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Gaslighting has been on the rapid rise since 2013, reaching its peak when it was dubbed the “buzz word” of 2018. However, in recent years gaslighting has taken a more insidious turn, with people beginning to question if they might be gaslighting themselves.

No, you aren’t being too sensitive.

Yes, you are qualified enough to ask for a raise at your job.

No, you can’t “change” your partner’s toxic traits.

Yes, you can do better.

Gaslighting has become somewhat of a buzz word in the psychological, relationship and self-development spaces of 2021. It’s often used to characterise a form of manipulative behaviour, commonly from parents, friends, bosses, intimate partners, or even medical professionals. However, a new phenomenon has more recently be discovered: the ability to gaslight yourself.

Psychologists classify gaslighting as a manipulation tactic, whereby the manipulator undermines and questions the victims integrity, leading them to doubt their own reality and memory of the situation. It has become such a forewarned pattern of behaviour due to the subtlety of its harm. If someone is continually gaslit, with their perception of self-belief repeatedly minimised, the seeds of self-doubt planted by the gaslighter can be internalised – thus transferring the cycle of being gaslit, to gaslighting yourself.

In simple terms – repeated abuse can cause one to become their own abuser.

What does self-gaslighting look like?

Simply, self-gaslighting can look like the suppression and ignorance of your emotions, thoughts, and intuitive feelings – thus rendering them as “dramatic” or “unnecessary”. More specifically, the Moon and Manifest Podcast notes that a tell-tale sign of self-gaslighting is when one repeatedly second-guesses and rationalises away their intuition. We’re all familiar with the strong gut-feelings we have when we are hurt by someone, or we know we are unhappy in some aspect of our lives. But if someone becomes susceptible to self-gaslighting tendencies, this “intuitive knowing”, becomes no longer a guidance system, but a voice consciously ignored in favour of more sabotaging thoughts.

A classic and common example of this is often seen when an individual is hurt by someone but dismisses their feelings of sadness or offence in the vein of – “I’m being too sensitive about this, it’s not a big deal.”

Self-gaslighting can also manifest in the workplace – with persistent and public critiques of performance, exclusion, gossip and belittling of efforts being internalised to create the perception that one isn’t deserving of working there. To prevent this self-gaslighting-induced imposter syndrome from emerging in the workplace, two more obvious scenarios that demonstrate gaslighting in a working environment could be:

  • Your boss doesn’t remember you handing him your report last week, even though you are sure it happened, and you did the work. The gaslighter remains adamant they never got it, which leads you to question whether they are right, and you are misremembering – despite your previous certainty.
  • Your boss tells you it isn’t a big deal if you miss the morning briefing, but when you do, they criticise you for it – leading you to question your commitment to the workplace, and worthiness of obtaining the job.

Whether you are experiencing gaslighting in the workplace or in a relationship, the consequences remain the same, and it often results in this internalised behaviour pattern that means the gaslighter no longer needs to do the heavy lifting – but rather you are doing it yourself.

Self-gaslighting in motherhood

Another scenario where self-gaslighting behaviours can manifest, is within mothers who undermine and question their ability to parent. Although gaslighting relationships between parents and children have been widely researched and reported, the ability for a parent to gaslight themselves, is less covered.

As parenting is already a famously challenging time – mothers who are trapped in patterns of self-inflicted gaslighting can begin to doubt their parenting capabilities and downplay the struggles of raising children under the guise of “other people have it worse”. These self-manipulative behaviours are detrimental to the mental health of whoever is experiencing it, however self-gaslighting in parenthood, if left ignored, can lead to more severe afflictions like parental burnout.

Solutions

There are a myriad of different strategies and processes to try and reverse the entrenchment of gaslighting tendencies in oneself.

Becoming self-aware

The first step to subvert self-gaslighting behaviours, is to become more self-aware. Being self-aware of your surroundings, interactions, thoughts, and feelings can reverse the psychologically distorting effects of self-gaslighting.

Self-awareness is ultimately about being confident in who you are and what you feel – in other words, being assured in your intuition. When one becomes self-aware, they have the ability to recognise the problem – in that they are gaslighting themselves – gain perspective on the origins of problem and begin to understand their feelings objectively.

