HWC 33 | Ending Toxic Relationships


In any relationship, you always have a choice. If it doesn’t bring out the best in you or it’s no longer serving you, you can always choose to end it. On today’s show, Dr. Rhoberta Shaler joins David Adelson as they talk about recognizing and ending toxic relationships. Everyone has something they bring into a relationship, but loving a toxic person enough won’t make them change their ways. Listen to this episode to get a deeper understanding of the positive and negative patterns and behaviors in your relationships and learn what you can do to put an end to your distress.

Make sure you get her giveaway, a free copy of her ebook “How To Spot A Hijackal®” by clicking here: http://hijackals.com/

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How To: Recognize And End Toxic Relationships With Dr. Rhoberta Shaler

We’re going to be talking with Dr. Rhoberta Shaler about ending toxic relationships and empowering yourself if you’re in a relationship that maybe doesn’t help bring out the best in you. I’m excited to have you here. Thank you for coming.

Thank you. It’s my pleasure. I always liked talking about this topic so that people can put an end to their distress.

A lot of people don’t know they have an option so it’s one of the reasons I like supporting what you’re doing. The show is sponsored by Peace and Harmony Co., PeaceAndHarmonyCompany.com. We have programs that you can purchase that will bring peace and harmony to your family, business, apartment building, neighborhood, city, community, and whatever level you want. We encourage people to check it out at PeaceAndHarmonyCo.com and take advantage of what’s there. There’re some samples that you can try.

Rhoberta Shaler PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor provides urgent and ongoing care for relationships in crisis. Her mission is to provide the insights, information, and inspiration for clients and audiences to transform relationships with themselves and other humans to be honest, respectful, and safe in all ways, even the United States Marines have sought her help. Dr. Shaler focuses on helping the partners access, and adult children of the relentlessly difficult toxic people she calls Hijackals to stop the crazy-making and save their sanity.

She is an author of sixteen books including Escaping the Hijackal Trap and Stop! That’s Crazy-Making! She hosts the internationally popular podcast Save Your Sanity: Help for Toxic Relationships. Her YouTube channel, For Relationship Help has reached over 385,000 views. You’ve been busy and I want to say that I can’t help but think that even without you saying anything, but your gentle presence in a room would settle things down. People would be embarrassed to be crazy around your sanity which I’ve loved since I first saw you and met you. Welcome. Where do you want to start? I’ll let you lead.

The most important thing that I can contribute, David, is to help people recognize if they’re in a toxic relationship, which is different than going through a difficult patch. A toxic relationship is continuously running into difficult patches around the same topics and the same situations. It’s important for us to realize that whether we’re looking back and seeing that perhaps our parents were toxic. If so, they’re going to set us up to find a toxic partnership. If we’re with the toxic person, we’re maybe thinking that if we love them enough, that they will magically change and they won’t.

There are many things that I can see that can come up with people. Let’s start with the person who is in a toxic relationship. There are several things. One, they think that if they love them enough, they’ll change. Two, they feel that they need to adjust themselves to match the behaviors so they’ll stop getting criticized and all of that. Three, feeling like this is what they deserve. Are these some of the key things that come up in your work?

If you are not a toxic person, you may have healthy boundaries. Once you see a toxic person, you’re going to say no. If you happen to be the good person variety that thinks, “This person had a rough childhood. This person is going through a bad patch.” You excuse their behaviors over and over again. You may have in your mind that, “They never felt fully loved. If I love them, if I don’t push them, if I don’t nag them, if I’m more patient and less demanding, if I make myself into a pretzel or maybe even a doormat, then they’ll feel loved. When they do that, they’ll magically relax and turn into the person I met and fell in love with.”

The thing we have to know is that the person that you met and fell in love with if they’re a toxic person, that was a chameleon act for your benefit. That person is not coming back. That person is a show to get you where they want you. The real person is the one that you’re having all the difficulty with. It’s time to calibrate that, “Is it happening all the time? Is this person always needing to win in every conversation? Are they continually finding fault with me? Everything is my fault. It’s blamed on me when things go wrong. It’s never in a situation where they hold themselves accountable or responsible for anything.” When you start seeing the patterns, that’s when the penny can drop and you can say, “No amount of pouring love into this bucket is going to fill this bucket.”

There’s a bunch that we’ll come back to but one of the things that I come back to is if it is the person to empower themselves or to love themselves enough, to recognize that, “I don’t need to please this other person. I’m whole within myself and if they want to be that way, I don’t need to put up with it when they’re being that way.”

