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What Is Gaslighting?

Mar. 5, 2023 –  Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the abuser attempts to sow confusion and self-doubt in their victim’s mind. The term gaslighting comes from the Alfred Hitchcock film Gaslight. In this film a man tries to convince his wife she is going insane so he can steal from her. When he turns on the lights in the attic to look for her jewelry, the gas lights dim downstairs. He tells her she is just imagining the dimming lights. Eventually she begins to question her own perceptions and memories.

Gaslighting is a covert form of emotional abuse on which the abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgements or reality.

Gaslighting can happen in romantic relationships, but also with friends, family members or in the workplace. It is a manipulative tactic causing the survivor to question their own reality.

This occurs by the abuser questioning facts, denying memories the survivor has, undermining their judgement and bullying them into believing the abuser’s version of reality.

This can lead to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, depression, anxiety, isolation, loss of hope and dependence on the abuser, known as trauma bonding.

Gaslighting behaviours include lying about or denying something and refusing to admit to lying even when you show them proof, insisting an event or behavior you witnessed never happened, or that you are remembering it wrong, changing the subject or refusing to listen when confronted about a lie or other gaslighting behaviour, telling you that you are overreacting when you call them out, saying if you acted differently they wouldn’t treat you like this so it’s your fault (blame shifting), trying to smooth things over with loving words that do not match their actions, twisting a story to minimize their abusive behaviour, minimizing hurtful behavior by saying “You’re just too sensitive” or “It was just a joke.”

Signs that you are a victim of gaslighting include having trouble making even simple decisions, constantly second -guessing yourself, trying to convince yourself that it isn’t that bad, walking on eggshells around the other person, feeling lonely and trapped, doubting your own memory and sanity, staying silent rather than saying what you think or believe, being on edge and feeling threatened all the time, and thinking you can’t do anything right.

If you feel you are a victim of gaslighting it helps to talk to a friend or therapist. It also helps to keep a journal or record of things that happened so you can go back to assure yourself that something in fact did happen. Collect evidence that will dispute your doubt later such as screen shots of text messages, and dates and times of arguments, along with what was said.

The bottom-line question, of course, is do you want to continue in a situation where gaslighting is happening? You see, you cannot argue with a gaslighter. They will not respond to logic or admit their true motivation. If your conversations with a partner, family member or colleague turns into an opportunity to insult you or question your sanity or ability, step away from the discussion and the relationship if possible.

by Gwen Randall-Young that is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.

Gwen Randall-Young Psychological Services Ltd. | Website

(780) 464-7005 | gwendall@shaw.ca

 

Ask a Therapist: On Physical Rest

Q: I am having difficulty feeling rested and energized in my body – what can I do to take better care of my physical energy needs?

A: Our physical bodies are restored in two distinct but interconnected ways: through movement and through sleep. In her book, Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith describes these two components as passive and active physical rest.

Generally, when people feel tired they look to the passive form of physical rest as the first thing that is needed to combat their exhaustion. Perhaps they try to go to bed earlier or they add a nap to their day. In order to get adequate and restorative sleep, clients often review their sleep hygiene to look for areas where they might be able to improve the quality of their rest. Simply put, strong sleep hygiene – the care and conditions you place around getting a good night’s sleep – will serve you well in terms of attending to the need for passive rest.

If you are not getting enough rest at night consider implementing some of the following strategies to improve your sleep: set a consistent routine bedtime and waking time, avoid caffeine and alcohol after 5pm, put away all screens a minimum of one hour before bed (two hours is better), take all distractions out of your bedroom to create an atmosphere of calm, and/or create a personalized and predictable relaxing pre-bed routine that soothes the body and relieves stress (consider things like hot baths, meditation, stretching, journalling, reading, diffusing essential oils etc.). You will not regret prioritizing your sleep as it is one of the most important predictors of overall health and wellbeing.

Under the category of physical rest, the body also needs activity. This might be counterintuitive because movement requires energy but we all know that energy is also restored through exercise. Sometimes high intensity activities can be too stressful for a body that is depleted and exhausted so we like to suggest gentle exercise as the primary form of restorative self-care. This might include walking, stretching, yoga, swimming, slow dancing, reasonable weight lifting, or other slow-paced, low-stress physical movements. When you are exhausted, you want to move your body in a way that helps it to recover, to increase circulation, and to improve your lymphatic system. This is not the time for pushing beyond reason in your physical activities as it may actually distress the body further and thus not achieve the restorative benefits you are seeking.

