4 December 2013
Category: Uncategorized
4 December 2013,

Poster _Mechanics_revised_2

Are you anxious of words or actions in the past that you regret?  Are you constantly managing your anger or frustration? Do you feel sometimes unable to control what you feel?  This might be what we call emotional hijacking.

Emotional Hijacking is a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his  book ‘Emotional Intelligence’.  The term describes changes that occur in the brain and body when we experience excessively high emotions, otherwise known as emotional arousal. Emotional Hijacking explains why high emotions make us stupid.When a person’s  stress level rise high, whether as a one off startled response to danger or as a result of cumulative stress, there are significant changes that occur in the brain.

In 21st century living, the term emotional hijacking is mostly used to describe how high levels of stress or on-going high levels of negative emotion can result in reduced brain function and unreasoned emotional behavior.  A person who is continually experiencing this state will not only feel highly emotional, but also feel frustrated, out of control and often develop low self-esteem as a result.When a person becomes highly stressed, or highly emotionally aroused, stress hormone levels rise. If they rise very high, or are sustained over a prolonged period the brain perceives it similarly to a fight/flight emergency. Within the limbic system there is a very important little organ called the amygdala.  Its job is to act as your security guard and raise the alarm in times of threat.

With the alarm raised, the amygdala and the emotions are running the show – and the person is being primed by fight/flight emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, rage.  With the thinking brain disabled by this high state of emotional arousal, the person is not really capable of clear and rational thinking. Concentration and memory function are also reduced.


The consequences of prolonged emotional stress are that you will perceive an on-going reduction in full cognitive function.  It will be hard to think clearly, to recall important information, to concentrate, to study and so on.  If the stress is not reduced, the body and mind will begin to urgently seek solutions, by reducing flexible thinking.  Long-term stress sufferers develop black and white thinking, often with a catastrophic overtone.  “I’m doomed, things will always be bad, the world is against me, I am always unlucky”, “It’s no use, I’m bound to fail”.

How to address emotional hijacking

The way to reverse the effects of emotional hijacking is to do the following tips:

  • Take moments in the day when you calm down.
  • Regular practice of  breathing will help, or paying attention to meeting your basic needs.
  • Do things that you enjoy;
  • take time to relax,
  • Making time to meditate
  • Exercise.










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