If you want to learn how to deal with flying monkeys, there are a few things that you need to be aware of beforehand. 

First, one of the things that flying monkeys do for the narcissist is protect their falsified identity. For a narcissist, the importance of protecting their falsified identity is immeasurable, it is almost as important as food and water is for the human body. 

Second, there are many different types of flying monkeys and they all do different things. Meaning that some flying monkeys are going to pretend to be your friend while others are going to be just as narcissistic as the narcissist. You have to be really cautious not to let your guard down around the wrong person. 

Third, it is very unlikely that you’ll be able to convince a flying monkey to abandon the narcissist’s distorted version of reality. The intelligence and manipulative excellence of a narcissist shouldn’t be underestimated, don’t waste your time trying to do the seemingly impossible.

Having a comprehensive grasp on these three pieces of information will significantly reduce the chances of you being dragged back into the narcissistic abuse cycle and put you in a position to use the five tactics 431 survivors of narcissistic abuse reported to be most helpful when dealing with flying monkeys.

1.) The Gray Rock Method Disarms Flying Monkeys

One of the most important things that a flying monkey can do for a narcissist is provide them with an alternative source of narcissistic supply. Narcissistic supply is really important for a narcissist’s well-being. It is the validation, admiration, reassurance, and emotional stability that narcissists extract out of their relationships. 

A narcissist in a doctors uniform taking as much narcissistic supply as he can out of others.

When it comes to dealing with flying monkeys, you’re going to want to focus on the emotional stability aspect of narcissistic supply. Narcissists are some of the most self-loathing and emotionally unstable individuals on the planet. Unfortunately, when this is combined with their emotional immaturity, they develop an inability to regulate their own emotions. 

This, along with many other characteristics that you can find in How Are Narcissists Made, causes them to devote their existence to fabricating an identity that will mask their inadequacies to society AND themselves. 

That’s right, narcissists truly believe in their falsified identity and all of the lies that come with it. One of the ways that they maintain their falsified identity is by projecting their emotional instability onto other people.

Their behavior patterns are designed to erode your emotional stability so they can basically sit back and say “hey, you’re the insecure, vulnerable, rejected, fearful, unworthy, and crazy person, not me.”

So, the reason that the gray rock method is such a useful technique is because when narcissists aren’t able to control your emotional stability themselves, they’ll send flying monkeys to do it for them. 

If you were to have a strong negative reaction to something that a flying monkey said, you’d actually be providing the narcissist with their much needed narcissistic supply. By using the gray rock method to deal with a flying monkey, you’re shutting their abusive behavior down and you’re taking away a significant amount of narcissistic supply from the narcissist. 

2.) To Stop a Flying Monkey, Hold Onto Your Version of Reality

A really challenging aspect of narcissistic abuse is the healing journey and there isn’t much information that can prepare you for the hardships that come with it. It is really important to remember that just because you’re no longer in the narcissistic abuse cycle, doesn’t mean the abuse is over.

What do I mean?

There’s a tidal wave of obstacles you’re going to have to hurdle on your healing journey. 

A woman in a blue shirt facing a huge wave of complex ptsd and abuse by proxy after escaping a narcissistic relationship.

If you haven’t been able to grasp a comprehensive understanding of the abuse you’ve endured, the likelihood of you being able to avoid even one of the obstacles is very low.

These circumstances are very problematic, but when you add flying monkeys into the mix, they become incredibly dangerous. 

The reason being that at its core, flying monkeys is a subtype of gaslighting because the flying monkeys are doubting and denying your reality. The combination of neglected trauma, confusion, flying monkeys, and a narcissist’s falsified narrative is to blame for the continuation of thousands of narcissistic relationships. 

A commonly seen pattern under these circumstances is either the victim sensing something is wrong in the relationship, leaving, but being dragged back into the cycle because of the combination I listed above. Or, the narcissist discarding the victim, getting bored with their new supply, and sucking the victim back into the relationship whenever he/she pleases. 

It’s for these reasons that remaining defiant and holding onto your version of reality is crucial for your safety. The flying monkeys are going to swarm you with the narcissists narrative, that is inevitable. 

With the guidance of someone along the lines of a qualified medical health counselor, you need to ensure that you hold onto your version of reality if you want to deal with flying monkeys successfully. 

3.) Learn How to Explain Narcissism to Others

Learning how to explain narcissism to others is one of the most important skills you need to learn how to do,  but it gets tricky when it comes to flying monkeys.

Normally, I’d be giving you this advice when referring to narcissist enablers because by explaining narcissism to them in a specific way, you can actually convert them to supporters. If you want to learn how, go check out our article How to Explain Narcissism to Others for a complete guide. 

When it comes to flying monkeys, you also need to be very careful about how you explain narcissism to them. There will likely be a moment where you’ll want to snap at the flying monkeys and tell them how wrong they are but you’ll have to refrain from doing so because a strong reaction to their abuse would give the narcissist his or her narcissistic supply.

Instead, I suggest you use something called canned responses, responses that allow you to respond unemotionally to toxic communications.

A man in a pink shirt using canned responses to avoid getting into a confrontation with a flying monkey.

The tricky part about flying monkeys is that they’re often very enthusiastic about their role. They’ll feel as if they’re in a position of power and be very loyal to the narcissist. If there were a moment when you couldn’t gray rock any longer and wanted to snap, don’t throw gasoline on the fire by calling the narcissist, a narcissist. 

