Gaslighting yourself means manipulating yourself into doubting your own reality. While we generally accuse others of doing this to us, it’s certainly possible to do it to yourself and it’s incredibly harmful. It can leave you feeling alone, scared, and confused. Here’s how you know you’re doing it.
You don’t believe yourself when you’re actually sick.
You hesitate to call into work because you think you’re probably not that bad, even though you’ve barely been able to get out of bed. You brush your need for rest under the rug and push yourself to go to work anyway. Or, you stay home and you feel guilty about it all day, telling yourself you were just gaming the system.
You “should” on yourself a lot.
The word “should” is rampant in your vocabulary. You should be doing something more, better, or different than what you’re doing. There’s this voice inside of you telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. You’d think it’s pushing you to be better, but really it’s just you being a big bully… to yourself. The irony is that the more you “should” on yourself, the less motivated you are to get things done.
You regularly assume the worst in situations.
You think that nothing can go right for you and that good things couldn’t possibly happen to you. At some point, you believed that you were good and that there’s good in the world, but perhaps someone made you believe that this isn’t true. Now you can only see the worst-case scenarios in life.
You believe there’s something fundamentally wrong with you.
In all interactions, you think it’s you and not them. If you have a weird conversation with a coworker, you assume it’s because you’re messed up. You regularly beat yourself up and think that you’re fundamentally flawed. Because of this, you’re always questioning yourself.
You say things to yourself that you’d never say to another person.
You call yourself a crazy person, an idiot, and many worse profane words. What formulates in your mind to beat yourself up is absolutely terrible. You’d never dare say these things to another person, yet you don’t skip a beat saying it to yourself. This language is familiar and even a little comfortable for you. Kind language feels weird and sort of gross.
You feel like you’re too sensitive.
You invalidate your own feelings by saying you’re too sensitive. As a result of this, you’re pushing feelings down that likely need to be felt. For example, maybe you’re feeling some grief after something triggered you. Instead of feeling the grief, you tell yourself that you’re just being ridiculous and to calm down. This is a way of meddling with your reality.
You frequently second guess your memory.
Even if you do have an unreliable memory, you still shouldn’t always depend on what others have to say. I’m sure you can trust some things if not most of them. Instead, though, you tell yourself that your memory is probably wrong and that you’re an idiot for not knowing. This is a terrible way to interact with yourself.
You mistrust your own judgment.
You have a bad feeling that someone’s going to screw you over, but you guess that you’re being crazy. Then they end up hurting you. You don’t listen to your intuition nearly enough because you don’t trust it.
You make excuses for difficult people.
Instead of thinking this person is being a jerk, you assume that the problem is you. Then you make excuses for them, allowing them to continue doing the behavior. Consequently, you seem to have a ton of difficult people in your life. It’s because you make room for them by letting them get away with their nonsense.
You invalidate your feelings.
There are many ways to invalidate your feelings. One big way is minimizing them, telling yourself that it’s not a big deal and you’re just being a baby. Or, saying something like “other people have it way worse.” This may be true, but it’s not what you need to hear in the moment. Your feelings are valid and you aren’t sure how to just let them be.
You experience guilt and shame all of the time.
You constantly feel like you’re wrong or bad and this brings immense shame and guilt. In a way, you’re trying to get yourself to change and be better, but using these tools isn’t a way to go about that. All of these other aspects like mistrusting your own judgment and assuming the worst cause shame and guilt.
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