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Here’s why everyone is talking about amygdala hijacking and why it matters to you!

Amygdala hijacking is rampant in and out of the office. Contributing factors include information overload, chaos and economic uncertainty. For people who recover from and even eliminate amygdala hijacking, this age of rapid change creates incredible opportunity. Rapid change always creates immense opportunity for people who can flip the switch on their neuroreceptors to stay positive and connected to an energetic frequency that creates bigger possibilities than what is known. Good leaders examplify this ability. They are people who function at their highest operating state. They can “flip the switch” on the receptors in the brain to move from amydala hijack to levels of consciousness that create cohesiveness and open the matrix of possibilities.


Unfortunately, when faced with information overload, chaos and economic uncertainty, most people experience “amydala hijacking.” Look around and observe people. Many people are experiencing amygdala hijacking across socio/economic levels and within organizations. Amygdala hijacking is one of the biggest barriers to happiness, productivity and innovation. It makes interpersonal relationships more difficult, complex problem solving almost impossible and decreases productivity.

Why does this happen? During the amygdala hijacking, the amygdala overtakes the neocortex (the portion of the brain that is responsible for reasoning) and impairs the person’s ability to think logically. The number of different solutions a person could normally think of decrease and make it difficult to get through the situation. With the amount of hormones and adrenaline being released into the body at this time, it typically can take three to four hours for the “fight or flight” emotions to clear. During these three to four hours it becomes increasingly difficult for people to focus on what really matters.

Think of all the opportunities lost in three to four hours? Innovative solutions to challenges become difficult to access and people default to habitual negative behaviors. It becomes difficult or next to impossible to reset the mental needle back to positive.

People in the midst of amygdala hijacking move to survival mode which debilitates:

~ solution oriented thinking
~ clarity in decision making
~ confidence in ability to create positive outcomes
~ intiating and sustaining action to bring projects to completion

Amygdala hijacking causes people to think less efficiently and wear out their entire systems.

Amygdala hijacking creates circuits of activity that etch patterns of anxiety and other emotions onto the brain as normal. People then recreate episodes that set in motion fear states even though the distinct situation, occuring in the moment, may not in itself elicit fear. In this state, people habitually default to accrued knowledge or previous imprinting rather than being completely present to potential and possibility.


Good leaders and people who function at their highest operating state can “flip the switch” on the receptors in the brain to move from amydala hijack to levels of consciousness that create cohesiveness and open the matrix of possibilities.

One of the most powerful tools to avoid or move out of an amygdala hijack is to oxygenate (breath properly). Breathing properly impacts the neuro-hormonal imprinting. A person who breathes properly can create a new pattern, get the new pattern to work and erase old habituated patterns.

By breathing properly, people are less likely to experience amygdala hijacking. The mind follows the breath. By connecting to the breath, people can process experiences at a higher consciousness. They stay connected to their neocortex (thinking/reasoning part of the brain). People who stay connected to their neocortex and the higher functions it controls i.e. sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought and language can then match their energetic frequency to the reality they want to create.

People who breath properly are able to connect to and preserve the potentiality in any situation. They can see beyond limited labels such as “good” or “bad” and move the needle back to positive opportunity, the place that exists beyond amygdala hijacking.

31. July 2012 by Kelley Black
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 129 comments

Comments (129)

  1. Wise words. It’s why yoga feels so great, especially Naam! And a fantastic explanation of why we need to do at least a little breath work every single day. Conscious breathing leads to connecting better with our true selves and others.

  2. Thank you Karen. This is so true. Conscious breathing helps us connect with the potentiality, beyond ego, in any situation. It provides a platform for mastering our mind and moving from the singular “I” to the universal “We.” This has major implications for leaders. and, if we are here we are breathing. The question to ponder is that breath supporting you or facilitating amygdala hijacking. Shallow breathing is a doorway to anxiety, stress and other negative emotions.

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  5. Thanks so much for the feedback. What would you like to learn more about? How can Balancing the Executive Life support you? Amygdala hijacking is endemic during these times of uncertainty and information overload. It is one of the biggest barriers to sustainable success and leadership presence. Stay tuned for the next of the series on Why Connecting to Cosmic Consciousness Assures Your Success Even in Uncertain Times.

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  25. Really interesting qusieton, and I’ll share my experience with you about a fear I had for a long time: for years, since early childhood, I had an irrational fear of bugs and spiders. And I don’t mean just poisonous creatures — I mean pretty much anything with more than four legs, LOL, particularly if it was a fairly big creature with more than four legs!Well, one day hubby got a tarantula as a pet. As you can imagine, the thought frightened me, but I told him it was okay, that I wanted to control my fears and broaden my mind. And I’m not kidding you: it took exactly a minute, keeping my new attitude in mind, of studying our new pet before my fear started to subside and my curiosity and a sort of scientific detachment started kicking in: tarantulas are fascinating creatures! And they’re harmless — they’re no more venomous than a bee, and rose hair tarantulas, like the one we have, are shy and non-aggressive.And ever since we’ve had Ellie Mae (our tarantula, of whom I am quite fond — she’s very sweet :) ), I haven’t been afraid of a six-or-eight-legged creature of any size.In my experience, determined conditioning and exposure can stake a dagger through the heart of an irrational fear.

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  27. Have you ever had a disproportionate, negatively emotionally charged response to a situation, person or event in your life? Have you made a decision from this place only to later have the decision be one of the worst you’ve ever made? This is amygdala hijacking in action.

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