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3 Warning Signs You Might Be Gaslighting Yourself

When you normally think of the act of gaslighting, some of the most common things that come to mind are romantic relationships, families, and even co-workers. But believe it or not, many of us are prone to gaslighting ourselves! It sounds ridiculous, but it is true! The British clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Smith points to three warning signs that your way of thinking might be keeping you from being happy without you even realizing it. If any (or all of these) signs are relatable to you, then you are essentially doing a toxic person’s job for them. She warns that gaslighting has seriously adverse effects on our mental health when others are doing it towards us, but what about when we’re doing it towards ourselves? In many cases, people who are prone to gaslighting themselves have had traumatic experiences in which they were the victims of this at the hands of others. As a result, they are emulating that behavior, but using it to inflict psychological harm on themselves. It’s also not a simple matter of this behavior wearing off soon after escaping from the situation; the damage to your wellbeing is something that can last for a very long time. In order to heal, it is important to recognize the signs below.

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Dr. Julie Smith is a clinical psychologist who is recognized as the first professional to use TikTok in order to provide insights on psychological health. She is a No. 1 best-selling author and a featured host of “Overcoming Stress and Anxiety,” on Calm, a YouTube content series. When you’re looking for ways to manage your high actress or acute anxiety and become a more confident person, Dr. Smith offers great advice. 

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1. You think everything is your fault

Do you ever find yourself making a mistake and feeling like you are a complete failure as a result? In other words, you regard this as a core element of your character and you use this to tell yourself, “I deserve nothing but pain and misery.” On the other hand, when you see others make that exact same mistake, you find ways to justify it as no big deal because very often it isn’t. In essence, you hold yourself to a completely different standard compared to others. Whenever these negative thoughts happen after you do make a mistake, remind yourself that when other people do that you give them the benefit of the doubt, and you should extend that same courtesy towards yourself. 

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2. You have a deep distrust in yourself

You have thoughts and opinions about different matters, but come to the conclusion that none of them are valid. On the other hand, you convince yourself that those around you know everything much better than you. This creates a situation in which you never make any decisions for yourself and over rely on others to make them for you whether or not it is in your best interest. 

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3. You convince yourself that your feelings don’t matter

One of the key ways of thinking in the minds of people who are gaslighting themselves is the belief that their feelings are not valid. Rather, they convince themselves that when they feel anger or sadness, they are simply overreacting or are too sensitive about the situation. The end result is that such people aren’t sure which emotions merit listening to.

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Final Thoughts

Gaslighting yourself creates unnecessary stress and anxiety. You have the power to eliminate this way of thinking, but it takes some effort and self-awareness on your part. First, identify the above signs and prevent them before they happen, not when they are occurring. Keep a diary in which you express your thoughts when you catch yourself exhibiting any of those behaviors. Doing so will provide you with two choices: you can either continue this pattern or decide you’re going to change your attitude. Seeking help from a therapist is the best solution, but if this is not a viable option at the moment, at the very least writing all of this down will help lead you in the right direction. 


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