HWC 33 | Ending Toxic Relationships

Ending Toxic Relationships: Toxicity does find its way into the workplace frequently.


“I don’t need to put up with it at all.” It’s going to recur and you can’t change it. Why would you settle for that? If you have children, why would you allow them to see this model?

I know you work individually with people as well as all the work that you do with your books and your podcast and YouTube channel. What are the first steps that you recommend someone to take?

It is important to recognize the patterns, the cycles, and the behaviors that are continuously showing up and to see them for what they are like they exist. You can make a list of them and when you see them and say, “That recurs. I always feel like that.” You start going from episode to episode and you start stepping back and seeing the pattern. Everybody, keep your compassion hat in your hand. Do not put it on at this moment. If you think that, “This is sad. This person has had a rough time,” they have, but you didn’t give them a rough time. You didn’t create the sadness. You don’t have the ability to change it. It’s important for you to see that this person is how this person is. If they are treating you poorly in any way on a regular basis, verbal, emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual or physical abuse, you need to recognize it.

It was a New Yorker cartoonist that I saw, which are two people meeting in a bar or something, a man and a woman. The woman says to the man, “What are you doing to undo all the things that you learned before you met me so that we could possibly have a good relationship?” It’s this basic idea that the recognition that everybody has something, and that’s not what we want to bring to the relationship. What we want to bring to the relationship is our best all the time.

A lot of people feel that when they’re with their partner is when they can let their guard down and be relaxed, rude and whatever when in fact they should reverse it. If they’re going to be that way, be that way at work and where they’re only seeing people who can leave and be kinder at home. I want to let you lead because you have an interesting idea of doing things. My way of dealing with things is, we bring in peace. We turn on the light and then we stop banging our shins on the table in the dark.

We have a lot of programs to do that, Quantum-Infused or Unified-Field-Infused that can help in these situations and can people feel less stressed. You have played one of our programs and you enjoyed it. Do you introduce things like that to help people? What do you feel the solution is? I know you’re saying people don’t need to put up with it, but are you saying that in every case that relationship needs to end or savable?

It’s not about save. That’s a whole other matter. That’s an enabling kind of term. First of all, we have to know who we are. We have to know what our values are, our vision for our life is. What are our beliefs, not just spiritual beliefs but our beliefs about how the world works, how relationships are best handled, how children are best raised. What are our beliefs about everything? What are our next steps? If we do that work within ourselves, that can take a whole lot. I often say to people when they come to me and they say, “This is going on and it’s awful. It’s terrible and I’m going to leave. I don’t care if I only get out of here with the clothes on my back and the kids. I’m going to leave.” I go, “Please don’t do that.” They say, “Why not?”

If there’s physical or sexual abuse, yes, absolutely do that. If there isn’t, why not use this to learn lessons about how to get in touch with yourself, how to empower yourself, and how to have some strategies to use either personally like some meditation strategies, some ways of moving energy and things for yourself? Also, strategies to try in the relationship to test out and to see where the relationship can go to calibrate what happens when I use these more positive skills? Does it make a shift? Does it not make a shift? Does it make the other person angrier or more volatile?

You want to leave empowered. You don’t want to leave with the clothes on your back and the children sitting in some room that you can barely afford saying, “At least I’m out but now, what?” If you’re going to make an informed decision to leave, leave in the best shape possible that you have grown, that you’ve expanded, that you’ve explored all ways of managing yourself, learning about yourself, living and demonstrating your values, and then see what happens. Not everybody has that luxury because they’re being abused badly and they need to leave.

The secondary part of that is, “I can be doing all that as a partner in that relationship, but the children may not be being treated well or seeing good models.” I have to take that into consideration as well. There’re many factors, but my number one thing down to your question is to do your own work first. Going back to the New Yorker cartoon, I laughed when the airlines started charging for extra baggage, because I saw a cartoon that says, “This is going to cost you a lot if you’re going to bring your emotional baggage on board.”

A toxic relationship is continuously running into difficult patches around the same topics and the same situations. Click To Tweet

Handle that emotional baggage. We all have some, and if you’re accepting less than loving treatment from others, maybe you do have something that needs to be looked out. Why would that be acceptable to you? Where did it become acceptable to you? What’s a way of bringing that to light and giving a name to it? How do you bring that up in the least incendiary way? How can you look at it together and see if you can make an agreement to do things differently? There are many places between go and stay.

