Gaslighting is incredibly destructive behavior that can cause extensive damage. You likely won’t recover from gaslighting right away. In some cases, the damage is so extensive that it takes years to repair. The important part of recovery is knowing that you can recover. A gaslighter will make you feel like you’ll never be able to accomplish anything on your own, but look at where you are. You’ve left the relationship and are moving on to bigger and better things.
In this guide, we’ll cover five helpful tips for the recovery process. Whether you’re freshly divorced from the gaslighter in your life or thinking about leaving, these tips will help make the recovery process a little easier. Once you learn how to deal with gaslighting after it’s gone, you’ll be well on your way to a better future.
1. Don’t Go Back To It
Once you escape gaslighting, do not go back to it. It doesn’t matter how appealing a person might seem, if you recognize the tell-tale signs of gaslighting, stay away. This means at work, in personal relationships, and with family and friends. A gaslighter has no place in your life. Remember how it made you feel to be gaslighted on a daily basis. Remember all of the pain and anguish you had to feel, how you nearly lost your sense of self and your sanity, and how you struggled to make a decision you were proud of. That’s not how you want to feel again.
It’s important to take new relationships slow when you’ve been gaslighted before. You need to get past the charm of the new person and see who they really are. Gaslighters are often charming in the beginning and slowly reveal their toxicity over time, once they’ve already got you hooked. Be careful of this behavior. Don’t buy into the charm right away.
If someone you know seems to be exhibiting gaslighting behavior, don’t be afraid to take a step back from them. Your only focus should be on repairing the damage that’s already been done and preventing more.
2. Seek Professional Help
Often, the psychological damage caused by gaslighting is simply too great for anyone to repair on their own. In that case, you’ll want to seek professional help. This might mean a recovery group or personal counselor. Or, in lieu of professional help, you can turn to internet support and recovery groups or chat rooms.
The important thing is that you have support during the recovery process. Some wounds take years to heal, so make sure you’ve got good friends, a good support group, or you’re working with a licensed therapist to start to unpack some of that psychological damage.
It’s ok to need help, especially when you’ve been mentally abused with gaslighting. Don’t be afraid to reach out. There’s nothing to be ashamed of!
3. Understand Residual Effects
The residual effects of gaslighting can often last years if the damage was severe enough. You might have trouble trusting people, you might become apologetic for everything you do, and more. It’s important to recognize and understand these residual effects for what they are. They’re simply side-effects of long-standing mental abuse and maltreatment. They’re not your fault.
It can be difficult to form new relationships when you’re still dealing with the effects of gaslighting. It’s usually a good idea to abstain from new romantic relationships until you’ve addressed some of the trauma from your gaslighting. It’s not fair to your new partner for you to be dealing with residual damage and trying to form a close bond.
4. Be Patient With Yourself
Patience is your greatest ally in the recovery process. Things take time, and you can’t rush healing. You won’t be fully healed until you’ve sorted through the emotions, rediscovered your self-worth and confidence, and fully understand that it wasn’t your fault you were abused. This can take time. It’s a slow process, but one that’s so important to the rest of your life.
Give yourself all the time you need to heal. If it takes ten years, so be it! As long as you’re working toward a happier, healthier future, you’re on the right track. And don’t forget to keep gaslighters out of your life.
5. Learn To Trust Again
Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse and can shatter your trust in other people. It’s incredibly difficult to trust new people when you’re constantly being gaslighted, lied to, or manipulated. Learning to trust again is perhaps the longest part of the recovery process, and the most fragile. One poor relationship can cause you to have to start over, so be careful with your heart. Focus on your goals. Keep your path clear. You can learn to trust again.
Moving Forward For A Better Future
Leaving your gaslighter behind is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make for a better future. You’re taking control of your destiny and saying no to abuse. Holding yourself to a higher standard of treatment will open up all kinds of new opportunities. Don’t miss them!