If you made it this far and you’re thinking, “Wow, yes, this is totally me,” know that it is not your fault or responsibility to make up for your family’s wrongdoings. No one is perfect, but that doesn’t mean family members should constantly punish or ostracize you for things that are not your fault.
Beyond that, according to both Campbell and Neo, the grey rock method is a helpful tactic to learn, because the truth is, one of the only things you can control in these scenarios is your own reaction. With the grey rock method, you simply give the perpetrators nothing—becoming a rock.
“Look at the bigger picture of what’s going on, and then deal with [them] as impassively as possible,” Neo explains, adding that you might think this makes you inauthentic, but you wouldn’t go to war without weapons or shields.
Or as Campbell puts it, you can treat the grey rock method almost like you’re duping your family. “It looks just like people-pleasing from the outside, but when you know you’re doing it for yourself, the psychology is totally different,” she explains.
This is the best route to take if you have to deal with toxic family members, but if it reaches a point where your family is causing you more stress and trauma than you can take, it may become necessary to go no-contact if you can.
But of course, when that’s not possible, Neo advises having as little contact as possible—with any form of you playing nice being strategic, not unconscious.