The CALM Approach is a learned and practiced set of coping and empowering strategies which can be applied to many of life’s unexpected emotional and mental challenges.
Concentration is an intentional and sustained focus on activities and tasks which you have prioritized as most important to achieving your personal and career goals. Concentration requires frequent redirects when you catch your thoughts wandering to less important tasks or to disturbing memories.
How does concentration help you to overcome gaslighting? The gaslighter always insists that you have said or done something “wrong” and that you are solely to blame for every problem in the relationship. The gaslighter literally detaches your thoughts from the “concentration” mode, because he or she causes you to hyperfocus on what you need to change about yourself or how you, once again, “messed up” the relationship. Furthermore, the gaslighter either denies or distorts your reality, and the goal is to make you believe that you are so “unstable” or “crazy” that you cannot possibly have one good reason for behaving or thinking the ways that you do. Through learned concentration strategies, you can gradually start to focus on your own intuition and on objective reality, not on the gaslighter’s subjective reality which places the blame solely on you. A final and very important point about concentration is that you must commit to being focused on your needs, goals, and values, not on those of the gaslighter. Concentration strategies are counterproductive if they are focused on the gaslighter’s thoughts and behaviors. Because the gaslighter never admits or accepts responsibility for one’s words or actions, it is totally pointless and very self-destructive to concentrate on this distorted narrative.
Action is when you try hard and when you authentically devote your utmost energy toward purposeful actions. These actions can be very simple, such as getting into the shower, loading the dishwasher or laundry machine, taking a 10-minute walk, pulling out one homework sheet from your child’s backpack, or creating a blank word document as the first step toward writing a paper. When you take any action, you are moving forward. When you are moving forward, there will be less room for past-oriented distractions to knock you off balance.
How does action help you to overcome gaslighting? The term, “action” has been linked with “movement, steps, effort, work, exertion, and taking initiative.” Action is extremely important in regaining your sense of self, because the gaslighter has likely caused you to be “inactive,” both mentally and physically. The gaslighting may have also caused you to socially isolate, which is another form of inactivity. Finally, the gaslighter may cause you to “freeze” from the chronic verbal and emotional abuse, which is actually one of the diagnostic criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Livelihood is the engagement in activities which promote your well-being. Livelihood is achieved and maintained by self-care rituals, inspiring social interactions, awareness of emotional triggers, and a conscious daily nutrition and exercise regimen. Livelihood also refers to the continuation of a meaningful existence, resilience, and persistence.
How does livelihood help you to overcome gaslighting? Livelihood is the path to rediscovering your independent identity and hopeful perspective toward your future. Livelihood includes a daily structure of work tasks, social interactions with emotionally supportive individuals, and a satisfying nutrition and exercise plan. Livelihood also includes enjoyable leisure activities, intellectual pursuits, and creative interests.
Mindfulness is the state of being fully conscious or aware of what is happening in the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting each thought, feeling, or bodily sensation. Mindfulness is about being the observer, not the absorber. When you confront your fears or insecurities or pain, you are tapping into your true higher self. By doing this, you will be able to clearly see the effective coping behaviors which you are already using and areas of needed improvement. Through mindfulness, you will be strengthening your internal locus of control, which is essential for confronting and managing life’s challenges.
How does mindfulness help you to overcome gaslighting? Gaslighting can cause so much confusion that you lose your ability for self-awareness. Therefore, mindfulness, or being fully conscious in each present moment, is key to improved understanding and appreciation of what truly makes YOU feel inspired in life. Mindfulness will initially be difficult after exposure to chronic gaslighting, because you were immersed in the gaslighter’s controlling and manipulative narratives and critical perceptions. By learning and practicing mindfulness and the other three strategies of the CALM Approach, you are moving forward and away from the dysfunctional grip of the gaslighter.