3 Steps to Overcome Emotional Hijacking

Emotional hijacking is when your emotions are elevated to a point where you are no longer thinking rationally, hence ‘hijacking’ your decision making skills.

To best understand emotional hijacking, remember the Clear Glass concept. Simply, a clear glass means you are experiencing no elevated emotions. A cloudy glass means slightly heightened emotions, while a red glass means elevated emotions. Emotional hijacking moves your glass from Clear to Cloudy OR Red. “Heightened emotions don’t necessarily need to be negative,” explained Favor Larson, a Senior Business Services Consultant and EQ trainer at TTI SI. “Think of a kid on Christmas Eve, too excited to sleep. That’s an example of a positive heightened emotion. However, most of the time when your glass isn’t clear, you’re experiencing a negative reaction, since humans are wired towards negative responses as a survival mechanism.”

How Do You Stop Emotional Hijacking?

The problem with emotional hijacking is that it usually results in behavior that we’re not proud of. Losing your temper, berating your teammates, yelling at your children, or even breaking something in frustration all show that you have been emotionally hijacked. This kind of behavior is harmful for your relationships with others and your relationship with yourself. If you catch yourself engaging in this sort of behavior, you need to do something about it. Here are the 3 steps you can start taking now to overcome emotional hijacking.

Increase Awareness

Increasing awareness is the key to a lot of self development and understanding. It’s especially crucial here. After all, if you find yourself in the midst of a meltdown, you need to understand how exactly you got there. Your first step to increasing your awareness is to learn more about emotional intelligence. A great way to do this to take an EQ assessment. This assessment measures 5 factors of emotional intelligence: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, social awareness, and social regulation. Getting some data behind your behavior will likely help you understand your own motivations and behaviors better.

One of the exercises Favor told me about that she leads in our EQ training is called the timer exercise. Set random timers throughout your day and when they go off, record your mood. Over time, you begin to see patterns in your behavior and routine. Do you often lose your cool or feel down in the dumps in the afternoon? This might be a result of low blood sugar. Are your mornings full of frustration and interruptions? Restructure your routine to give yourself time to wake up before you start working. Only you really know your own needs, but by jarring yourself out of your routine with the timer, you can start to increase awareness of your signals from your body and from your day-to-day.