Hell Week: Life as an L1

So today was the first time any member of my class has to stand up and answer to the socratic method of our case study.  Some were visibly nervous, others were not, and some had the balls to say straight to the professor, “I don’t know the answer”, which instantly won my admiration.  This is pretty much inevitable for every unfortunate 1L. No matter how prepared you are, how meticulously you’ve book-briefed or how detailed you’ve briefed the case on Microsoft Word, the professor is going to throw you a curveball out of legal left field. You’ll scramble frantically through your casebook, sweating profusely and wishing you could sue your prof for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

While you can choose your courses in your second and third years of law school, almost everyone at every law school in the country takes the same courses in the first year. During the first year, you will take some combination of Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Legal Research and Writing, Property Law, and Torts, with the possibility, in some cases, of an elective in your second semester of 1L year.

With this heavy course load and thousands of pages of reading for each class, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Part of the reason the first year is so difficult is that you are still adjusting to a new style of teaching, learning, and evaluation. Many law school professors utilize the Socratic method of teaching, in which they call on whomever they want, whenever they want to answer questions about the assigned reading, as well as to apply the legal principles and reasoning to hypothetical situations.

In addition to this new classroom environment, law school offers a new and unfamiliar grading system for most students. Law school classes are typically graded on a forced curve, meaning there are a set number of A’s, A-minuses, B-pluses, B’s, and so on in each class, with the majority of the grades in the B-plus/B range.

Your grades for most classes are based on one final examination, with no smaller exams or graded homework assignments. The only papers you will write in the first year are usually for Legal Research and Writing. The professors rank exams from best to worst and distribute the grades accordingly, so you are directly competing with your classmates for the top grades. Grading is blind, meaning the professor can only see your ID number.

All summer I have been exercising and keeping to my diet (more or less, mostly less).  After this week I am EXHAUSTED.  When all the workshops/seminars/panels provide free pizza, and you’re sitting on your ass all day trying to comprehend legal jargon, salad and water just don’t seem appealing. Oh, and an hour at the gym? Ain’t no law student got time for that.  I woke up this morning and instead of hitting those 5 miles, I rolled over, for about an hour.

I know we are all soon bound to constantly see torts in everyday life. Negligence: here, there, and everywhere.  It was the same when I studied linguistics as an undergrad…. diphthongs and morphemes were always on the brain. You become isolated from the world. (Especially during reading period.) and severely frustrated that no one who isn’t a law student can understand. At least your medical school friends have an idea.  The reading is non stop, and if it does stop, it’s only for a study group or court watching.

Depending on what kind of law you plan to go into, you will get obsessed with law/politics related shows, like Suits or Scandal or House of Cards. You’ll start aspiring to be the next Olivia Pope or Harvey Specter, if you hadn’t already prior to coming to law school. I have already re-watched Legally Blonde and point out everything factually wrong with it. Seriously, that shit is nothing like law school.  But then, I love it anyway and will probably spend many study night having it on in the back ground.

You will cry. Probably around finals time.  I already have.  On my second day.  It’s okay guys.  We got this.  One week down.  3 years left to go…..

Interacting with students who have similar interests as you outside of the stressful classroom setting encourages friendships that will support you throughout your three years in law school. You should try to make some friends outside of school so you can escape from the “law school bubble” every once in a while.


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Im Going to Teach a Yoga Class Sunday…. Bring your Boyfriend!

So while the other yoga teachers in my graduating class at Fusion Yoga have started teaching classes of their own, sadly, I haven’t even attending a class since the day of our final exam.  I have gained 15 pounds and I’m not at all happy. I knew I would be moving to San Diego to start school and I thought it would be good karma to offer a class once a week to the students in my section.  I decided Sunday evenings on my roof top would be the ideal location.  Then I had an even bigger idea: If I recorded it and post the video, my online friends could benefit from the class.  Eventually, I will come to do the lessons in real-time on a live video feed.

My classes all start with  a guided meditation and intention setting.  I am a big advocate of yoga for depression, so there are a lot of bow and camel poses; back bends open the heart, releasing pain and allowing light to enter the soul.  The awesome thing about being a trained professional yogini, is that I can design classes that promote emotional healing, intellectual stimulation and relief from depression.  It is one of the things I invested a lot of time learning that I haven’t used to its fullest potential.

