Yesterday I met with friends. We broke bread, laughed and shared deeply. During our conversation, we spoke about our experiences of being lost within the gaslighting of a narcissist’s web. We noticed how all of us had various dealings with such dynamics and how gaslighting impacted our lives. Within a safe environment, we shared openly so we would be heard, validated, nurtured and heal.

Gaslighting is a tactic used to manipulate an individual into questioning their own reality and doubting the truth of their experience until they feel like they are losing their sanity. When children are being gaslit, they act out what they are unable to say outloud. Gaslighting makes a child feel responsbile for what is happening to them or around them. They are told: “you’re making it up”;”that didn’t happen”; “that didn’t hurt you” or “that was your fault”. Children who aren’t validated or believed will do everything they can to show you the internalization of that pain.

Gaslighting takes away your inner compass and places it in the hands of someone else. For me, it dismanteled my self-worth, self-trust and inner knowing that subsequently led me into patterns of connecting with myriad highly manipulative abusers throughout my adult life. These people would be well-liked by many and only show their gaslighting ways when others weren’t looking. The pattern I’d play out was to be drawn to the narcissist’s charm and their love-bombing. Then, I’d see the disconnect between what was being done and what was being said. I would name the pattern; ask for a behavior change and either be told “its not happening”; have my concerns be deflected, the topic changed or get blamed for being angry, hostile or wanting something different than what I was being given. If I ever heard “sure, I’ll do that” from the gaslighter, it was only to placate me, because things would only change temporarily or not at all.  If I had the audacity to say something about that, once again, I was met with hostility or deflection. That cycle would continue.  I’d attempt to buy into the excuses, rationalize the behavior and then internalize the anger and grief which would turn into anxiety and depression. I’d blame myself for growing more frustrated and angry and sink into deeper shame, further disconnect from inner-truth and slip into deeper doubt.

It must be me”, became my well-honed mantra. “Maybe I’m just angry. Maybe I should not want this or that (insert: respect, payment, acknowledgement, boundary, integrity, truth, kindness, help…etc) from my partner or colleague or friend”, would ruminate in my tormented mind.

To truly break the pattern and free me from the spell of the gaslighter required my willingness to share my truth with a valued witness.  That witness said: “I hear you! You matter, I believe you, tell me more”. That witness offered me compassion, empathy and all the space I needed for my truth to be told and valued. That witness did not attempt to alter or reframe my experience. (‘Reframing’ in early disclosure can be another form of gaslighting, where the witness cannot tolerate the discomfort of the disclosure and your reality. They believe they are shifting you into some meaning or better perspective to serve your healing, when this only counters and re-wounds those traumatized by any form of narcissistic abuse, when offered too soon. And when witnessing is held long enough, the invidual will reframe the pain into power, within their own timeline and far more organically that most believe).
Healing from the trauma of not being believed and having your reality distorted in anyway, is possible! As we heal, we awaken to the truth of our experience. We begin telling our story in the presence of a compassionate witness who is willing to be with us as long as it takes to feel validated, heard and allow the truth to be fully embodied. Your experience does not require the “gaslighter” to confirm your reality. That is highly unlikely to ever occur. And it may take considerable time for you to tell your story, have it validated many times by a compassionate witness, before you are ready to take the embodied truth and transform it into meaningful understanding and a purpose for moving forward. Give yourself significant healthy support, patience and gentle care to discover a healthy sense of self, empowerment and trust in yourself again.

As we heal from the trauma that gaslighting causes, we ebb and flow through myriad emotions and vacillate between trusting and owning our power and profound confusion and self-doubt. It takes impeccable patience and willingness to retrieve your truth and come home to yourself. But it is possible. With healing, we cultivate the compassionate witness within, who has always known the truth, seen your innate value and believed you. As you retrieve your inner compass, you discover how to navigate your life with confidence and joyful self-reliance.

Many of us grew up under some umbrella of gaslighting in our homes. But if not there, we may have experienced it in our schools, places of worship, and society. Gaslighting is evident within the culture of patriarchal privilege and has damaged lives for centuries. A few examples of societal gaslighting include toxic dynamics around people of color and the police; women and survivors of sexual abuse; climate change and politics.

