Gaslighting is an attack on your self-trust.
Gaslighting is defined as a subtle yet powerful form of mental abuse that targets an individual's sense of reality, often experienced in toxic relationships. It involves undermining a person's confidence in their own perceptions, memories, and sanity.
It's a manipulative tactic aimed at sowing doubt in your mind, creating a battleground within your own thoughts, ultimately granting the other person power and control. If we weren't raised to tap into our innate confidence (which is a natural trait for everyone), or if we have a history of being gaslit in past relationships, we become more prone to accepting others' interpretations of reality over our own.
Their attempt at gaslighting may look like:
Denial of Reality: The gaslighter denies facts, events, or even your own experiences, making you question your sanity.
Withholding Information: They deliberately withhold information, creating a sense of confusion and uncertainty.
Trivializing Feelings: Your emotions and concerns are downplayed or dismissed, making you feel insignificant.
Projection of Blame: The gaslighter shifts blame onto you, making you question your actions and decisions.
To experience gaslighting, we must engage in self-denial, self-betrayal, and self-abandonment. I've heard it said, and repeat it often, that we know the truth when we hear it. Think about that for a moment. Someone says something that hits you like an 'aha'-moment. You feel it in your gut, or tingles on your skin —however it uniquely impacts you.
In instances of gaslighting, the person wants you to deny and abandon your experience of the truth.
With a better understanding of the battle for your mind, one of your main tools of defense is to trust your instincts. Acknowledge your feelings and what your body is communicating to you. If something doesn't feel right, trust that. Also, when you are in the presence of someone's manipulative tactics, establish a boundary and communicate that boundary directly. Anyone who knows me knows I don't believe in engaging in arguments; I consider them an inefficient and unproductive use of time. What I advocate for is a straightforward statement delivered with the same tone as reading from an encyclopedia, such as, "I choose not to engage in a conversation where my perspective is not acknowledged."
Overcoming someone else's attempts to gaslight you can be hard to handle alone. I recommend reaching out to trusted friends, family, or a mental health professional who can offer a supportive and objective perspective. Seeking professional help can provide valuable guidance in rebuilding self-esteem and restoring trust in your own judgment.
Educate yourself- understanding gaslighting empowers you to identify its signs and respond effectively. Anchor yourself in the truth of your identity, knowledge, and principles. Regular journaling serves as an excellent self-reflection practice to stay connected to your values, beliefs, and personal boundaries, particularly during moments when others try to play tug-of-war with your truth.
Remember, your truth is valid, and the journey to rebuild self-trust is a powerful path toward a healthier, more fulfilling, and authentic life.