I do heartedly agree that the first thing is in our work. I love what you’re saying about the discovery of first recognizing that this is happening, but then what is it within me that is allowing this to continue? Way back in my early twenties, I worked for this high-level executive and her husband had been a colonel in the military. She was used to being treated with this level of magnitude and soft. Whenever she would yell at me, I’m like, “You want to yell? You go ahead and yell. I’m not going to take any of it on. I’m going to let it go by.”

One time when she was yelling about something. She yelled at me for not standing up for myself, which I thought was brilliant. She knew who she was. The first day we were working, she worked incredibly hard. She said, “I got tired of working with thousands of people that I work with. When I’m done, I don’t have the energy to keep you happy. I let loose if I do and don’t worry about it.” She yelled at me for not standing up for me. I said, “Fine, if that’s what you want.” I started doing that.

This is a hint for audiences. I always backed up. I covered my behind. Whenever I would stand up to her, it wasn’t me emotionally saying, “You did this. This is how it worked out.” We traveled together for about six months. About five months in, I remember we were in Rhode Island at the time and we were walking down the hall in the hotel. She was going to her room and she was starting to bark about something. She started mumbling, “If I bring it up, you’re going to do something and you’re always right,” and then she wandered off to her room without saying anything.

She’d learned a process in your form. You bring up a good piece, David, because toxicity does find its way into the workplace frequently. I was giving a session at the California HR Conference and about halfway through this session, a person put up their hand and said, “What happens to Hijackals in the workplace?” I said, “Brace yourself.” Everybody came to attention. I said, “They get promoted whether it’s laterally or vertically. Someone wants to get rid of them so they send them to become someone else’s problem.” It was not surprising to have somebody who’s entrepreneurial or in a leadership role and having an edge to them that falls into this category. They can slip over into toxic and that can be damaging.

Let’s talk about how you came up with the concept of a Hijackal and where did that come from?

Where it came from was that I noticed that people were going off to Google and they were saying, “My partner does this. My mother or father does this.” They forgot that Google is an index. It’s not a psychological professional. When Google comes back with things about narcissist or psychopath or any of those things, they go, “I’m with this person with this diagnosis.” No, Google can’t diagnose a person and don’t separate yourself from the person in that way to say, “That person has a problem.”

You’re in the relationship. You’re there so you have a problem too. I wanted to use something that was generic, that we could have a name that would talk about behaviors and situations that did not require a clinical diagnosis that people were incapable of making and could say, “This is how it feels. This is what happens. These are the dynamics. Let’s consider it from that point of view rather than from a pathology.” That’s when I trademarked the term Hijackals.

Is it in Wikipedia or not?

I honestly don’t know. Hijackal is a person who hijacks their relationship for their own purposes and then relentlessly scavenges it for power, status, and control.

HWC 33 | Ending Toxic Relationships

Ending Toxic Relationships: A hijackal is a person who hijacks relationships for their own purposes and relentlessly scavenges it for power, status, and control.


It’d be nice to not have them anymore. It’d be nice to end them in the world by helping them. We believe that a lot of people are reacting to stress and tension and as you say, bad examples growing up. We all know people whose parents were a particular way and then as a child, they feel that’s what the definition of a good relationship is because their parents stay together for 50 years but they scream at each other constantly. They feel that if they’re not in a good argument, you don’t love each other which is not ideal.

Children have no comparisons. The one that they grow up in is the only one they know. It often doesn’t happen until the teens get to observe by visiting other people’s families, that things are different over at that other house, “Maybe I like that model better. Maybe there are other ways to do this.” What we learned from brain research, the things that get installed in us before the development at 6, 7, 8 of parietal and prefrontal lobe development until then, that’s where we retreat to when we get into anxiety.

That’s where we revert to. It’s important for us to have a good examination of what was going on in my life at that time. From birth to 7 or 8, what was going on? What was I taking in? I was a sponge. I was a sack of emotional nerve endings. What did I take in? What model did I accept? What did I think the world was like? What do I expect of the world? If you go back and think about that, if there were traumas, if there was abuse, or if there were maybe various things that couldn’t be helped, maybe a lot of moving around or a lot of things that occur, you can rethink them when you’re an adult. You have to go back and retrieve them and be willing to do the work.

