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You’ve Been Gaslighted: How to Overcome Manipulation from Others

It’s like being punk’d or catfished, but psychologically worse.

“low angle photography of multicolored hot air balloon” by Jason Hafso on Unsplash

Are you constantly second-guessing yourself?

Is your judgment clouded with confusion and self-doubt?

Do you seek the advice and opinions of others before making simple decisions?

Are you easily swayed by the comments of others and let people tell you what/how to think?

Do you struggle with low self-esteem and have trouble trusting and believing in yourself?

Do others undermine your confidence and make question your value or self-worth?

Congratulations, you’ve been gaslighted! You are one step closer to becoming self-aware by acknowledging that you’ve been manipulated and controlled by others for far too long. It is happening all the time, you are just not conscious of it.

Once upon a time, I used to be at a constant battle with myself and let my inner critic take the wheel. I’m not sure when or how it all happened, but one day I noticed that I lost my personality and character. When I was a kid, I did not give a fuck or shit about what anyone had to say and I was not afraid to be myself, — even if it meant being very different and standing-out from my peers. I embraced my quirks and weirdness. Then, when I became an adult and developed shitty self-sabotaging habits, just like the rest of us as we pretend to “grow up.” So now, I spend most of my days unlearning everything I’ve been told to think and believe from my childhood; unfucking myself.

From my teenage years up until college, I was stubborn, strong-willed, and a hard-headed, sarcastic ball-buster. I was very driven, disciplined, and determined by nature. I thought that my confidence and assertiveness was a good thing, — until I let others get into my head and destroy my self-esteem after experiencing a streak of rejection. As others around me projected their jealousy and insecurities onto me, — I became extremely gullible and blindly accepted everything I heard as fact, and became miserable just like them.

Things got worse when I repeatedly ignored my intuition and gut feeling. I stopped following my heart and trusting that I knew the right answers from within. I went from being a wild, free-spirited, independent-thinker to someone who relied on others to literally tell me what to do, every step of the way. I lost touch with my true essence and struggled with making simple decisions. I consulted with my colleagues and co-workers before I did anything out of the fear of being wrong. I was so afraid of making mistakes and being incorrect.

I knew that something needed to change and that I no longer recognized myself when I started calling my parents about major life decisions that I fully was capable of figuring out myself. I listened to my heart and soul when I was growing up and knew what was best for me, without a single doubt. I never let anyone tell me what I should or shouldn’t do, because I remained focused and concentrated on my visions, dreams, and aspirations. Once the light bulb turned on when I had the major epiphany that I was wasting my time and watching my precious youth pass me by, — I made the commitment to not let anyone or anything get in the way to prevent me from achieving and accomplishing my goals, for the greatest and highest good of all involved.

Meanwhile, I had no idea that all of this was going on. I was so paralyzed with fear that it really started to interfere with my performance at work. I was completely unaware of the hidden manipulation that surrounded me in the workplace. After spending a year in the most toxic office environment, I realized that I was constantly gaslighted. My thinking was distorted by shame, guilt, and embarrassment. I would doubt and discredit my inner-voice and inner-wisdom all the time, and would harshly nit-pick myself. I gave away my power and control by letting others into my mind and was played like a marionette through intimidation. I was absorbing all of the negative energy surrounding me and my thoughts were no longer my own. I put everyone else above me and felt like I was never “good enough.” I felt so hopeless and helpless because I did not know how to help myself out of the mess.

Thinking about it now, how could I be so silly to trust those around me who I barely even knew? When all along, I just needed to simply TRUST and BELIEVE in myself. Just because I am honest and value integrity, does not mean that those around me have the same intentions and beliefs. I learned that you cannot assume that others too have your best interest without having ulterior motives. I chose to see the best in people and painted villains into heroes because I was so naive and blinded by their masks, lies, and deception. I lost my identity in the midst of people-pleasing others and chasing validation, acceptance, approval, and confirmation from outside of myself.

Good news is that I was able to see the light and pull myself out by practicing trust and faith in the universe. It is no easy task, — but little by little, I put myself back together by rebuilding my intuition and listening to my higher-self. At first, I could not tell the difference between my higher-self and my anxiety. Over time, I realized that your higher-self has a very soft, subtle, and quiet voice. Unlike your ego’s voice that is quite loud, overpowering, and obnoxious. When your ego gets in the way, it becomes defensive and protective, — drowning out your higher-self that is the true inner-voice of wisdom, knowledge, and intelligence. Taking ownership and responsibility for your life happens once you ask yourself: are you the puppet or the puppeteer?

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