As a highly sensitive introvert, listening to your intuition is key when it comes to protecting yourself from gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse wherein someone uses psychological control that can damage their victim’s psyche. The abuser may use denial, manipulation, and projection to undermine the person’s power. Gaslighting aims to make the victim feel confused about their own intuition — they may feel that what their heart says is invalid. Under these circumstances, the person may feel broken and hopeless, which can further affect their psychological well-being.
And if you’re an introvert — and a highly sensitive person (HSP) — you may be even more prone to falling under the gaslighter’s spell. Yes, some highly sensitive introverts are especially vulnerable to gaslighting for a few reasons, including their empathy for others. They often put others’ needs before their own, so at first, it could seem as though the gaslighter just wants their help. Plus, highly sensitive introverts don’t like conflict, so they may do all they can to keep the peace. However, all the while, the gaslighter is having the highly sensitive introvert fall deeper into their trap.
And if a highly sensitive introvert lacks confidence in themselves, they are more likely to believe what the gaslighter is saying, like the convincing stories they’re telling. And since introverts generally don’t love speaking up, fear of being ridiculed or dismissed may make them less likely to say something, too, even if they sense something is wrong.
Join the introvert revolution. When you subscribe to our emails, you’ll get weekly tips and relatable stories to help you embrace your introversion or sensitivity — and thrive. Feel empowered and finally see your nature as a good thing. Click here to subscribe.
The Link Between Highly Sensitive Introverts and Gaslighters
Many gaslighters are narcissists and their behavior is incredibly toxic, as it can make their victim feel unworthy. And another reason why highly sensitive introverts are more prone to gaslighting is that they may attract narcissistic and controlling people into their lives more so than others. This is because they are natural caregivers, which may attract people who abuse these traits (consciously or not).
Highly sensitive introverts are also exceptionally good at reading people and identifying their needs. For this reason, they can understand and empathize with narcissists especially well, which can create a strong bond. Sadly, what feels like a deep soul connection or infatuation may actually be a trauma bond (the attachment they feel toward their abuser).
For highly sensitive souls, gaslighting can be especially harmful because it can make them doubt their sanity and reality. In turn, this creates a situation that is a replay of childhood wounds from which they have not yet healed.
Signs of Gaslighting
The gaslighter may exhibit various signs, such as:
- Deny what happened.
- Say that you are imagining things.
- Downplay or trivialize your feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
- Pretend that you do not know what you are saying and make you feel silly, stupid, and childish.
- Intentionally withhold information and/or lie.
- Blame you for their abusive behavior.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to overcome this experience. Here are four ways to protect yourself from gaslighting as a highly sensitive introvert.
4 Ways to Protect Yourself From Gaslighting as a Highly Sensitive Introvert
1. Learn to trust yourself using your strong sense of intuition.
Intuition, unlike many other mental abilities, is something you feel strongly about, but can never pinpoint. You may feel that you are imagining things or that you are overly suspicious in situations — but it’s actually your intuition. When it’s trying to tell you something, it is often trying to protect you, and you can benefit greatly from listening to it. And highly sensitive introverts have a knack for being intuitive.
In order to trust your intuition, you first need to develop a strong relationship with it. This means spending time getting to know what it feels like when it’s trying to communicate with you. You may learn to tune into the signals your body is sending you and practice trusting your gut feelings.
Often, our intuition speaks to us in the form of feelings rather than words or thoughts. Pay attention not just to what you’re thinking, but also to how you’re feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance that it isn’t. Gaslighters can be charming and are very good at what they do (being manipulative), which makes your intuition the perfect defense against them.
Learning to trust your intuition can be a life-changing experience. It can help you make better decisions, connect with others on a deeper level, and live a more authentic life. And it can help you remove — or prevent — gaslighters from entering your life.
2. Listen to your emotions — they can help guide you.
When you are feeling something — and highly sensitive introverts feel a lot — it is also trying to tell you something. You may not know what your emotions are telling you, but they are there for a reason. Emotions can be helpful in guiding your life and decisions.
For example, if you are feeling angry, that might be a sign that someone (like the gaslighter) has crossed a boundary that is important to you. If you are feeling scared or anxious, that might be a sign, too, that there is something (or someone) in your life that you need to address.
If you aren’t sure what your emotions are telling you, it can be helpful to practice frequent self-reflection. Pay attention to what triggers your emotions and what happens when they come up. Journaling can also be a helpful way to explore your emotions and figure out what they are trying to tell you.
Is the chaos of life overwhelming you as a highly sensitive person?