A lot with what I do with people and our clients all over the world because I worked by video, is to say, “Let’s go back and find out what was going on then. What were you taking in? What were you seeing? What were you hearing? What did you hear? What did you see before you had a language? How do you remember feeling? What are the first feelings that you had?” That tells you what you were thinking about what your place is in the world and whether you had value. My friend Dr. Gary Salyer always says that, “You want to have been welcomed by joy.”

If you look back and you find you weren’t welcomed by joy, maybe some parents said to you, “We didn’t plan you. You came along and we weren’t too happy with that. I thought of having an abortion.” I’m an only child. I have no Hijackals. My mom used to say to me regularly, “Good thing that you’re a smart young lady because you’re fat and ugly.” You take that in and what’s coming in is, “I’m not good enough. My mother doesn’t like me. I’m fat. I’m unattractive. I’m this or that.”

You take that in and after she passed, I owned a yoga retreat center where I had my practice. I took all her photographs and all my photographs and put them all over the yoga room floor and it was huge, 1,100 square feet. I made albums for my three children and after I was finished, I thought, “I should go back and look for evidence of fat and ugly.” I might be delusional but I didn’t find it. I thought, “Isn’t that interesting?” Let me extrapolate. Here’s an example that maybe people will relate to. I’m sitting there and it’s getting a little bit dark.

I have skylights and everything in this beautiful country setting. It’s closing in on me and I’m realizing that three days before my mom died, I put my hand on hers because heaven forbid, she would ever hold mine. I said, “Mom, you never told me that you loved me.” She was laying in her bed and she looked at me and she said, “I know.” I’m sitting on the yoga room floor, my mom’s passed and going through all these photographs and I’m thinking, “What was that? Why did I ask that question?”

I didn’t like anything about my mother. She was racist, ugly, unfair, merciless, ruthless, nasty, cold, demanding, competitive, and all those things. It dawned on me. There was a piece of me that was waiting for her approval and then the lights went on. I was waiting for the approval of someone of whom I didn’t approve. It was a big moment. At that point, I was speaking all over the world and I started telling that story and people were coming out to me saying, “I realized that’s what I do.” If you have that in your past somewhere, that’s a good thing to uncover.

I appreciate that story. I know a lot of healers in the realm that I hang out with. Many of them feel that most of the stuff you need to clear you got by the time you were two and in the womb. All of the patterns and all of the worries. I had interesting dynamics with my parents. They divorced and married themselves. They married each other three times. There were many days over the period of years where we had no idea if either parent would be there when we got home or who it was. They each left separately more than once.

One time my mother decided that she couldn’t deal with the relationship of being married. I want to appreciate this because while she was alive, I had compassion for her. First of all, she had PMS in a world where there were no female gynecologists at that point that she was suicidal. She ended up in the psychiatric hospital twice because of attempted suicide. She was going through the worst thing that anybody could do with PMS. She was going to doctors who were telling her that it was all in her head, which is a horrible thing. She was going through this month after month. As a kid, I didn’t understand that but once I started to, I was like, “I get that.”

There are many places between go and stay. Click To Tweet

She also had some gifts and would know things and see things. She had no idea what was going on. She felt that if some harm happened to somebody that she was upset with, even if it was far away, that she was the cause of it. She went through seven religions before she married my father. She was a hugely active civil rights activist. She went all over the place. Every time there was a march on Washington or somewhere for civil rights or for ending the Vietnam War, she was there. She would keep us out of school. On one level, she’s a hugely compassionate and immensely intelligent woman and then on the other hand, we would come home and we would never know whether we were going to meet the same loving person or the crazy bitch.

When we’re talking, I’m realizing some of the things that were said over and over again. One of the things that she used to say was, “Who gave you permission? Who told you, you could do this?” That went on for years. At one point in my early teens, 11, 13 or something, she said that and I looked over at her and I realized you’re a human being. You’re not a god or some divine authority. I’m a human being and she said, “Who do you think you are?” I said, “Who do I have to be to make the decision that I can make a peanut butter sandwich or eat this?” Her whole life, I’m generous with her.

I’m doing a lot of healing work for her. She did amazing the last seven years of her life. I thought it was going to take her 50 lifetimes to get to where she got in seven years. She was devoted and good. At one point, she apologized to me for trying to ruin my life, which was great. While she was passing, my sister spent a lot of time with her. A contentious relationship in their entire life and she said for the last six months everything fell away but the love. That was sweet. What I found interesting was about a month after she died, I started being furious with her.

