What Is An Amygdala Hijack?


Amygdala hijack refers to a situation where the brain’s emotional centre, the amygdala, takes over rational thinking. It’s a term coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence.” When the amygdala perceives a threat, it can trigger a fight, flight, freeze or even fawn response, bypassing the rational brain’s processing.

Daniel Goleman, in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,” popularised the concept of emotional intelligence and the importance of emotional intelligence in various aspects of life, including personal relationships, work, and overall well-being. He described amygdala hijack as a phenomenon where intense emotions, particularly fear or anger, can momentarily take control, leading to impulsive or irrational behaviour.

Goleman’s perspective underscores the need for individuals to develop emotional self-awareness and regulation skills to effectively manage amygdala hijack and navigate challenging situations. His work has had a significant impact on fields such as psychology, leadership, and education, highlighting the crucial role of emotions in human behaviour and success.

How to overcome amygdala hijack?

Although it seems hard to not lose control of our senses in every situation, by practising these strategies consistently, you can gain better control over amygdala hijack and respond to challenging situations more calmly and rationally. To control amygdala hijack, you can employ various techniques as mentioned below:

  • Recognize triggers: Identify situations or stimuli that tend to trigger strong emotional reactions. Awareness is the first step in managing them.
  • Practice mindfulness: Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises can help regulate emotions and calm the amygdala’s response.
  • Emotional regulation: Develop strategies to manage and regulate emotions effectively. This might involve reframing negative thoughts, practising gratitude, or engaging in activities that promote relaxation.
  • Take a pause: When you feel overwhelmed by emotions, take a step back. Pause before reacting impulsively. This gives the rational brain time to catch up and respond more appropriately.
  • Communicate effectively: Constructively expressing emotions can help prevent them from escalating. Use “I” statements to convey your feelings without blaming others.
  • Develop empathy: Understanding others’ perspectives can help defuse emotional situations and prevent misunderstandings.
  • Seek support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for support and guidance in managing strong emotions.

I am participating in #BlogchatterA2Z 2024 and will be writing one informational post almost every day for you 🙂 Keep reading!


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