VIDEO: Ten Hallmarks of a Hijackal™

relationship videosYou are wondering if you are with a Hijackal™, a relentlessly difficult--and disturbing--person?
You're hoping you are not, right? But, you're here because you know something is very wrong.

You love that person. You want to believe that they are not doing things to hurt you, that they don't "mean" to be mean.

You want to believe that they love you, and don't intend to treat you poorly.

You think if you are more kind, more loving, more considerate, nurturing, giving, and patient, all will be well.

It won't.

Hijackals seldom change. They can seem to change for a short while, especially when you are giving them exactly what they want, but they soon revert to their usual behaviors. Why they seldom change is because they do not have the capacity to see themselves as making mistakes, creating problems, or needing help.

I created the term, Hijackals to give a non-clinical name to the behaviors that people face daily when they are with a chronically difficult person.

I define Hijackals as people who hijack relationships--for their own purposes--while relentlessly scavenging them for power, status, and control.  In the moment, and over all time, too. 

A Hijackal is more likely to show these behaviors at home than anywhere else. In fact, if you're with one and you try to explain what you are experiencing to someone outside your home, you can be met with "Oh, how can you say that. S/he is so wonderful, amazing, caring, generous....." All the things that you wish you were seeing, but they are not happening at home. That's common. You have become their supply, their needed target of blame. You are the lucky recipient of their wrath, manipulation, seduction, and exploitation.

In this video, I explain each of these Hallmarks of Hijackals so you can recognize the pattern of the behaviors.

The following ten videos explain each of these Hallmarks of a Hijackal in more depth, with examples.


  1. The need to win
  2. Out of proportion emotions
  3. All-or-nothing, black-or-white thinking
  4. Blaming
  5. Fault-finding
  6. Lack of empathy
  7. No sense of responsibility
  8. Negative thoughts and emotions
  9. Uncertainty and ambiguity
  10. Incredulity!

If you are experiencing a number of these regularly, you need help to think clearly about what is going on.  When you see that you have been making excuses, rationalizing, or justifying these behaviors, you're ready to take the next steps and work with Dr. Shaler in her small consulting groups, or privately. 

Join my Optimize S.Y.S.T.E.M. program as soon as possible. It's easy to do: six webinars over three weeks to help you recognize, clarify, and begin to recover your perspective, and save your sanity.


Transcript of video above:

Hello, I am Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor and I want to talk to you today about the hallmarks of Hijackals.

Dr. Rhoberta Shaler. Resolving relationship problems. Couples counseling.

Call Rhoberta now! 760.593.4604

How do you know if you’re with one? Now, you may have my free e-book, How To Spot A Hijackal™, so you’re well on your way. If you haven’t, go to and download it right after you watch this video.

But there are ten things that will tell you to notice, if you’ve got more than five or six of these, you are definitely in a relationship with a Hijackal, and you need to know. So, these are the Hijackal hallmarks. The ways that you can tell that if someone is doing this most of the time, not just occasionally because we all do these things occasionally, but if they’re doing them most of the time, there’s a very good chance that you are with a Hijackal.

So, let’s run them through, I’m going to do one to ten in this video and then I’m going to do a video on each one of them to help you understand the dynamics of it better. And this is members-only content, so thanks for being with me and let’s go.

So, the first and most important one is that they have an ultimate need to win. No matter, whether it’s a tiny thing, or a really big thing, they have an ultimate need to win. So, you can be sure that whatever you put forward, may not be met with a great opening of arms and an open mind because they didn’t put it forward. So, know that if you find that you are always on the wrong side, you are always going to be contested, you are always going to lose if they have their way, that’s the hallmark of a Hijackal. The absolute need to win in most cases, at most times, with most people.

The second hallmark of a Hijackal is that they have out of proportion emotions. You may say something that you think is maybe a little funny or maybe something that doesn’t matter that much, and all of a sudden you got a great explosion, or a lot of blaming or something way out of proportion to what it is you said or you brought up. And in the beginning, it shocks you and it surprises you, like, “Whoa. How did that happen?” But, that is a hallmark of a Hijackal. They really need to win and so they are going to make sure you lose and if they have to bring the big guns really, or think they have to, that’s what they will do. So, they have out of proportion emotions, and they don’t manage them well.

The third thing is that they have a habit of seeing things as black or white, or all or nothing. When things are going well between you, it is, “Oh, you are the most wonderful person. I don’t know how I ever lived without you. You are everything I’ve ever wanted.” Cross them, and within a nanosecond, you are the scum of the Earth. You are, “Why do I bother with you? Nobody will bother with you?” They just wipe you out. So, it goes from one side to the other in a nanosecond. And it catches you blindsided because you weren’t expecting that. You were hoping that you were the best thing that ever happened to them and you want to believe that so desperately. So, watch for the flip-flop of black and white thinking and the all or nothing thinking. Hijackals very rarely work in the gray areas.

