I’ve been thinking about something that my empathic friends might appreciate. It’s a topic I’ve had to really look at and work on a lot, particularly since the passing of my father who was a wonderful man but a deeply flawed parent. So here it is.
If you’re struggling with something, and you make a reasonable request of someone to do, or stop doing, something that would help you feel a little better, and that person not only says “no,” but adds a layer of “you’re so hostile” or “you’re so critical” and turns you into the “problem” in the larger group around you… that’s classic gaslighting 101. You don’t have to take it in, even if EVERYONE around you falls for it! Gaslighting is a form of bullying. Period. I often don’t handle it well, myself. My buttons are clearly marked and easy to push. I get hurt, frustrated, angry and often experience an overwhelming sense to run. That’s me falling for it and acting out, and the responsibility for that behavior rests with me. Don’t. Fall. For it. And for those times that you do, have a safety net - friends/family you trust who will safely guide you back.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could avoid these altercations altogether? When we share office space, home space or any other kind of space with others, we can’t simply demand respect for our needs. We also need to make an effort to understand and respect the needs of those we’re sharing space with - physically, emotionally, or work or family related. Sharing what you need is NOT an unreasonable request or a criticism of the other person. Respect each other’s emotional process instead of simply focusing on your own. Finding a middle ground doesn’t have to be that difficult. When both parties can do this, there’s no need to gaslight, because there’s nothing to “win.”
As artists, particularly those who are also empaths, we spend a lot of time caring for those around us and we’re often afraid to ask for what we need. Don’t be afraid. It doesn’t make you hostile, critical, or anything else. You’re perfect as you are. There is no such thing as the gibe, “Oh I guess you’re right, and the rest of the world is wrong.” This was a classic dad line. The truth is, sometimes you’re just in the wrong “world”. I promise you there’s another one out there that was made just for you.
As for that gaslighter in your life…it’s not always intentional gaslighting. Some people are so wrapped up in fighting for their own power that they don’t even see how they’re taking away yours. If you really want to reclaim your own power and remind yourself of how beautiful you really are: pray for them. Send light their way, and pray that they can experience their own healing and maybe someday be lucky enough to be as powerful as you.
We don’t fight anger, hate, or cruelty with more of the same. We don’t need to rally a bunch of people to our side so we can say, “See! I’m not the only one who feels this way!” That’s the job of karma. ￼We don’t fight anger and cruelty with anger and cruelty. We fight it with love. And just like the oxygen mask on the plane - we show it first to ourselves.