Emotional hijacking is a thing! You may already know this but let’s take a look at the science.
Daniel Goleman has been studying emotional intelligence for many years. One of the most important things we can learn from him is the mind model that he’s chosen to explain to us how our thoughts are presented. The mind has a thinking area which is logical, calm and in control, it also has an emotional area that sees its only role is to keep us safe. The biology behind the emotional bit is the limbic system and amygdala. If the emotional bit sees what it interprets as danger – it goes crazy! Then come the vast, repetitive, fearful and defensive thoughts.
If we pay attention to the vast range of our thoughts, we can suffer and behave differently to who we actually are. That over excited mind - when believed - will take us through fear, worry, regret, painful experiences and anxiety over and over again as it analyses. The mind is directly connected to the nervous system, emotions sit in the gut and the mind and body are inherently connected. So, what we think – we also feel.
The mind makes pointless comparisons that can leave us feeling dissatisfied, sad, or even angry. It will compare us to others, telling us that we are better than them or worse than them, it will compare our lives to the lives of others in the same way, which makes us judgemental. The mind also compares our life to our life in the past or assumes it will be better in the future, so we can’t be happy until then. Finally, the mind is full of “should be” Seeing the world in the form of “should be” makes us think we are getting things wrong, missing out or simply not up to standard. We can apply should to relationships, roles, jobs, the behaviour of other people and even ourselves which is an effective way to attack our self-esteem.
When the emotional bit of the mind gets involved, it not only makes us think and believe or get angry about these things, but it also becomes explosive. Wild and defensive it shouts from the rooftops – or all over social media if it gets the chance. This is emotional hijacking and the hijacker is looking for alliance from others, because that makes it feel safe. However, if we constantly complain, are inconsistent or suffer regular emotional hijacks people want to stay away from us.
Emotional Hijacking is counter-productive to our wellbeing, relationships and certainly our professional goals. It can literally make us look flaky, difficult, explosive and hide our true selves from the world.
So, ask yourself – when were you last hijacked by your emotions and why?