I realized that the best piece I have read thus far on the subject of gaslighting is not one of the two I shared before. Given the importance of the topic, and how unfortunately few people are aware of it (and how many unfortunately learn about it through painful personal experience), it’s well worth sharing.
A reminder for everyone who is waiting for someone or something to come along and make everything better – most of what causes us the most pain and trouble in our lives are the dysfunctional beliefs we carry inside ourselves. No matter what changes on the outside, no matter what things beyond our control go as we wish or not, we are unlikely to feel very differently for very long as long as those beliefs remain unchallenged and unchanged – and that is work others may be able to help us with, but that no one can do for us.
Many of us have tried to do so for other people, many of us have had others try to do so for us – but it simply does not work. It is alright, of course, to feel, and to desire – but what we control are our choices, our actions.
If you really want your life to change for the better, if you really want to feel differently, then I hope today will be the day you take even a tiny step in the direction of the change you wish for. I am not going to lie to you and say there is a guarantee you will get all of the results you wish for – just like I wouldn’t lie to you and say there is a magic wand someone can wave to make everything all better for you with no effort or difficulty or pain or uncertainty on your part. (If we really want trust, we have to be willing to say what people don’t want to hear when it is true, and to hear what we may not want to hear.)
Maybe you need to ask for help. Maybe you need to look at the beliefs that are steering you wrong. Maybe you need to allow yourself to admit your mistakes, your wrongs. Maybe you need to apologize. Maybe you need to ask forgiveness. Maybe you need to forgive. Maybe you need to try something that you aren’t perfect at doing, maybe you need to practice.
I don’t know what it is you have been avoiding that might be helpful to you in your healing. I only know that I cannot do whatever it is for anyone else. And there are a lot of people in my own life I wish would find the inspiration they need to make efforts on their own behalf that no one else can do for them. That I wish I could help with. That I can’t do. I know there are things I need to do for myself that no one else is going to do for me. Some that no one could do, besides myself. I am trying, as ever.
This is not the most overpowering or inspirational thing I have ever written. And it doesn’t need to be. It is just a reminder. One that I hope reaches someone who needs it, and makes a difference. Because all I can do is what I can do – I can make an effort to reach out, I cannot control whether anyone is reached. Part of existing in the world as it is and maintaining touch with reality, I think, is being able to hold truths that feel contradictory – like having a small range of control and a large range of not-control. All or nothing thinking might feel comfortable, but it doesn’t often have much to do with reality. This is a very, very small thing I can do – offer some words to the data collection void. That is what I am doing, and all I am offering. Whether anyone reads them or finds any use in them or chooses to change their behavior is beyond me.
If the right words existed, I would have found them by now. I think.
But I will keep looking, just in case.