When we are triggered by relationships, our internal reactions can feel like a tidal wave. Seemingly out of nowhere, our bodies are taken over, enervated by emotions that feel like a barbarian hoard of swarming locusts.
🧠 This is known as an “amygdala hijack” and we are most susceptible to it happening in intimate relationships.
😱Amygdala hijacks are immediate, overwhelming, all-encompassing emotional responses. They are out of measure with the actual stimulus in front of us because the response has triggered a significant emotional threat—read as a survival threat—in our subcortical brain.
Coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence, an amygdala hijack, is the scientific term for our emotional hysteria.
Simply put, our amygdala reads a present “threat” as similar to an event in our past and activates the same neurobiological threat system.
For example, let’s say you were assaulted as a child by a brown-haired, 6’2” male with a bald spot on his right side, who wore Old Spice cologne, and initiated the assault by towering over you.
Now, whenever you are meeting with someone who has any one of those characteristics, it may trigger your amygdala into a fight or flight response and your brain, body, and emotions bypass logic and dive straight into a survival response.
😱In sum, the hysterical response you are feeling has historical roots in your brain and body. 🧠
To unpack the hysteria, you have to get to the historia (or past antecedents) to your response.