We have a couple of similarities because my mom had a gynecological incident where she didn’t want children and she made that clear. The only reason that I existed was my father wanted a child. That was the story. My godparents wanted a child because they were in their mid-50s and she appeased them. She had me. She got pregnant and that’s when everything went sideways because she was a mess. She was not going to have that baby. We lived in a small town and somehow my mother at six months pregnant convinced the doctor that he said if she had a hysterectomy, he would give her a hysterectomy. My father was sitting there waiting for the surgery to be over. The nurse came out and said, “I hope you’re happy that you killed your son.”

My mother ended up spending eighteen months in a mental institution. She had electric shock therapy. I have all compassion for that and the beginnings of the difficulties in her life and all of those things. Every one of us has a choice. When people ask me, “Do narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths have a choice?” Yes, they do because they don’t behave the same way everywhere. They choose how to behave which is a piece of bread to the butter. Back to your point about coming home and letting your hair down, I always tell people, “Why is it that the people you say you love the most, you treat the poorest?”

Ask yourself the question, “Am I treating my partner, my children with the same even civility as I would the checkout person in the grocery store?” If the answer is no, then check what’s going on? Why do I have this paradigm flipped? My focus should be on those I love the most giving them the best of myself. We have a cultural thing that says at home is where you “let your hair down.” In other words, you wouldn’t put your feet on anybody else’s coffee table, but you can at home. There are things that you can do at home, but the way we treat people is flipped. That’s something worth a good look because it’s important to recognize that we may have some patterns that are not as quite conscious as they need to be. A big thing to do if we have to flip that and we ask ourselves, “Am I as loving at home as I am civil out in the community?” If the answer is no, then you can change that.

If you happen to be a Hijackal, you’re not likely to change that because you’re not interested. It’s all about Me.com. A Hijackal is all about themselves. They’re entitled. They want what they want. They should be first. They should matter more. They should be able to discard. I do a lot of graphics. I have a lot of Facebook pages and one of them is at Facebook.com/hijackals. I put a lot of memes up there and graphics. I put up something and it said, “Hijackals demand loyalty, but they seldom give it.” It’s something that we need to notice. They will demand it. “What? Are you not going to support me? Why not? I absolutely demand that you be on my side.” They’ll throw you under the bus in a heartbeat to get something they want. They don’t care. Those are extreme. If you notice, there’s a tendency in that direction. You want to be having a conversation about that.

I have this vision which I’ve had most of my life in a utopian world where everything is amazing. We’re headed to that which means that I think when we look at this situation where there’s a Hijackal in someone else that everybody can be saved because I tend to be optimistic. What that looks like and how that plays out remains to be seen. On one hand, the first thing that we’re talking about and what you’re bringing to the table is let’s get the person who’s being Hijackal to love themselves, forgive themselves, recognize what’s going on in the situation, take care of themselves, and at the same time, support that thing.

That’s huge and crucial and that’s where I would start too. On the other hand, I’m also looking and saying, “Is the Hijackal fixable?” I’m assuming there are gradations of Hijackals and there are some that are far over the top that only their death will appease the world. There are some that if they understood what was going on but because of what they grew up with, they don’t recognize that they’re doing something wrong. There’s a TV show that ended called The Good Place.

There’s a character in that who doesn’t have a clue that he’s not a nice person. They work on him and they get a fraction of a little bit of development of him over some long period of time and then he’s out. He doesn’t show up for the next year. He only shows up thousands and thousands of lifetimes later. He’s arguing with somebody and the only line that he says, “If you tell a woman that she looks prettier when she smiles because she does, aren’t you helping her?” You get the needle has barely moved over thousands of lifetimes for this guy. I noticed with your eyes and the way that you’re looking, you’re not big on wanting to heal the Hijackals.

HWC 33 | Ending Toxic Relationships

Ending Toxic Relationships: Hijackals demand loyalty, but they seldom give it.


It’s not about me not wanting to heal a Hijackal, but it reminds me of an old joke. How many psychotherapists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change. The thing with the Hijackal is that they’re superior. There are gradations but generally, well-developed Hijackals are superior, entitled, and are all about Me.com. They’re fragile. The actual psychological basis of this is they’re fragile that they couldn’t entertain the idea of failure, making a mistake and shame. It goes out from them all the time to keep their armor up. You can’t get through that. If somebody is constantly pushing you away, there isn’t a way. Someone has to say, “Let’s talk about that for a minute. I got a little bit of space here that maybe I could consider something.”