  • One of the reasons the #metoo movement was so significant, was because women and other abusive survivors have been gaslit throughout the imbalance of power woven into the patriarchy for eons. Women who were raped or abused were told to minimize, deny and move past the pain of sexual abuse. They were told it didn’t happen. They were blamed, shamed, bullied or otherwise harmed. 
  • One of the reasons the #blacklivesmatter movement became so poignant, was because people of color were told that their pain and suffering at the hands of abusive authority figures did not matter, did not happened and was their fault. When they rose up, they were told that “all lives matter” or that they were anti-police. That systemic gaslighting results from the imbalance of power within our society, white privilege and the fear of breaking the code of silence that gaslighting requires to keep a toxic system in place. 
  • One of the ways we can deny the harm we are doing to our earth and the science of climate change is because we have been gaslit into perceiving it as a political issue. If you align with one set of politics, you may buy the science but if you align with another set of politics, you may feel confident in denying the science. Science or not — your intuition knows that the earth is in jeopardy, that the industrial revolution wasn’t forged with the consciousness to understand its implications on the harmony of the planet. Deep within you, you know that changing that established means for creating and using resources won’t be easy but its essential for our planet and the next generations to survive and ultimately, thrive.  Gaslighting is a political manipulation telling you that its either not necessary, not real or too hard to address this very real issue.
  • Politics uses gaslighting so often, we have come to accept it as a facet of the process. It lulls citizens into believing things we know are not truth. The gaslighting tactic is designed to claim things didn’t happen, that did. When used, it seeks to demonize, bully or undermine the authority of anyone calling out the truth. It cries “partisan”, “fake” “or “enemy” or uses any means to attack an accuser. This type of gaslighting is perpetuated by those seeking power and control ove the masses through overt manipulation that followers find to hard to believe could be possible.
Gaslighting requires us to protect the illusion – the lie. It pulls us into a hypnotic denial urging us to forgo our inner authority, our inner truth for the power in place. That power may be in the form of a caregiver, parent, teacher, religious figure, spiritual icon, politician, celebrity, boss, friend or lover. That power may be a belief — “I should comply, be nice, go along, help this person”. That system relies on falsehoods to perpetuate its grip.  That power may feel real, threatening and keep you feeling vulnerable. Its designed to make you feel off balance. But you can set yourself free. It is possible.

We know the truth when its spoken. We know a lie when its spoken. We truly know. No matter how toxic our ordeal may be, the truth never fully disappears. Its constantly striving to be seen, heard and break through the deception. Your inner voice may feel distant, but it never really goes away.

One of the reasons I am certain my intuition developed as it did and why I teach people to LISTEN and HONOR their inner intuitive TRUTH is because mine was repeatedly stolen from me throughout my upbringing. One of the reasons I live and serve as a shamanic-type healer, was to survive the insanity-making world in which I was raised (family of origin and society) so that I could keep a pulse on my truth and power.

If you are reading this, this is a call to TELL YOUR TRUTH. This is a reminder that YOU MATTER. This is the mirror that says YOU DESERVE TO BE HEARD. Speak up and do so in a safe, nurturing environement, that will witness you compassionately and fully, validate your account of your reality and help you retrieve what was lost through abusive gaslighting in your life.

Through your journey, learn to become your own compassionate witness, to practice validating yourself. Learn to breathe deeply and calm your body, to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and to TRUST yourself again. Practice growing that inner muscle and retrieve your power.
Learn to listen to yourself. Listen to your body, because it tells your truth, even when you were shamed or manipulated out of yours. Listen to your emotions, because they carry the truth, even when yours were squashed or shamed. Listen to your dreams, because they are opening you to the truth, when your vision is being challenged. Listen to your heart, because it holds your story, wisdom and healing power — no matter what you have endured.
Gaslighting is real. The stories it weaves are harmful lies. It alienates you from your inner authority. It binds you to a toxic, disempowering dynamic. It perpetuates dysfunctional systems of interpersonal relating and systemic systems of imbalance. It begs us to deny our reality and go along with lies. It is the energetic breeding ground for addiction, codependency, body-dysmorphia, chronic illness, depression, anxiety, dissociative disorders and soul loss.

Today, I am free. It is a one day at a time journey of presence to my inner truth, self-care, reclaiming my power and discovering who I am without the noise of distortion. But I am healing and gratefully so! And, I invite you to join me, on a path of truth-telling, inner knowing and reclaiming the inner compass of your dignity and soul! YOU DESERVE TO BE SEEN, HEARD, VALUED AND HONORED!