Episode 839 gives us life-changing awareness around, childhood trauma, gaslighting, and toxic relationships. Kevin and Alan take a deep dive with Clinical Psychologist Stephanie Carinia on how to raise your awareness in relationships.
One of the biggest topics Stephanie talks on is gaslighting. She shares how dangerous this form of emotional abuse can be. The difference between gaslighting and simply criticizing is that the goal of gaslighting is to belittle the other person and tear apart their identity. It uses shame, makes them doubt their intuition, and is meant to overpower them.
Where does gaslighting stem from? Most times it’s from a place of insecurity. Insecurity is a fragile sense of self. Someone with a low view of self may feel the need to tear someone else down in order to feel slightly more secure themselves. We can function with low self-esteem but not very low self-esteem. As a defense mechanism, people will gaslight others to boost their view of self.
People with a very low view of self will default to fake self-esteem in order to function. What often happens however is that people don’t always know that their confidence is fake. They begin to believe that all the walls they put up and unaligned goals that they deem as success are actually their authentic selves. They present it as real because other people buy into it.
Having a higher awareness can help you recognize whether someone is acting out of their authentic self or fear. Raising your self-awareness and your awareness of those around you will also help you to determine if you’ve been gaslit. It’s important to recognize this emotional abuse and understand that it has to do with the other persons’ self-esteem. If we don’t recognize this, then their belittling will dangerously destroy our own self-esteem.
Stephanie shares another point to help us mend relationships with our parents and heal our childhood. When healing from a childhood wound, often the pressure of needing to forgive gets in the way of true healing.
We need to forgive the pressure on forgiving. Forgiving is the byproduct of the actual healing process! So we can let that pressure and expectation go because it will come naturally once we allow ourselves to really work through our past and grieve what we never received.
We can’t bypass grieving our unmet childhood needs by forgiving.
Anger is an essential part of grieving. It’s not as simple as having compassion for our parents that didn’t give us the love we needed. It’s not as simple as saying that they did the best they could. We have to allow ourselves to feel the anger of the hurt they caused. We need to feel this because that is us accepting that we are worthy of love; worthy of more than they could give us. This will increase our self-worth which will increase our self-compassion. Only then can we have compassion on them too.
This is so important. We can only be compassionate towards others from a place of self-compassion. That’s why it’s so important to recognize our self-worth before we try to forgive others.
On this topic of compassion, there is another distinction that Stephanie shared with us. When we think of overly compassionate/giving people we see them as selfless. It’s important, however, that if you identify with this, that you understand whether your compassion is out of a place of people-pleasing, or out of love and authenticity. When our cup is full and we give from a space of overflowing abundance, this is genuine. But when we give out of lack and put everyone before ourselves this is not altruistic. It’s no, longer out of love but may even result in resentment. When we give while overstepping our boundary it becomes selfish. Because unconsciously, we want something in return, we want the other person to like us. In a sense, we are trying to buy love. I think we may all be able to relate to this in some way.
You can see, that there are so many drivers, so many explanations for the way we act. But we keep avoiding the healing process. Many people are living their ego life and not their real life. We live in either fear or authenticity. When living in fear, we live how we think we are supposed to live. If you have everything, but you don’t feel fulfilled and are living your parent’s desire then that is ego. That is living out of fear. We attempt to relieve this fear by getting all these outward unaligned accomplishments and checking them all off thinking that’s what happiness is. This is a common example of a midlife crisis. We realize that we have everything but have nothing that we are actually connected to. For example, we are living the life of our narcissistic parents.
The problem is, we still live in fear. We still live in this fragile world we’ve created for ourselves and adopt imposter syndrome. We think that we are only worthy because of the outward fake success. And thus don’t feel intrinsically valued and worthy in a place of unconditional acceptance
But how do we know that we are living out of alignment? How do we know if we are actually more or less confident than we are? If our awareness is low how do we increase it and navigate back to our true selves? How does someone get to the reality of who they actually are? The answer lies in emotions. Emotions are our navigation. We get disconnected from our emotions and thus don’t have them to guide us. How does this disconnect happen? We can have incredible parents but if they are not emotionally mature, then the way in which they respond to their vulnerable child may create a belief system in which they carry into adulthood. The child might shut down and come to believe that emotions aren’t safe. They become disconnected from their emotions and thus lose that connection to who they really are.
The final point Stephanie shares with us is the importance of personal responsibility and why we avoid it so much. The reason people avoid it so much is often centered around shame. People struggle to take ownership because it can get ingrained in us that personal responsibility equates to blame. We can be personally responsible but we don’t have to attach the mistake to our identity. We end up gaslighting, blaming others, feeling pressured to forgive, or being overly compassionate. All of these negative behaviors can result from unhealed trauma and not taking responsibility. We are 100% responsible for our lives. Raise your awareness first, heal yourself first, view your relationships with fresh eyes and a healed perspective.
Be sure to follow Stephanie Carinia on Instagram at @psychologiststephanie and check out her website https://www.psychologiststephanie.com/ to help you on your journey to empowerment and self-awareness.