This is why I work with a couple of common and maybe one of the people will contact me and they will say, “I’m with a Hijackal.” I’ll say, “Are they open to coming together with you? Let’s find out what’s going on.” The reason for that is that if a person was raised by a Hijackal, they may be like the Hijackal, but they may have what we call Hijackal fleas. They’ve only learned to do things one way and that’s not who they are, but they don’t know another way. Sometimes you can find that out. When you look at narcissists for instance, in the literature, you will find that there are overt malignant narcissists and there are covert narcissists.

A covert narcissist or a covert Hijackal is hard to determine because they are much the victim. Instead of being the predator that you can identify with the overbearing nature, they tend to be the victim. “Nobody ever loves me. Nobody understands me. Nobody ever lets me do anything. I was never able to get ahead. There you go again, making me wrong.” They’re hard to identify. Those ones, we have to figure out if they are covert Hijackals, or are they people who need another skillset and would be happy to have one because they’d feel better and find out whether that’s possible.

That’s why I may have been looking at this. First of all, they have to be open to the possibility that there might be another way and they may be part of the problem. Secondarily then, when they do come, we have to find out whether or not that’s the only way they know to cope and they want to keep it, or is the only way they know how to cope and they’re open to another one. We’re going to see less than 5% of the people in the category that want to change.

I am aware that there are some people who are infinitely inflexible because they view the world a particular way and they can’t handle it. For the sake of sanity, they feel that it has to be this way. There’re characters on TV that are famous. We see them when we’re watching it as comedic or with great compassion, but they’re rigid in the way the world has to be because they lack inner stability or whatever it is. I get that there are people who don’t see other possibilities, but there’s a quote that used to be on a TM poster in the 1970s that I love. The quote was from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who started the TM program.

It said, “Everyone is one’s own responsibility to choose what you want to be.” When I first read it, I was 19 or 20. I thought that I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a fireman or whatever. As we grew, we started to realize, “Who do I want to be in this situation? What do I want to experience?” It’s the highest level of empowerment that one can get because, in every situation, we get to make a choice consciously instead of reacting and responding just because this is what we were shown and it’s what always been done. People have to be willing to break out of their shell and believe that the world may not be what their perception of it is or that the responses to what they say are what they think those responses are.

It is empowering when you come to that point of view. There’s this spiritual book with a particular line that stuck with me. It said, “Who’s ever most sane at the moment is responsible for the relationship.” If someone has gone into fear, doubt, upset or anger, and you’re observing it, then you can be the one that you were describing yourself as compassionate in that moment and realize not your circus, not your monkeys. You don’t have to jump in but it does then give us that sense of responsibility of, “I’m choosing how I see this. Everything has the meaning that I give it and then I will react to the meaning that I give it. I have a lot of opportunities to see things differently.” Speaking of Maharishi, I remember in 1963 or 1964 when he first came to the West and I was sitting in a college auditorium that I expected to be full because I started practicing yoga when I was nineteen. Here came in Maharishi in a big room and there were fifteen of us. We got to spend time with him and meet him at the beginning of him coming to the West. That was a moment for someone who was twenty years old.

A lot of the things that I learned from him having been a TM teacher way back. On the faculty at the University in Fairfield, Iowa which is where I got my degrees and learned all about physics, quantum and all of that stuff. I want to get back to this idea of whoever’s the sanest have the control. One of the things that I notice in my family and among other wonderful qualities that my mother had, she was 100% Italian. All of the stereotypical things were embodied between her and my two sisters who were all drama queens but I don’t want to use that term because that doesn’t come close to what they were but it got to be interesting dynamics growing up.

One of the things that I noticed is often somebody would scream, “Why are you getting upset?” They’re completely losing it and yelling at you for not keeping cool about it. That happened over and over again, not only in my family but also in other situations. I remember thinking, “That’s not who I want to be. That’s not how I want to handle this situation.” I spent most of my teen years when they were crazy, I would go in my room. I listen to music. I love music and I worked in a record store. That was my team thing.

I would go in within 15, 20 minutes and I’d be in a great mood. I come out a few hours later and they’d still be going through this whole big thing. I would be like, “What’s the matter with you people? You had many choices yet you’re doing this for three hours?” Meanwhile, I’d been in my room reading The Lord of the Rings and listening to music and having the best time ever. I come out and they’re still fighting. I was like, “Why are you choosing to do this?”

