Who Hijacked My Brain?

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You are eating in a restaurant having a pleasant conversation, when you hear a sudden loud crash behind you. Immediately, you you feel your chest tighten and your heart seems to jump into another gear. You might cry out or swear. You turn towards the noise. Maybe you raise your arms to protect yourself, or throw whatever you have in your hand at the source of the noise. You do all this without thinking, because your conscious mind has been hijacked.

Of course, it is just the waiter who has dropped a tray. He apologises for disturbing you, picks up the tray and walks off. Somewhat embarrassed by your reaction, you turn back and try to pick up the conversation, but forget what you were talking about a few seconds ago.

So who hijacked your brain?

Because it was hijacked … you did not consciously decide to react like that, something hijacked your conscious mind and took over. Different people have different reactions; some will recover control in a second or two; others will have a panic attack or start swearing in anger.

Some people notice that their reaction gets worse when under a lot of stress, or when short of sleep. And it doesn’t matter if they have the intelligence of Einstein or the determination of an Apollo astronaut, everyone’s conscious mind gets hijacked sometimes.

So what was it that hijacked your brain?

Well, to start with, it wasn’t all of your brain that got hijacked, only the conscious part. The culprit is a very primitive part called the amygdala. The reaction we all have is called the “amygdala hijack”.

The amygdala is the brain’s security officer. It checks everything that goes on to see if it is safe. If it thinks that there is some kind of emergency, it takes over control – that’s the amygdala hijack. The amygdala isn’t clever, so it picks something that you’ve done before and reacts by doing it again – sometimes totally inappropriately.

So when you find you loose control, even if only for a second, it’s the amygdala hijack. The amygdala is trying to protect you, but sometimes leaves you red-faced or increasingly stressed. This happens to everyone sometimes, but if it causes you problems in your life, contact me at timmaudehypnotherapy.co.uk/contact, and we will see what hypnotherapy can do for you.

Footnote: The term “Amygdala Hijack” was coined by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence.

Tim Maude

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