Category: Inspired Mind Written by Michelle Maros
My dear friends,
Last week, Merriam-Webster released their annual word of the year, and for 2022, it is gaslighting. According to their article, “A driver of disorientation and mistrust, gaslighting is “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.” 2022 saw a 1740% increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year.”
For me, this choice of word for the year wasn’t a surprise, yet a true confirmation of what has been trending, and what I’ve been noticing over the past few years. Many of us feel gaslit, both on the macro and the micro levels of life. We’ve been through so much on a global scale, where the truth has been skewed and of course, we experience gaslighting in our personal lives and relationships, as well.
In the spirit of this word of the year, I want to share some lessons I’ve learned from being gaslit. While all very painful and damaging, coming out the other side of gaslighting can help you feel empowered and knowledgeable to spot the red flags in the future.
Remember, gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation and abuse, and if you’ve experienced gaslighting, please know that it was not your fault. I hope as more information disseminates about this psychological tactic, we can all start to heal, spot the signs, and set clear boundaries with those who seek to manipulate in this way.
- You are not to blame for being gaslit. Many of us people pleasers tend to take responsibility for things that we simply aren’t responsible for. Never feel guilty for placing trust in someone who you felt was trustworthy, especially emotionally manipulative, and abusive people. People who are inclined to gaslight will use our weaknesses and turn on a specific charm to get us on the hook. Rather than feel guilt about the experience, start to ask yourself how being in certain people’s presence makes you feel. Oftentimes, we will get gut instincts about people who have nefarious intentions; this is my biggest red flag in relationships.
- People who constantly make you question yourself and your mental abilities, are not your people. The m.o. of a gaslighter is to make you feel like you’re the problem, that there’s something wrong with you, or even that you are simply crazy. According to Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, “It’s always someone else’s fault. This is the gaslighter’s mantra.” Gaslighters will never take responsibility for the emotional damage they create, so if you find yourself always falling on your own sword, taking the fall for other people’s behavior, or questioning your abilities, you might be in the presence of gaslighting. The people who are meant to be in your life for love, kindness, support, and respect will never make you question yourself.
- Having one person who you can rely on to support you and believe you, matters. Because gaslighters love to deny reality and the truth, we can oftentimes feel like what we hear, see, and experience with a gaslighter, isn’t real. Because their mantra is to deny and deflect, it’s important to cultivate relationships with people who are truly trustworthy and will help bring you back to the truth and to reality. This could also look like seeking out a licensed professional who can help you to unravel all of the webs that a gaslighter weaves.
I hope these lessons are helpful for any of you who resonate with this psychological dynamic.
Remember, you are always worthy of love, kindness, and care.
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