Whoever is the most sane at the moment is responsible for the relationship. Click To Tweet

The thing is when people are dynamic and volatile, which I would use to describe the situation with your sisters, they do not want you to be calm. They feel that it is a criticism of their volatility and dynamism at that moment. When you’re calm, it’s like, “No. You don’t get it. Get into this with us.” One of the little things that I teach my people to do when you’re in that situation, particularly in a one-on-one relationship that you would like to improve and somebody else goes a bit off, like a Roman candle, the best thing to do is to match their energy, intensity, volume, and pace. It’s an NLP thing, but slowly become calmer yourself and they will follow you in that energetic movement.

We don’t know that when we were young and we have volatile sisters. I would withdraw because my parents would go at it. I was the center stone. They would both focus on me and send messages to one another, or else they’d be fighting with each other. I was a musician and I had a piano in my bedroom and I would go play it. One of the things that I read about a lot is that when you have a Hijackal parent, the only way that you have validation from that parent is 1 of 3 things and that’s why they have children so you’ll agree with them, serve them or make them look good.

If you will do one of those three things or preferably all three at all times, you’ll be in their good books. I didn’t realize that I intuitively understood that if I went and played the piano, they couldn’t complain because that’s how I made them look good. If I went and played the piano, they would calm down and they couldn’t tell me to stop. I have to admit that as a teenager, I used that in quite a retributive fashion because I would come home at midnight and decide to practice because they were annoying.

It’s something that we energetically have to learn to respond to. As we develop some insights and some skills, we can do that in better ways. We’ll go back to our conversation about, do all the learning you possibly can when you realize you’re in a relationship with a Hijackal. Learn about yourself, communication, conflict management, boundaries, and things to test out and to put in place and see what happens. Have you ever thrown a pot? Have you ever made a pot of clay?


It’s an interesting process because first of all, you work the clay and then when you get a ball of clay, it doesn’t come nice and soft and pliable. You work it and then you sit down at the wheel and you throw it onto the centerpiece. Here’s the interesting thing, once you get it going, once you start the wheel and you’re using your hands to shape it, as it gets bigger, you can take the tiniest little bit of motion and you can make it go way over here. That’s the way it is in a relationship once you understand it. You can make it go completely sideways or you can bring it back to the center. When you find that you can’t do that because the other person will not have that hallmark of healthy relationships with you, that’s when you have to begin to realize that this may not work.

I happen to know the numbers. It’s Episode 115 of the Save Your Sanity podcast. Someone asked me if I’d done a podcast on the three hallmarks of a healthy adult relationship and I hadn’t so I did it. Those three hallmarks, if you don’t have these three things, then you need to either be willing to work on them or recognize that they’re not possible. You’re not going to be able to develop the relationship in a healthy way. What they are equality, reciprocity, and mutuality. If you don’t have those things, you don’t have anything. Whether that’s a relationship with your parent, your adult child, partner, sibling, employer, or with the person in the next room, that if you have a meaningful relationship beyond, “Hello, how are you?” you want to develop depth to it. You have to have those three things. Those things are not available to you in a relationship with a true Hijackal.

My grandmother’s second marriage was traditional. This was in the ‘40s. He was vice president of a bank. No wife of his was going to work. She had a hair salon, a beauty shop, which was her favorite thing ever because she got to spend all day chatting with all these people that she loved and they loved her because she made them look good. He made her clothes that ruined her life. She also had long hair and he insisted that she never cut her hair, but she wanted to have short hair. What she did was every month for eighteen months, she cut one inch off her hair. After it was finally short, he went up to her and said, “I like your hair that way.” She never confronted him by saying, “I’m going to cut it off.” There’s another thing about those three pillars. Could you name them again?

Equality, reciprocity, and mutuality.

I was working for a marketing company with annuity and everything. I had gotten the job. They wanted us to get some insurance licenses and NASD licenses and stuff. I had done all of this stuff right away. I worked overtime without being concerned about it for whatever it was about six months or something. I had another job offer at the same time and he didn’t negotiate, but he said is what I will do is in six months, I’ll do a review. Six months came and not only had he not done a review, but he made the announcement that he’s going to be gone for the next six weeks or something, which means that’s two months that if I was going to get a raise, I’m not going to get a raise. I was easily intimidated at that time for a lot of reasons. I felt that I had to say something to him.

