She’s been employing the gray rock method and he’s been really hating it. He is always trying to figure out ways to keep her feeling insecure and uncomfortable in their relationship.
For example, he knows it bothers her when he makes it clear he’s attracted to other women, so one night after he particularly fails to make her feel crazy all day, Tom takes his manipulation up a notch.
He tells a story about a hot girl he met at the gas station on his way home. He tells Ava how the girl practically got naked in front of him (all lies, of course) and goes into what he would’ve done had he been single.
Ava realizes what he’s trying to do, and she remains quiet to avoid his inevitable claims that she’s always finding something to complain about, and that she should just blindly trust that he’d never do anything to hurt her (despite the fact that he verbally abuses her daily).
This is where it gets scary.
When Tom notices that Ava isn’t giving him the narcissistic supply that he seeks, he takes it up a notch, claiming that he can sense that Ava is upset, even though she showed no signs of it.
Eventually, he manages to draw her into the argument and she is left reeling. She can’t believe that he’s done it again.
But this is how a narcissist works. He consistently and systematically tears down his victims, forcing them into these predefined roles (he defines them, of course) that place him in a position of power while she struggles to prove herself to him in some way.
Being in a good frame of mind helps keep one in the picture of health. ~Unknown
You know all about toxic families and toxic friends, but have you ever considered that your own thoughts can become toxic?
This is especially true if you love a narcissist–and even more especially if you live with the narcissist.
We’ve talked before about why it’s important to keep an eye on your thoughts–because you bring about what you think about. So, if you’re focused on all good things, then more good things will come your way. But, if your thoughts become toxic, they can and will draw negativity and toxicity into your life, and can even cause physical side effects if left unchecked.
But when we’re feeling negatively and thinking toxic thoughts–like feeling and nurturing rage, holding grudges or wallowing in guilt or self-pity–our bodies release damaging chemicals. This makes us more susceptible to illness and disease.
Narcissistic rage can further complicate the situation, especially because narcissists typically aren’t aware that they have the ability to BE wrong–and if they are, forget about it–you’re going to have a cranky person dealing with a severe narcissistic injury.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of the book Who Switched Off My Brain, says that “stress and anxiety harm the body in a multitude of ways; patchy memory, severe mental health issues, immune system problems, heart problems and digestive problems.”
You may not even realize how often you complain or lament about the things in life you don’t love. Maybe you are frustrated because you had to wait in line for a half hour at the grocery store, or the traffic on your way home from work was so terrible that you actually got out of your car and sat on the hood to get a little sun. Perhaps you found out that your kid failed Science or you didn’t get into the college of your choice–or your dog ate your knitting project.
If you’re a narcissist, you’re probably not reading this anyway–but those of us who are dealing with you are likely to get the brunt of your toxic thoughts. So hey, if you love us, why not try to get a brighter perspective? We’ll love you for it.
And honestly, does it really help you to rehash and focus on these negative things? Nope, it actually hurts you. So, while you should absolutely feel comfortable telling the people you care about what happened to you during the day, try to focus on the positive side of things, even when there doesn’t seem to be one.
For example, if you waited in line at the grocery store, maybe you talked to someone who really needed a good conversation. If you sat in traffic too long–maybe you needed the solitude or you heard your favorite song. You get the idea–find the silver lining in every cloud.
How to Stop Toxic Thoughts: Use Mind Control (On Yourself)
I can’t stress enough how important it is to recognize and monitor your thoughts. You may not even realize how often you think negative thoughts. For example, if your friend wins an award that you wanted, you may think “she must be better than me” or “I deserved that award, not her!” But if you can bring yourself to genuinely congratulate and feel happy for your friend, you’ll not only do her a favor, but yourself too.
If you find yourself FEELING negatively, take a minute to listen to your thoughts. You might be surprised to find out that you may be subconsciously thinking toxic thoughts.