You are much better off if you focus on the behavior patterns instead of triggering the flying monkey’s false sense of loyalty by calling their “friend” a narcissist.

A woman focusing on the behavior patterns of her abuser instead of calling him a narcissist in front of his flying monkey.

4.) Build New Lines of Support

Flying monkeys are often people who were once really close to you but now they are against you. 

It is so important that you surround yourself with people who understand narcissism and narcissistic abuse. The abusive cycle you escaped was designed to corrupt your core values, identity, perception of a healthy relationship and much more. 

You’re almost guaranteed to have really good days and really, really bad days.

  • You might get to a point in your healing journey where you remember one of the good moments with the narcissist, and believe you’re strong enough to handle the relationship. 
  • You may be stuck in a state of rumination where you’re constantly overthinking the same thoughts. 
  • You may feel like you can’t trust anyone and have a difficult time leaving the house. 

Whatever it may be, a support group that understands what you’re going through will always be there for you. They’re going to be that much needed crutch that you’ll need to lean on during hard times. 

Another really important thing that you’ll come across when searching for new support lines are things along the lines of therapists, counselors, psychologists and so on. It is important to remember that EVERYONE can be a narcissist enabler, including medical professionals. 

Please take your time to ensure that you find guidance that works with you, not against you. You should never have to defend and/or justify your trauma. It is not your job to educate others on the abuse you’ve endured. 

Building new lines of support with people who understand your trauma will help you fend off flying monkeys and continue down your healing journey. 

5.) Learn How to Use Radical Acceptance

In the narcissistic realm, radical acceptance is when someone who has suffered narcissistic abuse acknowledges that their abuser will not change his/her behavior. 

This is one of the hardest things to do because it requires you to give up the wish for things to be different.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a co-worker, family member, friend, or intimate partner, narcissism is designed to be captivating which means letting go of the wish for things to be different could cause the victim to experience an immense amount of grief, shame, guilt, and fear.

Why? 

Acknowledging that something you care about deeply is rotten, and won’t change, is traumatizing. Whether it be a career, marriage, family member, or friend, letting go of such a large aspect of your life will never be easy. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse using radical acceptance to avoid the flying monkeys and the narcissist in their life.

Without a healthy detachment routine, these negative emotions have the potential to overwhelm those who try radical acceptance, pushing them back into the narcissistic relationship. 

3 Things You Can Practice to Develop a Healthy Detachment Routine

  1. Acknowledging the abuse is a fantastic place to start. If you were to attempt to detach yourself from a narcissist without acknowledging the abuse, it would mean that you don’t have a strong “why” for cutting them out of your life. Under these circumstances it would be very easy for the narcissist to manipulate you back into the abuse cycle if he/she chooses to do so.
  2. Working on the triggers is really important. Abusive relationships circulate around power, control, and dominance. It is very common for abusers to hand out punishments as they see fit. Brie Robertson, the host of our official podcast From the Ashes, is currently working on focusing on her triggers. In the abusive relationship she escaped she would always get “in trouble” for using too many utensils while cooking. Even though she’s not in the relationship anymore, she still has a lot of anxiety around the amount of utensils she uses when cooking so her therapist advised her to use ALL of the utensils available to break free from the anxiety. 
  3. Releasing your emotions by keeping a journey is really effective. One of the biggest hallmarks of narcissistic abuse is when the victim doesn’t believe that they have a right to express how they feel during the relationship. The reason being that narcissist’s demand that the attention be on them for the entirety of the relationship and shame, guilt, and or punish you for expressing your own emotions. This is not an easy thing to move past once you’ve escaped the narcissistic abuse cycle so expressing your emotions by writing them down can be a fantastic place to start.

Now that we have a comprehensive grasp on radical acceptance and healthy detachment routines, why do you need them and how do they help with flying monkeys?

While the relationship may be over and the narcissist is physically out of your life, they still have one more trick up their sleeve called rumination. 

Rumination is when someone obsessively over thinks the same thoughts and this is a very common occurrence among those who’ve suffered narcissistic abuse.

Rumination could look like someone constantly wondering if they made the right decision by leaving the narcissist or trying to move on. 

A woman ruminating about how she could have done better in her narcissistic relationship because she hasn't been able to acknowledge that what she experienced was abuse.

It could be someone being furious that they aren’t getting the justice they feel like they deserve. Or it could be someone wondering if there is something they could have done to make the relationship work. 

It’s for this reason that radical acceptance is a lifelong process and it goes far beyond acknowledging that the narcissist’s behavior won’t change. Radical acceptance also means that you acknowledge the limitations that your abuser placed on you, are not true either. 

Using radical acceptance with flying monkeys is a very good technique to defend yourself against their abuse but it should be combined with qualified therapeutic guidance. With the help of a medical professional you’ll be able to work past the trauma you have from the narcissistic abuse and the trauma you’ll likely develop from having to handle flying monkeys.

In our article What Do Flying Monkeys Do For the Narcissist, we provided some very helpful information about the different types of flying monkeys that you should familiarize yourself with before you attempt radical acceptance.


All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Interviewing 431 survivors of narcissistic abuse

When Letting Go Is Tough: How to Emotionally Detach from Someone

Emmons, R. A. (1987). Narcissism: Theory and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(1), 11–17.

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