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How do I override an emotional hijack?

The concept of an Amygdala hijack is an attempt to wall paper over an immense complexity that the reality of the human emotional system actually exhibits.

One could imagine the answer is to attain a state where you are free from emotion. This is a no go.. and foolishness on top of that.

However, as a set of life practices, you can do much to keep yourself on an "even keel" and not get caught in self-defeating emotional states whether they are though the amygdala or not.

Olivia Fox Cabane wrote a fascinating book, The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism. This book has many secrets on how to live in a way that keeps you moving when most would freeze and fail. One of the most important secrets she shares is that of an idea called "Responsibility Transfer." She explains it in a very non-religious way, but in the main, it is a call to some level of religious faith no matter how you paint lipstick on the pig. The basic idea is that you split up the world into two wholly separate realms of responsibility, yours and "God's, the Great Pumpkin's or what every floats your fancy." Then you take everything that is outside of the stuff you can actually do anything about today, and ritually, metaphorically and conceptually pull it off of your shoulders and place it on that other's back, shoulders or what ever part makes sense.

By this one act, you divide the world in to those things you can change and those you must accept, one of the great lessons of the Serenity Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous fame.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

But, Carbane has the temerity to go further and explain, that whether you believe this will work this moment or not doesn't really matter as long as you "provisionally" believe it. Because, belief gets out the door before disbelief (suspicion) can get its pants on.

Why are we happy? Why aren't we happy? | Dan Gilbert

A most amazing experiment was conducted where people were told they were being given a Placebo and still they got better at the rate of people being given a secret Placebo.

The amazing thing is that if you tell yourself something is true, you will come to believe it without question, regardless of your nagging doubts.

Charisma is a way of looking at the world. A way of interpreting events that allows you to keep expressing attraction signals emotionally and behaviorally so that people want to relate to you, and be with you and work with you. Its a great book.

Second to this is a book by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and Stephen R. Covey called Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. This book seems nuts, at least at first. Thats what I thought when I first was exposed to it. Since then, I have warmed to its viewpoint and suggestions.

This group of authors have built a management consulting and training company by gathering together effective tactics employed by people solving problems. One of the issues they noticed is that so often, everything the whole outcome of major events depends upon just a few moments where two or more people have the opportunity to resolve a crucial issue or come into conflict over the same. This sure sounds like the situation you are wanting to manage when you are asking this very question.

Patterson and company advise that you first know what is a crucial conversation. They repeat this mantra over and over. "When Stakes are High and Emotions run deep." When you become aware of this entry condition, you are already armed if you remember what to do next. Amazingly, because you are selecting a script, a plan of action, you are less likely but not immune to getting caught up in the emotional surge of the moment.

Their advice:

Be aware of your own inner story. (The cascade of images and thoughts that come to your mind as this event is unfolding.) This will drive your emotional state. If you can reinterpret this story as "just one possibility", you have a great leg up on events to come.

Don't retreat into silence or violence. Silence is when we decide it is too risky or not worth saying anything and thus allow a bad outcome, decision or result to occur even when we knew it was likely. Violence is the use of threatening language, negative consequences or dominating body language to make people accept your views.

Work to create a pool of knowledge or understanding. Opening a shared space of meaning allows each individual party to feel heard, acknowledged, respected and gets them to contribute what they know, which can be insanely valuable, even if it is upsetting. You must share your views and knowledge just as you encourage them to and even when agreement cannot be forged, disagreement and acrimony is muted to the greatest amount possible so that you are using your "rational" faculties as best as possible.

I won't rewrite this entire book here. They have a series of steps to implement these basic ideas, especially how to create a pool of knowledge without wasting time or getting lost.


This concept is becoming more and more the focus of social theorists. An interesting book on this topic has been written by George Everly, Jr., Douglas Strouse and Dennis McCormack: Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed

They break down this ability into five components.

Active Optimism - Assuming that things will turn out well. See above. Insane but it works every time. It may not be total victory but if you are able to see the sunshine on the edges of the clouds you rarely fall into abject depression.

Decisive Action - Waffling doesn't accomplish anything, and it leads through a path of anxiety, regret and missing opportunities that could have been ceased if action was taken once the choice was obvious.

Moral Compass - If you feel your actions are right and moral, you have the high ground. The one person you can't easily lie to is yourself especially if it is something that troubles you. When you feel your actions are lost, pointless or immoral it is much easier to get lost. However, moral action goes beyond just "righteousness" and also includes compassion. Dogmatic certitude leads to immoral acts of aggression and feelings that disrupt your moral core just as much as acts of moral turpitude and weakness.

Relentless, Tenacity, Determination - Sailing ships never go at their destination directly. It is always a process of going this way and that way, and keeping the goal in mind. The wind blowing is your friend. It rarely blows the way you want, but it can be shaped to your plans if you know how to use it and the tools and determination to do so.

Interpersonal Support - No man (or woman) is an island. As in the Beetles song, "I get by with a little help from my friends." Not only is support valuable, it is essential. Choose your friends wisely. Seek those who share your goals and beliefs and you will be empowered by their support especially when you are at your weakest.

Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic sees the issue of Resilience in a different frame but one that is complementary to the above ideas.

Dr. Soods 5-3-2 Plan

This is enough to get started..

Love is an amazing emotion. But most folks don't know it is compound emotion.  One form of love is called agape which is without a sexual feelings. It is made of four component emotions focused on the same object with the same strength.  You will discover these emotions and more here!  

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