Affirming your emotions

When one is in the process of understanding their self-sabotaging behaviours, Healthline Australia proposes a process of “affirming emotions” to counteract the aspect of self-gaslighting that tells you your emotions aren’t valid. An example of affirming your emotions when someone gaslights you, can look like this.

  • Gaslighting: “I didn’t mean it like that, you’re exaggerating, you’re crazy”
  • Self-gaslighting: “Maybe I am crazy. I know they love me, and they wouldn’t have meant it like that.”
  • Affirming emotions: “I remember how they worded it and I stand by how it made me feel. They should not have said it.”

CBT

If the clutches of self-gaslighting are too entrenched in you that these self-talk methods aren’t working – psychologists strongly recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which focuses on restructuring the way individuals think and process emotions, hoping to lessen the distortion that self-gaslighting causes. It’s important to note that CBT has been likened to gaslighting when not performed properly, as the psychologists attempts to render clients issues as a product of their mental distortion, can sometimes seem like an “it’s all in your head” approach. However, a psychologist or therapist who is aware of the dangers of gaslighting and self-gaslighting, can utilise CBT as a tool to minimise the self-doubt and re-arrange clients’ thoughts in the correct way – without making them feel as though they are “crazy” or at fault.

You are not alone.

Most importantly, if you have been experiencing self-gaslighting, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Gaslighting and self-gaslighting has become one of the most dangerous behaviour manipulations of the past couple of years, and a phenomenon that has been well researched.

It is imperative that if you think you have been subjected to self-gaslighting, reach out for support – whether that be to a trusted friend, partner or professional – and try to begin by validating your feelings. Everyone deserves to feel confident in themselves, their intuition and their relationships, and with the right approach, self-gaslighting won’t stand in the way of that.

Attachment styles are how you have learned to love and communicate with others from early childhood, and it could be affecting you more than you know.

Attachment styles in relationships can be the root cause of arguments, abandonment issues, toxic behaviour, a lack of intimacy and poor communication, to name only a handful. They can be the result of the demise of relationships or repetitive bad habits that seem impossible to break. All of this can result in a sense of hopelessness or confusion as to why these negative feelings or situations keep arising.

The basics of attachment theory are that an infant must form a secure bond with a responsive parent from a very early age. If the infant’s physical and emotional needs are met, they will create a ‘secure’ attachment to their caregiver. This sense of security is essential in early development as this will stay with the child into adult life. A secure attachment style provides the security to form healthy relationships, communicate and navigate the world with a sense of confidence.

The kicker is, only 60% of parents provide infants with a genuinely secure attachment style. A lack of secure attachment can lead to difficulty showing vulnerability, asking for help, receiving affection, or trusting a partner.

So, if you’re struggling to open up to your spouse or frustrated with your best friend for asking for help, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s just your insecure inner child.

So, what is your attachment style?

a couple sit cross legged next to one another one the road

There are four major attachment styles. Learning which one is yours may be the key to a healthier you and healthier relationships. People who identify and work with their attachment styles often have an easier time correcting negative behaviours. Your style is either:

1. Secure

As already mentioned, secure attachment styles generally have an easier time trusting and communicating their emotions. Therefore, giving and recieing affection usually isn’t an issue for secure types. As a secure type, chances are the lines of communication are pretty open for you in your relationships, and arguments do not easily arise.

2. Dismissive-avoidant

Perhaps you hate the feeling of relying on others, and when others are dependent on you, you think of them as ‘needy.’ Maybe over dinner your spouse has tried to peacefully resolve an unfinished argument from the week before. Instead of listening, you angrily accuse them of not letting go and shut down the conversation by leaving the table. It could be that you prioritise your career over your friendships, and as a result, you find yourself increasingly alone in life. These are self-preserving behaviours that can become toxic.

3. Anxious-preoccupied

Anxious attachment styles are often plagued with fears of abandonment. For example, you may wonder why your partner is being distant and moody, be convinced they are dissatisfied and worry that they are planning to leave you for something or someone better. These negative thoughts can quickly erupt into an argument. Maybe you are jealous and read your spouse’s text messages when they are asleep and later feel ashamed of your behaviour,

4. Fearful-avoidant

This attachment style is a combination of an anxious and avoidant attachment. For example, you might crave love and affection but feel uncomfortable receiving it. This can sometimes result in high-risk behaviours such as substance abuse and difficulty maintaining relationships.

Maybe you struggle to become close to people and can only maintain relationships under the influence of alcohol. You might self-sabotage by distancing yourself from others and look for affection in places you know you will not find it.

Doing an attachment style quiz might help you develop a sense of which feels more like yourself.

a couple sit next to one another on a couch

Attachment styles in relationships

At some point, you’ve encountered the term ‘law of attraction.’ The idea is that our positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative people into our world. Well, your attachment style may have more to do with this than you think.

If you fall into an anxious-avoidant or fearful-avoidant attachment style, maybe someone secure and dependable feels a little dull. Subconsciously, you can crave the unpredictability and chaos that you are used to receiving. Your caregivers might have been angry, dismissive of you, or made you feel like a burden, and yet, you loved them. Because this is what your internal blueprint of love is, it’s what you seek out in another partner.

For example, suppose you are an anxious person who craves love and fears abandonment. In that case, you may spend months or years waiting on an avoidant person to be committed in your relationship with no change. As a result, avoidant and anxious people frequently end up together. On the other hand, two highly avoidant people might spend time apart throwing themselves into their respective jobs and lack communication.

If unaware of your attachment style, it can be easy to enter relationships and friendships on autopilot and often not identify why the same problems are constantly encountered. It’s possible to repeat the same emotional habits throughout your life subconsciously. For example, anxiety, fear of abandonment, or a general lack of care can contribute to turmoil in friendships and marriages.

a couple sit next to one another outside. One is texting while the other tries to read over their shoulder

You can correct your attachment style

If this is all sounding a little depressing, don’t worry; attachment styles can be corrected. The best way to do this is by mindfully identifying how issues in relationships may be rooted in both party’s attachment styles. This gets to the heart of the problem and increases compassion and awareness for each person’s emotional needs.

The first step is to educate yourself and take an attachment style quiz, then read literature, self-reflect, and speak to a psychologist.

Other helpful tools are;

 1 . Meditation

Practices that increase mindfulness are invaluable in high-stress situations. Set aside time each day to do a mindfulness exercise or some breathwork. In the midst of difficult conversations, using these techniques helps regulate emotions to reflect on the issue properly.

2 . Journaling

Journaling is a great way to reflect on the past, your childhood, and things responsible for your stress, anxiety, or fears.

3. Practice self-care

Practicing self-care and learning to nurture yourself is crucial. Provide yourself with the love and care that may have been absent as a child, and you will be more equipped to provide this for others in your life.

4. Therapy

Lastly and most importantly, health care professionals recommend that you address your attachment style through therapy. Some psychologists specialize in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or trauma therapies. But, again, being open with a healthcare provider or doctor is the best way to find what you need.

Be gentle with yourself and the people that you care for. Often, unresolved trauma or neglect can be the root of obstacles in any relationship. Addressing this and healing can take time, patience and be hard work. Pushing through this to the other side will lead to more harmonious relationships and greater inner happiness.

a women sits on a therapists couch talking while the therapists hands are seen taking notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the moment we are born, every experience and emotion we have ever felt is stored in the part of our mind called the subconscious. Intangible, immeasurable, and for the most part inaccessible, this portion of the human mind is complex and extremely important to our individual personal identities.

 

Our mind is like an iceberg. Floating in the ocean, we can only see what is above the surface of the water – and while this may be colossal in size, it only makes up a tiny ten percent of the total size of the iceberg. What is hidden underneath is nine times larger. Our conscious mind represents this ten percent of the iceberg in view, above the water, and our subconscious represents all that is below. The conscious mind is only a tiny portion of what is going on underneath.

