Have you ever had that moment when you suddenly, out-of-the-blue, EXPLODE?! It could be with family, friends, colleagues at work or a complete stranger. One minute you’re relatively calm – the next you’re red-faced, screaming and just going ‘plain nuts’. What happened to cause this and what, more importantly, can we do to prevent it?
I write about this because, a few weeks ago, it happened to me at work and I spent a full day making apologies; Ugh, remember, none of us are perfect!
This bad behavior is called the “Amygdala Hijack”, a term coined by world-renowned emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman. The Amygdala Hijack is an immediate, overwhelming emotional response with a later realization that the response was inappropriately strong given the trigger.
The Science/Cause: Under normal circumstances, we process information through our neocortex or “thinking brain” where logic occurs. The neocortex then routes the information to the amygdala, a small organ that lies deep in the center of our “emotional brain.” Sometimes, there is a short-circuit whereby the thinking brain is by-passed and signals are sent straight to the emotional brain. When this happens, we have an immediate, overwhelming emotional response disproportionate to the original event. The information is later relayed to higher brain regions that perform logic and decision-making processes, causing us to realize the inappropriateness of our original emotional response. Regret sets in and, if we are respectful, apologies take place.
Three Simple Tips on How To Prevent It: