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Are You Gaslighting Yourself?

At times we can be quite harsh with ourselves. No matter what we do, we tell ourselves we’re not good enough. No matter how hard we try, we don’t see ourselves worthy of reaching our goals.

While a little bit of self-doubt inspires personal growth at times, more often than not, it’s just plain, toxic self-gaslighting.

Gaslighting might be new to you, and if you have heard of it, you might be surprised to hear about the term “self-gaslighting.”

We want to explain what exactly it is, explain why it is so toxic, and give you a few steps that might help you let go of this habit and instead help focus on increasing your self-love, confidence, and feelings of worthiness.

What is Gaslighting?

The term “gaslighting” originates from a 1944 American psychological thriller called Gaslight.

In the movie, the husband would always dim the gaslights a bit more and more each time. The wife noticed, of course, but he insisted that she imagined it. He would continue to hide objects, making her believe she had lost them.

After a while, she was convinced that she was losing it, going absolutely crazy.

Gaslighting now refers to this manipulative, abusive behavior, making people question the validity of their thoughts, emotions, and self-worth. While it was most commonly associated with toxic relationships, a shift has happened, and self-gaslighting is becoming increasingly discussed in today’s society.

Why Self-Gaslighting is Toxic

Words are powerful, and so are our thoughts that are made up of words.

While we choose words carefully when communicating with others, using them wisely and consciously (at least most of the time), we do not pay much attention to the words we use when talking to ourselves. We tend to be rougher, less forgiving, more negative, less understanding, tougher on ourselves than on anybody else.

While a little bit of self-doubt can help personal growth and self-development, a lot of it is extremely toxic.

Like anything in life, a little bit of certain things is good – a little bit of wine, a little bit of coffee, a little bit of stretching, and a little bit of sugar even. It only gets worse when there’s too much of it.

Gaslighting yourself is extremely toxic – it’s negative self-talk taking over and making yourself feel less worthy, making yourself question the emotions and thoughts you have.

Common self-gaslighting thoughts include:

  • “I was just overreacting when…”
  • “I probably deserved to be treated that way in response to what I said…”
  • “Compared to [person X], I am much better off; I should stop complaining…”
  • “It was all my fault anyway.”
  • “If I only had that [skill, quality, characteristic] I wouldn’t make other people’s lives so miserable.”
  • “Maybe it’s all in my head.”

Interestingly, self-gaslighting does not have to emerge due to an abusive relationship in which you were gaslit. These thoughts can haunt anyone at any time in their life.

Self-love is essential. Make sure to read: Your Self-Love Ritual, Based on Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

3 Steps to Help You Stop Gaslighting Yourself

If you find yourself in any of the thoughts mentioned above, if you hear them in your head regularly, maybe even multiple times a day, there are a few things you can do.

Below are some tips you can try for yourself. However, if you feel that this is a consistent problem that needs professional help, don’t hesitate to find a therapist nearby. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often associated with gaslighting, as people are helped to rewire their thinking patterns.

For now, you can try one of the following suggestions.

1. Affirm Your Emotions & Thoughts

For every negative thought, there is a counter affirmation you can tell yourself for every gaslighting moment.

To practice this, start collecting all the negative things you tell yourself and see them from another perspective. To give you an example, it could look something like this table below.

2. Practice Mindfulness to Control Self-Gaslighting

You choose your truth. Just as you choose the thoughts, you hold on to.

This is easier said than done – if you have ever practiced meditation, you know how difficult it can be to make that voice in your head shut up. Sometimes, it just won’t. It travels back in time. Before you know it, you are in the future of possibilities. The mind is everywhere, goes with every thought, never standing still.

The more often you practice meditation, the more control you will gain back over your thoughts.

To work on your self-gaslighting, you must take back control through mindfulness. With regular practice, you will notice a shift. After a while, you will be able to choose. You will choose whether you want to hold on to that negative thought, choose whether you turn your back to it, or choose to respond with a loving affirmation.

Learn more about mindfulness by reading: Why is Mindfulness so Difficult? (& What to Do About It)

3. Take Advantage of Journaling Prompts

Very often, gaslighting can be a coping mechanism or even an attempt to protect yourself.

We invite you to uncover these moments, relive them, and meet yourself with compassion. To do so, we have a few journaling prompts that might help to guide you:

  • In which situations have you felt like you were gaslighting yourself?
  • What are some of the most common things you tell yourself?
  • How can you turn these negative thoughts into affirmations?
  • How does it make you feel, writing about these experiences?
  • Why is it important to show self-compassion and practice self-love?
  • Which one habit could you include in your daily life today that would make you feel good about yourself?

You Are Valued & Worthy

Gaslighting is a psychological, abusive, and manipulative tactic that we must keep our eyes open for – of course, and we should make sure no one treats us this way. But also remember that at times, the person who is talking in the most toxic way is yourself.

Develop an awareness of your thoughts and your responses to life.

Always remember that you know your truth, you are worthy, and so are all the emotions that make you “you.”

Related article: How to Actively Practice Radical Self-Acceptance

Allison Heidrich

Allison Heidrich

Born and raised in Germany by her American mother, the travel bug got to Allison at a young age. Allison's curiosity has not only led her around the globe, but also a whole lot closer to herself. While still figuring out her place in the world, she is slowly finding... Read More

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