The conscious mind is responsible for collecting information in our day-to-day life through our senses, which it relays back to the subconscious. The subconscious encompasses those activities we take for granted such as breathing, blinking and monitoring our temperatures, but it also stores every past experience, emotion, and thought we have ever had. Like the iceberg under the water, we can’t see or readily access the true depth and size of our incredibly powerful subconscious mind but it plays an extremely important role in all of our lives.

The capacity of the subconscious mind is incredible, with few limitations on how much it can store. According to motivational speaker, renowned self-development expert and author of Focal Point Brian Tracy, “By the time you reach 21, you’ve already stored more than one hundred times the content of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.”

smell taste touch neon sign

The subconscious mind is constantly active and responsible for an incredible amount of our human functions, actions, choices and personality. In psychological terms, the subconscious is a secondary mind system that stores everything we receive through our senses in a kind of data processing memory bank. It monitors information coming in from our conscious mind such as sight, taste, hearing and touch.

The two aspects of the mind – conscious and subconscious – communicate all the time. The elements that are processed by our conscious mind only stay in the subconscious if they are intensely emotional experiences. This is partly what makes the subconscious so powerful and important in its long-term effects on us as individuals.

What does the subconscious mind actually do?

The subconscious element of our minds covers more than just suppressed desires and forgotten traumatic memories that we are often told about at school. It is responsible for all of those day-to-day movements and activities that we take for granted or don’t even consciously recognise doing. For example, breathing, blinking and regulating our body temperatures are all acts we do subconsciously.

According to psychologist Havan Parvez, of PsychMechanics, the subconscious is always active, even when we sleep. It communicates with us through images and symbols in our dreams, relaying information we have encountered during the day or even from many years ago – the subconscious storage bank goes back as long as we have been processing information through our senses.

 

 

Another key function of the subconscious relates to our behaviour. It regulates our reactions, actions, decisions, and physical choices to fit with those it has previously established as ‘ours’. It keeps our thoughts and beliefs consistent, establishing our comfort zones and deeming what activities would suit them.

Brian Tracy, self-development author and motivational public speaker, states that the subconscious mind is what, “Makes (our) behaviour fit a pattern consistent with (our) emotionalised thoughts, hopes, and desires.”

Man and woman in love sitting close

 

Psychology blog, Mindsets, also claims our natural intuition arises from the subconscious, which uses our previous experience, emotions and memory to help us assess situations. If you have ever felt a ‘gut feeling’ or inexplicable sense about something, this is your subconscious mind communicating with you and sending you signals based on your own previous knowledge.

According to Yvonne Oswald’s book, Every Word Has Power, the subconscious mind does the following:
  1. Operates the physical body.
  2. Has a direct connection with the Divine.
  3. Remembers everything.
  4. Stores emotions in the physical body.
  5. Maintains genealogical instincts.
  6. Creates and maintains least effort (repeating patterns).
  7. Uses metaphor, imagery and symbols.
  8. Takes direction from the conscious mind.
  9. Accepts information literally and personally.
  10. Does not process negative commands.

How can we harness its power?

It is important to know the ways in which we can harness the power of our subconscious minds. Think about emotional experiences you have had that have impacted your future life. Can personal issues with trust, relationships, certain habits, that you currently have be traced back to an incident or experience you had in the past? This is your subconscious mind acting based on the intense emotions you felt during that time.

Woman looking into the sunriseOne of the most significant reasons why we should endeavour to use the power of our subconscious for our mental health is to clear emotional blockages and for the purposes of personal healing. According to Joseph Drumheller, award-winning author and leader in meditation, healing and education, we must be in the proper state of mind before exploring our subconscious. He suggests practising some detachment when considering our emotional charges or particular feelings in isolation. Distance your rational mind from these emotions. Then it becomes easier, and safer, to push into these feelings a little deeper.

Drumheller says that letting yourself explore and feel your emotions as they arise or as you consider certain aspects of your life is important when working on your subconscious. Through your detachment from these emotions, start to think about them more critically. Take mental note of when a certain thought, image, noise, or memory triggers a particular emotion. From this point, we can start to ask ourselves why we feel this emotion, and if from our space of mental detachment, we can see that it may not be warranted, we can start to let the feeling go. As the emotion grows fainter and less raw, we are letting go of this emotional charge and clearing some weight from our subconscious.

