By the title of this piece, you might assume that the solution is to lay off the hallucinogens, but no.
“Flying Monkeys” is a term used in psychology to describe the sycophantic hangers-on who usually orbit around narcissists, and support/defend everything they do.
Like the Wicked Witch of the West’s flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, “Flying Monkeys” (henceforth referred to as “FMs”) are the brainwashed minions the narcissist uses to carry out their bidding.
This might sound immature and downright psychotic, and it might be difficult to believe that anyone would stoop so low as to use others to carry out their dirty work for them, but hey. It happens more often than you might realize.
Below are a few examples of how this can occur, and how to dodge those wily jerks.
How Narcissists Use Flying Monkeys
If you’ve been involved with a narc for some time, you know damned well how they can manipulate other people to suit their own whims and needs.
One common instance where FMs are recruited is after a breakup. The narc will undoubtedly charm a few new people to bolster his or her ego, and these newbies will be told all about how horrible, crazy, and possibly even abusive their ex was.
These new people are likely to be compassionate, empathic sorts, and will immediately want to comfort and protect the narc as best they can.
They may offer to help however they can, which gives the narc a perfect opportunity to keep working their evil magic in your life.
These Flying Monkeys may be manipulated into helping the narcissist by…
Narc might get one or two FMs to spy on your social media accounts to see what you’re up to, and report back.
How To Avoid This:
Set your social media profiles to private, and make sure that you’re very selective about whom you grant friend requests to.
Only accept requests from friends of friends, and ask as many mutual connections as you can who these newcomers are. Do a little bit of recon before granting them permission.
This may seem a bit paranoid, but if you’ve worked hard to get out from within a narcissist’s clutches, it’s worth a bit of extra effort to keep yourself safe.
Taking these steps means that you won’t have to worry about any personal info about you getting back to your ex. His or her minions simply won’t be able to access anything about you that you don’t share with the general public.
Most of us are prone to gossiping now and again, but when it’s taken to a whole other level and you’re the poor sucker being talked about, it can make you feel awful.
Sadly, narcissists and their minions engage in this type of bullying behavior all the time.
It’s a really pathetic, juvenile thing to do, but if they feel in any way slighted and want to punish you for daring to halt their power trip and control over you, they might stoop to a smear campaign.
If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, the basic idea is to turn other people against you.
They do this by either telling them lies about horrible things you’ve said or done, or taking things that you told them in confidence (back when you were naïve enough to trust them) and making them public.
The intent is to punish you for whatever wrongdoings you’ve imagined about them, and to make sure that they take the initiative and paint you as the “bad guy” before you have a chance to do the same thing to them.
FMs can assist in this method by adding additional voices to the chorus of sh*t being slung about you.
After all, a disgruntled ex is easily dismissed as such, but if several people are saying the same thing, across various social circles… well, there’s got to be truth in that, right?
Quite often, the smear campaign will involve mutual friends and even your own family whom the narc will have charmed over the course of your relationship.
This makes it extremely damaging and can lead to the deterioration in multiple important relationships in one go.
How To Avoid This:
“Rise Above” sounds like a trite and overused phrase, but it’s an apt one. Be the best, truest version of yourself, rather than trying to retaliate or defend yourself.
If someone calls you out about horrible things you’ve supposedly done to the narc in question, just express that you wish the narc happiness and wish them well.
This will confuse the monkeys and make them second guess whether the information they’ve been fed is true.
Basically, if you don’t behave like the awful person they’ve said that you are, they’re quite likely to give up and fly away.
It may even snap some people – particularly those who knew you before the narc – out of their hypnotized state and remind them of who you really are and not who the narc is making you out to be.
Ignore what’s being said, block those people who are outwardly horrible and abusive toward you, and keep on keeping on.
Group Attacks And Interventions
This tactic involves a group of Flying Monkeys working together in an attempt to convince you that a certain type of behavior is in your best interest.
Only it’s actually in theirs/the narc’s whom they’re representing.
It’s most common in families where the narc in question is a parent, as said parent can often poison siblings and extended family members against you by telling them how badly you’ve hurt them, how they’ve never done anything wrong, etc.
You might find yourself in a scenario wherein your brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and/or even your other parent are telling you that they know all about the situation and they know how you should behave in order to fix it.
How To Avoid/Stop This:
If you’re unable (or unwilling) to cut all of them out of your life immediately, then the best thing you can do is to refuse to react.
Recognize their manipulation and attempt at FOG (Fear, Obligation, and Guilt), and do not engage with them.
A good technique is, when they’re talking, to get them to explain their stance and their reasons behind what they’re saying.
Keep asking questions, keep asking them to talk about what they’ve been told, what they “know,” what they want, etc.… but do NOT try to defend your own behaviors or make any attempt at telling your side of the story.
The mere fact that they’ve taken this intervening action means that they have little interest in anything you have to say, and have allowed themselves to be totally influenced and manipulated by the narc abuser.
Once they’ve had their say, you can point out that they’ve obviously come to their own ideas and conclusions without ever talking with you alone and getting your side of the story, so their opinions are invalid, and you have no interest in anything they have to say.
End of discussion.
Just make absolutely sure that you remain calm and emotionally disengaged throughout the experience.
Their goal is to make you nervous and flustered, and if you remain objective, calm, and show little to no emotional investment, then you’ve gained the upper hand and they can’t affect you at all.
People can’t hurt you if you don’t grant them access to you, either physically or emotionally.
If you can’t remove yourself physically from the narcissist and their Flying Monkey brigade, then at the very least, you can remove yourself emotionally.
A good example of this would be the concept of the “empty suit” in Aikido: that you are an empty vessel, and merely use the opponent’s energy to win the fight. Tire them out, and then walk away.
In fact, walking away is ultimately the best technique you can possibly have to remove both the narcissist and their monkey minions from your life, permanently.
It can be incredibly difficult and painful to do this, especially if the Flying Monkeys are family members or woven closely into your social life, but you have to take care of yourself by whatever means are necessary.
If that means changing your name, packing your stuff, and moving across the country to start an entirely new life with a blank slate, far away from your abuser(s), go for it.