“Do you have trouble facing people who are commenting harshly and negatively targeting you?” 

“Do you get frozen for a moment when someone throws a harsh negative comment, seemingly from nowhere?. And you even realise that a few moments or minutes later? , sounds like you? “

Then keep reading as you happened to land on this blog to end that suffering!

Brain Hijack ( Amygdala hijack )

When someone blurts at you and if you are really uncomfortable with that person’s response what’s actually happening in your brain is that it gets HiJacked by your overwhelming emotion. This in fact is called the Amygdala hijack .

When you receive a sense to our brain it gets spread into two parts. One is the Amygdala and the other is the neocortex.

When our Amygdala which is the ‘emotional / non rational’ part of our brain get over stimulated milliseconds before the signal goes to our neocortex which is the thinking and the rational part of the brain, the ‘Amygdala Hijacking’ occurs and as a result you either go to a flight or fight mode or you go to a freeze mode.

Freeze mode 

This is also an attribute that comes after us through the evolutionary process. The freezing effect that occurs can be seen among some animals when it just about to become a prey. Animals do that with the hope that pretending as if it’s dead will make the predator lose its interest. 

When you experience a freezing moment due to a sudden negative expression of someone, Physiologically you have a common pattern. 

Usually shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweating, or choking sensation.

So when that happens, remember to breathe and change your body posture into a better position. (check this out).

However you might not even remember to breathe as it always gets you when you are off guard isn’t it?

I have given a better way to tackle this below and it has proven results for my clients. Keep reading.

Positive Hijacking –

Not all Amygdala hijacking is distressing. It has its massive advantage as well. When it gets overstimulated with happy emotion it has a positive impact. For an instance when someone cracks a sudden joke you laugh hysterically and explosively due to that.  This gives me the opportunity to create a formula to help many who do not know how to respond to a negatively charged comment.

So the first step that you will see below is aligned with the positive hijacking manually.


Yes LOL when the moment someone throws a negative comment or an uncomfortable expression. If that person has done it with wrong intentions you will see how uncomfortable that person gets.

Also, this changes your own neuro chemistry for better. When you laugh out loud your stress reduces and you have the power in your court. When you laugh you also breathe better by supplying more oxygen for your brain to respond better.

But what if you don’t remember to laugh when that happens. Couple of measures you can take

  • If you already are aware of this person, you can prepare and anticipate. So when you walk in there, wear a big bright smile before you even see that person.
  • Condition yourself to do that over and over again until it becomes your own physical reflection. Yes it can be done.
  1.  Ask : “That’s interesting – tell me more?” 

Use it when someone is very clearly targeting to crush your spirit. Then by softly challenging with ‘tell me more’ you actually mean ‘bring it on I’m ready’ then the other person is under tremendous pressure. He / she has to elaborate more! What happens when you have to elaborate a negative expression is that it becomes weaker.  The only option left for that person is to give an elaboration in a constructive manner when asked to explain in detail. 

As a result that person will most likely grovel and will look for any room to get out of that situation with the unexpected counter from you. 

But be sure to show confidence in your tone with the subtle body language in yourself that exudes  “ I’m not shaken, now it’s your turn”

The other phrases to use accordingly are,

  1. That’s interesting – why would you say that?  
  2. Why would you do that?
  3. Why would you ask that?

Most of the occasions these people have that one sentence ready and steady for you. When you say Why….? it put them into the spotlight exposing their ulterior motives of that negative or not so nice statement. 

These are powerful vernacular that will change an entire situation for you. So jot it down somewhere you can see often and practise them.

I have noticed that usually 5 things follow when you have changed your behaviour.

1. Backfire on them – For the first time you will see how insecure that other person is and see how that makes that person cringe, trying to run away from the first instance. 

2. The power is back in your court –  you are no longer draining your energy before that person. If you ever have, now it’s in history. Behold the new you.

3. No takeaways – You are not going to take that negative incident with you and moan and groan about it for the rest of the day. 

4. You will be avoided – Chances are very slim that person will pick on you again. You’ll be surprised how you are not being targeted next time on purpose.

5. You avoid no more – That party or the meet up that you wanted to avoid because of one person’s bad mouth is no longer a question. You can attend wherever the hell you want to go and keep your spirit high.

Also notice in this process,

Did you have to argue and get into a heated verbal exchange ? NO

Did you have to fill your heart with anger and hatred towards that person – NO

Did you damage the relationship over that incident ? NO 

If  you want to dig deep why would this happen? The answer lies in your own definition about your own self. This is what I’m working with my clients on a deeper level.

Ramindu Randeni | Life coach | Corporate leadership coach

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