Gaslighting In Reverse

I read an article on Facebook the other day, which referred to gas-lighting.
That process whereby sociopaths will chip away at a person’s confidence,
by way of subtle, negative, manipulative comments.
Much the same process is employed in paedophillic grooming.

It’s a form of brain-washing. Insidious, subtle and very effective.
Quite probably, lots of you have experienced this, quite inadvertently,
from parents, teachers, employers and other significant influences.
(“Oh, you don’t really want to do that, do you? You don’t really feel that way, do you? You really are very silly sometimes. Do you even have a brain in your head?”)

 Such was the case with the author of the article. He was horrified to
acknowledge one day, that he had contributed to the dis-empowerment of his girlfriend or wife, via lots of little messages that questioned her ability
to trust her own intuition, decision making skills, etc.

(it had the title of “Why Do We Find It So Hard To Trust Women” –
or something like that. Apparently we are considered too emotional.)

I remember those messages from my own childhood.
I was too slow (which I took to mean stupid), too emotional
(“stop crying or I’ll give you a reason to cry!”),
did I really want to wear THAT? (apparently not..), etc.

Of course, my poor exasperated and exhausted parents were just voicing their frustrations and trying to “protect” me by toughening me up.
If I became overly critical of myself, then I could circumvent the inevitable rejection of the outside world and it wouldn’t hurt so much.. right?

Well, it certainly works. But, as a former mentor of mine pointed out,
it is rather like walking around with a knife and stabbing yourself
before anyone else has a chance to.. Causes a lot of needless pain, really.

What if they WEREN’T going to stab you after all?
A lot of blood for nothing then, really. And it makes people uncomfortable..

So, most certainly this form of brainwashing (and it IS brainwashing) is very effective. My sense of self worth was less than zero. I also had no energy.
I always felt that I had to work extra hard at everything, just to try and catch up with everyone else’s base line. Over-achievers anonymous, anyone?

Many of us have a series of faulty beliefs about ourselves, due to years of disparaging remarks. People think they are fat, ugly, useless or unlucky –
when they are not. All because of stuff other people said to them consistently enough to leave a mark. As I said, most of this is quite unintentional,
but nonetheless quite damaging to one’s self esteem.

We can hear positive messages as well, but as Julia Roberts says in
Pretty Woman – “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”

However, now that you know how this process of subtle brainwashing works..
I propose that you use it consciously! In reverse!!

Give yourself consistent, positive messages. Until you start to believe the good stuff. It may take time, but stick with it. Believing in your goodness
will undoubtedly contribute more to the planet than all of your
negative conditioning will. So, it’s OK.

You can do this in a variety of ways.
Just surround yourself with positive messages.
You will wear down your resistance to them eventually.

Write love letters to yourself on the bathroom mirror in lipstick,
stick post-it notes up everywhere, listing all of your positive traits..
Set alarms on your smartphone with labels that tell you good stuff.
Recite affirmations every morning and night.

Look yourself in the mirror and learn to appreciate what you see.
Tell yourself that you love you! (Start off slow and build up to this,
if you need to. It’s quite a powerful exercise.)
Tell yourself that you ARE good at paperwork (or whatever)!
Make a list of 100 things that you do well or admire about yourself.
Then work on a list of 200 things..

Keep notes and cards that say nice things about you and read them often.
Dress yourself in nice clothes, pamper your body with nice lotions,
pedicures, regular haircuts – whatever you like –
anything that sends the message that you are worth caring for.

I got myself a lovely face wash that instructs me to apply it to my beautiful face and to love myself (who can argue with personal care products?),
and I set the alarm on my iPhone to gently awaken me with harp music and
a label that says “Get up, lovely one” (instead of “Get up, you lazy bitch!”)
It may seem silly, but it works. It made me feel physically uncomfortable to read that message at first. Then I overcame my resistance to it.

Coming face to face with all of this positive evidence that I’m actually OK, has improved my sense of self worth. And that is then reflected back to me by the world. Go on. Try it! I think you’re worth it. And I’m rarely wrong. 😉

*Photo by Tim Mossholder from