This method is useful to try, but the results can differ from person to person. Drumheller suggests that if we are stuck with a particular emotional charge that is difficult to shift, or we begin to lose ourselves in the feelings of that emotion, then there is another method to try. Visualise a large scared object or symbol such as a flower or a cross hovering directly in front of you. Imagine that it holds immense power. Start to think about each of your emotions and visualise this object pulling the force of these emotions out of your heart and mind, drawing them into itself. In this way the power has been transferred to the object rather than your mind in releasing the emotional charge and is a good method for beginners or those struggling with release.

Further suggestions

There is an extensive array of literature, podcasts and other resources available for information and guidance regarding our subconscious. Several books written on the subject are available as audiobooks which can be a fantastic way to engage with the material.

Based on readership ratings, the following books are recommended:

  • The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
  • Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  • Beyond the Power of your Subconscious Mind by C. James Jenson
  • The Subconscious Mind: How to Use the Hidden Power of Your Mind to Reach Your Goals by Linda Siegmund

Exploring your subconscious is something that can be done privately but is also worthwhile when done with the assistance of a mental health professional such as a psychologist. Those trained in this field can guide you, provide suggestions, and offer support should you need it.

Therapies for your subconscious such as Private Subconscious-mind Healing (P.S.H) are also available for more guided or targeted exploration of the subconscious. This therapy is non-invasive, extremely gentle in its approach, and is designed to assist in resolving underlying subconscious problems that are affecting our day to day lives.

 

While the law of attraction has us believe we can be reaching our goals by simply focusing on what we want, the Principles of Attraction may be a more successful way of achieving our goals through mindfulness and thought-directed action.

Just think hard enough about the life you want, and you’ll have it – it’s as simple as that according to Law of Attraction. For many, this method fails to work. And that’s why the Law of Attraction has some serious challenges. Although the Law of Attraction is an established paradigm, the Principles of Attraction is a new mode gaining popularity. It is a slight change in wording but one that makes all the difference for the concepts underpinning the psychological theory.

What is the Law of Attraction?

The Law of Attraction is a psychological theory that dates back to times of the Ancient Greeks. It dictates that if you focus your mind on visualising or imagining a certain desire it will come into fruition. All of your thoughts, actions, and focus must be channelled towards this image constantly. By doing this, the Law claims that you will attract what you focus on – from like-minded people, to the desirable life or object itself. In basic terms – think hard enough about it and it will happen.

 

What is the difference between the Principles and the Law?

The Law of Attraction promotes obsessive one-track focus on a particular item or feature of life, and in its endeavour to seek positivity and attract like-minded people, it simultaneously alienates and promotes pessimism. Conversely, the Principles of Attraction focuses on positivity and mindfulness, channelling our energies towards a healthy and sustainable goal.

Girl with hands over face lying in bed One of the largest challenges that we encounter when looking at the Laws of Attraction is that they don’t take into account the realities of life which are quite often beyond human control. According to the Laws of Attraction, incidents such as physical accidents, weather disasters, bad timing, illnesses and injuries are all linked back to a lack of positivity and visualisation of our goals. Somewhere along the way we have lost focus and have attracted the ‘bad’ because we weren’t focused enough on the ‘good’.

This element is referred to as ‘visualisation’ under the Law of Attraction. The Principles of Attraction turn away from this somewhat inactive visualisation aspect and expand the term to encourage a more active role for us as visualisers. Psychologist and life coach Dr James Michael Nolan says, “our thoughts can get the ball rolling for the possibility of creation” but we must put the hard yards and energy into achieving our goals – simply picturing them is not enough.

 

How do I follow the Principles of Attraction?

