Are you gaslighting yourself?
Have you ever felt like you were going crazy? Like you couldn't trust your own thoughts or emotions anymore?
It's a common feeling that many of us experiences, especially in today's fast-paced and demanding world. But what if I told you that this feeling could be a form of self-gaslighting?
It's like being both the victim and the abuser at the same time.
Think of it like driving with the brakes on - you're still moving forward, but the constant friction prevents you from reaching your full potential. Or like a maze where the only obstacles are the ones you create for yourself.
Self-gaslighting can take many forms - from second-guessing yourself in your relationships to doubting your own abilities at work. It can be subtle and hard to recognize, but it's important to acknowledge its existence and take steps to overcome it.
For instance, these are some of my experiences where I was gaslighting myself:
🎭 I was in a relationship for over 4 years, and the person started ignoring me. The plans were getting cancelled last minute. I began to feel hurt and frustrated, but whenever I brought it up with my partner, the person made excuses or blamed me for being too demanding.
Over time, I questioned whether I was too needy and felt guilty for bringing it up. Only after a few months did I know that the person was cheating on me with someone else.
🎭 I had been working at a new job for a few weeks after becoming a mother and struggled to keep up with the workload. I started doubting my abilities and believing everyone else was doing a better job than me.
There was a time when I felt that I was not cut out for the job. But it was my lifestyle habits that were causing the stress and decreased performance.
🎭 I have never faced this. But I have experienced a lot of people feeling the same. So, I thought I should share a bit about it. This is what it looks like.
You've always struggled with low self-esteem, and you often find yourself comparing yourself to others.
You feel like a failure when you see someone who seems more successful or accomplished than you. You might even tell yourself you're not smart, talented, or attractive enough to succeed.
🎭I have been divorced and experienced losing my elder sister relatively young. But whenever I tried to talk about it with others, they used to dismiss my feelings or tell me that I was overreacting. Over time, I started to feel over-exaggerating, which wasn't a big deal.
These are just a few examples of how self-gaslighting can manifest in different areas of our lives.
It's important to recognize these patterns and take steps to overcome them, whether seeking therapy, talking to a trusted friend or family member, or practising self-care and self-compassion.
Gaslighting Yourself: When Your Own Mind Betrays You
Gaslighting oneself is a complex psychological phenomenon that is rooted in the way our brains function. There is a growing body of research that shows how self-gaslighting is connected to our brain's neural pathways, particularly those related to memory, emotions, and cognition.
When we gaslight ourselves, we often downplay or ignore our own feelings and experiences, even if they are valid. This can lead to a disconnection between the emotional and cognitive parts of our brain, making it harder to recognize and regulate our own emotions.
Studies have shown that this disconnection is caused by changes in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for regulating our emotions and behaviors. When we experience stress or trauma, our prefrontal cortex can become less active, which can lead to a state of emotional dysregulation.
This dysregulation can cause us to question our own thoughts, feelings, and memories, and can even lead us to doubt our own perceptions of reality. Over time, this can result in a negative feedback loop, where our brain becomes more and more convinced that our own thoughts and emotions are invalid or inaccurate.
The Danger of Self-Gaslighting: Signs to Watch Out For
Self-gaslighting is a form of self-sabotage that can leave us feeling confused, isolated, and powerless. It's a psychological phenomenon where we question our own reality and emotions, and even doubt our own memories and perceptions. Recognizing the signs of self-gaslighting is crucial in breaking the cycle and re-establishing trust in ourselves.
Here are some common signs of self-gaslighting to watch out for:
Ignoring your own feelings: When we downplay or ignore our own emotions, we are essentially telling ourselves that our feelings don't matter. We might tell ourselves that we're being too sensitive or that our problems aren't important enough. This can lead to emotional suppression and a lack of self-care.
Doubting your own abilities: Self-doubt is a common symptom of self-gaslighting. When we question our own abilities and skills, we may be setting ourselves up for failure or self-sabotage. We might tell ourselves that we're not good enough or that we don't deserve success.
Dismissing your own accomplishments: When we downplay our own accomplishments, we are essentially telling ourselves that our achievements aren't worth celebrating. We might tell ourselves that we got lucky or that our success wasn't that significant. This can lead to a lack of self-esteem and motivation.
Blaming yourself for other people's behavior: When we take on the blame for other people's behavior, we are essentially gaslighting ourselves. We might tell ourselves that we caused someone else's anger or that we deserved to be mistreated. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame.
Doubting your own perceptions of reality: When we start to question our own memories and perceptions of reality, we may be gaslighting ourselves. We might tell ourselves that we're remembering things incorrectly or that we're overreacting to a situation. This can lead to confusion and a lack of trust in our own judgment.
Self-Doubt or Self-Gaslighting? How to Tell the Difference
Self-doubt and self-gaslighting can be difficult to differentiate, but understanding the subtle differences can help us address the issue effectively. Here are some examples that illustrate the difference between self-doubt and self-gaslighting:
Frequency and intensity: Self-doubt occurs sporadically and doesn't last for extended periods of time. It may only arise in specific situations or contexts. Self-gaslighting is a constant or near-constant stream of self-doubt that can last for long periods of time.
Self-doubt: "I don't know if I can do this presentation. I feel a bit nervous, but I will try my best." Self-gaslighting: "I always mess up presentations. I'm just not good enough. I don't even know why I bother trying."
