Let’s take a quick trip back in time.
Imagine you lived thousands of years ago, long before the world was civilized. Life was considerably more perilous. In order to survive, you had to be ready for danger literally all the time.
These days, a saber-toothed tiger isn’t going to make a snack pack of you on the way to work. That’s not how the modern world works. And yet, the primitive fear reaction that allowed your ancestors to pass down their genetic code to you is still active in your brain.
Which is often inconvenient. Like, for example, when there’s an argument with someone you care about.
Conflict has a way of triggering FEAR. And while romance is (hopefully) mostly carefree, there are definitely moments when intimacy can be scary.
When those moments pop up, a specific part of your brain goes into overdrive: the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for several things, but it serves as an instant on-switch for fear.
When we feel afraid, the amygdala kicks into high-gear. That elicits a response that psychologists refer to as “fight, flight or freeze.”
When the amygdala goes into action, high-level reasoning SHUTS DOWN. This is known as an “amygdala hijack.” The results make for horrible communication.
An amygdala hijack completely destroys any chance of productive dialogue. Some people fight harder. Some people just shut down. Some even physically run away, leaving the room and refusing to re-engage.
No one is immune to this, no matter how level-headed they are otherwise. The worst communication mistake you can make is to try to communicate while either of you are in the middle of an amygdala hijack.
Amygdala hijacks are going to happen, but they don’t have to wreck your relationship. There’s a simple, three-step plan you can use to handle them well. And the beautiful part is, it works every single time.