You always! You never! Sound familiar?
All-or-nothing thinking is another hallmark of a Hijackal™.
It’s all black or it’s all white – there is no middle road, no grey areas, and no place for your contribution.
Watch this video to hear the explanation of this Hijackal™ trait. (There is a transcript below for those who prefer to read through or listen and read.)
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Hijackals™ engage in all or nothing thinking, black-and-white thinking. There is very little middle ground, or greys with Hijackals. That’s just something that they cannot tolerate because they take everything so personally.
They’re constantly thinking that they’re being accused, or being attacked. It’s not really that they have a persecution complex. It’s just that they are on guard for that kind of thing. So, when you’re the closest person to them, and you seem to say something that could be construed as as an accusation or as a fault or a mistake, they jump right in. They go to that all-or-nothing place. That’s what we often refer to as “splitting.” That it’s just here or there, and there is nothing in between.
I remember working with a client who had a partner who was fired from a job. Now, he was fired for very good reasons. He was the kind of fellow who if you asked him what time it was, he told you how to build a watch, and why you were useless for not knowing it already. So, it wasn’t really a surprise that he got fired, however, what happens with all-or-nothing thinking is that he then took it on that he was too old and said that he would never work again.
He just simply sat at home and do nothing and when my client asked him if he was looking for a job. he would say,
“I’m too old. They don’t hire people my age and I’m not going to find a job.”
So it went on for a very long time, probably most of a year, before he even would entertain the idea. That’s the kind of all-or-nothing thinking that happens on the outside. In your relationship, you’ll find that all-or-nothing thinking is that it’s always your fault. It has to be. It’s always one person’s entire fault, and definitely not the fault of the Hijackal. That means it’s going to be you or your children or whomever it is that the Hijackal is talking about it. It’s never shared responsibility. It is never possible that a situation arose. It is one person’s fault!
They have to nail that down. So. that’s where the all-or-nothing thinking comes from. They have this stuff that goes on within them. They say “you did that on purpose.” Well, if that’s a familiar phrase that is coming from a person in your life, perk up right there because “you did that on purpose” is one of their ways to say “I’ve got your number. I know you” and they have to be right.
Remember, they always has to be right. So, they will say that you did that on purpose. Think about the driving. I teach a lot of anger management classes on behalf of the Superior Court. Often, I have people with that exact feeling, that those people who are cutting them off are doing that on purpose to make me mad or to show me up. They take it very, very personally. Then, they think “I’m going to teach a person a lesson.” That’s another phrase that you’ll find often with Hijackals. They are now the arbiters of truth and right. They are going to teach the other person a lesson.
So, that’s the kind of thing that’s going on and you may have experienced that in your relationship and you were completely blown out of the water by the fact that there is no middle ground and there’s no way to find a middle ground. There is no “I put something in and you put something in it” and we consider it and we talk about it. No. It’s all this way or all that way because they always have to win and they blow everything out of proportion.
Then, it follows that all-or-nothing thinking would be part of their make up. So, if this sounds familiar to you, start observing. Can you have a say in anything or have they already made up their mind ? It’s this way and it is never going to be that way. Or, it’s this way and when you want it to be this way, they immediately flip and say, “No, no, that’s wrong. You’ve got it wrong. What were you thinking?”
And, in either case, of course, you’re going to be wrong. But, in either case, you will begin to observe that it is this all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking. There cannot be a middle ground that they want allow there to be a middle ground so stop trying to create one. It’s so important to recognize that what you can’t do and it’s not worth trying.
You can’t create a middle ground by being logical or being empathetic or about being any of those things. You cannot encourage them to come and meet you halfway because a Hijackal doesn’t have a halfway. They have all or they have nothing. They have black or they have white.
A hallmark of a Hijackal is black or white, all or nothing, absolute thinking. And, that’s what we call “splitting.”