Are You Self-Gaslighting on Your Lupus Journey?
Living with this chronic pain always has me questioning my body on my lupus journey. The chronic nature makes me more aware of every pain. I often find myself minimizing and questioning my pain’s validity in that pain. At times I wonder, is this pain real, or is it something all in my head? It’s in my high pain that I become my biggest critic. I realized I was self-gaslighting myself.
What is gaslighting?
The dictionary defines gaslighting as manipulation by psychological means that causes someone to question or doubt their sanity, experience, or judgment. Essentially, it is a way to erode someone’s reality by stating their expertise isn't really so.
Some stages of gaslighting can include disbelief, repetition of falsehoods, escalations when challenged, and codependent relationships. These stages can be aggressive or subtle and have a destructive impact on your life.
What is self-gaslighting?
Self-Gaslighting is when you disregard your feelings or invalidate what's going on with you. You know when you convince yourself that you are overreacting when you abuse yourself emotionally as you question your thoughts, feelings, and even mental health on your lupus journey.
Self-gaslighting might be when you are so hard on yourself that you begin to question your very being. Self-gaslighting is real. It can often lead to self-doubt, poor self-esteem, stress, and flares. Consequently, it can become a self-destructive behavior that keeps you in a difficult negative loop.
Signs of self-gaslighting
Your inner voice is loud
I found out I was self-gaslighting when I was talking to my sister. She was telling me what I was going through was difficult and that I had the right to complain. I came back with, "Yes, that is true, but there are lupus warriors that have it worse, so I should be grateful." At that point, I realized my inner voice was criticizing my every step. Ultimately, that inner voice had me comparing myself to other people’s experiences. As a result, I began to self-gaslight myself with constant criticism, hypercritical thoughts, and self-talk.
Your self-trust waivers
I began to doubt myself. In particular, I started to doubt my reality. There were days when I would feel sick but doubted my symptoms and how they came about. It became an issue of me questioning whether I could even get through the tough moments. Consequently, the doubt about my self-worth became the number one gaslighting activity in my life. I began constantly doubting and minimizing my issues and their importance. Negative self-talk eventually had me questioning myself as to what I deserve.
Your life turns into a life of self-sabotage
I experience anxiety, stress, worthlessness, and anger as I walk on this lupus journey. For fear of those difficult feelings, I have done things that sabotage moving well beyond lupus. Consciously, I would procrastinate, stress eat and chronically worry. I would show up late or do things at work to avoid promotions from fear of failure or illness.
Some of these things mentioned became a consistent pattern of self-gaslighting. It became too much, and I had to find a way to combat it.
There are 5 things that I began to do to combat self-gaslighting:
- I began to journal my emotions without judgment. As a result, I was able to see my feelings and emotions for what they were as opposed to what I thought they were in my pain.
- Journaling helped me identify when I was self-gaslighting. I acknowledged the behavior and accepted it to change and heal.
- My self-talk changed. Instead of the constant comparison and negative talk, I began to speak positively in my space mindfully. Positive affirmations became the most important in my day.
- I increased self-awareness. Releasing the judgment for myself and others was the ticket. Setting intentions and really working to achieve them was a lifesaver.
- I had to take moments to ground myself. Grounding myself through mindful meditations and, amazingly, walking helped. I even walked barefoot on my grass to help me connect with the earth like a tree. This was so important for me to really combat my self-gaslighting habit.
Be willing to change
In conclusion, self-gaslighting can be difficult to get through. You have to relearn how to be kind, patient, and compassionate with yourself. It starts with your self-talk and how you self-soothe during difficult times. All in all, extend some grace to yourself. Be willing to change those actions that don’t serve you most positively and productively.
Did you have the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or Mononucleosis (mono) before learning about your lupus diagnosis?