Emotional hijacks – this priming, this mechanism, which is usually so positive in evolution – can take us over.

Psychologist Paul Ekman talks about how to control one’s impulses and actions in this emotional control speech. Ekman says that everyone wants to be able to control their emotional outbursts, but that’s not always an easy thing. He discusses how to spot signs of a coming outburst and prevent it from happening.

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During these hijacks we can become very angry. When the dust settles we often think, “Oh, why did I say that?” Paul Ekman talks about how to identify these emotional triggers. One of his recommendations: simply keep a record of your hijacked moments. Here’s what he had to say:

You know I have ambivalent feelings about the term hijack because in some sense it absolves us of responsibility. If someone hijacks us, “Well, it’s not my fault.” Okay, but it is. It is our responsibility to learn to become emotionally intelligent. These are skills, they’re not easy, nature didn’t give them to us – we have to learn them.

Paul Ekman recommends in his book Emotions Revealed that people keep a log of regrettable angry episodes. Write down just:

  • what it was about?
  • How it happened?
  • What set you off?
  • What did you do that you think you shouldn’t have done?

After you’ve got 30 or 40 of them, try to see the commonality in the triggers and responses. You’ll usually find a particular script that underlies what’s causing you to have a particular perception on certain situations, to cast people into roles that they really aren’t in, and to try to replay a plot that doesn’t really fit.”

Paul Ekman Discusses Impulses in This Emotional Control Speech

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Posted by: Emotional Intelligence author, Daniel Goleman lectures frequently to business audiences, professional groups and on college campuses. A psychologist who for many years reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times, Dr. Goleman previously was a visiting faculty member at Harvard.

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