Are you then told you’re too sensitive!”
Do you hear that on a recurring basis? It could be true, of course. Only you know that, for sure. but don’t be too hard on yourself.
What is also true is that Hijackals™ like to put you down and make you small, and then blame you for being too sensitive. They think it washes away any responsibility they have for the remarks they made. Now, it’s your fault…or, at least, that’s what they want you to think. (Join my Emerging Empowered online community for peer and professional support. Discussion groups, monthly AMA calls, curated content and more.)
Watch this video and see if this rings true for what’s going on in your relationship. (transcript below)
Hi, I’m Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, the Relationship Help Doctor. And, you know, often clients say to me that they’re always being told by their partners, or their parents, or their ex’s, “Oh, you’re just being too sensitive.” Does that sound familiar to you? Is that something that you’ve heard a lot in your life?
Well, people who want to abuse you, and I use that word freely because that’s what it is when people engage in verbal and emotional abuse. People who want to abuse you, or keep you small, or have power or control over you will find ways to make you easily put down. And, one of those ways is by saying, “Oh, you’re overly sensitive.”
What they’re really saying to you is, “I can do what I want. I can say to you whatever I want to say and I don’t have to consider your feelings because I’ll just blurt all that out. I’ll be very straight forward about it, and then when you say, ‘Ouch.’ I will simply say, ‘Oh, you’re overly sensitive. You have thin skin. Don’t you know I was just kidding?'”
Now, the problem with that is the message was already received by you, sent and received and you’ve taken it in. And if you’ve been in a relationship with a Hijackal™ for awhile, this is pretty common. You’re used to this. And so it just adds to the pile and it doesn’t really shock you anymore. And you’re underneath that pile and every time it just gets a little heavier and heavier.
But, I want to give you some insight as to what to say when somebody says that, and begin to take that step off you, so it’s not that burden, it’s not crushing you down, it’s not pushing you down. It’s important to have these skills because we need to feel empowered. And when you’ve been with a Hijackal™ for awhile, they have really taken away your sense of power in most cases.
They want to tell you how it is, and when it will happen and why it is and what’s wrong with you and why its always your fault. They are very good at that. They are very consistent. You can count on them. That’s a pattern that they have, so be sure that you listen up here about ways to get out from underneath that. And why I say that, you know, to listen up is because I want you to listen differently. I want you to listen for it. Listen for that put-down. Listen for that little squash that’s adding to your smallness, which is what you’ve become maybe accustomed to, inhere to. It just rolls off your back. You expect it. You don’t act any differently. You just roll your eyes and go, “Oh yeah, there it goes again.” That’s not healthy. That’s not a good thing to get used to.
So, what happens when a Hijackal™ says, “Oh, you’re just being overly sensitive.” After they’ve said their peace and probably been somewhat unkind. Well, what they’re doing, as I said, is they want to have that power over you. They want the control. So, they have that in the moment when they squish. When they diminish you. When they try to make you smaller. And so, we can’t just, in a moment, if we want to keep the relationship with the Hijackal™, it’s not wise ever to directly confront a Hijackal™ with facts, or your feelings, because you’ll just get squished again. Never directly confront a Hijackal™, but start within yourself. Do something different. So the next time that your Hijackal™ says, “Oh, you’re overly sensitive, and there you go, what are you crying for?”
Just simply allow yourself- first of all, practice in your head. You may not get any words out, but allow yourself to say, “I have a right to my feelings. That hurt me, or that upset me, and I’m allowed to say that.” Now, if you can, say those words out loud. You’re not saying anything bad about the Hijackal™. You’re not saying anything that they did, that they’re wrong or anything at all. You’re simply speaking from your heart, “That hurt me. That bothered me.” Nothing more, just start there. Don’t allow yourself to continuously be put down by being told that you are overly sensitive.
Now, the second part of that equation is find out if you are being overly sensitive. Check with somebody. Check with me. Check with a friend. Although, friends and family are not reliable sources for help. They may be reliable sources for emotional support, but they are not reliable sources for help because they don’t know what it’s like to live in that situation, so you need outside help like you know, coming along, being a member and being able to ask questions and things with me.
But, ask yourself, “Am I overly sensitive?” or “Have I become overly sensitive because I’ve been put down so frequently?” So, you need to ask that question. So, internally you’re saying, “No, I’m not overly sensitive. I’m hurting.” If you’re strong enough, you say, “No, I’m not overly sensitive. I’m feeling hurt. I’m feeling put down. I’m feeling-” whatever is true for you, and that’s a good beginning point.
Then, after you’ve been doing that for awhile, and awhile might be a week or two, then you amp it up a little bit and you say, “I’m not overly sensitive, I feel this. I want to be respected.” And you add that to the conversation. Well, talk to the hand. The Hijackal™ is going to say, “Why do you think you deserve respect? What have you ever done to deserve respect?”
We’re not working on the Hijackal™ at this point. We’re working on you. So, you just simply say that, “And I deserve respect.” Maybe he says, “Why do you think that?” or she says, “Why do you think I deserve respect?” You say, “Because I breathe. Everybody does.” Could you do that? Might be a little tough at the beginning. That’s why I’m suggesting that you practice in your head.
Because it is highly unlikely that you are overly sensitive. What you are giving is information that the Hijackal™ doesn’t want to hear. So, the Hijackal™ has to swat it aside and the way that he or she does that is by suggesting you’re overly sensitive or that you have a thin skin. And sometimes it happens in the case where you are in company, you and your Hijackal™ are in company and the Hijackal™ takes a pot shot at you, blind sides you with a remark, a one-liner, and they’re counting on the fact you’re not going to say anything because you don’t want to “Make a scene,” right? And so you begin there by saying, “Ouch that hurts,” nothing more. No big discussion, but you say, “Ouch that hurt,” and you begin there.
So, we need some techniques, some strategies. One thing for sure, when you’re living with a Hijackal™, or leaving a Hijackal™, or were the child of a Hijackal™, you have to learn to set some boundaries and say things straight up. And these are the things that will help you. I don’t want to put too much in each video, so I will separate them out. But, try these things. You deserve respect. Give it to yourself first and speak up. Talk soon.
Originally published August 16, 2016