Toxic Relationship Recovery: Using the Gray Rock Method (Safely)

Toxic Relationship Recovery: Using the Gray Rock Method (Safely)

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.

Gray Rock method explained

Using the Gray 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 Gray Rock Method, so I thought I’d offer a bit of background and explanation on where it came from.

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a pervasive and highly effective manipulation tactic used by most narcissists, 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.

How do you recognize when a narcissist is gaslighting?

So, how do you know when to use the gray 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.

I mean – honestly, this has happened to me more times than I  can count during conversations with narcissists – and I am a writer who communicates for a living.

What is the “Gray Rock” Method?

The gray rock method 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. When you’re using the gray 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 gray rock. This helps you to become less attractive to manipulative people such as narcissists. While the gray 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 gray rock method is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience.

Who invented the “Gray Rock” Method?

As far as I can tell in my research, the “Gray Rock” method was so named by a person named Skylar in this p0st, written in 2012.

In part, Skylar says the gray 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 Gray 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 Gray 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 Gray 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 Gray Rock Method?

  • Rule number one when it comes to practicing the Gray 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 narc 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. Narcs 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 Gray Rock Method?

One important thing to know about the Gray 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.

If you think you’re dissociating, it’s time to take further action to deal with your narcissist – you can start here, with this resource page.

Now it’s your turn – have you ever used the Gray 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.

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Patience isn’t just an old GNR song: Letting go of ‘Insta-Stress’

Patience isn’t just an old GNR song: Letting go of ‘Insta-Stress’

“Sometimes I get so tense
But I can’t speed up the time
But you know, love
There’s one more thing to consider

Said, woman, take it slow
And things will be just fine
You and I’ll just use a little patience
Said, sugar, take the time
‘Cause the lights are shining bright
You and I’ve got what it takes
To make it, We won’t fake it,
I’ll never break it”
’cause I can’t take it” ~Guns ‘n Roses

So much of the technology we have in our homes, in our offices, our cars and even our bodies is designed to make our lives easier, and often it does – but it also allows us to do more than ever before. 

Sure, it can be convenient and we all know that having a phone has saved our butts on more than one occasion. Plus, your smartphone allows you not only a continuous connection to everyone you’ve ever known, but also a companion to entertain you in waiting rooms, distract you in uncomfortable conversations and generally keep you informed on what’s happening. 

So yeah, from fast food to instant contact via email and Smartphones, we are surrounded with products and services that provide instant gratification.

While there are plenty of good things about this, the drawback to all of this instant service is that it can lead to unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others and destroys our capacity for patience. 

I like to call this phenomenon “Insta-Stress.” Not only is it bad for your soul, but it’s bad for your physical health too. Take a look at the diagram below from Wikipedia to see a quick overview of some of the health effects it can have on you. 

Stress_2What is Insta-Stress? And how can you get rid of it? 

We all know how frustrating it can feel when we have to wait – for anything. Traffic, long lines at the bank or pharmacy – even our own family members who just won’t hurry up.

Over time, this frustration causes our stress levels to build and can lead to a short temper along with increased blood pressure. This can lead to even more health complications that none of us want. So what do we do? How can we avoid (or at least reduce) stress? 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to increase peace, decrease stress and feel better when something’s got me hot under the collar. 

Take a step back. The next time that you feel frustrated over a delay or other situation, try taking a step back and looking at the issue from a different angle.

Stewing over the circumstances isn’t helpful to anyone. Focusing on finding a solution helps your brain change gears so that you feel less stressed. It’s also easier to remain patient when you believe that a resolution is on the horizon.

Obstacles come in many forms, from physical circumstances that prevent us from moving forward to intangible circumstances and external influences that can cause delays. Regardless of the circumstances, try looking at all aspects of the situation in order to find a solution that helps you get past the obstacle.

Focus on what you’ve achieved. Many of us naturally begin to feel impatient if we’re making slow progress towards our goals. Rather than thinking about what you haven’t accomplished so far and how far you have to go, focus on the progress that you have made.

  • Stay motivated and build your patience by celebrating small victories as you work toward the fulfillment of your goal.
  • Take a few deep breaths when you find yourself feeling anxious about your slow progress.
  • Gentle exercises that focus on stretching and breathing, such as yoga and meditation, can also help you to remain calm and patient as you work towards a goal.

Set realistic expectations. Sometimes we become impatient with ourselves and others because we have unrealistic expectations. The next time you start to stress over a delay or other obstacle, try to be more flexible with your schedule and expectations. Consider a range of results or behaviors that would be acceptable to you.

Identify your triggers and develop a plan to remain calm. Everyone has certain triggers – people, places, or things – that make them feel impatient and stressed. Figure out your most common triggers and think of ways that would help you successfully cope with them.

Laughter is the best medicine. Learn to laugh at little delays and frustrations. Make up a joke about some aspect of the situation and enjoy a chuckle. You’ll feel your stress begin to melt away.

As you use these tips to build your patience and reduce your stress, you’ll learn how to pick your battles wisely and maintain your self-control in the face of delays.

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