Take control of your mind, because you can. All you need to do is mentally cancel those toxic thoughts and replace them with positive and healthy thoughts that reflect your true desires. (Because whatever you think about and focus on is what you’re drawing toward yourself–so why not think about and focus on what you really want?)
Change Your Scene
When I feel like my thoughts are getting a little toxic, sometimes it helps me to just change the scene around me. Maybe that means just going into a different room or taking a walk–or maybe I need to get in the car and go somewhere. But inevitably, if I make the effort to change my scene, it changes my mind pretty quickly.
Try going out for coffee with a friend, taking a walk or a bath, working out–or even busting out the Wii for a little karaoke or golf. Whatever works for you–just get away from the spot in which you started thinking toxic thoughts for awhile.
What do you do to control and eliminate toxic thoughts? Tell me in the comments section, below, or hit me up on Facebook.
You’re at a party and you notice your husband getting a bit too close to another woman. After the party, you confront him. He tells you to stop being so insecure and controlling; that he’s his own man and if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t have acted like that in the first place. After arguing all night, you end up begging for forgiveness and apologize for the trouble.
Maybe it’s your mom – she’s picking on you like it’s a sport. She’s worried about what you’re wearing, what you’re eating – who you’re hanging out with – but it’s unhealthy. Instead of fighting back, you just suck it up and take it – maybe you’re too sensitive, or perhaps you really are crazy after all. Who can’t take a bit of criticism, anyway?
Or it’s your boss, who told you you had his support on your latest project, only to backpedal when it’s time to present it to the team. Suddenly, he criticizes you for your poor choices and he’s jumnped ship – but when you talk to him later, he tells you it was wrong from the beginning and you need to be more careful in the future. You find yourself wondering if your judgment might really be flawed, after all.
Maybe this stuff doesn’t happen in your life, but for many people, it’s an everyday reality. If you think it could never be you, think again! Some of the most intelligent and capable people are living in painfully toxic relationships with narcissists, and they’re plagued by regular bouts of gaslighting, an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that can be crueler than more obvious forms of abuse because it sort of sneaks up on you.
Because of its insidious nature, gaslighting is one form of emotional abuse that is hard to recognize and even more challenging to break free from. Part of that is because the narcissist exploits one of our greatest fears – the fear of being alone.
To put it mildly, communicating with a narcissist can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it matters that they comprehend what you’re saying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt exasperated when trying to have simple conversations with narcissists who have become agitated and who are actively gaslighting.
Using the Grey Rock Method Safely
So a while back, I wrote this post about the only way to effectively communicate with a narcissist, and in my experience, it’s the truth. In the post, I mentioned the Grey Rock Method, so I thought I’d offer a bit of background and explanation on where it came from. The Grey Rock Method is an ideal way to respond to a narcissist who is actively gaslighting you.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a pervasive and highly effective manipulation tactic used by most narcissists, a form of psychological abuse meant to manipulate you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity. It is pure brainwashing. In addition to toxic narcissists, many abusers and cult leaders use this tactic, not to mention dictators. They do it slowly and subtly – so it kind of sneaks up on you before you realize it’s happening.
This is where your abuser causes you to doubt your own memory, perception, and sanity. The term comes from the 1938 stage play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she is insane by making small adjustments to their home and then convincing her that she is imagining the changes.
How do you recognize when a narcissist is gaslighting?
So, how do you know when to use the grey rock method? It’s going to be most effective when the narcissist is gaslighting you. They will be thicker than concrete walls, intentionally trying to misunderstand you and assume the worst of you, in every single word. You find yourself feeling hopeless like you’re unable to make your point – and if you’re like me, it’s especially frustrating because you probably have no problem communicating with literally everyone else in your life.
Gaslighting is abusive because it is used to subvert honest communication. The abuser doesn’t want to talk about whatever problem there is; they want to persuade you that you are mistaken about what’s happening. They want you to doubt your own perceptions, your own memory; they want you to feel confused and off-balance, so that the only reasonable response is to do whatever they say.
