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Recognizing Spiritual Gaslighting: Understanding the Tactics and Finding Healing

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As if regular gaslighting wasn't bad enough, am I right? Traditional gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which one person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in another's perceptions, memories, or beliefs, causing them to question their own sanity or judgment. Why would someone do this sh*t? People who engage in this mean-spirited behavior often do so for various reasons. Here are a few:

  • Control and Power: Gaslighters may use manipulation as a means to gain control over others and exert power in a relationship or situation. By causing the victim to doubt themselves, the gaslighter gains an upper hand and can shape the victim's thoughts and actions. 
  • Insecurity: Gaslighters often have deep-seated feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem. By making others doubt their reality, they can feel more significant or superior.
  • Avoiding Responsibility: Gaslighters may use manipulation as a way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions or mistakes. By making others question their own perceptions, they can deflect blame and avoid accountability.
  • Projection: Sometimes, gaslighters project their own insecurities, faults, or negative traits onto their victims. By gaslighting, they shift the focus away from their issues and onto the person they are manipulating.
  • Emotional or Psychological Issues: Some gaslighters may have unresolved emotional or psychological issues themselves, and their behavior could be a reflection of their internal struggles.
  • Intentional Harm: In some cases, gaslighting may be employed with malicious intent to hurt or harm the other person emotionally or mentally.
  • Lack of Empathy: Gaslighters often lack empathy for others and disregard the emotional impact of their actions on their victims.
  • Learned Behavior: Some individuals may have learned gaslighting behavior from their past experiences, such as witnessing it in their family or social environment.

Enter spiritual gaslighting - manipulative and abusive behavior in spiritual or religious communities. Just like with your classic gaslighting, the aim is to make the victim doubt their own experiences, memories, and perceptions. In this case, the victim is made to question their spiritual journey and their beliefs.

Here are some ways to recognize this:

  • Questioning your own experiences: If you are consistently told that your experiences are not valid, that your spiritual journey is not real, or that you are not seeing things correctly, you may be experiencing spiritual gaslighting.
  • Control over your beliefs: If someone tries to control what you believe or how you practice your spirituality, it is a red flag. No one has the right to dictate your spiritual journey or beliefs.
  • Isolation from other sources: Spiritual gaslighters may isolate you from others in the spiritual community, your friends, and family members. They may discourage you from seeking guidance or support from other sources.
  • Guilt-tripping and blame-shifting: Spiritual gaslighters may make you feel guilty or to blame for everything that is wrong in your life, or in the community.
  • Invalidating your intuition: If you are told that your intuition is wrong or that you are not following the “right” path, it is a form of spiritual gaslighting. Your intuition is a valuable tool for your spiritual journey, and no one should dismiss it.

If you have experienced spiritual gaslighting, get support from trusted friends or a coach. You may also want to seek the help of a therapist who specializes in spiritual abuse. It is also important to remember that your experiences, beliefs, and intuition are valid, and that you have the right to live your spiritual journey as you see fit. The road to healing can be long and challenging, but it is possible to find your way back to a place of self-awareness and trust.

Take things one day at a time, be kind to yourself, and remember that you are not alone. And also know that the psychology within a person who is a gaslighter - their behavior usually backfires on them into a pit of low self-esteem and self-worth...a never-ending spiral staircase into unhappiness. They didn't WIN. YOU won for recognizing the behavior and removing yourself from it.

About the author:  Elle Russ is a #1 bestselling author, world-renowned thyroid health expert, and master coach. Take her FREE Confidence Masterclass HERE

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