I May Be a Hijacker

Hijacking is a crime–and I may be guilty of it. Now, if you’re picturing me at a stoplight, pointing a Glock 9mm at the driver of an expensive sports car…that’s not the kind of hijacking I’m talking about (although that may be as close as I’ll ever come to driving an expensive sports car!).

No, the hijacking I’m talking about isn’t illegal, but it’s definitely a crime against humanity.

Let me give you a different scenario to envision. It’s one you’ll be familiar with.

It’s been a bad day. I mean a really bad day. Something expensive in the house broke. Then something big on your car broke. And now you gotta grocery shop for dinner, but you’re broke.

And then you see one of your best girl friends in Aisle 3…and instantly you feel relief because she is somebody you can share your bad day with…which will make it feel a teeny-weeny, tiny bit less bad.

But when you start to tell her about your broken expensive and big things, suddenly her things are more expensive and much bigger and more broken and she has more of them and…

You stand there like a fish, your mouth gaping for air as you try to catch a brief millisecond between her words, so you can finish your story.

But you can’t finish your story. Because it’s been hijacked.

The definition of “hijack” is to seize a vehicle or the goods it carries and force it to go in a different direction. Your goods have just been seized, girlfriend!

We all know a hijacker, don’t we? We might think she’s a one-upper…or she’s all about herself…or she just doesn’t listen!

But if we’re honest, we’ve been guilty of hijacking, too, haven’t we? When we hijack, here’s what happens:

  • Our friend who just needs to talk it out…is left unvalidated. 
  • Our friend who needs us to help carry her emotion…is left holding emotional baggage.
  • Our friend who wants to share a victory, enters the conversation excited…but leaves it let down.

None of us wants to be guilty of those things. But sometimes we are…and it may not be because we’re one-uppers or all about ourselves or poor listeners.

When I hijack (and I’ve realized I do!), it’s usually not for any of those reasons. I hijack because I want to connect

While I listen to your story, my heart is saying, “Me, too! I’ve felt that, too! I understand!” And then I want to tell you my story, so you’ll know I truly do understand

Because when I’m feeling something heavy, it makes a difference to me when I know the person I’m talking to has felt the same kind of heavy.

Now, I usually “qualify” my hijacking by saying, “I took over your story! I’m sorry. I just wanted you to know I know how you feel.”

But my explanation…no matter how sincere…doesn’t work, does it? Because at some point in the hijacking, even though I have good intentions, my friend feels unheard and unimportant. Wow. That’s the exact opposite of what I was going for…

Hijacking can be hurtful to our friends…but, oh, how hurtful is it to hijack our child’s story? And I’m afraid we do it more often than we realize.

  • Your future professional athlete asks if you saw how many points he scored…and you tell him about the game when you tied the school record.
  • Your little princess gets a big part in the school play…and you tell her about the time you got the lead.
  • Your teen suffers her first real heartbreak…and you tell her about your big break up the day before prom. 

When we hijack our kiddo’s stories, we one-up them, we don’t validate them, and we don’t help them carry their emotional baggage. 

But what if we’re just trying to connect? What if we hear their stories and our hearts are saying, “Me, too! I’ve felt that too! Mom understands!”

It doesn’t matter, does it? Because that’s not what our children feel. 

Instead they hear us saying…”Your story isn’t as good as mine…or as important as mine.”

So, does this mean we can’t share our stories? We shouldn’t try to connect? No. But maybe we could change our strategy.

We could be patient, stop our brains, close our mouths, and just listen. And once the story is out…once our friend or our kiddo has said everythingmaybe then we can say, “I know exactly how you feel.There was this one time when…”

And then we design our story so it deepens our connection with our friend or child…and when they hear our story, they will know we really do understand. 

By the way, if you wonder why I said I’ll probably never drive an expensive sports car, this should explain. Do you know how I feel?


The MOM Journey News

Are you excited about the July give-away?! I am! And I don’t even know what it is! We’re road-tripping to Waco, home of Chip & Joanna Gaines and Magnolia Market! Surely I’ll find something for the July give-way!

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While we’re “waiting for” Waiting for Butterfliessign up on my author website to follow the journey. Cool stuff is happening! Like…a writer for CBS’s Cold Case contacted me through my author website and invited me to join her FB group of new authors whose debut novels will release in 2017. The group of 60 includes her, a writer for Teen Vogue, an editor for Writer’s Digest magazine, and a nobody teacher from lil’ ol’ AV! 

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  1. Sandy says:

    Guilty, guilty, guilty! I’ve got work on it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lois Orr says:

    Another great one that has made me stop and think about my words and actions towards my friends and family! Not “hijacking” on purpose but still can be hurtful – thanks again for some wonderful insight! And CONGRATS on your book!! So happy for you!!

    • Karen says:

      When I heard the word “hijack” used that way, I thought, “Oh no! I think I do that!” UGH!–Thanks for the congrats! 🙂

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