Another thing, the fourth thing that Hijackals do, is they have to blame someone everything, whether they are blaming the weather, the IRS, you, their mother, their boss or whatever, they will find something outside of themselves to blame. It’s just the way that they are. They look for a target of blame and if you’re watching this video, they’ve probably tried to make you, or have made you, into their target of blame. Not a happy place to be. Not a place that you want to stay. But, they must, must, must blame everybody and everything because nothing can fall on them. They are so fragile. Yes, that’s right, they’re fragile. Their egos are so fragile that they can’t imagine allowing themselves to even think that made a mistake or did something wrong. So, it must be you. So, blaming is a big thing and along with it goes guilt.

Another hallmark of a Hijackal is that they love to find fault and they like to squash you like a gnat while they’re doing it. So, they like to look for what you don’t do well and they like to blow that up out of all proportion. So, you may be absolutely fabulous in every area of your life, but when you’re with your Hijackal, all you hear is what you can’t do. What you don’t do. What you’ll never be able to do. And why would you ever think that you could aspire to be anything because after all, who would want you? So they’re constantly demeaning and degrading and finding fault.

Another Hijackal hallmark is that they don’t really have empathy. They don’t have it to give. It’s not that they don’t have it for you, they don’t really have it for anyone. Everything is seen as something of use, and that includes you. So, to empathize, they know they should, they try it, they mimic it, and sometimes they’re successful. But, if you’re really with a Hijackal, you will know that they’re only angling with their empathy. They only pretend to and mimic being empathetic to get what they want, to go back to that number one thing of winning.

Another hallmark of a Hijackal, they take no responsibility for anything and that goes hand to hand with the blaming piece. Nothing is going to fall on them because they have this huge fear of making a mistake or being wrong. So, therefore, they take no responsibility when things don’t go well. Yes, they may take responsibility when things are going their way or when something really good happens, but they don’t take responsibility for anything that may go wrong because again, that fragile ego would just shatter. So, basically what they’re doing is being very defensive, and offensive most of the time, in order to keep themselves in their mind safe.

Another hallmark of a Hijackal is that they are usually negative. What they’re thinking of is usually the downside potential. They are usually angling and figuring out what’s wrong and how to make it work to their advantage, so they’re constantly in negative emotions in their head. They don’t come home all happy and joyous and full of great news. They come home with a weary, kind of, what have you been up to and how are you going to ruin my day kind of deal. And sometimes, if things are going their way, they certainly can mimic the fact that they are positive and that yes, they are positive when things are going one hundred percent their way, but mostly what’s going on in their head are negative thoughts, concerns. But, they are not the happy campers that you would like to be with most of the time.

And the ninth hallmark of a Hijackal is something that you may not have really been able to put your finger on and Hijackals trap it in uncertainty. They like to keep you guessing and second guessing yourself. They like to make sure that you are never quite secure. You’re always a little bit doubtful. You’re always concerned. And then they will change their minds on a dime and they won’t tell you. They will simply, “Oh, no, it was never going to be that way.” And yet, you had an agreement that, "Yes, we were going to do it this way." And then it’s, "Silly you. Why would you ever think that? That’s not what I said. I would never do that." And it leaves you just shaking your head because they trap it in uncertainty, keeping you uncertain, keeping you in states of ambiguity, like, "Is it happening? Isn’t it happening? Did we make an arrangement? Didn’t we make an arrangement?" We’ll talk about that a lot later.

And the last hallmark of a Hijackal is the big one, and most people don’t even notice this one, but you sure will after I say this to you. The tenth hallmark of a Hijackal is incredulity. Yeah, they do things that cause you to just say, "Who does that? Who says that? Who would ever think to do that?" And then you rapidly get in there, making excuses and rationales and justifications, because you just can’t believe it. It is absolutely incredulous. Nobody behaves that way. Nobody does that. Nobody speaks that way to people. So, you immediately start trying to make it fit, trying to make it work, and when you’re with a Hijackal and they do things that leave you with a jaw dropping, "What?", that’s a big, big thing to notice. If they do things that you would never do, that people that you know would never do. They say things, they are outrageous, and they get away with it, that is a hallmark of a Hijackal. Absolute incredulity. And don’t rationalize it. Don’t justify it. Don’t excuse it. Notice it, it is way over the top behavior and you may be enabling it or condoning it if you don’t learn some strategies.

And that’s what I’m here to do: to help you have the strategies that you need to manage with a Hijackal behaviors. To see if you bring about some change that will make your relationship work, or workable. Whether you’re still living with that person. Maybe they’re your parents and you don’t live with them anymore. Maybe they are a partner that you have left, or maybe you’re living with a partner and trying to make it work. Notice these things, all ten of them, and look at the individual videos about each one.

I’m Dr Rhoberta Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor, and I created and coined the term Hijackals. These are the people in our lives who hijack our relationships for their own purposes while savagely and relentlessly, scavenging them for our power, status and control and if you are with a HijackalTM or have been raised by a Hijackal or have a Hijackals where you work or live, you need to know these things and I hope that you will take them to heart and stay tuned.

©Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
The Relationship Help Doctor

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