I have been subjected to gaslighting by my loved ones, unknowingly. I don’t think a lot people realize when they are gaslighting others. Maybe the victims also do not know. I wouldn’t have known about this if I didn’t have this habit of reading up on new things. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. It is an act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories and basically all the events that occur around them. When taken to extreme, the victim can end up questioning their own sanity. This can occur in any form of relationships, whether they are friends, couples, siblings, parents etc. The most common form of gaslighting is actually known to be found between couples. Partners can gaslight each other thinking it is love and without knowing that it is actually a manipulation. Some of the common signs that can show that you are facing this form of emotional abuse are
If you feel a lot more anxious and way less confident than you used to be
If you do not enjoy the activities you earlier used to
If you think everything you do is wrong
If you say sorry a lot
If you constantly make excuses for someone else’s behavior
If you lie or deny topics to avoid confrontation
Doubting everything you do
Always feeling that something is wrong
The most common one I have done from this is made excuse for someone else’s behavior. We should never have to justify someone’s basic incapacity. If someone you love (not just your partner, anyone) cannot do basic things and in exchanges makes you feel guilty for expecting them then that is wrong. It is a form of gaslighting if it becomes a constant behavior. We often make excuses, whether to others or to ourself, and justify their behavior to make the relationship work. That is not right. The long term effects of this can be damaging for the victim. It has been observed that people who knowingly gaslight are narcissists. They cannot think about anything and anyone beyond themselves and also have no empathy.
The way out of this abuse, just like any other abuse, is to first realize that it is happening and then moving away from the person. We must choose ourself, keep our happiness at top. Loving someone should not have to coincide with hurting your ownself. Self love is a key to battling abuse as when you love yourself only then can you objectively see if someone else is abusing you, in anyway.
Anyone who is a big fan of FRIENDS would have understood this reference. While Jennifer Anniston is my favorite actress, I really did not like the character of Rachel per say. I loved how Jennifer acted and could watch her scenes on repeat but Rachel? Nah. I think that is the reason when Monica decided to move in with Chandler and she tells Rachel about it which ends at this sentence “It’s like an end of an era!”, I did not really feel anything.
I was like, they are still going to hang together. She was not even moving anywhere far. But now, when I am stepping into something new I am very scared that I will fade out. Very very scared. I love my friends, A LOT! While I know adulting involves more and more responsibilities, changes are bound to happen. However, I don’t want anything to impact my friendship with them. So, I will be moving a little far from them physically and I naturally am scared that this would push me away emotionally too. Frankly, I have not been great at long distance relationships. Whether those were friendships or love affairs. It is not like I have lost those people, no. It is just not the same. While the distance is really not that much, COVID has just made it worse. I know I am always going to try my best to be as involved (or even more) as I am but there is something about change that nags at the back of my mind. It scares me that I have no idea how things will unfold.
I have always been scared of change to be honest, not in the way that I don’t like it but in the way that I don’t want to lose myself in that change. And well, I could never be complete without the presence of my loved ones. So it is really selfish if you think about it, I don’t want to lose them so that I can preserve myself!
Let me end on a quote by Joey, “There is no such thing as a Selfless Good Deed”. Do you agree with him? Do tell!
When someone is anxious, in distress, worried or just down, our first instinct is to want to help them. While the intention is noble, if we do it in the wrong way we might just be ruining it further. I am someone who is still learning how exactly can we help others or even ourselves in the correct way when having a bad mental health day or a week, because it is not the same for all. The entire internet is filled with slogans, videos, tweets telling you what you SHOULD do to fix what you feel. Even writing that sentence seemed wrong on so many levels. I could understand placing a “should” when you are talking of a black and white situation. Mental health is not black and white. It is big blob of grey or maybe blue (haha, get it?). Not all humans react to mental health help in same way, which is why we have professionals. These professionals have said we don’t know everything about our brain yet and mental health is evolving everyday. Yet, there are some people around us who will say “snap yourself out of it”. I suggest you snap them out of your life, for sometime atleast. While snapping out might have worked for some, it might not work on others. Nothing ever has to be “SHOULD”, even more so when you are not at your full capacity. Making it compulsory by adding a should we might just be adding to the stress. Hence, the title. I heard it on a random podcast and it is now my favorite line ever!!
Our body and mind don’t have to work the same way daily, ask yourself what you are capable of doing, on such days especially, and do not push it. Your mind is asking for a day off, allow it. It’s that time you need to show yourself some love. Do what works for you, whether it is as lame as watching garbage tv or as profound as journaling.
You do you!
PS: Watching garbage tv is the best! 10/10 I recommend.