A particularly damaging form of abuse that I have become familiar with through clients in my energy healing practice is called "gaslighting."
What is Gaslighting?
Wikipedia defines gaslighting as "a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception and sanity." The term originates from the 1944 film Gaslight in which the husband manipulated the environment to convince his wife that she was insane.
Gaslighting abuse can happen in any personal relationship, work setting, religious or governmental organization that over-rides the truth of who you and convinces you that your perception of reality is false. Gaslighting abuse can range from overt to subtle. Abusers are narcissists who may or may not be conscious of what they are doing. But the outcome is the same: The abused's trust in their own instincts and intuition is damaged. And without their instincts and intuition to guide them through life, a person who has been abused through gaslighting can become isolated, depressed and lost.
Healing From Gaslighting Abuse Healing from gaslighting abuse begins with awareness, focus, breathing, and discernment. Abused individuals tend to look to others to confirm their perceptions. They have been conditioned and brainwashed to ask others to make decisions for them. Deep healing happens when they look within for their answers from their higher self.
- Awareness. Awareness begins with becoming aware of how you have been gaslit and how you may have internalized the abuse. This initiates the process of healing. Any self talk that creates doubt, confusion, and undermines your self-perceptions with labels like "silly" "stupid" "crazy" is internalized gaslighting. Replace these with "I believe in you" and think in terms of how you can best support and help yourself.
- Focus. Imagine a classroom full of unruly kids who are yelling out answers to questions, hurling insults at each other, throwing paper airplanes and spit balls. But in the back of the room is a quiet child who knows the answer. Your job is to tune out the inner loud voices that are shouting "You aren't enough" or "You don't know what you're talking" or "You can't do it" and zero in on that small voice within you that speaks wisdom. Know this: What you focus on will grow. The more you withdraw your focus from your lower self voices, the more they will fade. The more you focus on the wise, higher-self voice within, the more it will grow—giving you direction and support in your life.
- Breathing: Gaslighting creates a state of confusion and disorientation because it energetically disrupts your orientation to self. It un-grounds and un-centers—making you off balance. If you are flooded with negative thoughts and emotions and feel confused, know that you do not have to figure it out. You don't have to make sense of your abuser's behavior or reaction, or make sense of your inner abusive voice. Trying to make sense of it just pulls you out of your physical body and into your mental body, which creates an un-grounded state. Bring yourself back in your body by deep breathing for at least 10 minutes, bending your knees, feeling the floor or the ground beneath you and getting to safety.
- Safety: If you are being gaslit, get to a safe environment. This may be just going to another room, a place where you can be alone and begin to tune in to the wisdom of your own soul. The best place to do this is outside where you can become more grounded and clear, and recover your energy. You do not have to be around people who are narcissistic and abusive. You deserve to have loving, supportive people in your life.
- Discernment: If you get confused as to what to listen to, here's a simple litmus test: Any inner voice, or any outer voice that makes you feel bad, creates doubt, instills fear, etc is coming from the lower self. Any inner or outer voice that makes you feel supported, and is loving, wise and empowering is a higher-self voice.
Issues for Empaths
Empathic persons are the most susceptible to gaslighting. To find out if you are an empath, read this. Empaths have a life purpose of helping others and making a difference and are greatly needed in the world. But damage from abuse can block them from actualizing their purpose. It is in healing from abuse that many empaths discover their gifts and live their purpose.