Professor Neil Farber of Psychology Today advises the following in order to achieve a lifestyle in line with the Principles of Attraction:

  • Visualising is a process not an outcome.
    • Picturing your desired life does not produce this desired life. Visualising and focusing your energies into this idea is a process for obtaining what you are looking for – it does not immediately produce your desired life.
  • Value-based goals are more important than wants and desires.
    • Do not focus on the two-storey house with swimming pool, six bedrooms and a large backyard. Ask yourself why you want this. What feelings and emotions are underpinning this end goal? A sense of achievement? A place to call your own? A place your children can grow up with space and freedom? Make these values of family, connectivity, space and freedom your goal. Visualise these rather than what you perceive as their physical embodiment.
  • Your actions matter.
    • Regardless of how much time you spend focusing on your goals, at the end of the day it’s you who needs to make them happen. You are responsible for your actions and when your collective energies are all focused on these values, your actions should follow suit. Your goals are much more likely to be realised this way.
  • Be mindful of the present.
    • While looking ahead to the future and what you are hoping to find there, don’t forget to live in the present. It’s the choices that you make in the current moment that have the biggest impact on your future.
  • Remember challenges.
    • Regardless of how hard we might focus and commit our actions to achieving our goals, there are things in the world that are out of our control. No matter how much positive energy we may be sending out into the universe, accidents, challenges, roadblocks and stop signs are part of life. Don’t be hard on yourself – these things are not from a deficit in positivity on your part, but are features of all human life. Be optimistic, but realistic.

 

What other things can I do?

Dr Nolan suggests that a good way to maintain positivity and mindfulness whilst following the Principles of Attraction is to keep journals and lists of things that you appreciate in life already. This, combined with surrounding yourself with positive caring people and engaging with them in nurturing ways, is essential to staying happy while pursuing your goals.

Suggested Activities for mindfulness:

  • Meditation
    • Woman meditatingEvery morning before beginning the busy day, spend between 10-30 minutes meditating. Find a quiet place in the house, take a seat cross-legged or lay flat on your back and focus on your breathing. Follow your breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, out for four seconds, hold again and repeat. Calming your mind will help you reflect on whatever comes into your thoughts and prepare yourself for the day ahead.
    • Meditation can also be useful at the end of the day. Incorporating meditation into your nightly routine can assist with reflection on the day that has been and calm your senses ahead of the new day to come.
  • Gratitude lists
    • Writing a small 5-10 points list about things you are grateful for and the reasons you are grateful for them in your life is an excellent way to stay mindful and focus your goals in a healthy way. These lists can be made at the beginning or at the end of the day, and are particularly useful when we are feeling lost, sad, angry or losing touchNotebook journal writing with our goals.
    • These lists can cover anything from a person you are grateful for, the city you live in, to the small things that have made you smile during the day.
    • Keeping these lists in a journal or notebook is also very important. If we’re having a particularly bad day and are finding it hard to channel our thoughts positively, looking back on these lists is a wonderful way to redirect and focus our energies in the right direction again.
  • Mother and daughter walking in moutainsWalking
    • Going for a stroll – particularly with loved ones, family, and friends – is another fantastic way to practice mindfulness and focus on your goals. Reflecting on the things you see on the walk such as the natural surroundings, the sounds, the people you may have encountered is an important way to remind yourself to live in the present moment while still aiming to achieve your goals.

 

Why doesn’t the Law concept work?

Woman writing in journal  The key difference that Dr Nolan highlights is; “Principles outline how things go, or tend to go. Laws say they cannot go otherwise.” This is why it is useful to consider attraction within the framework of principles; guidelines and features to follow rather than make-or-break laws that will often end in disappointment.

Studies show that following the Law of Attraction method without consideration of the elements underpinning the psychological process results in a success rate of only 0.1%. Very few people can achieve their obsessively-visualised end goal within the rigidity of the Laws of Attraction. The Principles, on the other hand, give us flexibility and room for growth – not to mention the impact on your own sense of self during the process.

 

What should I take away from the Principle of Attraction?

  • Take action for you own life choices.
  • Make decisions that will help you achieve your goals.
  • Chanel your thoughts, meditations, mantras and efforts into what you want.
  • Send positive energies outward and receive positive energies back in return.

