Hijackals™--those relentlessly difficult people in your life--like to think they have power over you. They practice that--in fact, check that--by trying to make you lose your cool. It's that simple! I'm going to help you with these steps for keeping your cool around them.
Usually, you are on guard for the next irritation when you're in a relationship with a Hijackal. You are used to their demands, threats, explosions, and coercion. You don't like it. In fact, you hate it, but you're used to it.
Sometimes, you are so worn down that you actually believe that all they do and say--along with all they blame you for--IS your fault!
That's unlikely, very unlikely. Hijackals have to win. Hijackals have to think and feel that they have power over you. That's their deepest need in order to feel safe for a moment. Yes, safe. Hijackals are running in and on fear every minute. They are hyper-vigilant for the tiniest possible slight, anything that would question their perfection or sound like blame. Because of their upbringing and other factors, they have to be large and in charge at all times. That's exhausting for them, no matter how inexhaustible they seem.
You don't want to live like that, right? You have fears of your own: the Hijackal in your life will get his or her feathers ruffled--even by a wind you did not create--and their focus, wrath, and blame will land on you. It happens all too often, so your fears are justified.
KEEPING YOUR COOL WHEN HIJACKALS DON'T
- When you see the fire rise in their eyes, use that as a cue to take a few deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth. This is taking care of your biology. It helps keep the blood in your brain so that you can respond to them rather than react.
- Remind yourself that whatever they are yelling about likely has nothing to do with you, no matter how many ways they try to tell you it's all your fault. Accept no blame.
- Know that you are not responsible for calming them down. You're responsible for calming yourself.
- Focus on the outcome that you want. Focus on not feeding the fire. That will help it die down as quickly as possible. And, don't add your fire!
- Don't appease the Hijackal. In fact, don't engage with any strong emotion at all. Interested, yes. Caught up in it, no.
- Look at him or her, and listen. Not doing so feeds the fire. Hijackals hate to be ignored.
- Go inside and remind yourself that s/he has a need for power that you will never be able to fill. You didn't create it and you cannot fix it.
- Speak only about yourself, not them.
- In your mind, and only in your mind, think of the Hijackal's words as boomerangs. Whatever they are upset with you over is usually what they are most afraid of themselves.
- Logic is impossible, so don't try using it. When aroused by strong emotion, logic only fans the flames for more outbursts from the Hijackal.
- No blaming coming from you. That's hard because inside you're screaming, but blaming feeds those flames.
- No blanket statements like "You always...." or "You never...." In fact, do your best not to use the word "you" at all.
- Make no promises. Take no hostages. Become Teflon®: strong inside but letting everything slip off you.
You're engaged to the point of listening, disengaged from taking on any blame. Keep yourself strong within, living from your values.
Never let Hijackals define who you are. They want to. They think it is their right to. They believe they have to or their worlds will fall apart.
Your job is to stay calm. Focus on that.
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© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor
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