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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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Is it enough to ask forgiveness from God?(DW# 770 )

As we have been discussing, it is hard to acknowledge that we messed up, were wrong and have hurt someone.
 
Sometimes, even after we secretly recognize that what we did was not acceptable, we find it hard to acknowledge this in front of the person we have hurt. We may try to convince ourselves that it will be enough if we repent in front of God and ask for forgiveness.
 
After all, it is so much easier asking forgiveness from God, isn’t it? We do not have to confront any of the uncomfortable feelings that will surely surface if we are dealing with another (imperfect) human being who may or may not respond with graciousness and forgiveness.

But here is the thing: if we have wronged or hurt another human being, God will forgive only once we try to make amends with that person. And while our salvation may not depend on whether the other person forgives us, it will surely be impacted by the fact that we tried to make amends with them?

According to Islamic...
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Self esteem and responsibility(DW# 769)

Harriet Lerner inWhy Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts explains how low self-worth stands in the way of taking responsibility and apologizing.
 
Refusing to apologize often reflects efforts to protect a fragile sense of self, she says. According to Lerner, refusing to apologize is fundamentally a sign of insecurity.

"In order to offer a heartfelt apology, a person needs to have a solid platform of self-worth to stand on," she says. "From this higher vantage point, the person can look out at their bad behavior, and they can apologize because they’re able to see their mistakes as part of a much larger, complex, ever-changing picture of who they are as a human being."

Or, as she poignantly puts it, "A non-apologizer walks on a tightrope of defensiveness above a huge canyon of low self-esteem."
Powerful words, right?

When we recognize defensiveness in ourselves, it may help to remember that a powerful way to increase self-esteem and...
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Fear of humiliation, weakness and loss of control(DW# 768 )

Depending on how making mistakes, making amends and apologies were handled in our families when we were growing up, we adopt all sorts of beliefs around apologies and some of them may be rather unhealthy.

Part of maturing and growing as human beings involves taking stock of our dysfunctional beliefs, thought patterns and actions, evaluating their impact and choosing our own path forward.

So let us see if we may be unconsciously harbouring some of these beliefs which stand in the way of taking responsibility for our actions.

If we have a history of being harshly criticized by parents or other important people while growing up, we may find the idea of apologizing humiliating and as a coping mechanism, we may avoid admitting mistakes because of the horrible feelings and memories that apologizing brings up.

Sometimes, these memories are so traumatic that we end up insisting that we have done nothing wrong (or refuse to admit we have done something despite evidence to the contrary).
...
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Self protection(DW# 764)

Continuing with our exploration on why it is so challenging to apologize when we have hurt someone, today let’s talk about self protection.
 
As human beings, we are designed to protect ourselves and this includes protecting our sense of self, our ego from feeling badly. We are hard wired to defend ourselves from outside threats, as well as from thoughts and beliefs that lead to a threat to our sense of ourselves as good people.

This is why we do not like to admit that we are wrong. When we admit that we are wrong or have made a mistake, our conscience makes us feel remorse which is an uncomfortable feeling.

 
Of course, we need to remember that our conscience has been designed for precisely this purpose: to make us feel remorse when we fail to live up to our highest values. It is our moral compass. It is what helps us realign ourselves and our actions to our enlightened self-interest and live as humans in the full sense of the word. It is also what ensures that...
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