Source of doubt: Self-doubt often originates from external feedback or criticism, or from a lack of experience or knowledge in a particular area. Self-gaslighting is self-generated and comes from within, rather than being based on external feedback or criticism.
Self-doubt: "I'm not sure if I'm qualified for this job. Maybe I need to work on improving my skills." Self-gaslighting: "I'm not good enough for this job. I don't deserve it, and I'm lucky to even have gotten an interview."
Response to mistakes or setbacks: Self-doubt views setbacks or failures as an opportunity to learn and grow, and is willing to accept constructive feedback. Self-gaslighting views setbacks or failures as proof of inherent inadequacy or lack of worth.
Self-doubt: "I made a mistake, but that's okay. Everyone makes mistakes. I will learn from it and do better next time." Self-gaslighting: "I'm such an idiot. I can't believe I made that mistake. I'm always messing things up."
Trust in one's own judgment: Self-doubt acknowledges that personal perceptions are subjective and can be influenced by a variety of factors, but still trusts in their own judgment and intuition. Self-gaslighting consistently doubts their own perceptions and experiences, even when evidence supports their perspective.
Self-doubt: "I'm not sure if this is the right decision, but I will weigh the pros and cons and make the best choice I can." Self-gaslighting: "I can't trust my own judgment. I always make the wrong choices. I don't even know what I want anymore."
Recognizing the signs of self-gaslighting is important because it can have a significant impact on our mental health and well-being. By learning to differentiate between self-doubt and self-gaslighting, we can work on building our self-confidence and trust in ourselves.
Breaking the Cycle: How to Stop Gaslighting Yourself and Find Inner Peace
Gaslighting oneself can be a difficult cycle to break, but it is not impossible. It's important to recognize the signs of self-gaslighting and take active steps to challenge and change negative thought patterns. Here are some tips to help you break the cycle and find inner peace:
⏩ Recognize the signs: Take the time to identify when you are engaging in self-gaslighting behaviors. Notice the negative thoughts and self-talk that may be undermining your confidence and self-esteem.
Gaslighting yourself can be tricky to recognize, but here are some signs that you may be doing it:
You constantly doubt yourself: Gaslighting yourself can lead to constant self-doubt. You may second-guess your decisions, your perceptions, and your own reality.
You blame yourself for everything: You may find yourself taking the blame for things that aren't your fault, and assuming responsibility for other people's actions or behaviors.
You minimize your own feelings: Gaslighting yourself can cause you to dismiss your own emotions and feelings as unimportant or irrelevant. You may ignore or downplay your own needs and desires, and focus solely on the needs of others.
You isolate yourself: Gaslighting can make you feel like you can't trust anyone, including yourself. You may withdraw from social situations and relationships, and become increasingly isolated and lonely.
You have trouble making decisions: Gaslighting can cause you to doubt your own judgment, making it difficult to make decisions. You may worry that you will make the wrong choice, or that you will be judged for your decisions.
If you notice any of these signs in yourself, it may be time to seek support and take steps to break the cycle of self-gaslighting. Talking to a trusted friend or mental health professional can help you gain perspective, build self-confidence, and break free from negative thought patterns.
⏩ Challenge negative thoughts: Once you have identified negative thought patterns, challenge them. Ask yourself if they are based in reality or if they are an exaggerated or distorted view of the situation. Look for evidence that supports or contradicts the negative thought.
Here are some examples of how to challenge negative thoughts:
Negative thought: "I always mess things up." Challenge: Is it really true that you always mess things up? Can you think of times when you did something well or succeeded in a task?
Negative thought: "I'll never be able to do this." Challenge: Is it realistic to say that you will never be able to do this? What steps can you take to break the task down into smaller, more manageable steps?
Negative thought: "Nobody likes me." Challenge: Is it true that nobody likes you? Can you think of people who have shown you kindness or friendship in the past?
Negative thought: "I'm not good enough." Challenge: Who says you're not good enough? Is this a belief that you have internalized from someone else? What evidence do you have to support the idea that you're not good enough?
Negative thought: "I'm a failure." Challenge: Can you define what it means to be a failure? Is it possible that you have unrealistic expectations of yourself or are comparing yourself to others in an unfair way?
Remember, challenging negative thoughts takes practice and patience. But with time and effort, you can learn to identify and challenge negative thoughts, leading to a more positive and balanced outlook on life.
⏩ Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Treat yourself as you would a close friend, offering words of support and encouragement.
Here are some examples of how to practice self-compassion:
Talk to yourself kindly: Instead of being self-critical, speak to yourself with kindness and understanding. Use words of encouragement and support.
Acknowledge your struggles: Recognize that everyone struggles at times, and it's okay to have difficult moments. Acknowledge your struggles without judging yourself harshly.
Practice mindfulness: Take time to be present and tune into your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This can help you cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and self-compassion.
Take care of your physical needs: Make sure you're getting enough rest, eating well, and exercising regularly. Taking care of your physical needs can help you feel more grounded and better able to manage stress.
Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for support when you need it. Talking to someone who understands can help you feel validated and less alone in your struggles.
Remember, self-compassion is a practice that takes time and effort. But with practice, you can learn to treat yourself with kindness and understanding, leading to greater emotional resilience and well-being.
Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for support. Talking to someone can help provide perspective and support, and help you break out of the cycle of self-gaslighting.
Breaking the cycle of self-gaslighting is not easy, but it is an important step towards finding inner peace and building self-confidence.
With time, practice, and support, you can learn to trust in your own perceptions and experiences, and find the inner peace and happiness you deserve.