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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari and Physician Brandon Yew on February 21, 2023

What Is Gaslighting And How Do You Overcome It?

What is gaslighting? Defined as severe psychological manipulation, this abuse can lead to long-term mental and physical health consequences. These tips help calm your mind, fight stress, and promote relaxation to help you recover.

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Each year, the Merriam-Webster dictionary puts out a “word of the year.” In 2022, that word was “gaslighting” with a 1740% increase in internet searches.

So, what is gaslighting? Defined as severe psychological manipulation that distorts your reality, many people have been in situations where someone is gaslighting them and they don’t even know it.

Over time, gaslighting can lead you to believe you are crazy or things that you blatantly remember did not really happen. Victims may experience depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues as a result of the abuse.

This guide takes a deep dive into “what is gaslighting?” Our experts provide relaxation techniques you can use when someone tries to get the best of you.

What Is Gaslighting?

Image of a depressed woman with her head in her arms
Gaslighting can make you feel like you are crazy, worthless, or that your feelings don’t matter.

Gaslighting is a manipulation technique that causes the victim to question their reality and thoughts. It causes confusion, loss of self-esteem, uncertainty over one’s mental state, and dependency on the abuser.

This tactic is often used in romantic relationships by narcissistic individuals. However, it can also happen in friendships, among family members, and at work.

How does it work?

Gaslighting is meant to confuse you. During conversation, the abuser might lie to you, shift blame onto you, discredit your thoughts, or distract you.

Common gaslighting phrases include:

  • “If you behaved differently, I wouldn’t treat you this way.”
  • “I did that because I love you”
  • “You’re crazy. That never happened.”
  • “You’re too sensitive and everyone thinks so.”

Someone who is gaslighting you may also avoid answering questions. Instead, they will try to distract you by changing the subject.

How Does Gaslighting Affect Your Health?

Gaslighting can make you feel vulnerable, insecure, powerless, and confused. You might start to become depressed or anxious as a result of being manipulated. It can also affect your physical health.

Gaslighting will definitely first affect a person mentally. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Liver organ helps the body cope with and endure stress, both physically and mentally. Also, the Liver is known for regulating emotions. Therefore, when the body is experiencing stress or other mental disorders, the Liver is the first organ to be affected and this will lead to a series of pathological changes within the body.”  

Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew

Physician Brandon further explains that if the mental stress is too overwhelming, it will exhaust the Liver function, resulting in Liver Qi Stagnation.

If the stress continues without being resolved, stagnation of the Liver qi will subsequently disrupt the blood and fluid circulation within the body, forming pathogenic factors like Dampness, Phlegm, and blood clots.

“In addition, the prolonged state of Stagnation will cause Heat to pent up, resulting in the formation of the Fire pathogen. All these pathogenic factors will further impede the flow within the meridian channels belonging to the Spleen, Stomach, gall bladder, Kidneys, Lungs, large intestines, and Heart. Over time, Deficiencies in the organs can develop, eventually resulting in physical ailing of the body.”

Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew

Tips To Help You Cope With Gaslighting

A fighting couple seeking relationship help from a therapist
Seeking help from a therapist can help you overcome gaslighting in your relationships.

If you think you are experiencing gaslighting from someone in your life, talk to a psychotherapist or mental health expert. He or she can suggest techniques to help you cope with the manipulation and respond to the abuser accordingly.

Meanwhile, TCM offers plenty of natural remedies for coping with the anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress that often accompanies gaslighting.

Herbal medication, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, guasha (scraping), and tuina (Chinese manual therapy) are some treatments that may help. They resolve the pathogenic factors mentioned above, restore and improve qi and blood flow within the meridian channels, and soothe the Liver, resulting in better overall wellbeing.”

Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew

Herbal remedies

Below is a list of TCM herbs that can help calm the mind:  

Meanwhile, these herbal formulas can help dispel pathogenic factors and relieve stress:

  • Xiao Yao San 
  • Chai Hu Shu Gan San
  • Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan
  • Sheng Mai San

Medicinal mushrooms, such as Lingzhi, contain adaptogenic properties that help you cope with stress. Lingzhi also helps with anxiety, depression, and insomnia that may accompany trauma caused by gaslighting situations.

Acupressure

Acupressure is an easy self-help remedy you can do to relieve stress. To perform, place your fingers or a blunt object like a massage stick at certain acupoints and apply an appropriate amount of pressure.

At the same time, massage in both clockwise and anticlockwise circular motion 20 times each. Repeat for at least 3 minutes per acupoint. 

Here are some acupoints that help with mental health:

  • Bai Hui (DU20)
  • Yin Tang (EX-HN3)
  • Tai Yang (EX-HN5)
  • Feng Chi (GB20)
  • Jian Jing (GB21)
  • He Gu (LI4)
  • Dan Zhong (RN17)
  • Shen Men (HT7)
  • Da Ling (PC7)
  • Zu San Li (ST36)
  • Tai Chong (LR3)

Do take note that acupressure only provides mild symptomatic relief for mental disorders. In fact, it is merely a supplement to acupuncture, which is more comprehensive and efficacious. Seek professional acupuncture treatment from a certified TCM practitioner.

Seek Professional Help For Gaslighting

Consult a psychologist and psychiatrist, especially if the gaslighting persists and is of greater severity, affecting your quality of life. 

Have you ever been the victim of gaslighting? Share your experience with us below.

References

  1. Merriam-Webster.com. Word of the Year 2022.
  2. Merriam-Webster.com. Gaslighting.
  3. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. 2011. Chapter 9 Ganoderma lucidum (Linzhi or Reishi) 

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Was This Article Useful to You?

Reviews (2)

DVFNov 27 2023

Loved the article. As to the previous review. What he tells you is a form of manipulation and emotional abuse. You have to place yourself first and start creating your boundaries. Become knowledgable and aware of his strategies so you can put a stop to it. I advice you to go to therapy and then see if he would want to join you.

Aug 27 2023

Hello, I love this article explains very well,
nice job😇 I have a question idk if my husband is gaslighting me, when he gets mad he said to me that I can’t do anything without him, that God is not going to bless me if without him, he says things basically blackmailing and then when I bring it out he says you crazy I didn’t said that( even if I have proof like text) he said mean things to me, until he make me cry, he says that he would take my daughter away from me, he would get mad to the extreme and then couple days later he act’s like nothing happened. But all this affects us me and my kids. Idk what to do or say I’m confused, sometimes I think he’s bipolar because he can be so happy and excited and then mood changes quickly like another person so mad and irritated. Honestly idk what to do. If I tell him we need to go get therapy or mental help I’m afraid of his reaction. Hopefully you can see this it took me a long time to decide if I wanted to share this.

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