“To be rendered powerless doesn’t destroy your humanity. Your resilience is your humanity. The only people who lose their humanity are those who believe they have the right to render another human being powerless. They are the weak. To yield and not break, that is incredible strength.” ~Hannah Gadsby
Have you lost yourself during an abusive, toxic relationship with a narcissist?
Going through a toxic relationship with a narcissist can tear you apart and make you feel so beaten down that it feels impossible to recover. At a minimum, you are left feeling devastated, frustrated, headachy, jittery, drained, straight-up exhausted…the list goes on. The pain can seem so bad that you feel cursed. And who could blame you?
It’s awful how someone you loved so deeply could walk away from you without so much as a backward glance. And as they rush around scooping up everything they own maybe including the clothes off your back, it’s almost like they are abusing you all over again! But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are techniques, tactics, coping mechanisms that allow you to feel in control again and to help you reclaim your life after narcissistic abuse.
What is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a pervasive, covert type of abuse that involves the exploitation and psychological abuse of one partner in a toxic relationship. This kind of abuse can affect a personal connection, such as marriage, partnership, friendship, or family relationships. When you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family, they will often abuse everyone in the household and even affect the extended family members. Even professional relationships and acquaintanceships can be affected by narcissistic abuse.
While narcissistic abuse can result in profound emotional and psychological harm, as well as long-term physical effects, the covert nature can make it difficult to spot and even more challenging to manage. Worse, if you find yourself involved in this kind of relationship, your self-confidence and self-worth are often so low by the time you realize it, you can’t or won’t leave.
The Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Process, Explained
You finally understand that these were textbook narcissistic abuse methods! You also learn how to recover from a narcissist because whether or not it’s a conscious and intentional choice or a cluster B personality disorder causing trouble in your life and your relationship, the narcissist is focused on hurting you.
First, take the time to mourn the relationship.
I’ve always felt that the best way to get through narcissistic abuse recovery begins with some time for a mourning period, with an end date in mind. Depending on the length and nature of your relationship, you may need a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. If possible, take a little time off work to “launch” your period of mourning, and then maybe a few days at the end of your chosen mourning period.
Then, think like a scientist: research and notice the patterns.
I’ve often mentioned that you need to look at a situation logically before you can understand the emotions that go along with it. What I mean is that to really push through the most painful parts, you can sort of look at the details like a scientist. Think about the psychology of the narcissist, just a bit. Look at and notice the pattern in their behavior, and d some research. You’ll find that what they’re doing might look a lot like a playbook. And then you’re going to want to look at yourself and your own psychology in the same way. Figure out what led you to be vulnerable to the narcissist in your life and notice the patterns that allowed you to stick around as long as you did. Chances are that it might have begun in childhood.
Next, identify and name the narcissist’s behaviors.
For me, being able to identify and name the narcissist’s manipulation tactics sort of took the sting out of the situation a bit, on some level. When I was able to understand the psychology of a toxic relationship, and to sort of look at it “like a scientist” – logically, as opposed to emotionally – I could connect my emotions to the facts.
Then, connect your past to your present.
Find the connection between your past trauma to your present circumstances. That was a big part of stopping the pain and the addiction to the narcissist for me, and I’ve found that my clients usually find it most effective to follow a similar path along their healing journies. It also helped me to learn everything I could about my own psychology (and about codependency, C-PTSD, and the related side-effects) and then to uncover and understand exactly which parts of my life were among the most traumatic and life-changing. Then, I needed to understand exactly how those events and circumstances might have led to my current understanding of both myself and my life. This helped me to work on understanding and learning how to have healthier self-esteem and to recognize that I deserve at least basic respect and that I could choose to set boundaries that make me feel comfortable and safe.
How do you get over the narcissist with the least amount of emotional pain?
When you step back and take a look at all of the things you need to do for narcissistic abuse recovery, it can be distressing to think about how long it will take. However, recovering from narcissistic abuse is not impossible! I believe that with the right mindset and the right tools, you can speed up your recovery time.
What’s the most important thing that you have to do AFTER your break up with the narcissist? There is no instant, painless quick-fix for narcissistic abuse. There is no magical undo button that will erase the effects of psychological manipulation and abuse, nor there is such a thing as an “easy way out” or a fast recovery time.
One of the (many) downfalls of relationships with narcissists is that they keep us hooked with intermittent reinforcement, which, combined with long-game gaslighting and manipulation of our realities, makes it extremely difficult to realize the severity of a situation and deny a painful reality.
Even though there is no magic pill to relieve ourselves of the after-effects of narcissistic abuse, and even though we can’t just snap our fingers and get recovery over with right away, it doesn’t mean we can’t make things better in the process.
The narcissist has hurt you deeply, carved out huge chunks of your soul, and left you absolutely spinning. You don’t even know who you are anymore. You want to scream out loud “Why ME?!” You start to feel like you’re cursed. The pain is unbelievable, excruciating…and it lasts for months upon months. It’s like having shards of glass in your heart…
The only thing standing between you and the healthier, happier future you desire is the narcissist. So where do you begin?
Narcissistic abuse is a difficult thing to endure, but you’re not cursed. You’re a strong survivor and it won’t be long before the best parts of yourself emerge from the fog of manipulation and control. The pain will lessen with time…even if it feels like it will never end. But don’t give up – the journey to feeling whole again is more than worth the effort, I promise you. You can get help from a therapist or a coach, or you can join one of many online support groups for narcissistic abuse recovery.
Question of the Day: What have been your biggest hurdles in narcissistic abuse recovery, and how did you overcome them? Or, if you’re currently struggling, what’s slowing you down? Let me know – maybe I can help! Share your thoughts, share your ideas and your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.
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Being fearless makes you incredibly powerful – but when you’re in a toxic relationship with an abusive narcissist, you are often full of fear! Narcissists and people with NPD and other cluster B personality disorders are full of venom and they absolutely LOVE to see you being afraid. In fact, fear is one of their go-to methods to keep you stuck in these toxic abusive relationships.
In this video, I’ve pulled questions and answers from my recent live stream (all the fluff has been removed!) and I’m sharing them with you for Self-Love Sunday today.
I’ll share several tested and proven healing exercises I’ve developed that work especially well for the various stages of recovery from narcissistic abuse. Exercises include help with getting through the devalue and discard phases, how to stay away when you go no contact and more.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Q&A: How to Be Fearless During & After Toxic Relationships – SELF LOVE SUNDAY!
On my YouTube channel, I offer free daily video coaching to help you discover, understand and overcome narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships! I like to call it toxic relationship rehab. If that sounds good to you, hit that subscribe button.
**LIVE EVERY TUESDAY! Never miss a live session! Just text “AngieLive” (no spaces) to 33222 and I’ll send you a text each time I get ready to go live!
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.
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