The gray rock method: How to deal with a narcissist you can’t avoid

There’s a growing trend in dealing with narcissists in your life. The popular advice is to just cut them from your life.

But what if the narcissist you are dealing with is your mother or your sister?

Sure, you could cut them from your life, although it probably won’t be easy.

Instead, you can try to use the Gray Rock method to try to manage their presence in your life without banishing them or driving yourself crazy.

Here’s how to implement the Gray Rock method to make it easier to deal with a narcissist you simply cannot avoid.

What is the Gray Rock Method?

In a nutshell, the Gray Rock Method promotes blending in.

If you look around at the ground, you don’t typically see the individual rocks as they are: you see the dirt, rocks, and grass as a collective.

When we are faced with narcissists, they tend to see everything.

The Gray Rock Method gives you an option of blending in so that you no longer serve as a target for that person.

Cutting a narcissist from your life, in some cases, could be dangerous, and if you are going through a divorce or trying to change your life to the objection of a close family member, you need to protect yourself first.

Gray Rock provides a safe and effective way to dull the impact you have around these people, and they will eventually just leave you alone.

How Does the Gray Rock Method Work?

To begin, you need to decide that you are no longer going to subject yourself to that kind of treatment.

A narcissist is someone who will go out of their way to hurt you for their own pleasure or satisfaction.

If you can’t cut them out of your life completely, try separating yourself from them as much as possible.

If you need to be in the same room as them, distract yourself with your phone. Don’t be present for conversations.

Answer short answers and don’t engage in conversation. At first, the narcissist in your life will become frustrated by your inaction, but they’ll eventually see that there is no getting ahead with you and they’ll move on to someone else.

If narcissists aren’t getting what they want: satisfaction from hurting other people or manipulating them, they’ll find another source of that satisfaction.

When the person enters the room, do your best to just leave.

Here are 4 steps to properly implementing the gray rock method:

1) Play the Part

If the mere thought of the narcissist in your life makes you want to play in traffic, you might have to really work on getting over yourself and finding a way to have them in your life.

This is especially important if the narcissist is the parent of your children or someone close to you like your mom.

So rather than cut them out altogether or expect them to change, consider that you can change who you are or what you do when you are around them.

Sure, they might be standing right in front of you, but they don’t have permission to get in your head. Only you can let that happen.

Instead of leaving the encounter feeling really exhausted from how they treat you, try playing a role in the scenario.

If they are not making any apologies for their behaviour, then don’t make apologies for them. Show up, do your best, shake it off, and move on as fast as you can.

2) Keep it Close to Your Chest

Image credit: Shutterstock – By Dmytro Zinkevych

Since narcissists love the spotlight, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to engage much in this interaction and they probably won’t even notice your lack of input.

They love the sound of their own voice and will talk at length whether you let them or not, so just give them the room to do and say whatever they want. But stay firm with yourself.

Continue to remind yourself that what they think and do is not a reflection of you and that they can hold all the opinions and thoughts they want.

You don’t have to give into any of it. You don’t have to allow them the space in your mind to take over your thoughts. You don’t even have to do much more than just smile and nod at them.

You can keep your thoughts and feelings close to your chest – they won’t come looking for them anyway and you get out of the conversation unscathed and feeling like you were in control instead of feeling like you got railroaded by them.

3) You Can’t Get Blood From a Stone – or Gray Rock

The reason the Gray Rock Method is so effective in dealing with narcissists you can put out of your life is because you maintain control over what is being absorbed by you and what they are prying out of you.

A lot of narcissists will push buttons and try to get a rise out of you. When you employ the Gray Rock method, you maintain control over yourself.

Despite not having any control over the narcissist in your life, you’ll be able to maintain a sense of self and feel good about managing the situation to the best of your ability.

If you don’t give them any space in your mind, they can’t take over it. And as the saying goes, you can’t get blood from a stone, so when you hold fast, they’ll either give up and move on, or not get what they want from you and move on anyway.

4) When All Else Fails, Walk Away

strong woman
Image credit: Shutterstock – By Lipik Stock Media

While the Gray Rock method is effective in helping you manage your closest relationships, it might not be the answer you need to help you solve your narcissist problem.

In the end, only you get to decide how to handle this person and if you can’t handle them or their ways, you might have to make the decision to move on.

It is not easy and it can really take time to get over and figure out the logistics of not speaking to someone in your family or a close friend anymore, but in the end, you need to do what is best for you.

So if you can’t get the relationship to a point where you can tolerate it – and that’s all you can hope for when you are dealing with a narcissist – then it might be time to consider a more lasting approach.

You might find it’s the kick in the teeth the narcissist needed to get wise and change, but more often than not, you will find yourself without that person in your life because they simply wouldn’t change.

But you shouldn’t ask them to change, really. You should take control over the people you let in your life and if that is not the kind of person you want in your life, then you don’t need to explain that to anyone.

How to Deal with Disassociation

One side effect of the Gray Rock Method is that you may start to become disassociated in other areas of your life, or with other people who mean you no harm.

It’s important to keep tabs on your mental capacity and state during the time with which you are trying to drown out the narcissist.

Keeping a journal and relfecting on your other relationships will provide you with an outlet to ensure that you are not going off the deep end.

Another issue that may arise is that you might start to get pleasure out of ignoring the narcissist, which could lead to other problems.

You’ll need to keep tabs on yourself to ensure that you are not taking the Gray Rock Method to far.

Check in with those who care about you most, and whatever you do, don’t tell the narcissist in your life about your plans to cut them out.

It will only make the situation worse as they will start to use your avoidance against you and the whole thing could backfire.

Get Help if You Need it

While the Gray Rock Method is tool that you can use to manage narcissistic people on your own, if you feel you are in danger or there is any threat to your life because of someone, or if you just feel overly intimidated, you should seek help.

Everyone has the right to feel safe and if someone in your life is threatening that safety, you may need to get professional help.

Talking to a psychologist may provide you wit the sounding board and support you need to overcome these trying situations and to help set you on the path to being able to trust others again.


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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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