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Have the last laugh(DW# 795)

As we conclude the series on emotional abuse, let us just remind ourselves that regardless of other people’s behaviour, we can still choose how to respond to it.
 
With support, with increased emotional awareness, by learning to identify and call out the gaslighting, we can learn to validate ourselves. When others challenge our perception, we can choose to ignore them. We can work against adopting the self-doubt that is so crippling in emotionally abusive tactics such as gaslighting. We can practice reminding ourselves that despite the challenges we are currently experiencing, we have the resources to emerge stronger.
 
Let us look at what happens in the last scene of the movie Gaslight:
 
Paula, realizing that her husband Gregory has been manipulating her and intentionally trying to drive her crazy, turns the tables on him. In the final scene, Gregory has been caught and tied to a chair by police. When Paula enters the room, he instructs her to get a knife...
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Getting help(DW# 794)

feelings opinion selfgrowth Jul 09, 2020
Please know this: no matter what, the journey of healing from abuse can be long and challenging. AND there are some things that you can do to make it easier on yourself.
 
Please consider getting professional help if at all possible. On your own if you have to. Do not hold back because the person who "needs help" refuses to get it. There is a saying amongst the therapeutic community that people often seek out support in order to deal with people who refuse to! This saying is very relevant to a situation where you have been the victim of emotional abuse.
 
Victims of abuse often lose confidence in their own thoughts and feelings and find themselves nervously double-checking themselves on a regular basis. It can feel isolating and shameful. You may find it hard to share what you have been through even with close friends because you may begin to think that you should have known better. Or you may want to stay in the relationship while everyone you share your story with...
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Decide how you will manage this relationship(DW# 793)

Once you have had time to process the emotional abuse and taken stock of its cost to you and to your life, you will need to decide what to do about this relationship.

 

Take the time you need to do this. It is not a good idea to hurry the process. It is not a good idea to make significant life decisions or to end/leave relationships when you are at the peak of emotional distress.

 

Some relationships are easier to let go of than others, of course. If gaslighting or emotional abuse is a part of a work relationship or a relatively new friendship, it is easier to walk away than when it is from a close family member or a spouse.

 

Please know that there is no right or wrong answer here. It is up to you whether you choose to continue or end this relationship. Please remind yourself that it is your situation and that your decision is valid even if other people in your life do not agree with it.

 

Before you decide, here are some options to consider:

 

You can walk...
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Surround yourself with people who believe in you(DW# 792)

Being the victim of emotional abuse such as gaslighting takes a toll on your sense of self.

 

The feeling of shame, isolation and sadness can be overwhelming and it can be tempting to hide out and to retreat from others.

 

It is of course helpful to give yourself the time and space to feel your emotions and to do healing work on your own. You can help yourself regain perspective by reminding yourself of times in your life when you have felt capable, grounded, sane, and generally good about yourself.

 

It is also a good idea to set a limit on your isolation and retreat, however, and to reach out to others who may ease the journey of healing.  

 

Friends and other relationships who ease the journey of healing are lifelines which we need to cultivate. When we are at the lowest point, when we lack confidence and strength, it is very important to surround ourselves with friends who believe in us, encourage us and remind us of our strengths...
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Practice self-compassion(DW# 791)

We have been discussing ways to cope and to resource yourself when you are the target of emotional abuse such as gaslighting.
 
For women, who tend to the target of such abuse, it is easy to slip into questioning one’s judgement even more and being hard on yourself for falling for this behaviour. While this is tempting, please know that it will do nothing except make you feel worse. It will NOT help you cope any better, do better or feel better in this situation.
 
What will work to build your resources is the practice of self-compassion.

At times like this, it is really important to practice being kind to yourself and to remind yourself of your humanity, of how you "fell for this" because of your love and trust, both of which are positive feelings which are important aspects of wellbeing.
 
