Emotional Hijacking – at Work and Home

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

–Philippians 4:7

Being Teachable with Peace because my thoughts and emotions do not have to define me.

McLean, Harvard’s Medical School’s Affiliate, shares that depression and anxiety may not seem like things that an employer should be concerned about; however, the reality is that mental health can have a critical impact on a company’s bottom line. Particular issues that can arise are due to financial stress and the exhaustion that comes with time commitments for leaders.

According to data supplied by the American Psychiatric Association:

  • Employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity
  • Contributing to a loss to the US economy of $210.5 billion a year in absenteeism
  • Reducing productivity
  • Increasing medical costs

According to Gottman’s Institute, relationship troubles begin when one partner shuts out the other from their inner world. It’s destructive to the relationship, yet, seldom done intentionally.

When a person has uncomfortable feelings brewing within them, anxiety, anger, sadness, fear, disgust, shame, or guilt, their first and most vital step is to acknowledge they have difficult emotional feelings. Pause, reflect, acknowledge, accept what is happening, and take a break. Tell themselves it is okay before Emotional Hijacking takes over. Dismissing or stuffing can cause further strife for themselves and their relationships, personally and professionally.

According to Mark Debinski, President and Founder of Bluewater Advisory, “90% of the difference between star performers and average performers in senior leadership positions is EQ.” Leaders at successful companies tend to have very high emotional intelligence. This intelligence helps them to successfully lead and grow companies exponentially in size, while seemingly possessing the ability always to make the right decision at the right time.

The Gottman Institute, the leaders of research of relationship health, shares that while the science behind what drives couples to lose their emotional connection can be quite complex, we use a simple concept that can help couples reconnect: The Emotional Bank Account.

The ability to manage multiple feelings at once is called Emotional Agility.

Though vulnerability to many, if not most, people feels very uncomfortable, a person has to be willing to be vulnerable with themselves to teach themselves how to manage their emotional hijacking – their difficult thoughts and emotions with peace. Willing to accept that sometimes this good person, of whom they tell themselves they are, personally and professionally, at times has difficult thoughts and emotions creating negative and unwarranted feelings. Attuning to their own beliefs about themselves in that though they prefer not having sad, angry, shameful, or fearful feelings, these feelings are normal, and they have choices on how to cope and handle them.

The goal of managing emotional agility is to be teachable with peace within oneself because learning is vitally important to living a flourishing life.

Teaching myself and being an influence for others on how to cope, having self-control, so that emotions do not control. To not project negative labels that feel like control onto others.

The Bible validates the normalcy of having difficult thoughts and emotions through Jesus’s examples:

  • Sadness: Jesus wept. – John 11:35
  • Anger: And he(Jesus) looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. – Mark 3:5
  • Shame: looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:2
  • Fear: And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him. – Luke 19:47

A strategy to try when sensing emotional hijacking coming on is to pause and write down the answers to 7 questions:

  1. What and where is this feeling coming from?
  2. What do I need right now?
  3. How can I nurture it?
  4. What can I do for others to protect them from any of my emotional mismanagement?
  5. What can I do for myself to protect myself from any of my emotional mismanagement?
  6. What can others do for me – without my demanding someone else’s support and respect?
  7. How can I and those involved turn toward one another with acts of loving-kindness?

When a person is willing to attune to what living a purposeful life with meaning looks like for them, they are more willing to accept, reflect more often, and dig deeper. Pause and be alert, nurturing their mind, body, and Spirit to live a life of significance. Leading by accepting, caring, and serving others well. Being teachable with peace towards myself – is vital because living a flourishing life personally and professionally is worth it!

Galatians 5:22 – The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Blessings with peace today and every day!


Sara Thingvold
Sara Thingvold
Sara Thingvold, MCLC, ACC, is an Executive and Life Coach, Trainer, and Consultant, sought out to partner with executive leaders and leadership teams, individuals, couples, and groups. She is the founder and owner of Sara Thingvold Professional Services, and a collaborative business partner with Triune Leadership Services. She began coaching and training others when she was a sophomore in high school and started her own company in 2009. She is passionate about encouraging and walking alongside others. Sara and her husband have been married for 29 years They have two wonderful young adult children, a lovely daughter-in-law, and an adorable grandson. Sara is a University of Nebraska – Lincoln graduate and Husker Volleyball player Alumni. She enjoys the outdoors, cooking with her husband and family, gardening, hiking, running, crafting, and various other activities and hobbies, especially exercising her mind, body, and spirit, and being intentional about deepening her own well-being. You can learn more about Sara, coaching, and the online training programs she offers on her website at Sara Thingvold.

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