What is the “Grey Rock” Method?
The grey rock method is a form of emotional self-defense used to cope with people who attack your emotions. It is a powerful strategy to shut down any kind of narcissistic abuse, behavior, or attack by anyone, without violating your boundaries. It allows you to disengage from the narcissist and refrain from making him or her wrong. It’s all about appearing to be somewhat indifferent to narcissists’ behavior.
How do you use the “Grey Rock” Method?
When someone is acting out of emotion, trying to manipulate you, they are not being rational. So your goal is not to think of a clever response – it’s to avoid being pulled into responding emotionally yourself. To do that, it helps to remember that most of our communication happens non-verbally. So respond non-verbally.
In other words, do your best to avoid feeling sorry for them if they’re feeling sorry for themselves, don’t get mad at them if they’re mad at you, don’t take it personally if they’re taking it personally.
The best way to deal with an emotionally manipulative person is not to react emotionally yourself at all — which is what the grey rock method aims to make easy for you. Think of it as practice in learning not to care about things that don’t matter.
When you’re using the grey rock method, you’re supposed to act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. Essentially, you don’t give them any of your energy or emotion; you literally act like you’re as boring as a grey rock. This helps you to become less attractive to manipulative people such as narcissists.
While the grey rock method will not fix the situation in the long term, it can help you regain some control and keep things calm when you do need to deal with a narcissist. The grey rock method is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience.
In part, Skylar says the grey rock method is, “primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or another emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.”
How does the Grey Rock Method differ from the No-Contact rule?
Skylar says that the difference is “you don’t blatantly try to avoid contact with the disordered individual.”
Instead, she advises, “you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the mentally unwell person must go elsewhere to get their need for drama gratified.”
Skylar adds: “One might say that Grey Rock is a way of breaking up with a psychopath by using the old, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the psychopath comes to that conclusion on his own.”
Why does the Grey Rock Method work?
According to Skylar: “There are gray rocks and pebbles everywhere you go, but you never notice them. None of them attract your attention. You don’t remember any specific rock you saw today because they blend with the scenery. That is the type of boring that you want to channel when you are dealing with a psychopath. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the psychopath won’t even notice you were there. This method strikes at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation: to avoid boredom.”
What are the most important components of successfully using the Grey Rock Method?
Rule number one when it comes to practicing the Grey Rock Method is to never tell the narcissist you’re doing so. If you do, he’ll definitely figure out a way to use it against you.
Never ask questions of the narcissist and don’t offer any “committal” responses – just say things like “hmm” or “mhmm” – keep it casual.
If possible, discuss only “safe” topics, such as the news, social media – fashion, cooking, etc. Nothing that would be personal – even if the narcissist begs you for it. Drama-free is the way to be!
Try to be distracted during the conversation so that you don’t have to directly look the narcissist in the eye the whole time. Make it something simple like doodling in a notebook or checking your text messages, or something more complicated such as knitting a scarf or working on a document for work. If you focus a bit more on your activity, you won’t be as directly affected by the narcissist’s attempts to manipulate you during the conversation.
Most importantly during this practice, keep your head in the game and don’t allow the narcissist to get inside your head. Narcissists are expert “guilt-trippers” and have no qualms about making you “feel bad” so that you’ll try to justify or defend your intentions – don’t fall into the trap.
What else should I consider before I try the Grey Rock Method?
One important thing to know about the Grey Rock Method is that there is a level at which it can become unsafe for you psychologically – and that’s when you begin to experience symptoms of dissociation.
A lot of people don’t realize that these two are connected, but here’s what happens.
When you learn to use this method and you find out how effective it can be when it comes to dealing with your narcissist, you may find that it is a great way to deal with EVERYTHING that is an issue in your life.
The problem with this is that you begin to truly stop caring – and your ability to feel your own emotions diminishes. This is a major issue because you don’t just stop feeling pain and anxiety – you stop feeling the good stuff too.