After about 20 minutes of intention setting, meditation and warming up, I like to make sure we take the spine in all 6 different movements.  The spine connects everything to out nervous system, we need it to be in shape.  Lunges of various kinds are the best for legs and really help you get into to those warrior poses.  Balance is necessary to work up to headstands, crow pose, king pegion and of course the popular tree pose.  Ab work is crutial to every yoga class as strengthening the core strengthens the body as a whole.

Most classes will have a peak pose, or a difficult, yet popular pose all students aim to one day get into.  The middle portion of the class usually builds up to that pose.  For example, if camel pose is the peak pose for the day, right, left and full bow may be some of the poses leading up to camel pose.  About 20 minutes is given to this period of the class so that students have time to try the various poses a few times, making small improvements each time.  This is an enjoyable part of the class.  It keeps students come back to watch their own improvement.

My personal favorite part of each class, the reason I have been a student on and off for over 20 years is the closing portion of each class.  After the cooling off period, when we do those last stretches getting those deep cracks in hard to reach places, comes savasana, also known as corpse pose.  If the work out has stretched those muscles that need it, if we have moved out bones and body in various ways to easy the tension we carry, the savasana will reflect that with a deep, meditative state.  You are guided into that state with an after yoga reflection.  It’s common to fall asleep in class.  Snoring happens.  As you get used to treating yourself regularly to this self-care, that will happen less often and your meditative talents will start to grow.

As a beginner, all you need is a mat.  You can find a top quality mat at a great price at yoga outlet.  Today 2 tops I ordered from yoga outlet arrived, one by Manduka for $35 and one by for only $12.99 by Bella and Canvas. When you are ready to commit to your own yoga practice, then you can buy the towels, the blocks, the straps and the bolsters here from Manduka, the best quality yoga products.   Finding a teacher and studio that makes you feel comfortable.

Fuck Labor Day! White Pants Anyway! An Ode to the Female Hysterectomy…

So, I grew up listening to the rule that we are not to wear white after Labor Day unless playing tennis.  Yeah, well, try not being able to wear white ANY day past the age of 16… This was my truth for almost 30 years.  Since the age of about 20, I have spent the first three days of my period sitting on a mountain of towels on my bed, trapped in my bedroom.  Each night I would have to layer down the old sheets, the worn out towels and anything else I could think of to protect the mattress and my new and fresh bedding. After living though my 20’s and 30’s with anemea brought on by heavy periods caused by fibroids, I decided to do something about it.

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. Depending on the type of hysterectomy being performed, accompanying organs such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix are often removed at the same time. Hysterectomy is one of the most common types of elective surgeries for women in western countries. Most hysterectomies are performed to treat conditions such as fibroids (growths that form inside the uterus), heavy bleeding, endometriosis, adenomyosis (when endometrial tissue grows into the muscle wall of the uterus), uterine prolapse and cancer.

It is important for women to be aware that a hysterectomy is major surgery and should not necessarily be considered the first-line treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. A hysterectomy should be reserved for women for whom more conservative treatment options have not worked, whose family is complete and who understand the risk involved with this type of major operation.

Three years ago I had to have blood transfusions for my low iron animea and was hospitalized for eight days.  Three years earlier, while pregnant with my only child, I was told during a bleeding spell at the local ER that I suffered from fibroids to an extremem that I should consult a doctor after I delivered my son to have them surgivally removed.

I have always felt tired.  Always.  I have always felt like things that others do easily and take for granted, comes with such difficulty for me.  When my partner would leave for work, I hid under the covers, coming out only after hours had passed, not sure why or what I was feeling.  I had been exhausted since I could remember, I thought that was natural and everyone must feel that way.  I remember when my last boyfriend and I moved in together, I didn’t want him to know I couldn’t get out of bed till hours after he had left for work.  I felt guilty.  I didn’t know why.  I didn’t even know I was tired.

In the hospital I was, as I had been for years, prescribed iron pills, and finally liquid iron.  Even while pregnant I was threatened with a transfusion if I couldn’t get my iron up.  Even though my doctor told me red meat was the quickest was for iron to get into the human blood stream, red meat was hard for me to injest at that period of my life and even harder for me to cook having been raised a vegitartian.  Thank god for the creation of Del Taco.  Their bean burritos are single handedly responsible for me NOT having to have transfusions while I was pregnant or after my eight day hospital stay three years ago.