If you would like support to build a comprehensive restorative self-care plan that fits your particular needs for active and passive physical rest (or any other rest for that matter) please do not hesitate to reach out to a therapist for support. Improving your sleep hygiene and gentle movement will significantly improve your mental health.

by Sarah Covery. Mar. 7, 2023

Covey Wellness Centre is a local spot for all your mental health and wellness needs. We are a team of mutli-disciplinary psychotherapists working out of our beautiful and serene space at B-12 Stone Street. Our wellness bookshop – which smells and feels like a spa – is open to the public every day except Sunday. Please visit CoveyWellnessCentre.com and submit the form on our Contact page to book an appointment or to inquire about our products and services or drop by for a visit! Follow us on social media @coveywellnesscentre, SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEW PODCAST, and download and follow at Eventbrite for the latest updates and event tickets! We can’t wait to welcome you to CWC for all your restorative self-care needs!

 

ANNIE’S JOURNAL

by Annie Warner Donnelly

Mar. 13, 2023 – As we consider how building a Biblical Framework filled with Bible verses and stories helps to ground us in our faith, let’s remember to add stories of people who testify to the goodness and provision of God in response to life’s challenges.

God’s plan to bring us together here on earth before He brings us together in heaven gives us an amazing glimpse of what it means to be part of His family; to learn, first-hand, about history and geography from people who’ve lived in places we may never have the chance to visit; to learn about cultures and traditions we may never have the chance to experience.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to do that very thing! I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, the High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania, just as he was finishing his 3-year term of office here in Canada. Here is a story from his life that had a big impact on me.

Halfway through his second year of medical school, as he pursued the profession he felt called to and most wanted, he made the decision that could have changed his whole career path. Only God could save his dream to become a doctor, but Dr. Mpoki’s decision enabled the Lord to intervene in a most unusual way.

“Exams were held on the Sabbath (Saturday),” he said. “For the first one-and-a-half years of medical school, arrangements were made with the teachers for me to do my exams on other days, but then the teachers became uncomfortable with these arrangements. I was told to do my exams on Saturday or choose to do something else with my life. I told them my position on this subject was clear and unwavering: I would not write the exams on Saturday. I was given a letter, and I left the university. I wasn’t discontinued (expelled); my status was simply switched to withdrawn. This meant I now had two academic years to requalify to continue my studies.”

So, the year 1990 went by, and 1991 was well underway when, through the actions of the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, God made a way for a faithful young man to continue his studies.

“It was May 1,” Dr. Mpoki recalled, “just a few months before all hope of resuming my medical studies would be lost forever. Deep in my heart, I trusted that God would make a way for me, but I never expected that He would use the president to do it. Up until April 30, Tanzania had a six-day work week—Monday to Friday and half a day on Saturday. On May 1, 1991, the president decreed that Tanzania would conform to a five-day work week. By God’s grace and mercy, I was finally able to continue my studies. I experienced God’s kept promises for myself. I continue to experience them to this day.”

Next time I’ll write about how we, like Dr. Mpoki, can bring God’s word into the events of our everyday living. Until then, blessings everyone!

 

Rosie’s Devotions

by Rosemary Hagedorn

CASTAWAYS

Feb. 12, 2023 – With spring slowly approaching, I decided to tackle the big job of sorting all the clothing that I own into a “storage for next winter” pile, a “give-away” pile and an “undecided” pile. I find it simply amazing how much clothing one can accumulate during a year!

As I was going through the “give-away” pile, I thought about how easy it is to give away what we don’t use: “seconds” that are no longer required or needed, “cast-offs” that are no longer in perfect condition. The “undecided” pile is much harder to give away. These are favourite pieces of clothing that have somehow shrunk over time. When we look at them, we hope, that one day, these favourite pieces of clothing will come back to the normal size that they once were. Or, there is that favourite sweater that your grandmother knitted for you, years and years ago, which would fit your granddaughter! And I realized how much harder it is for us to give away something that is still in perfect shape.

And, I wonder, what if God had been undecided? But, God gave His very best, His Son, to die on a cross for us, an undeserving and sinful people.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. (NRSV)

Prayer: Thank you Father, for loving us so much that You gave your very best, Your Son, as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we may inherit eternal life. Amen

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