STOP: Avoid Amygdala Hijackings!

Previous healthy memory blog posts have explained how the amygdala is a brain structure that responds to emotions. So when we’re upset our amygdala becomes active. This is true even when one reads or hears something that is disagreeable or upsetting. An amygdala hijacking occurs when the amygdala causes you to respond disagreeably to the statement, explain why, and either say or imply that the originator is an idiot. Also, when we learn of violent crimes, they are in all likelihood the result of an amygdala hijacking.

Fortunately, most of us are unlikely to become violent, but some of us can let our amygdala hijack our behavior so that we make asses of ourselves. Unfortunately, HM has suffered many amygdala hijackings, is still suffering from them, and must remain constantly vigilant to prevent their reoccurrence.

One technique can be remembered by the acronym STOP. Which stands for

S Stop
T Take a few deep breaths
O Observe, and, more importantly, think about what is happening and explicitly about how one should not respond.
P If you have decided on an appropriate response, respond. If no appropriate response has been found, excuse yourself and exit the situation.

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