I had a total hysterectomy and my tubes were removed as well.  I didn’t have just one fibroid.  I had several.  Some so heavy that my doctor could feel them individually during an exam and told me that they were the size of a three month old baby inutero.  After my period I could feel the pain of them hanging from parts on my insides.  It was uncomfortable.  But like most things in my life, I was born and brought up to endure.  I didn’t even know I had medical options open to me that could end this routine of pain and discomfort.

Two days after the surgery I felt better than I ever had.  Stronger than I ever had.  Its as if energy and life force than had been leeking out of me since I could remember suddenly stopped.  My operation was only 15 days ago.  Already my mood is more balanced, my mental and physical stamina improved, my spirit is more alive and I feel like the care I provide myself isn’t leaking out of a whole in a drain I am unaware of.  I have had the energy to complete five miles every day since 3 days after my operation.  I feel like I can keep health, vitamins, iron, energy INSIDE instead of constantly having to supply it.  I don’t feel exhausted, drained and I am not constantly falling in and out of sleep.  I am thankful for modern medicine, but it isn’t without choices.  I am in the worst custody battle one can imagine.  And I can no longer have any more children.  To have the energy to fight for my only son, I had to give up the option of having any others.

On the up side, I bought, for the first time in my life, white pants.  Heels to match.  I am not going to follow the heard into hiding my newly earned whites once September 3rd passes!!  I spent the first 43 years of my life avoiding them.  Now I want to show off and go out clubbing…..  finally… I can drop it like its hot without worrying I can’t pick it back up without a stain!

I Would Walk 500 Miles…

Six weeks ago I moved 500 miles from the northern California inland valley of Sacramento to sunny southern California, San Diego, to go back to school.  It was great when it was all ‘in theory’ as it was for the past year.  Contemplating a career change, managing to muster the motivation to even complete just the application process takes just about all the confidence one can conceive.  I even deferred for a year a make the transition smooth and slow.  Yet it happened like a firecracker explosion in the face.  One day I was lost and feeling much without purpose in Sacramento, California, then BAM!  Suddenly I am in San Diego, preparing for law school to begin next week. 

I literally transitioned from the heat of downtown Sacramento, just two blocks from California’s state capitol, to the Gaslamp district of SD, the most densely populated area of clubs, restaurants, hotels and tourists at a steady, cool 80 degrees with a breeze in August.  I am a 15 minute walk from the beach and a 15 minute drive from the Mexican border.  My not-so-ex boyfriend drove me all the way down the coast in a U-Haul and then returned, driving all the way back up, on his own…..  When he walked out the door, he took everything familiar to me with him.  So where am I, this weed-smoking, yoga-doing, law-studying shopaholic here all alone, supposed to find my tribe of misfits to fit into?  When will I know when I have found them? And how do I find my place in this new environment before I am thrown into the deep end of the academic pool?

Since moving to San Diego, I have yet to attend a yoga class.  This is big news since I recently became a certified yoga instructor myself.  I am trying out Gaia at home.  I hope that this will work out for me, I doubt I will have the time to do barre class, a full course load at law school AND classes at a yoga studio.  So far I have been using Gaia in the mornings.  You can use my link to try it for free for 48 hours. I have decided to give free yoga classes to my classmates on Sunday evenings starting next month.  Something tells me no one would appreciate stress relief like a class full of law students.  The most important thing when you are trying to start new habits or activities regularly is finding ones that are close in distance and easily accessible.  For an example, if insomnia rules your life, then perhaps 24 hour fitness is for you.

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So how do I find my place in this huge city?  Where do I find my tribe?  I live between the Gaslamp District and the Ballpark District.  Very trendy coffee shops and restaurants.  I already have my favorite tea and a favorite coffee house to have it in.  The best burger comes from Cheeseburgers and Cold Beers. But Broken Yolk will give you a run for your money.I can take the streetcar to Mexico in 20 minutes or be at the airport in 15.  Last week I started barre class back up at The Dailey Method.  I took classes in Sacramento and the studio was literally in my building, it was easy to find my way to class even on my depressed days.  This studio is a couple of train stops away, so it will be like visiting an old friend.  My YogaBox has been delivered and is waiting for me to find out what’s inside this month, hopefully something adorable I can wear to class.  If not, I have my recent order from yoga outlet to rely on.  Yoga Box donates 1 yoga class for 20 children for every box purchased. I lose more weight doing barre and yoga than yoga alone.  Wanting to jump start my slim down, I am also using Plexus protein packs as meal replacements.

