Difficult people in your life–especially the relentlessly difficult ones I call Hijackals®–like to tell you what you think, what you feel, or what you should think or feel. That’s covert verbal abuse! Did you know that?
Where do they get off doing that? Yet, many people are so used to that behavior that they no longer even hear it. I invite you to wake up to it and see it for the covert verbal abuse that it is!
A question came up in my closed Facebook group today. A woman asked,
“So, how do you stay in relationship, but change the pattern of relating?”
My immediate response was:
“There are many ways to change your patterns of relating with #Hijackals. One important way is to respond this way when your Hijackal wants to tell you what you think or feel. Quietly say, “You’re not me, so it’s not possible to know what I think or feel.”
It is accurate and affirmative. You do it for yourself. The Hijackal will carry on believing that s/he is always right and in charge, but you will be reminding yourself that’s not so by responding that way.”
Notice, I said “Quietly say….” That’s important. Never directly confront a Hijackal unless your physical or sexual safety is threatened. That’s never a good idea because they can’t be wrong (in this own minds.) You don’t change the way a Hijackal thinks: you change the way you think, respond, and engage. You say it quietly, not because you’re afraid to assert yourself, but because you don’t want to give it more energy than it’s worth, and it’s seldom worth enraging a Hijackal. Though, that’s a very easy thing to do!
No one knows what you think or feel until you tell them. When you’ve been around a Hijackal too long, you sometimes don’t even know what you think or feel, right? You’ve become so used to trying to walk on eggshells and stay out of their way that you’ve lost touch with yourself. You have EVERY right to talk about yourself, at any time.
In my book, Kaizen For Couples, I give my best advice for relationships, whether you’re currently in a couple or not. There, you can learn how to deliver a “Personal Weather Report,” a way to talk about yourself that is game-free, blame-free, and non-manipulative. You want that, because it sets you free! You have EVERY right to be assertive about yourself, and the Personal Weather Report helps with that.
Do not put up with covert verbal abuse! Tune your ear to notice when someone tells you how you think or feel. Next time it happens, speak up and say, “You’re not me, so it’s not possible to know what I think or feel.” See how empowered you feel. Repeat often!
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor. ForRelationshipHelp.com
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 When you’re ready to say “No more!” to toxic relationships, unnecessary drama, and poor examples for your children to follow, work with Dr. Shaler directly now. Subscribe to her Tips for Relationships. Listen to her podcasts for valuable insights and strategies to reclaim yourself, and create healthy relationships with yourself and others: Emotional Savvy: The Relationship Help Show, and Save Your Sanity: Help for Handling Hijackals®.