Sometimes, you can feel SO stuck! The Hijackal--that relentless difficult toxic person--looms over your thinking, and keeps you in the shadow of fear.
As I've said on Save Your Sanity, walking on eggshells is not a good way to get your exercise. Notice if you're still doing that, and let's change it!
Even if it was a parent and they are not even around anymore, you can feel stuck because you need to release the negative, thoughtless AND UNTRUE things that said to you and about you. That was about them, not about you!
Perhaps, you have a Hijackal partner, or had one. Shaking the destructive nature of such a relationship can be difficult. It can be done!
When I'm talking with my clients, I often say that part of our work together is to find and release all the tiny tentacles of negativity and untruth that have wrapped around your self-image and self-esteem. When we do that work together, they feel much more able to respond rather than react in their relationships. That's helpful, for sure!
GOOD NEWS! You can change all this. Sure, it takes work: consistent, persistent, conscious, supported work. And, it gives you your life back. That's definitely worthwhile, right?
If you've been listening to my podcast or watching my videos for awhile, you know I encourage folks to start with small, internal shifts. Start thinking about yourself, and your past and current relationships, differently. You're an adult, and you have choice.
Is it easy? Not at first. And not because there's anything wrong with you, it's just a whole new way of seeing life, and you're used to another one. It's sometimes hard for people to actually wrap their minds around the fact that they have experienced abuse. They have trouble even using the word at first. How about you?
Try these definitions on and see:
Abuse: "use to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse, treat a person with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly; the improper use of something." (Oxford languages)
"to use something for the wrong purpose in a way that is harmful or morally wrong"
"to speak to someone rudely or cruelly"(Cambridge dictionary)
Abusive: "extremely offensive and insulting, involving injustice or illegality, engaging in or characterized by habitual violence and cruelty
Psychological abuse: "Psychological abuse involves the regular and deliberate use of a range of words and non-physical actions used with the purpose to manipulate, hurt, weaken or frighten a person mentally and emotionally; and/or distort, confuse or influence a person’s thoughts and actions within their everyday lives, changing their sense of self and harming their wellbeing. (Savelives.org)
OK. Convinced? Or, are you still trying to justify, rationalize, makes excuses for, or protect an abusive person? Yes, I know that sounds harsh, but when you've been trauma-bonded, you do try and excuse the abuser.
Ouch! Are you still wincing at the word 'abuser?' I know. It can take awhile to think in those terms. I'll help you get there.
Here are five tips that are a great start to changing your thinking, perspective, and point of view:
1. How your parents treated you has nothing to do with who you are.
You were an innocent baby with absolutely nothing wrong with you. You simply showed up in the home of people with problems. Because they couldn't or wouldn't deal with their own problems, they made you the problem. That was never the truth!
2. Hijackal parents and partners have to believe they are flawless, because of their fragile egos.
Therefore, they make everyone else the problem. They are constantly blaming and finding fault to avoid their own deep feelings of inadequacy and shame.
Yes, you can have compassion for them as troubled humans, generally. BUT, have equal compassion for yourself, and realize that how they treat you is about them, not about you. What they said about you and to you is what they are afraid is true of themselves.
Start thinking that all that they ever said that was negative about you was a lie. Freeing? It might take a while, but it will be!
3. You CAN change your inner dialogue and be able to let demeaning, dismissive words of an abusive person run off you...with insight and practice.
How? Because you can remind yourself that it is NOT about you. It's about them and their troubled selves. It's about them and their own shortcomings, including lack of empathy and compassion. It's about their inability and unwillingness to engage in those three MUST-HAVES of healthy adult relationships I talk about: equality, reciprocity, and mutuality.
Honestly, you can change that inner dialogue with practice and support!
4. Without saying anything to the Hijackal, you can begin to clarify your own needs, wants, and preferences.
When you have a Hijackal parent or partner, things get out of balance very quickly. If your parent is a Hijackal, that would have started even before your birth. If you're with a partner with these traits, you may have slowly experienced increasingly abusive treatment. So, you lose your sense of self. (You may even feel you never had one if you had a Hijackal parent. Sad.)
You want to please a parent, and most healthy people want to be able to collaborate with a partner. So, you lean in. Sadly, with Hijackals, they demand that you lean so far you tip, and become their prey. They devour your self-esteem, and feed on your pain. SO ugly and unfair!
When you begin to give yourself permission to see that they are wrong, sad, mistaken, unhealthy, and just cruel, you can start to reject their opinions of you. How could an unhealthy person have a balanced, helpful, healthy insight into you, right? They can't!
5. You can become "internally assertive!"
That's a great start! What I mean by "internally assertive" is that, without crossing or blaming a Hijackal, you can begin to give yourself permission to say what is so just for yourself. I encourage my clients to use my Personal Weather Report that I wrote about in my book, Kaizen for Couples!
This means that you internalize my definition of assertiveness:
"You have the right to take up space and draw breath on this planet. SO, you have the right to say what you think, feel, want, need, remember, and prefer, AS LONG AS you do not mention another person by name or pronoun. Speak only about yourself."
You empower yourself by saying things like "That's not how I remember that." or, "That's not what I want. I'm happy to tell you if you ask." You do it neutrally, and consciously. You're practicing being "internally assertive!"
GOOD BEGINNINGS! Great start for a new outlook, and new ways of being that will help to heal, strengthen, and feel empowered.
Remember, I'm always here to help. If we haven't worked together before, use my new client offer of a full hour for only $97. If you want a group to talk with, vent, and have monthly access to ask questions, join my Support Circle.
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Relationship Crisis Consultant