My anemia gets me down often and the protein helps, as does liquid iron.  Last time I used Plexus protein shakes while taking barre classes, I lost 20 pounds in a month.  No joke.  I recommend the vanilla.  I add fruit and a couple of ice cubes before blending mine, but the chocolate will help clean you out faster.  So the Dailey Method and yoga will take care of my physical well-being.  The ocean is always good for detoxing the system.  Going for a few swims would be good for me.

I have a week of studying ahead of me.  My significant other flew down to incorporate a visit with his own event.  We had tickets to a ball game and dinner plans which included peanuts and foot-long hot dogs.  It had been a while, so that foot-long made me anxiously impatient to go home and engage in some night time adult sports myself, wanting to win MVP see who would score the most home runs in a single inning….. I can’t change my weigh dramatically in a month, but he comes back down for Labor Day weekend and I want to look my best.  I am already 6 pounds in a down thanks to Plexus. I have already bought a dress I HAVE to fit into and tickets to the San Diego Symphony go along with that dress.  I trust my cosmetics to Lancome as always and Ipsy for new looks on the fly.  Dressing or date night or dressing for the courtroom, Ipsy always keeps me in style and energetic looking.  My custody situation with Drew was not appeasing to my move until last week.  Drew is now free to go anywhere in the United States, including San Diego.  And my biggest supporter, to whom I owe my future, will be flying him down regularly to see me.  I can now breathe easy.  There was just one other thing missing… intimacy with my ex himself… Having decided to keep going with our friendship and adding benefits to the situation makes it perfect.  Nothing says pleasure like only great sex with an awesome ex can.

Separating one’s private life from professional life is so very important.  It makes me happy to know that I can work and study hard all month and at the end of each one, I’ll have a handsome visitor for date night who has nothing to do with my 9-5 life.  He isn’t a co-worker, someone I’m competing for jobs and grades with.  He’s someone with his own interests and life.  I had the pleasure (literally) of spend this past weekend with him. I was happy to get to the Amtrak station and board the train this afternoon alone.  Because I have this time to myself, I’m going to really enjoy the weekend together.

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I attended three different legal seminars this month and joined the ABA.  Hopefully I can make some academic friends there.  That just leaves one last area of my life to cover……  STONER FRIENDS…..

A friend with weed is a friend indeed.  Last night my significant other and I were lying in bed.  He was reading one of my law texts to me.  I thought it was romantic.  We started to smoke, I let him go at this one, beautiful Blue Dream.  We are both smoking and laughing and certain parts of the text that just sounded funny….. And then when he is high af, he rolls over and says to me, ‘Can I stop reading this and can we have sex now?’  I wanted to laugh, except he’s pretty hot which makes that difficult, but he was completely serious.  I love that.  How can I live without stoner friends in my life?  Truth be told, if I had to choose between men and weed, I think weed would win.

In San Diego most weed is provided by delivery service, I have already introduced myself to The Left Coast Collective, The Harbor Collective and GC Petals.  I noticed the weed delivery guy making a delivery in my building, so friendly strangers can’t be too far.  That just leaves girlfriends.  What kind of normal chic can have a happy life without one or two ride or die friends by your side?  Most of my adult life was spent overseas, so those are hard to come by for me.  I am making friends in interesting places though.  I have made a few in a special mommy’s group located on the internet.  I just wish we had transporter technology so I could visit these lovely ladies for lunch.  I know I’ll make friend once my classes start, but right now I feel a little like a 5 year old getting ready for her first day of kindergarten.  Maybe more like high school, because the thought of what to wear and what kind of bag I’ll need HAS crossed my mind more than a few times.

Life changes, our environments change, our friends may change and our lives are going through constant change.  We change.  Change can be a good thing. But change for the right reasons.  Good ones.  Live your best life, and to do that, make changes and adjust accordingly.  But always be true to yourself.

