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- The best method of dealing with toxic people in your life is to go no contact, and block them from all platforms.
- But sometimes this isn’t possible, like if you work with them, co-parent with them, or they are one of your parents.
- In these cases, “gray rocking” is the next best thing, which is a boundary setting technique that allows the target of psychological abuse to remain grounded.
- Essentially, it is a way of becoming as dull and unremarkable as a gray rock to the abuser, ignoring any attempts at baiting.
- “Psychological abusers crave chaos,” said trauma therapist Shannon Thomas. “The gray rock technique removes drama from the interaction, with the hope the toxic person will look elsewhere for their drug-like addiction to creating tension for their entertainment.”
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When dealing with a toxic person like a narcissist, the universal advice tends to be to stay as far away from them as possible.
Cutting off communication and blocking them from every social media account are the first steps in what is known as “no contact.” It tends to be the only way victims can heal from the chaos and damage the toxic person caused.
But sometimes no contact isn’t feasible. For instance, it can be really hurtful to completely cut out a narcissistic parent, even if they’ve spent your whole life criticizing your insecurities and flaws, and pitting you against your siblings. If it’s an ex-partner, you may share a child, so ignoring them isn’t possible either.
Trauma therapist Shannon Thomas, author of “Healing from Hidden Abuse,” told INSIDER that in these cases, it’s vital that survivors of toxic people have something called “gray rocking” in their toolbox of skills.
“Not all survivors of psychological abuse choose to implement no contact for a variety of reasons,” she said. “They may not yet be ready to leave the relationship, may decide to stay in a workplace where there is a toxic individual, or may not want to cut contact with healthy family members, and to go no contact with one individual would create distance from others.”
Gray rocking, she added, is perfect for interactions where a survivor and abuser have to come in contact. It’s part of “detached contact,” and is a boundary setting technique that allows the target of psychological abuse to remain grounded.
Essentially, they attempt to become as dull and unremarkable as a gray rock to the abuser. They’re present, but they do not engage with anything being said, especially any attempts at baiting.
“Psychological abusers crave chaos,” said Thomas. “The gray rock technique removes drama from the interaction, with the hope the toxic person will look elsewhere for their drug-like addiction to creating tension for their entertainment.”
Read more: Narcissistic parents identify their children as either a favourite or a scapegoat, and they pit them against each other
The first use of the term gray rocking seems to be in a blog post on the website and forum Love Fraud by someone called Skylar, who describes it as “primarily a way of encouraging a psychopath, a stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.”
“As Skylar describes, gray rocks are such a normal part of everyday life that we hardly even notice them,” said Thomas. “This type of invisibility creates a safe distance from a narcissist, who is looking for an emotional punching bag.”
Narcissists thrive on drama, and acting like a gray rock will probably leave them bored.
“Some days are harder than others to implement becoming a gray rock, and being aware of our stress levels is vital,” Thomas said. “If we are tired, overly stressed, or already upset, it will be harder to stay in gray rock mode when we come into contact with the abuser.”
It takes practice, she said, because at first it can feel robotic and awkward. But after a while it will help you feel like you have more control when dealing with the toxic person in your life, because they will no longer see you as someone they can use and manipulate.
“That is the entire goal of gray rock,” said Thomas. “Becoming so non-sequential the abuser looks right past you in search of someone who will get sucked into their vortex of arguing and heightened emotions.”