NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Self Help Tips on How to Cope With Emotional Hijacking

In my prior article, What is Emotional Hijacking?, I defined the term as it relates to unresolved trauma, and I gave some examples.  In this article, I'm providing some self help tips on how to cope with emotional hijacking (see my article: Reacting to the Present Based on Your Past).

Tips on How to Cope With Emotional Hijacking

As I mentioned in my prior article, an emotional hijack occurs when the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is an emotional processor, bypasses (or hijacks) your normal reasoning process.  

Although normally your decision making occurs in other parts of the brain, the amygdala takes over during certain circumstances (see my article: Trauma, Therapy and the Triune Brain).

When the amygdala reacts without the help of the logical part of your brain helping you to pause and process the situation first, you overreact without thinking.  Often this leads to situations which you regret afterwards when you've had time to process what happened to you.

Tips on How to Cope With Emotional Hijacking
  • Pause: If you can recognize the cues that you're feeling emotionally overwhelmed, pause for a moment to calm down and process what just happened.
  • Count to 10: Whether you count to 10 or you need to count to 100, you'll distract yourself enough to temporarily move away from whatever emotions are overwhelming you so you can go back afterwards to think about it rationally.
  • Breathe: Breath in a way where the exhalations are twice as long as the inhalations. So, if you breathe in to the count of 5, breathe out to the count of 10.  The exhalations activate your parasympathetic system to help to calm you.  You can also use Square Breathing.
  • Name the Emotion: When you've had some time to pause and think about what's happening to you, name the emotion you're experiencing. This can help you to make sense of what's happening to you.
  • Move: When you get up and move, the logical part of your brain will eventually come back online so you can think more clearly.  This can mean you go for a walk outside or just walk into another room.
  • Write in Your Journal: Writing and reflecting on what caused you to react emotionally can help you to engage the logical part of your brain so you can reflect on what just happened to you (see my article: The Benefits of Journal Writing).
  • Get Emotional Support: When you share your feelings with a partner or trusted family member or friend, you can relieve yourself of some of the emotional burden you're carrying and you can get another perspective about what's bothering you (see my article: Overcoming Your Discomfort With Asking For Emotional Support).
In my next article, I'll discuss how processing unresolved trauma in therapy can help: See my article: How Experiential. Therapy Can Help You to Overcome Emotional Hijacking.

Getting Help in Therapy
If these self help tips don't work for you, you could benefit from working with a trauma therapist who can help you to overcome the unresolved trauma that causes you to get emotionally hijacked (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional so you can lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

As a trauma therapist, I have helped many clients to overcome unresolved trauma.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.