Fourth Age Communiqué - Leadership for the rest of us

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Don't get hijacked!

One of the easiest ways to evaluate your emotional intelligence is to record your emotional hijacking frequency.

To be emotionally hijacked is to allow emotion to overwhelm common sense and rational thinking. Stemming from our “fight or flight” instincts, the amygdala is ever vigilant for danger. Because a hijacking essentially causes a person to act without thinking, many who experience it are later heard to say they had no idea what came over them.

When the amygdala encounters a conflict brewing, it triggers a rush of adrenaline that floods the central nervous system. This adrenaline flow causes us to respond before we have time to evaluate the context of the request, and override when necessary.

Although the nervous system is programmed to respond to danger with little or no inter-neural communication, preventing hijacks
before they occur is both possible and learnable. Bringing out conscious thought to accompany unconscious feeling is the pathway to self-awareness.

Goleman refers to such hijacks as depression, radical mood swings, rage and anxiety attacks as toxic emotions. He further cites evidence of their damaging consequences to our general well-being and physiological health. Having the presence of mind to recognize and monitor our emotions as they attempt to disrupt our work and personal lives is the first step toward self-awareness. And it is the foundation for effective emotional intelligence.


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