constantly invalidate our own feelings and second guess our capabilities and even our memories. So how do we make sure that we are actually standing on stable ground?
1. Do not engage
We know that the number one thing that the abusive gaslighter tries to do is to invalidate and disintegrate our feelings and/or belief systems. We see that echoed in our everyday lives with the media telling you how to react to certain issues and if you don’t react in that certain way you will automatically get canceled or shunned. So what do you do when the person or in some cases people around you invalidate your emotions?
I have come this far in my life by telling off the few people that have tried to invalidate my feelings. I have engaged myself in many arguments with people telling them that they have no right to tell me how to feel. Recently though I have learned that is not the way to go about it. Dr. Ramani Durvasula says in an interview with MedCircle “when someone tries to invalidate your emotions the best way to handle it is by NOT ENGAGING.” This can be such a difficult undertaking, especially because you feel like you are being attacked by the other person. But by not engaging you not only give the other person the dissatisfaction of getting under your skin but you also save yourselves the mental conflict of tearing into pieces the exact intent of the person, this way you simply walk away from someone you now understand to be as toxic in your life.
2. Flame is Fire
The easiest thing to do when you care for someone is to create excuses for their somewhat terrible behavior. It’s known to many psychologists as an out our brain provides to survive. Many of us block certain things or say that certain dreadful things are in fact not that bad or just the way things are. The more you continue to de-emphasize how terribly you are being treated the worse you’ll be treated. But the moment you recognize the bad behavior being projected on you the quicker you will be to get yourself out of that relationship or situation. Here’s an example when a toddler sees the flame on a candle, unaware that it could burn them they run to touch it, the moment they feel just a little bit of burn they quickly remove their hands and know that flame is fire and it burns. Do not get burnt by the fire by thinking it’s only a little flame.
For many of us self doubt is a simple sentence we spit out to the world every day. We don’t realize it’s a problem, we don’t understand the long-term effects it drags into our lives. Rhonda Cochrane a personal trainer and Author, on her Tedtalk defined self-doubt as “lack of confidence in the vastness of one’s own creativity, one’s ability, one’s brilliance, one’s strength, one’s courage, one’s personality and one’s bad assness”. Essentially, self-doubt is undermining one’s own capabilities. And we all know that we have had self doubt at some point in our lives be it because of internal factors or external factors we have all undermined ourselves to some degree. So how do we rise above the doubt then? Rhonda in that same Tedtalk went on to say “i noticed a shift everytime that I would apply previous success to my current self-doubt.” And I think this is the absolute best way to combat the whispers of self-doubt. Telling yourself that you were able to, say, work all day last Wednesday and still come home and workout so there is no reason why you can’t wake up early tomorrow morning and go for a run, makes you victorious over the whispers of self-doubt. And once you are able to beat the small whispers you are then able to fight off the louder ones that the media, society or a person in your life try to instill in you.
For some reason asking for help is something that scares us more than the actual issue. Personally I have struggled with asking for help the most. Between the pride I dress myself with and the constant thought of what people would say about me I have continually resorted to not asking the people around me for help. But through time I have come to understand that sometimes you need a system of a few people that can pull you down when it feels too hard to come down. If you are to overcome you need a lifeline that you can fall back on.
If you have made it this far into this blog you are amazing. I know I went over a lot and it can be overwhelming but the truth is that dealing with gaslighting is difficult and certainly I’m not certified to give you the exact formula, but I would like to close with this quote by Ariel Leve. Ariel was gaslighted all through her childhood by her mother.
“Detaching from gaslighting does not mean total detachment it means distinguishing
between the world of the gaslighter and the real world” -Ariel Leve