Gray Rock Method – Dealing with a Narcissist or Sociopath

When dealing with a narcissist or sociopath one way to deal with them is to act like a “gray rock” meaning that you become uninteresting and unresponsive. When using the Gray Rock method, your objective is to make someone lose interest in you. You don’t feed their needs for drama or attention.

You become emotionally non-responsive, boring, and virtually act like a rock. Emotional detachment serves to undermine a narcissist’s attempts to lure and manipulate, causing them to grow uninterested and bored.

When you practice the “gray rock” method, they’ll have nothing to spin into drama, and in most cases, you’ll be surprised how quickly they will lose interest in you. Although it’s extremely effective, some people, find this technique tough at first.

When the Narcissist asks you questions you can’t avoid answering, keep your face blank, and your response vague.  Answer with “mm-hmm” or “uh-huh” instead of “yes” or “no”.  Avoid eye contact if you can. If they start complaining about something, and you can’t answer with a “yes” or “no” you can just say “I’m sorry you feel that way”.

Do not tell the Narcissist you are gray rocking them. Sometimes it is best to cut off all contact with a Narcissist, but if that’s not possible, try gray rocking them and keeping your contact minimal.  Be warned they aren’t going to like being gray rocked.  My personal experience is they tend to start yelling because you aren’t engaging and answering what they want to know. They can become more abusive in their language and try to put you down.  They also can become more persistent in trying to get you to engage with them.  Be strong!  We’ve included some great input on Emotional Insulation to help you protect yourself from the abusive behavior of a Narcissist.

Emotional Insulation: (from the book – Children of the Self-Absorbed – by Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., L.P.C.)

You are setting up a barrier so that others’ emotions do not trigger or intensify your corresponding emotions. For example, anger is projected on you, and you already have some anger, if you don’t take steps to prevent it, the projected anger will intensify your own anger. Emotional insulation can prevent this from happening.   Always keep the emotional insulation in place when interacting with a destructive narcissistic parent.

Some different suggestions you can use for a barrier are:

  • A shield
  • A suit or armor
  • Mirror that reflects back to the person
  • Fence – of any type or as high as you want
  • A walled partition
  • Wind blowing back in their direction

Avoid Confrontation, it allows the narcissist to see how their behavior has an impact on you.

Avoid trying to Empathize, when you empathize with someone you open yourself up to experiencing the person’s inner world.  You will find it more productive and comfortable to sympathize or be understanding, but not empathize.

Avoid Self Blame – Blame is very shame producing and feeling shamed is very wounding. Your very “self” is attacked as inadequate, unworthy, incompetent, and flawed and this shaming also carries the implication that you can never overcome these deficits. You do not need to blame yourself for:

  • Not being perfect
  • Failing to anticipate your parent’s (narcissists) needs or wants
  • Appropriately meeting your own needs
  • Disappointing your parent (narcissist)

Give up unrealistic fantasies. The reality is:

  • Your destructive narcissistic parent will not change
  • Your parent will not accept you as you are
  • Your family can not be “perfect”

Remember, the destructive narcissist is more focused on their own needs rather than focusing on your needs, or emotions. You will need to become satisfied and happy with who you are and with other positive people in your life. This is easier said than done, but with practice it gets easier.

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