Now it’s your turn – have you ever used the Grey Rock Method? How did it work for you, and what tips would you offer for someone who’s trying it for the first time? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
You might have a few different reasons to expose the narcissist. Maybe you are tired of being the one who everyone “worries about” or “feels sorry for,” or worse – the one everyone thinks is pure evil, thanks to the lies and half-truths the narcissist spreads about you.
But, before we get into the thick of it, let me just put this out there: sometimes, the best solution is to just walk away – the narcissist will eventually expose himself to anyone he allows to be close to him. You’ll see the tell-tale eye rolls, feel the tension and hear the strained tones and fake cheer in the voices of anyone who has been exposed to his true self.
Even his flying monkeys might have their moments of weakness in which they reveal the level of manipulation to which he has subjected them.
2. Expose a Narcissist by Stopping Helping the Narcissist Hide: No More Excuses.
You probably don’t even realize that you’re doing it, but after you’ve been involved with a narcissist for a while, you fall into certain co-dependent habits. You find yourself coddling him, accepting certain conditions and behaviors out of habit. So one simple way to make a narcissist show his true colors is to literally just stop helping him hide them.
Don’t make excuses when he flakes out on your plans with others, and don’t cover for him in any way when the mask begins to break away. You may find this incredibly uncomfortable at first, but it’s a very effective way to open the eyes of the people around the narcissist.
3. Pull the Trigger on Exposing a Narcissist By Being Honest: Telling It Like It Is.
This one’s really pretty simple. In order to expose a narcissist, you simply tell it like it is. Just say something that triggers narcissistic behavior and don’t take it back. That’ll cause him to expose himself because he won’t be able to hold back if you don’t do your customary two-step around the issue to help him save face.
But if you’re going to do it, do it right. Think about what kinds of things typically trigger the narcissist’s rages and boldly use those to your advantage – but be fearless or it won’t work. Don’t feel bad about it – this is literally you turning his own behaviors back on him. How often has he said and done these kinds of manipulative statements to you?
A statement of fact that contradicts the narcissist’s inflated perception of his/her grandiose self. (i.e. “I thought you said you got a promotion – I’m shocked you’re still driving that old beater! You must really have a lot of expenses.”
Any open criticism, disagreement, or blatant exposure of fake achievements, made-up stories, or other lies and deceptions.
Belittling the “talents and skills” the narc believes or pretends that he has (i.e. “your rap skills need to go back to the 80s!”).
A statement that would indicate that he’s “less than,” somehow “not good enough,” in any way controlled, owned, or dependent upon someone else – even you (i.e. “I don’t know what you’d do without me!”).
Describe the narcissist as average and common, “just like all the others “(i.e. “You’re a typical woman. All women are crazy” or “Men are pigs – you’re just another oinker in the pigpen of life.”)
Any indication that the narcissist is weak. (i.e. “Oh, let me help you! You’re clearly in need. You’re (insert adjective here – weak, slow, lazy, in any way not perfect)! Poor thing!”)
Why This Works to Expose a Narcissist
See, the narcissist literally believes he is different and better than everyone else – that he is so special, in fact, that other people should recognize this and treat him accordingly. So, while he’s really good at making people believe he’s cool, fun, laid back, or whatever he’s trying to make them think, the truth is that the best possible way to expose him is to simply make him do it himself.
When you use the three steps I outlined above, you will almost definitely expose the narcissist and make everyone see who he really is – and fast. But be prepared for the very strong reaction that is sure to come from the narcissist – it will come and it will be unpleasant. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be able to handle it.
Honestly, while exposing the narcissist to the people in his life may help some of them to get a clue and stop allowing themselves to be his narcissistic supply, it’ll only temporarily slow the narcissist down.
In fact, it’ll give him the proper fuel he needs to get his next supply on the line – his very own savior. Because, of course, in his version of the story, you’ll be just the crazy bitch who was so mean and hateful to him and who tried to make his family and friends hate him.