It is up to us to personally change our attitudes and follow the Principles – it is not up to the world to deliver us everything we want if we think hard enough on it. As Professor Farber says, “Don’t leave your goal fulfilment to the universe.” Go out, set your goals, aim your positive energies at achieving them, and appreciate the good things you already have. Two women smiling and happy

 

Gaslighting is a tactic used by someone to psychologically manipulate a victim into doubting their sanity. Gaslighting is a horrific form of abuse and is most commonly seen between intimate partners, but it’s also experienced in parent and child relationships. This is frightening, as usually, a parent isn’t aware of the harmful damage they’re doing to their child’s welfare.

Authors, Damien W. Riggs and Clare Bartholomaeus of a study on gaslighting in parent-child relationships for the Flinders University, Melbourne, say,

“Gaslighting in practice is often subtle and can be difficult to detect, especially in the context of parent-child relationships, where imbalances of power are often a taken-for-granted norm.”

This difficulty in understanding and identifying what gaslighting looks like between a parent-child relationship is why parents are often guilty of unintentionally doing it.

(Image sourced: Pixabay) 

A scenario of what gaslighting can look like, according to 1800RESPECT anonymous counselling services, can be as simple as a mother losing track of time and is now running late to drop their toddler to daycare. It is not the toddler at fault but nonetheless, the mother insists on saying, “We’re going to be late to daycare because you have been mucking around! Quick get in the car now and behave yourself!”

This is a rather common situation in the life of a mother, but according to 1800RESPECT anonymous counselling services, when such words are spoken to a child it positions them to question their actions and teaches them that they’re troublesome and disobedient.

Other ways a parent may unknowingly gaslight their child is by exaggerating conflict. Minor wrong-doings by their child are blown out of proportion. An issue as small as a child lying about brushing their teeth sets the parent off in a way that makes the child question whether there is any sense and logic to their anger.

(Image sourced: Pixabay) 

In response to the parent acting out, the child will start to keep to themselves and steer clear, as they never know what will trigger or infuriate the parent. The child may also begin to start lying to their parent to avoid the constant put-downs, as they feel like they can’t do right by their parent.

Robin Stern, associate research scientist at the Child Study Centre in Yale, identifies these responses in his book,  The Gaslight Effect: How To Spot and Survive Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life, as the two warning signs that a victim is being gaslit.

Mocking of your child’s behaviour is a harmful action which is a form of gaslighting. This situation might involve – a child being upset because they want chocolate at the supermarket, but they already have a lolly. The child begins to cry louder because she wants chocolate as well as a lolly, and the parent becomes frustrated by the loud whining in public and mocks the child, “Wah, wah, wah, I want chocolate, but I already got a lolly. Well too bad!”

This humiliates and distresses the child and ultimately, invalidates their feelings.

A parent’s over-assertion of power when their child begins to grow older is another form of gaslighting. When a parent starts to sense their child is making decisions for themselves that they may not agree with, they begin to feel fearful that their kid no longer needs them.

To combat this, a parent might begin to speak poorly about the child’s newly formed school friends by telling them they don’t think they’re “good enough” for them. This sends their child the message that they are helpless without their parent’s guidance. In turn, the child isolates themselves from friends and family.

(Image sourced: Pixabay) 

Self-isolation was one of the warning signs that Stern identifies in his book that victims of gaslighting do.

It is important to be educated and aware of what gaslighting can in parent-child relationships in both large and small forms. 1800RESPECT anonymous counselling services say the effects of this psychological abuse leave a child feeling anxious, insecure, and distressed, which causes them to develop both inferiority and trust issues.

Children that are victims of gaslighting at a young age grow up feeling unsure of their place in the world, which subsequently alludes to them questioning themselves, their worth, and their own sanity.

If you or someone you know needs more information or support around gaslighting call – 1800respect counselling services – 1800737732 or visit their website https://www.1800respect.org.au/

Declaring your goals for a healthier year ahead can be exciting and empowering. You may have accelerated into 2020 with enthusiasm for the high expectations of what you will accomplish in the months ahead. Why then, is the reality of maintaining a new habit, so much easier said than done?

