Anticipatory coping skills like learning how to go Gray Rock can truly save the life of a Narcissistic Abuse victim. When efforts are made by an abuse victim or a person coping with a stress condition are ready in advance of a potentially stressful event, people suffering from even the most extreme levels of anxiety and hyper-arousal have a better chance of learning how to overcome, reduce, or tolerate exposure to unpleasant or stressful circumstances without them causing or experiencing additional long-acting trauma.
In the case of some known stress coming (such as coping with hair loss during Cancer Treatment), behavioral management specialists and life coaches can help a person develop a coping strategy. This will help them to psychologically and emotionally ameliorate trauma by proactively taking physical steps to validate and deal with their expected condition.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Anticipatory coping is the process of anticipation and preparation for an expected altered appearance. By researching options, making deliberate choices, and taking specific actions to determine their appearance without hair, [people] gain a greater sense of control of their changing appearance.”
The same thing goes for Narcissistic Abuse victims who know when and if they are forced to or electively decide to make contact with a person likely to be abusive that they are going to be at best verbally abused or berated — at worst (hopefully) ONLY gaslighted and manipulated.
By choosing to proactively validate that they are coming into contact with a person or peer group likely to heighten feelings of acute stress and PTSD flashbacks, one can learn to observe an Abuser rather than react to his or her baiting tactics or provoking comments.
Psychology Class, a psychology blog focused on academia more than self-help articles, notes the following types of coping strategies are most prevalent (presumably) among all human cultures. When it comes to dealing with stress and stressors, most people elect to use emotion-focused or problem-focused methods of coping. The third variety — Anticipatory Coping — is a more comprehensive and circumspect way for people facing extreme social pressure to endure and persevere.
The website notes:
“Lazarus and Folkman (1984) suggested that there are two coping strategies that people use to deal with stress. There are emotion-focused and problem-focused methods of coping. Another known as ‘Anticipatory Coping’ this method is stress and anxiety come with certain symptoms which might include physical responses, like a tightening of the stomach or shortness of breath. For example, if we anticipate a change, or we have sensitivity to dealing with crowds, then we might change our plan to avoid crowds. Because of this our stress levels will not increase. So, to improve our anticipation we need to gain information about what makes us stressed and developed a plan of action to help us deal with it once we have successfully anticipated it.”
— Psychology Class
In a recent study conducted by North Carolina State University, the concept of how people cope with stress in their lives was investigated. The university staff notes,
The results found that people used different coping behaviors to prepare for different stressors, and that those coping behaviors changed from day to day.
“The findings tell us that one person may use multiple coping mechanisms over time – something that’s pretty exciting since we didn’t know this before,” Neupert says. “But we also learned that what you do on Monday really makes a difference for how you feel on Tuesday.”
Some anticipatory coping behaviors, particularly outcome fantasy and stagnant deliberation, were associated with people being in worse moods and reporting more physical health problems the following day. Stagnant deliberation is when someone tries, unsuccessfully, to solve a problem. Outcome fantasy is when someone wishes that problem would effectively solve itself.
According to a paper studied at the University of Georgia’s Moffat Lab, “Efforts to prevent exposure to or reduce the effects of stressors can have tremendous benefits for longevity and successful aging.” Their public research claim is especially true for victims of pervasive stalking or ongoing abuse.
The source notes,
“Daily stressors are routine tangible events of day-today living (e.g., partner disputes). While daily stressors may seem minor compared to major life events, they can have immediate negative impacts on physical and psychological well-being (Almeida, 2005; Almeida, Wethington, & Kessler, 2002). Daily stressors can accumulate over days to create persistent irritations and overloads that may result in more negative affect, physical health symptoms (Almeida et al., 2002), and memory failures (Neupert, Almeida, Mroczek, & Spiro, 2006a). The glucocorticoid cascade hypothesis (Sapolsky, Krey, & McEwen, 1986) suggests that stress accelerates the aging of the immune system, thus older adults who experience stressors may be at increased risk for acute health problems (e.g., Graham, Christian, & Kiecolt-Glaser, 2006). Individual differences in exposure and reactivity to stressors likely contribute to the variance in older adults’ health problems. Although it is generally accepted that stress is associated with poorer health and cognitive functioning, previous work has focused on what happens after the stressor occurs.”
— “Solving Tomorrow’s Problems Today? Daily Anticipatory Coping and Reactivity to Daily Stressors”
Shevaun D. Neupert, Gilda E. Ennis, Jennifer L. Ramsey, and Agnes A. Gall Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh.
Because continued exposure to Narcissistic Abuse is known to cause extreme duress for victims, it is crucial that anyone who is or has ever been targeted for abuse or pervasive devaluation and scapegoating develop a coping strategy of their own that is able to flex according to the appropriateness of use in different situations.
Some people may elect to strive to go Gray Rock and become non-reactionary to their abuser(s). Humor helps, as learning how to use your mind to cope with outside stressors is key to desensitizing yourself from personal attacks made by angry people with Cluster B.
That never means overlooking, excusing, or justifying abuse. It also does not mean enabling.
The suggestion is to learn to observe, note the body’s emotional reaction and physical response to the external stimuli, then actively choosing not to react. Rather, one simply uses their own rational and logical core to realize that they are being abused or spoken to in an abusive manner by a person whose character is fundamentally flawed most likely by nurture as well as nature.
Others might not be able to maintain a neutral, non-reactive response to people who are extremely abusive or provoking characters. In such cases, going NO CONTACT with any and all abusive people and striving to self-educate about Narcissistic abuse, methods, and brainwashing tactics is prudent. The more you learn, the harder abuse becomes to overlook — thereby helping an abuse victim learn to see symptoms of the other person’s personality disorder first… long before they ever consider personalizing abusive actions, non-actions, or abusive words.