Do you know how to take control during an emotional hijacking and the explosion of overpowering emotions that come with it? Here's what to do, breathe.
It’s hard to believe it takes ten seconds or less for your brain to become calm and regain control of highly charged emotions.
You've had a great start to the day—a fresh cup of coffee in hand while reliving emotions and memories of your daughter's spectacular weekend wedding celebration. And then your phone rings.
When an emotional hijacking happens.
It's a neighbour who wants to give you an earful about the fact she couldn't get to sleep because of the loud music and laughter that filled the night air from the backyard reception. She has seized your emotions and set the stage for an emotional hijacking.
How you can control an emotional hijacking.
An emotional hijacking is usually triggered by a situation that overwhelms your emotions and then takes control of your behaviour. Frequently, it's an explosion of overpowering emotions that appear to come out of nowhere. There is an urge to react to the situation impulsively, and you may say or do something that you will regret.
Stop. Breathe. Silently count to 10.
Counting to ten is a beneficial technique for preventing and derailing an emotional hijacking.
The ten count allows you to calm yourself, rather than react. Learn more about the difference between responding and reacting here.
To take it a step further, counting silently to yourself while breathing is a basic mindfulness technique for enhancing your self-awareness and self-management skills.
Mindfulness has changed my life, which is why I'm eager to share this exercise with you.
A mindfulness breathing exercise.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Lightly close your eyelids.
- Breathe, take a deep breath in—and hold for a count of five.
- Slowly breathe out through pursed lips—for a count of five.
- Focus on your breath. When your thoughts wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Allow your breathing to find a natural rhythm.
- Observe the way your abdomen expands and contracts, and the sensation of the air as it enters and exits through your nose and mouth.
The phone rings again. It's your neighbour calling back for round two.
Stop, breathe, and silently count to ten.
This strategy for managing emotions takes time to develop, but with daily practise, you will find this technique will reduce and eventually eliminate most emotional hijacking.
Part of controlling your emotions includes observing their effects. Here's how to do that.