During a talk with a close friend, I started to realize something was wrong. While she didn’t seem to realize it, it became abundantly clear to me that she was in a terrible situation, but not only refused to see it but blamed herself. By the end of the conversation, I realized she was gaslighting herself.

After a bad breakup, she had found a new perfect guy, she said. She told me that while they didn’t get to spend much time together at all, and while he was secretive about everything – he was the real deal. She refused to see that the guy was giving off some really bad vibes, and chalked it up to her being ‘paranoid’ and ‘ungrateful’ for such a good connection.

Before the conversation was over, I was in utter shock. She was at war with herself- and manipulating herself into believing a false reality.

Gaslighting is manipulation to make you doubt your reality. While it’s often a tool that manipulative people use to control someone else, it can also be an unintentional way that we make ourselves believe in something we truly want to be true.

And while my friend wasn’t intentionally trying to harm herself, her actions inevitably would. Have you ever been in a situation like her, or are you currently in one? Here are 5 signs you are unintentionally gaslighting yourself.

1. You ‘should’ yourself way too much.

You use the word should regularly in your self-talk. You should be doing more. You should be more understanding. You ‘should’ do this, or do that. In reality, you are bullying yourself. While it may seem like you are pushing yourself to be a better you, here is a line.

2. You blame yourself for everything.

Bad relationship? You could have done more. Rude boss? You must be doing something to cause him to treat you like crap. Your car breaks down? That must be your fault too, you tell yourself. In reality, bad things happen, and people aren’t always the best-intentioned. It’s one thing to take responsibility when you are wrong, but don’t take on the fault of everyone else, too.

3. You doubt your memories.

“I’m sure I locked the door. I do have a bad tendency not to pay attention. I guess maybe I didn’t lock the door.” If you find yourself constantly doubting your memories- you are gaslighting yourself.

4. You convince yourself things aren’t that bad.

Do you find yourself constantly trying to convince yourself that situations aren’t that bad? Perhaps in situations where things aren’t right, you tell yourself they are, you just need to ________. Sometimes, no matter what you do, the situation you are in just isn’t right. Convincing yourself otherwise is gaslighting.

5. You always blame yourself.

While we can always better ourselves and improve our circumstances, that doesn’t mean we are always to blame for our situation. If you find yourself always trying to figure out what you are doing wrong, and are always blaming yourself for the behavior of others, you are gaslighting yourself.

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