HWC 33 | Ending Toxic Relationships

Escaping The Hijackal® Trap: The Truth About Hijackals and Why They are Crazy-Making

I made an appointment and I went in and I said, “I have to question my relationship with the company because you asked me to do all these things and I was the only one who got all three licenses in the department of about 30, 40 people. I also had done all this other stuff. I did everything that you asked of me, but now when it’s time for you to step forward, which is to give me the review when you promised it, you’re not doing it. I want to know what’s going on.” He was hugely apologetic. He still had to leave right away. He sent out a memo the next day to everybody admitting that he had dropped the ball and he would get to it, as soon as he could when he got back. It was an interesting thing because he had no clue that he had done that until I brought it up to him.

That’s common but the thing is Hijackals do that thing on purpose. You were calibrating whether or not this was done as something that has slipped his mind or whether or not he was doing it on purpose to get free labor from you at a higher credentialed value and was ignoring you and hoping that you wouldn’t ask. Those are the things that we have to calibrate. We can only do that if we ask questions and have conversations.

I had no idea what he was going to say because he was a polite man. I don’t think he would have used the words like, “Screw you,” but he could have said, “I’m sorry. That’s the way it is.” He didn’t and lived up to my expectation of who he was. I ended up working for them for several more years. Had he handled it differently, I would have been out of there because I don’t want to work in that environment which is coming back full circle to how much do we want to work with a relationship? There’re two more things I want to mention. One is meditation. If you can get your Hijackal other to at least try something like TM or some of these meditations, a lot of times they start shifting without realizing that they’re shifting, which is a wonderful way to do it.

When I was a teacher and with friends who are teachers, someone will come in and they’ll learn meditation and they’ll come back after three months and will say, “How are you doing?” They say, “I’m not noticing any benefits but everybody at work, my wife and my kids are nicer and things are working out.” The other thing is how do people contact you if they’re interested in following this up, which I encourage them to do because this is a problem that we can solve.

I have a free eBook for everyone. If you’re wondering if you’re with a Hijackal, I have a free eBook for you. It’s called How To Spot a Hijackal and you get it by going to Hijackals.com. If you want to know more about me and my subscription series and how to become a member and get wonderful things every week, everything about me is at my website ForRelationshipHelp.com. That also is the name of my YouTube Channel For Relationship Help. There’s a lot available. I do two podcasts a week at SaveYourSanityPodcast.com. It’s also on my website For Relationship Help. There are tons of things. There are lots of free resources. There are many ways that you can work with me or be part of a group or be part of my subscription membership process. There are a lot of ways to interact so that you don’t have to do it alone.

We have the Peace and Harmony programs, which you can download and play, which are Quantum-Infused, Unified-Field-Infused, silent programs that help generate peace and harmony around you. There are many stories of arguments being stopped just because somebody turned it on in the background over and over again. There’s a free sample at PeaceAndHarmonyCo.com. You can get one of the big systems and be a hero and bless your whole neighborhood with harmony. Rhoberta, I love talking to you. I would love to go on for much longer, and maybe we can talk again some time, but one of the things that I love is both you and I see a better world where love dominates. It starts with loving yourself, empowering yourself, and recognizing what’s going on around. As we both said, the choice is yours. How do you want to be? Who do you want to be? What do you want to experience and recognize that? Love and respect yourself enough to stand up and get what you deserve.

I concur, it all begins with you.

Thank you and come next time. If you liked this episode, be sure to give it a five-star review. Subscribe to the show. Have a great day, life, week, and year.

Thank you, David. Take care.

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About Dr. Rhoberta Shaler

HWC 33 | Ending Toxic Relationships

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor, provides urgent and ongoing care for relationships in crisis. Her mission is to provide the insights, information, and inspiration for clients and audiences to transform relationship with themselves and other humans to be honest, respectful, and safe in all ways. Even the United States Marines have sought her help!

Dr. Shaler focuses on helping the partners, exes, and adult children of the relentlessly difficult, toxic people she calls Hijackals® to stop the crazy-making and save their sanity.
Author of sixteen books including Escaping the Hijackal Trap and Stop! That’s Crazy-Making, she hosts the internationally popular podcast, Save Your Sanity: Help for Toxic Relationships. Her YouTube channel, ForRelationshipHelp, has reached over 385,000 views.

All our episodes are recorded using a sample of our peace and harmony program that can reduce tensions, end arguments, and create peace quickly. Try it for free at www.peaceandharmonydownload.com and enjoy your own pocket of peace!