An emotional hijack, also known as an amygdala hijack, refers to an intense and immediate emotional response that is disproportionate to the actual stimulus or trigger. (Representative Image)
Emotional Hijacking can be highly destructive if not dealt with properly, making it crucial for couples to recognise its signs and take proactive steps.
In relationships, emotions play a significant role in shaping our interactions and how we perceive our partners. While emotions can be a source of connection and understanding, they can also become a powerful force that leads to emotional hijacking. This phenomenon can be highly destructive if not dealt with properly, making it crucial for couples to recognise its signs and take proactive steps to prevent harm. Therapist Susanne Wolf recently discussed this issue, defining emotional hijacking and providing valuable insights into its signs and prevention strategies. Understanding and addressing emotional hijacking can lead to healthier and more fulfilling relationships.
What is Emotional Hijacking?
An emotional hijack, also known as an amygdala hijack, refers to an intense and immediate emotional response that is disproportionate to the actual stimulus or trigger. This phenomenon occurs when strong emotions ‘take over’ the thinking part of the brain, leading to impulsive and irrational reactions. The amygdala, a small, almond-shaped structure in the brain’s limbic system, plays a significant role in processing emotions, especially fear and threat detection. When the amygdala perceives a situation as threatening or stressful, it can override the rational thinking part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. As a result, the individual may react emotionally without considering the consequences or engaging in logical reasoning.
Signs of Emotional HijackingSudden Surge of Emotions
The affected person experiences a sudden rush of intense emotions that seem to engulf them entirely, making it challenging to focus on anything else.Physiological Changes
Emotional hijacking goes beyond just emotional responses. It often manifests physically with symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, and tense muscles.Impulsivity
During an emotional hijack, the person may act impulsively, saying or doing things they later regret, driven by their intense emotions.Poor Decision-Making
The ability to think logically and rationally diminishes during an emotional hijack, leading to poor decision-making.Tunnel Vision
The affected individual may have tunnel vision, only able to see things from their perspective and unable to consider alternative viewpoints.Unable To Communicate
Communication becomes strained, as emotions take over, making it hard for the person to express themselves clearly.Inability to Regain Control
The person finds it difficult to regain control over their emotions and return to a balanced state.How to Stop Emotional HijackingRecognize Early Signs
Self-awareness is key. Learn to identify the initial signs of emotional hijacking, such as increased heart rate or escalating emotions.Do Deep Breathing
When you sense an emotional hijack coming on, take deep breaths. Deep breathing activates the body’s relaxation response, helping to counteract the fight-or-flight instinct.Give Yourself Space
If possible, remove yourself from the situation temporarily. Take a break to calm down and collect your thoughts before engaging in further discussions.Use Cognitive Reframing
Challenge negative thought patterns and reframe them in a more constructive and positive light.Distract Yourself
Engage in activities that can divert your attention from the intense emotions, allowing time for the emotional wave to subside.Seek Social Support
Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what you’re experiencing. Sometimes, an outside perspective can be helpful in gaining clarity.
By recognizing the signs and implementing strategies to stop it in its tracks, couples can create a more empathetic and emotionally supportive environment, fostering a deeper connection with one another.
Nishad ThaivalappilNishad T, Senior Sub-Editor, News18.com, has a fascination for ‘everything lifestyle’. If not writing, he is usually found either at restaurants or at…Read More