Sensitive people have certain brain differences that make them more susceptible to stress and anxiety. Thankfully, there is a way to train your brain so you can navigate the challenges of sensitivity, access your gifts, and thrive in life. Psychotherapist and sensitivity expert Julie Bjelland will show you how in her popular online course, HSP Brain Training. As an Introvert, Dear reader, you can take 50% off the registration fee using the code INTROVERTDEAR. Click here to learn more.
3. Express your thoughts and feelings in a clear and confident manner.
When we bottle up our thoughts and feelings, they tend to manifest in other ways. We may become irritable or angry, or we may start to feel depressed or anxious. It’s important to find a way to express what we’re feeling in a healthy way. This can be done through assertiveness.
Assertiveness is the ability to express our thoughts and feelings in a clear and confident manner. It allows us to stand up for ourselves without feeling aggressive or passive. When we are assertive, we feel in control of our lives and our relationships. However, being so does not necessarily come naturally to introverts, as we want to prevent conflict and make others happy.
However, there are many benefits to being assertive. We feel better when we express our thoughts and feelings honestly. We also build trust with the people around us when we communicate openly and truthfully. Additionally, being assertive can help us get what we want in life, both professionally and personally.
While it’s important to be assertive toward the gaslighter, it’s good to practice being assertive in your life overall — with friends, family, and coworkers — as a sort of preparation for when (if) a gaslighter enters your life.
When it comes to being assertive, there are a few key things to remember. First, be clear and concise in your communication. Avoid using “I think” or “maybe” in your statements — be direct and honest. Second, make sure that your body language matches your words. Stand tall and project confidence, even if you don’t feel it inside. Third, practice what you want to say before you say it. This will help you stay calm and confident when the time comes. And, finally, be respectful of others, even when you are asserting yourself. You can be kind, clear and assertive at the same time — and, gradually, people will learn to respect you and your boundaries a lot more.
4. Practice self-compassion (not just compassion toward others).
When it comes to being compassionate, highly sensitive introverts often think of how to be kind and understanding toward others. However, we must also be compassionate toward ourselves. All too often, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and when we make a mistake, we criticize ourselves harshly.
Gaslighting plays a role here since it’s a form of emotional abuse that can do great damage to your psyche. It can make you feel like everything that happens is your fault. If you have been a victim of gaslighting, do not try to blame yourself. You are being abused and the situation is not your fault. So don’t be too hard on yourself — instead, show yourself compassion.
Self-compassion is a skill that can be learned and takes time to develop. Here are some steps that can help you:
- Acknowledge your feelings. When you are feeling down, it is important to become aware of your feelings instead of suppressing them. Say something like, “I am really angry right now” or “I am really sad.” This will help you accept your feelings instead of ignoring them.
- Think about how you would treat a friend, or a child you know, who is going through a hard time. Would you be critical and judgmental? Or would you be supportive and understanding? Try to be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone you care about.
- Make a list of all your positive qualities. Think of all the things you are proud of, no matter how small they may seem. Write them down, pause, and then write more down. You’ll probably be surprised at how many things you come up with. Then, reread this list often as a reminder of all the value you bring to others — and the world at large.
Ways to Start Healing From Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that can be psychologically damaging to the victim. It can make you feel crazy, unworthy, and like you are always doing something wrong. Fortunately, there are ways you can heal from this experience.
- Remember that what happened to you was not your fault. You were a victim of someone else’s abusive behavior, and we cannot control other people’s dysfunctional relationship patterns. This may be difficult to accept, but it is an important step in the healing process.
- Give yourself permission to grieve. This may mean crying, screaming, or expressing your feelings in ways that feel natural to you. It is important that you grieve all that was taken from you in the gaslighting relationship.
- Finally, and most importantly, accept your identity as a highly sensitive introvert and develop confidence based on that. It can be difficult to embrace being a highly sensitive person. You may feel like there is something “wrong” with you, or that you are weak because you can’t handle as much stress and stimulation as others. But being a highly sensitive person is not a bad thing — it simply means you process information differently and more deeply than others. And there are an endless number of advantages to being highly sensitive, including your strong intuition, being empathic, and truly appreciating the little things in life.
If you can learn to really love yourself — and trust what your feelings and intuition are telling you — it is not likely that you will be pulled into a gaslighting relationship. Even if you have been in one, or realize that you are in one, your HSP characteristics can help you recognize the fact that you’re being gaslit — and then you can make your exit from the relationship. And, of course, self-compassion and self-acceptance are some critical paths to healing the old wounds, so you can find peace and joy once again. And you will.
For more on gaslighting, please visit my blog at EggshellTherapy.com.