Gaslighting: Definition And 7 Signs You’re Gaslighting Yourself
What Does Gaslighting Mean?
Gaslighting is the emotionally manipulative tactic of making someone question their reality to gain power over them. One example of this would be someone minimizing or rejecting the issues of their partner for the sake of maintaining control over them. The person being gaslit will begin to adopt a lower opinion of themselves, thus giving the gaslighter more power.
Though it’s often seen in romantic relationships, gaslighting also appears between parents and children. Because children are easier to manipulate, a gaslighting parent will convince their child that their thoughts are worthless or their emotions are frivolous. The child then internalizes this mindset and it carries over into their adult years.
Gaslighting almost always comes from a place of deep insecurity, and unfortunately, it can also come from within. Self-gaslighting can be the result of internalizing past abuse. However, it is also a common coping mechanism to mitigate anxiety by using shame and self-doubt as a shield.
What Does Gaslighting Yourself Look Like?
It can be tricky to know if you’re gaslighting yourself as certain behaviors may have become second nature over time. However, identifying with any of these 7 signs may be an indicator of self-gaslighting.
- Blaming Yourself – Constantly blaming yourself for every little thing that goes wrong in your life is a key indicator of self-gaslighting.
- Self Sabotage – You may reject positive opportunities such as jobs, dates, and events because you don’t feel capable or deserving of them.
- Self-Doubt / Lack Of Confidence – Constantly feeling like you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc.
- Co-Dependency – This could appear as the inability to be alone or needing constant affirmation from others.
- Self-Punishment – This includes calling yourself disparaging names or disallowing yourself pleasure if you feel you’ve made a mistake.
- Trivializing – You may minimize your accomplishments or negate them altogether because you don’t feel worthy of praise or recognition.
- Constant Guilt – You may feel guilt or shame for expressing emotion or showing vulnerability.
3 Strategies To Cope
- Trace Your Thoughts
When you feel like you might be gaslighting yourself, try to identify the origins of your thoughts. See if you’re able to determine who or where the negative thought originates from. Is this something a parent or close relative said to you as a child? Is it something you remember hearing from a former partner? Are you hearing the words in your voice or the voice of someone else? So much of how we view ourselves, we learn from others throughout our lives. It can be difficult to delineate who we truly are. Self-gaslighting impairs your ability to understand and appreciate your own needs and desires. Therefore, getting to the root cause is integral to the healing process.
- Speak To Yourself As You Would Your Best Friend
Think of how quick you are to support a friend when you hear them speaking disparagingly about themselves. Keep that same energy when speaking to yourself. Self-gaslighting makes you believe you’re someone else by weaving false narratives into your mind. When you find yourself questioning your worth or sanity, counter those thoughts by offering yourself words of love and encouragement. Remind yourself that you’re not crazy, your thoughts and feelings are valid, and it’s okay to make mistakes. You always believe the best in your friends. Start believing the best in yourself.
- Heal Your Inner Child
Your inner child refers to who you were at different stages of your childhood. If you experienced trauma as a child, chances are it’s still affecting you in your daily life. Inner child healing consists of exercises and activities you can do to support your inner child and detach from negative thought patterns. These activities include breathwork, yoga, arts and crafts, dance, and journaling. Any activity that makes you feel happy, carefree, and confident helps nurture your inner child. If you feel your self-gaslighting stems from your upbringing, inner child work is crucial.
As with all mental health matters, it’s always helpful to speak with a mental health professional. Self-gaslighting seems harmless, but it can be detrimental to your success in life. How you speak to yourself sets the precedent for how you allow others to speak to you.
Disconnecting from a self-gaslighting mindset will not happen overnight. It can be a lengthy process and there are bound to be hiccups along the way. What is most important is that you continue to put in the work, believing you are well worth the time and effort.
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