-Namaste

Marriage Isn’t For Everyone – A Thomas Point of View

I have a confession. Ugh! I don’t know how to really say it. Saying it out loud scares me. But, we’re friends right? I can trust you with this confession. Okay, here goes… I don’t know if I want to get married again. Whew! I said it. I’m scared though. What does that mean for…
— Read on athomaspointofview.com/2018/02/23/marriage-isnt-for-everyone/

I really enjoyed reading this. It nice to know I’m not the only one who wants something a little different.

Finding the Right Yoga Teacher Training Program for you | Find Your Middle Ground

The first level of Yoga Teacher Training recognized by Yoga Alliance, is 200 hours. Not all schools are the same, so its important to find the one that it is right for you. There are three key aspects to take time to consider, before making this substantial investment of your time and money in becoming…
— Read on findyourmiddleground.com/2018/03/05/finding-the-right-yoga-teacher-training-program-for-you/

Just 6 months ago I was so tired from work that I would seriously take (as in fall asleep snoring) 20 minute naps during my lunch break. Now I’m still busy, but doing what??

In the past few years friends and co workers have found new way to communicate with each other in vocal silence while conveying our inner rage in complete soundless volume (all while listen and smiling to our bosses, cyber cheating on our partners, and backstabbing our friends and co workers. My personal favorite, the cyber cold shoulder….

There is nothing worse than being passively-aggressively ignored by someone on Facebook who has blocked you from their Instagram and took you off their snap chat and stopped following your tweets. They don’t block your number from calling theirs. There always has to be that one avenue left open. Without that one, last thread how would you know you are being actively ignored?

All this technology has added ways in which we communicate, yet our communication as individuals, friends, couples and cultures are connecting to each other less accurately than ever, harming us in various ways, lessened the healthfulness of our lives. We have become a nation and world of video and computer game junkies, illiterate and uncultured. Americans have no idea what is going on the world and care for no one but ourselves and our instant gratification. Maybe that’s true, maybe not. Maybe we have just created a new culture of communication.

Everyone still knows they are supposed to think profound thoughts while viewing Mona Lisa’s smile (I don’t think she’s that pretty OR her smile that nice) and scowl at Machiavelli’s ruthless leadership philosophies and decode secret truths that may or may not be hidden in biblical literature. Everything in life has become over interpreted. If we don’t receive a text return moments after sending one, we fly into a panic attack. Mona Lisa is smiling that’s what you do when someone takes your picture or paints a portrait. Machiavelli was just trying to stay out of the unemployment line. I PERSONALLY know 3 guys named Jesus, I went to high school with one of them. And yeah, he was nice as I recall. So yeah, I believe a girl named Mary gave birth to a son in a barn way back in the day. In fact, I bet more than 100 Marys gave birth in barns. Maybe they still do.

So, I have been home from my travels now for a few months. Everything and nothing has changed. I’m still in front of a monitor, I occasionally get distracted by a social, global or familial update on my mobile phone. I’m not being productive in anyway inwhich I might be taxed by a government. But I’m still multitasking. Making breakfast. Checking the headlines on PBS News. Sorting through the junk mail delivered last night to my various e-mail address. One for regular e-mails, one for serious e-mails, one for VERY serious (the taxable kind) and one for my personal everything else I won’t mention. I twtter a bit. Check in with my friends on facebook. Update my on-line resume. Do some freelance editing (online) have a sandwich. Watching the Simpons on fox.com. Have an employment interview over Skype. Compare contracts in my VERY serious e-mail box. Then I push through the afternoon while interviewing on my phone with a wireless head set while clearing out my regular e-mail box of ads for penile enlargements, forwarding forwards, annoying people by naming them in facebook notes and IMing old friends in China.

As the day closes, things are pretty much the same as they were in the morning. I make dinner. Update my status on various electronic communication networks and get mad that I missed tonight’s episode of ‘House, M.D.’ back in the real world because I was just TOO Caught up in the cyber one. Then I think to myself, ‘That’s okay. Because I have learned how to find old tv episode’s online or someone can just send me a file. I can stream it, download the torrent or have it sent to me’.

