An Introvert’s Amygdala Hijack

August 10, 2018


A portion of the brain called the amygdala plays a key role in the processing of emotions. An amygdala hijack happens as a result of the emotional brain being hijacked before the thinking brain has a chance to contribute logic to the situation at hand.


We have likely all experienced or witnessed an amygdala hijack of someone with an extroverted personality. Speaking from experience as someone who speaks to think (extrovert), if my amygdala gets hijacked, my emotional response is usually expressed verbally in ways I sometimes wish I could recoil. But what does it look/feel like when an introvert falls victim to an amygdala hijack? Quite different!


Recently I was facilitating some Emotional Intelligence training and an introvert shared what happens when their emotional brain gets the better of them. This was an “aha” moment for me as I learned that it can manifest as the silent treatment, disengagement, and stonewalling. When an extrovert loses their cool you know it. Alternatively, the introversion style benefits from the count-to-10 rule, which allows time for the stimulus to get through to the thinking brain. Although introverts may have less verbal regurgitation that they need to clean up, the impact on relationships can be equally as destructive.


The good news is that with focus, both introverts and extroverts can learn to manage their emotional reactions in a way that is good for themselves, and others.



Sandra McDowell, MA, PCC, CPHR, SHRM-SCP


Sandra is a sought-after speaker and facilitator on the topic of Leading With the Brain in Mind. She has a Masters in Leadership, a Certified Executive Coach designation, a certificate in Neuroleadership, and her CPHR and SHRM-SCP human resource designations. Early in her career she was a recipient of a national and international young leader award. Sandra’s interest in supporting the leadership growth of others has become her passion and purpose. She took her passion online in 2014 and developed the eLeadership Academy (, an online leadership program which is now offered nationally and internationally. She proudly serves as part of the executive team for First Credit Union as Vice President of People & Culture. Connect with her via LinkedIn or email. Subscribe to her blog to receive a copy of the Whitepaper: eLearning for Leadership Development.


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