Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic, often used by narcissists and abusers, to make someone question their own reality or sanity. It’s named after the 1944 film ‘Gaslight,’ where a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s losing her mind. But what happens when we turn this tactic on ourselves? Self-gaslighting is a term that refers to a similar process, but one that originates from within. It’s a form of internal manipulation where we invalidate our own emotions, thoughts, and experiences.
Imagine you’re walking through a dark forest at night. You hear a rustling in the bushes, but you tell yourself it’s just the wind, even though your heart races and your gut tells you that something is wrong. You’re invalidating your own fear and instinct – that’s self-gaslighting.
In a similar vein, you may find yourself always feeling guilty for expressing your emotions, as if you’re being overly dramatic or sensitive. You may even convince yourself that you’re exaggerating your experiences, making mountains out of molehills. It’s like standing in front of a mirror, seeing a tear-streaked face, and telling yourself that you’re only crying because you’re weak, not because you’re genuinely hurting.
Sometimes, you may compare your struggles to those of others, thinking that they have it worse, so you have no right to feel upset or complain. It’s like storming through a violent tempest, with rain lashing at your face and lightning flashing across the sky, yet refusing to seek shelter because you believe others are weathering bigger storms.
Worse, you might even question your own sanity, wondering if you’re fabricating your experiences entirely. This is like standing at the edge of a cliff, feeling the vertigo pull at you, yet convincing yourself that the chasm before you doesn’t exist.
Finally, you might internalize blame and fault, convincing yourself that you’re solely responsible for everything that’s going wrong. This is akin to standing among the ruins of your life, holding a wrecking ball, and believing that you’ve single-handedly caused all the destruction.
Recognizing these patterns of self-gaslighting is crucial. We need to exchange the dark forest for open meadows, the tempest for a sheltering roof, the dizzying cliff edge for solid, firm ground. We need to release the wrecking ball and understand that it’s okay to feel hurt, even if the people who love us didn’t intend to cause us pain. We must offer ourselves the compassion and understanding we deserve. Remember, healing begins when we shine a light on our wounds, validate our experiences, and extend kindness to ourselves.