What exactly is a habit?

 

A ‘habit’ is defined as a behaviour we do automatically, requiring either very little or no thinking at all.

For example, loading the dishwasher every night after dinner is automatic. Brushing our teeth before bed?  Automatic. Purchasing that perfectly brewed cup of coffee each morning? Automatic. We have completed these behaviours repeatedly; therefore our brain requires very little effort to put these into action. It is expected. It is routine.

If habits require little effort, why is it so difficult to establish new ones?

The key to maintaining a new habit is having the opportunity for repetition.

Using the coffee example, every morning for as long as you can remember, you’ve been stopping at your favourite café on the way to work to buy that lovely cup of joy to help get you through your day. Perhaps in the beginning, before this ritual became established, you may have found it a bit of a challenge to go out a little earlier each morning to ensure you had enough time to grab your caffeine fix before work. And yet, following months of repeating this behaviour five days a week, it soon became second nature and now easily fits into your daily routine.

 

 

The science tells us that when we repeat a new behaviour, the nerves in our brain and nervous system are stimulated; this strengthens our neural pathways, which means over time, this behaviour becomes automatic.

We need to have an opportunity to repeat our new healthy habit, and this needs to fit easily into our day.

So, what exactly can I do to make sure I stick to my new healthy habit?

There are three steps we can take to help that new habit become more automatic:

 

1) You need to identify a behaviour that you want to become a habit. Make the behaviour clear and measurable. For example, you identify that you want to practice Yoga more often. You decide you want to practice one hour of Yoga, three times a week. Write this behaviour in your journal, or on a calendar.

2) You need a cue, something that will prompt you to complete this behaviour. This cue could be environmental, situational, physical, visual or auditory. For example, you may identify that the best time for you to practice Yoga would be your days off, after the school drop off. So the situational cue here would be returning home after dropping your children at school. Perhaps, you could even wear your workout clothes for the school run so that you are ready to go.

3) You need an opportunity to repeat this behaviour. How many times can you realistically fit Yoga into your week? You may identify the best time would be on your days off, when the house is quiet. This gives you the opportunity to repeat this behaviour three times a week.

Visual tools are great to help keep you on track. Check off your sessions on the calendar as you go, check in at the end of each week to see how you went. Do you need to amend the schedule to make it fit easier into your life? Make it work for you!

What barriers do I need to watch out for?

Disruption to your usual routine can be a potential obstacle. We are human; we get ill; appointments will crop up unexpectedly; our days off from work may change. Our lives are changeable and so we have to create contingencies. If you have a really busy week coming up and scheduling in three one-hour yoga sessions is too much, could you reduce the duration of your practice to just 30 minutes? Could you change your days? Remember, some things occasionally may take priority over your Yoga practice. Do not beat yourself up if you have to cancel a session; practice compassion and kindness to yourself. Move on with your day, reflect and get back on track the following week.

Be aware of your inner critic. Some of us live with an inner mean voice that will try and sabotage our progress. It can be easy to listen to that inner voice that tells you to give up, and tells you that you will never be able to reach your goal, but it is important you are able to close off that inner voice. Offer yourself the positive encouragement you would offer a friend.

You may also want to watch out for when the ‘honeymoon phase’ ends. When we make resolutions, we are often taken by the ‘high’ of their anticipated success. Vivid images of what we believe our lives will look like when we achieve our goals can often distract us from the journey itself. When we initially start implementing these habits, we feel excited by how easy it all seems, only this can soon change to feelings of ambivalence; the initial drive to change can slow down. It is important to acknowledge the end result is not the goal here; what is important is that you are making small changes to enhance your health.

Every step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. So please be kind to yourself and express gratitude at all times.

The take-away

Be realistic; plan feasible opportunities for you to practice this behaviour.

Keep it simple; do not try and introduce lots of new behaviours at one time. Take it one at a time and add in other challenges at a comfortable pace as you progress.

Have patience; developing and maintaining a new habit takes time. For some, it takes 21 days, for others, it can be 90 days, or even longer. Have patience and enjoy the journey.