So, I will end this journal-sized update here, and get busy searching for my episode of TV before it gets piled under other flavorless avi files in the libraries of the new literature, novels and novellas…. and besides…. I’m just busying myself so the person who is actively ignoring me right this second thinks I have better things to do…

A while ago a psychologist said that we all require three feet of personal space. So what would the equivalent of three actual feet be in cyber space? Many of us maintain our most trusted and personal of friendships online. But with random strangers following you on Twitter and adding themselves to your MSN and Facebook Friendships, we have to guard our uploaded set of cyber social networks, cultivate and maintain the friendships we value and weed out the rest with reverent spring cleaning.  However, this might not be enough to protect ourselves from emotional predators that exist in the virtual world as much as they do in the real one.

There are steps to building and rebuilding lost and found friendships via the internet. Let’s go through the steps of forging new friendships. One of my old friends warns that people need to remember that we don’t know exactly who is on the other side of our computer screens. We don’t know their motivations, intentions or what tone to take when we read what their communications. This can cause problems later on when we realize that we’ve been reading their thoughts and words wrong the entire length of the new found relationship and thus have built a relationship around a personality not even skin deep? We are laugh out loud to our new friends jokes without hearing their overly serious voices regarding a comment you found so offensive, you’re SURE it must have been a sample of their sarcastic humor. This is why steps are important. You can end up actively ignoring someone or being actively ignored yourself, and that is never fun.

If you start communicating with a random person with possible friend potential, it is important to know what kind of friendship potential there is. There is nothing worse than getting to know someone in a public way, such a posts on your Facebook wall, that cause you to smile and laugh all the time because your senses of humor are just oh so simpatico, taking the friendship to the another level, a phone call, and realizing that the way the person breathes through the nose when you laugh makes you want to slap the *&^% out of them. Once that happens, you can never go back to the way it was, never read the daily humor on the walls without hearing that damn voice in your head. If only you had gone through the PROPER friendship development steps, after all, even cyber friendships require chemistry: after public chat comes private chat.

Using Facebook chat, Google Hangouts, Threema, Kik or other various sorts of direct one on one chatting, you can get to know the person as a individual, without the pressures of having to entertain a following of personalities who read the public walls of cyberspace communication regularly, aka your new friends already-been friends list. After a few spontaneous conversations, you will get a better idea of if, and if so, where, your new friend fits into your life. What do you have in common, how often (if ever) to they drunk-im you, can they spell (no, they weren’t just typing too fast, they really are that stupid), do they use punctuation properly, what kinds of entertaining links do they provide you with, etc. I have found that by having people in different parts of the world on my IM lists, I can get things translated, get different opinions and have people to meet me at the airport wherever I go. These friendships also cut back on the cultural faux pas made when I visit a new country for the first time. I am also never at a loss for an online spades partner. I have people to talk to when I can’t sleep, and, in turn, have maintained some sort of trusted relationships with people I have never met in real time. I have been saved more than once by people I have never met, or have met for the first time after years of just IMing. **More on this later…. Popular dating apps like Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Grindr, Hinge and eHarmony.

If you and your new found friend feel like enjoying some fun together, you can binge watch a much-loved TV show, play a variety of games, view pictures of the world, adopt a pet or move in together in a sim-world or whatever you find fills the need of the human condition to be social in whatever way you feel comfortable. And the best part about that three feet of personal cyber space is: you can delete the person from your life in less than 10 minutes whenever the need should arise….  BUT BUYER BEWARE!! Just like in life, online you can be just as vulnerable to toxic tactics of someone’s behavior.  Online environments can foster a feeling of intimacy that isn’t real, nor experienced the same by both participants.  Suddenly the person you have come to trust to be there for you isn’t. This is known by the term ghosting, which people not only do online, but in real life as well.  The online Urban Dictionary defines ghosting as The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee willjust “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.  Do to the inability of our real communities and selves to hold people accountable for their actions, or even just to staisfy your own piece of mind and seeking closure can be dangerous.  This can often spiral into an abusive situation involving what is known as gaslighting, an attempt to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight(1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

According to one article in Psychology Today, people who gaslight typically use the following techniques:

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. 

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition. 

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. 

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

7. They know confusion weakens people. 

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

8. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

9. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.

I mess up, make mistakes and I’m never completely sure of what I am doing. But I’m dangerously loyal, and that is all that has ever mattered.

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