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  • Writer's pictureHelen Dillon-Cottee

How to Turn the Volume Down on Gaslighting

Let’s talk about the impact of gaslighting, shall we?

For those of you who haven’t come across this term before, it is the process that happens when someone else to gets to negate our reality or experience, or when they convince us of something ‘true’ that really isn’t.

A huge part of the process of reform is digging out all the crap we’ve believed about ‘people like me’ that is holding us back from our own freedom. So in my case, there’s general stuff about being a woman, a wife, a mum, a coach, a Christian... then there are the specifics.

Early on in a vital relationship, I was told I was ‘needy’ and that this quality was deeply unattractive. And so I believed two things - needy was bad, and needy was unattractive - and of course, that I was both.

In the reform process, we have to look these things deep into the eyes and assess whether we want to live in agreement with them as truth - or not.

The reality for many of us is that we have adopted these poor beliefs about ourselves from comments thrown out by people we thought we could trust. Because we trusted them, we believed them. Even the things which were not true.

The only way to see the wood for the trees when it comes to these statements of beliefs we have adopted from others is to start to turn the volume down on them when we re-hear them in our head and heart. And the only way we can start to turn the volume down is to start doubting their validity.

It’s taken me a long time, and I’m not fully there yet, but I’m reforming my understanding around ‘needy’. I had to start by doubting the validity by looking at others and how I would want them to be in relationship with the concept of having needs.

Take my kids... if they have a need, I want them to voice it. When they voice a need and invite me into creating a solution to that need, we move towards each other. Same with my friends... our friendship only deepens when they trust me with a need. Their vulnerability in sharing this need makes me love them more, not less. So why would it be different if the shoe is on the other foot? Why am I less loved when I vulnerably share a need?

After the doubt, comes the reform. If that old belief doesn't seem to fly any longer, what else could be true?

Here’s what I’m currently playing with: humans are all connected, we are all one, and so needing each other is the very definition of humanity. When I have a need that I allow someone else to see and meet, I am trusting and honouring my own humanity and that of another. My ‘need’ is the point of humanity, connection and love. This doesn’t make me unattractive, it makes me open to love and connection.

I still find it hard to show my needs after years of them being shamed, but every time I do and someone who loves me rushes in, I can see the truth just a little more clearly.

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