Updated: Sep 8, 2022
The look of freedom and peace on my client's face was unmistakable. She had been going through the lessons in my E2 12 Week Empowerment Course, and she was connecting MAJOR dots from throughout her life. When she was able to shift the way she recognized when a gaslighting experience was happening, that was the "Game-Changer" for her...
She shared about how she was able to notice, and step out of, gaslighting conversations with both her husband AND her dad. She was able to stay connected to what she KNEW was her truth.
And this woman, well, she's never looked back (Y'all should see this woman now - SO powerful! YAAASSS QUEEEN!)
The key is where you put your FOCUS.
Have you ever tried to take a picture, and the auto-focus decides to focus on an object that is NOT what you're trying to take a picture of? I'm not the greatest at taking pictures, so I may or may not have experienced out-of-focus pictures more than once or twice - especially back in the day when our phones didn't do almost all the work for us. lol
The connection here to gaslighting is that when we put our focus in the wrong place, the picture doesn't get clearer; while we may be able to identify some things, we can't be 100% certain what is happening.
Take this picture, for example: what was the person doing? How are they feeling? There's too much going on for us to be able to know, without doubt, the answer to those questions and more.
Where most people put their focus (and why they stay confused):
Most people focus on trying to understand their gaslighter: what they're doing and WHY they're doing it (this is particularly confusing, and often gets us "stuck").
Before I go any further about this, I want to pause and validate this. It's our brain's job to protect us; it's the brain's job to try to figure out the "why", so that it can up it's chance at predicting when hurt/harm may happen again. So, in your legitimate need for safety, it's normal for your brain to do this!
I also want to say that it's important to understand as much as we can about gaslighting behaviors so that we can identify them when they're happening (and I spend five weeks in my E2 program teaching these things). But gaining understanding and putting focus on something are two different things!
I say this alllll the time in my groups and with my 1:1 clients: that isn't our place of authentic power! (Focusing on the other person's behaviors and intentions).
We can't know, with absolute certainty, what someone is doing or why. While we might be correct, this fact (that we can't know for certain) leaves room for doubt, which keeps the door open for confusion, feeling stuck, and in a fog.
When we are focusing on the other person, we (more often than not) are NOT connecting with the most crucial source of information: ourselves.
Where we need to focus (and how THIS is the "Game-Changer":
The best, and clearest way to know that you are experiencing gaslighting, is to focus on YOU!
I know that for a lot of us, due to the chronic gaslighting we've experienced, we've LOST connection to ourselves. If I know one thing to be true, it's that this is NOT the end of the story! I've seen it in my own life, and in so many of the people I've had the privilege of coaching over the past decade: you absolutely can find yourself again - and, most likely, will so truly and fully find (think, uncover or awaken) yourself, that you actually won't be able to lose yourself (not fully) ever again!
Focusing on us brings us back into the only place that we can find certainty - our own mind, body, gut and soul! When we focus on these things, not only do we get "answers", we find that the questions change. For example:
Instead of asking, "Why would they say that?", we ask, "Why would I be okay with them saying that?".
Instead of wondering, "Maybe if I am patient enough, they'll change", we wonder, "How long feels right for me to allow them the opportunity to work on their stuff?
How do I "focus on me"?
If you feel a stirring, a desire to reconnect with yourself and focus on yourself, here are a few tips to get you started:
"Check in with yourself" as often as you can. BE INTENTIONAL about this. Slow down and "sink in" when making decisions. Be purposeful! From what you eat for breakfast to what shirt you want to wear to what you do in your free time - try not to take decisions for granted - think of each decision as an opportunity to grow your connection with yourself.
Stay on the lookout for the word, "should". Should is often followed by a self-gaslighting statement: "I should (do/feel/believe/value, etc) this...", or "I shouldn't ______ that". Again, slow down, sink in, and get curious about where the "should" is coming from (parent, religion, culture, etc.). When we recognize that the should is someone else's voice, we make room for OUR voice.
Want to know more?
I encourage everyone to start their journey of freedom from gaslighting by venturing over to my free video series. You can do that by clicking here. This is where I give you some clear ways to see the effects in you that allow you to recognize when you are being gaslit.
Also, if you have a topic you'd like me to blog about, please submit your question by going here, and specify it's for the blog (not the podcast).