"Nothing I do is right, or it's not good enough. I do my best but it seems it's never enough."
Do you feel that way much of the time with your partner, your mother, or a boss? Not just occasionally, but most of the time? (Watch the video at the bottom of this post for quick information on being blamed!)
It seldom is the case that you are incapable, inconsiderate, or incompetent. When it’s a constant in your relationship, you are likely with someone with Hijackal™ tendencies. Hijackals are:
“People who hijack relationships for their own purposes, while relentlessly scavenging them for power, status, and control.”
Strange as it sounds, Hijackals don’t sit up at night trying to think how to rake you over the coals and make you feel not good enough. It’s just how they think and react in the world. They learned early on that the world is a very unsafe place and they need to be both offensive and defensive if they are going to survive. That’s a difficult way to live, and deserving of compassion. It is absolutely imperative, though, that you neither condone or enable their behavior.
A full-blown Hijackal needs to feel in control and in charge at all times. It is a need: s/he is hugely anxious when not feeling in control. And, s/he will also up the ante in a heartbeat to regain and maintain control.
One of my clients I’ll call John had a Hijackal wife, Ellen. They had one son, a child she never wanted, and he adored. A few months after their son’s birth, Ellen was fed up with being “tied down to a baby and home.” She was “too young not to have fun,” even though she was in her mid-thirties and had partied hardy most of her life. John raised their son virtually alone as Ellen partied, returning home drunk, sick, and wasted. John did everything he could to create a sense of family. Finally, they divorced.
Ellen was still consistently acting out. She was a self-professed substance and alcohol abuser, a fact she put in the court record one day when she was trying to prove she was a fit mother. (They’ll do anything to win in the moment, and sometimes, they shoot themselves in the foot like this.)
Eventually, Ellen remarried and turned her attention away. Divorced again with no winning in sight, she focused again on John. She set out to destroy him and his relationship with their son. Anything to tear him down, rip things apart, and make both John and his son feel not good enough. Then, the fight really began.
In true Hijackal form, Ellen did everything in her power–and from her Dad’s bottomless purse–to make the court think that John was an unfit parent. She had her attorney file one ex parte motion after another. (P.S. When you divorce a Hijackal AND you have children, court can begin to seem like your second home.) Ellen made allegations about John to Child Protective Services. All were unsubstantiated. On the other hand, Ellen was reported to CPS several times and many were substantiated.
That fight continues…a story for another time.
To a Hijackal, divorce falls into the category of “not winning.” That’s not an option for a Hijackal. It doesn’t matter if his or her behavior is/was extreme, unethical, immoral, or just self-centered, self-absorbed, and selfish. S/he must win–and must win in every moment. That’s where the need for control lies. That’s also what keeps the courts overflowing!
Hijackals are attracted to people they think they can manipulate, seduce, and exploit. They have radar for that. They can sense the insecurities in even the most outwardly powerful and successful people. They are acutely attuned to their fears, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses. And, once they have lured you into their lairs with their chameleon-like abilities to be whomever you want or need them to be, they begin to dismantle your sense of self. You can be left a pretzel, constantly second-guessing yourself, and questioning your sanity.
If you are or were in a relationship with a Hijackal, you may well be left thinking and feeling that nothing you do is ever right. You are not good enough. You may feel you are not enough. Very disempowering, and very untrue.
And, it is all because a Hijackal needs and feeds on control, power, and status.
If you have a #Hijackal in your life, or think you might have, get my free ebook, How To Spot A Hijackal, at Hijackals.com Need help to know your next best steps? If you would like more help, subscribe to my Tips for Relationships, and listen to my Podcasts. Start with an introductory session. Talk soon!
Disclaimer: All advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, video, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than twenty-five years, she offers her insights and opinions for your consideration only.