The practice of self-compassion is a widely researched tool in mental and emotional wellbeing. Let us briefly remind ourselves about the three key aspects of self-compassion....
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Find a way to validate your reality(DW# 790)

With someone trying to mess with your sense of reality, it can feel very isolating. When you begin to question your own perceptions, it can be difficult to reach out to others for fear of appearing crazy. But you will need to up your game of self-care and building resources for yourself in order to maintain your mental and emotional wellbeing. You will need to find ways to validate your reality and to sort out truth from distortion.
 
Here are two suggestions:
 
The first is journaling.
 
Write down your conversations with the gaslighter in a journal so you can take an objective look at it. Where is the conversation veering off from reality into the other person’s view? Can you see patterns of responses when you bring up any area of conflict or question their behaviour? Do you recognize any phrases or statements that they consistently use from the ones we have discussed?
 
The second is to develop your own support system.
 
You need other people in...
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It is really not about you(DW# 789)

The victim of gaslighting will need to keep reminding themselves that it is not about them. That the practice of gaslighting is about the gaslighter’s poor coping skills.

 

It helps to understand that it is about the gaslighter’s need for control and power That some people use gaslighting as a way to control the moment in the relationship, to stop the conflict, to ease some anxiety and to feel "in charge" again. They have not learnt to take responsibility for making a mistake and believe that it is unsafe for them to do so. They keep control by deflecting responsibility from themselves by blaming the other person and trying to prove them wrong.

 

Of course, no one wants to start out doing this in their relationships. But when they do it once or twice, they witness it, they feel the effects of it, or stumble upon it and they realise that it is a potent tool.

 

IN OTHER WORDS, IT WORKS.

 

It works to silence conflict and any challenge to the...
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Call it out(DW# 788)

Of course, it is much easier to work on relationships if both people are involved and committed. But this is not always possible. When the other person is refusing to work with you and instead uses gaslighting as a coping mechanism for conflict and disagreement, they are unlikely to have the degree of self-awareness needed to take responsibility for their actions and to work on the relationship.

 

So, here’s the thing: although it seems unfair, the victim of gaslighting needs to take charge of their own responses and do what they can to help themselves. This is not easy, but it is much better than waiting endlessly for the other person to change.

 

Over the next few days, let us explore some ways to help ourselves if we find ourselves in such a situation.

 

The first and perhaps most important step is to recognize and name the gaslighting. Name what is going on between you and your spouse, friend, family member, colleague, or boss. If it is not safe for you to...
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Recognizing gaslighting(DW# 787)

Here are some more uncomfortable truths about gaslighting:
 
The gaslighter is typically a man and the gaslightee is typically a woman.
 
Why? In part because women are generally socialized to take the responsibility for making relationships work. If their partners are upset with them, they will often doubt themselves and continually apologize for disagreeing or upsetting their spouses. Men generally do not get this message when growing up.
 
Also, gaslighting is most likely to happen when you bring up issues of conflict or disagreement. Typical triggers that create a stressful environment that can lead to gaslighting include topics such as money, sex, secrecy around other relationships or finances, successful careers which cause the other to feel insecure, families of origin, or habits you came into the relationship with.
 
Given that the process of gaslighting often results in the person second guessing their own sense of reality, it is...
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Can relationships heal after gaslighting has... (DW# 786)

We have been discussing gaslighting and its significant impact on a relationship.

The question we will explore today is this: is it possible for a relationship where there has been gaslighting to heal and become healthy?

Of course, it is not a good idea to write anyone off since people can surprise us and change in healthy ways when we do not expect them to.

However, we also need to be realistic about what is probable.

In relationships where gaslighting is a pattern, or used as a tool of emotional and characterological abuse, change is only possible if the perpetrator is open to intensive and long-term individual therapy. This requires some level of self awareness or awakening on the part of the perpetrator to realize their behavior has damaged another human being’s psychological wellbeing. Since abusers and perpetrators of gaslighting are rarely open to such treatment or to examining their own behavior and its impact, it is often up to the victim of gaslighting to seek...
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