Bullies are notorious for gaslighting their targets. As we know, when a target speaks out about the abuse and begins defending themselves, bullies are quick to paint the targets as crazy, try to reverse the roles to make the target look like the bully, or try to convince the target that what happened didn’t really happen- that it was all in the target’s imagination, or they’re being overly sensitive, overreacting, etc.
If you’re a target, understand that bullies will gaslight you to shut you up, so that they can keep their moral high ground. They do it to make you doubt your sanity because they know that if you doubt your own sanity, it’s a sure bet that others will doubt it too.
It’s tough to know when someone is gaslighting you because when others agree with them, you’ll feel even more compelled to just shut up and go along with it. The reason for this compulsion is fear. You know that, more than likely, if you don’t just clam up and go along, you’ll only suffer more abuse as punishment for daring to open your mouth.
So, how do you know that someone is gaslighting you?
Simple. You know just by how it makes you feel. Here are the symptoms:
1. You’ll constantly second guess yourself – It’s a brutal cycle. You say something, make a judgement call, maybe a decision, and then you turn right around and begin wondering if you said or did the right thing. This is bad because second-guessing ourselves can cause us to feel stuck in life, and there are few worse things than feeling stuck.
You’re hyper-self-aware, self-conscious, and always on guard to make sure you do and say the right thing all the time. Also, too much second guessing can cause us to do and say the wrong things out of nervousness and that is no way to live life!
How you solve this problem is to stop worrying about what others think and to realize that your first instinct will usually be the correct one.
2. You wonder if you’re imagining things or being too sensitive and you do it several times a day- They don’t call it “crazy-making” for nothing because it can drive you crazy. When people are constantly taking pot shots at you, you hesitate to make any comebacks because, again, you’re too busy doubting yourself and putting too much value on the opinions of others.
Again, the best way to solve this problem is to trust what you feel and go with it. You may get bullied harder for it, but wouldn’t you feel better about yourself later, knowing that you stood up to those creeps?
3. You over-apologize- You apologize for trivial stuff that anyone else could do and probably get away with. You apologize for other people’s behavior. You even apologize for having to go to the bathroom! In short, you apologize for everything!
4. You’re confused all the time- Should you do this or that, say this or that? You live in constant confusion.
5. You’re never happy but you feel you should be- that’s a dead ringer that you’re being gaslighted. Because when people gaslight you even for feeling a certain way, this is what happens. And your feelings are right. You should be happier. Only you have a bullying gaslighter in your life holding you back from the happiness you so richly deserve.
6. You make excuses for other people’s behavior- this especially happens when you have fake friends who only use and abuse you. You don’t want others to know what they’re doing to you because you already know, and you’re riddled with shame over it. And it can be embarrassing when the people you call friends disrespect you because you end up looking pathetic to others. Therefore, you make excuses for them not only to hide the shame of being abused, but to keep your abusers from being angry and making you pay for it later.
But the only way to stop this is to face the truth and, even better, ditching these fakers. Because if you must make excuses for someone who’s bullying and abusing you, they can’t be a friend.
7. You lie to avoid being ridiculed or put down, even about things you should have nothing to worry about- when you feel you must lie about things that are not a big deal, that’s definitely a red flag!
Here are a few more symptoms to be aware of:
8. You feel that you’ve changed- that you’re no longer the confident and outgoing person you used to be.
9. You feel like you can’t do anything right.
10. You feel hopeless.
11. You wonder if you’re good enough.
12. You know something’s wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it.
Realize that being gaslighted day in and day out causes you to eventually lose yourself- to lose sight of who you are and once that happens, bullies and abusers will have you exactly where they want you.
Understand that some things are not so clear and that there are situations that we won’t get direct and easy answers to. That is why it’s so important to go with how you feel. Listen to your body- listen to your gut.
“Trust your feelings, Luke.” – Yoda (Star Wars)
There are times when the way you feel will be all the answers you need.
And once you go with your feelings, find a way to rid yourself of the life-leeches in your life (if possible). It’s the only way you’ll be able to heal, get yourself back, and live a peaceful, happy, and purposeful life.
With knowledge comes empowerment!