Copyright: Lightspring/Shutterstock. Source: Psychology Today


This story, while, not mine, is an Eyewitness account of an incident that actually happened in Lagos, Nigeria. I have read several versions and edits of it on different group posts on Social Media. The essence of the story and the actual incident, remain the same. So, I’m sharing it, that we all may learn from it.

I was on my way to the Airport sometime in 2008, when at the popular Ajah bus-stop in Lagos, a commercial bus driver slightly hit my car.

Impulsively and with rage, I jumped out of the car to confront the driver, who had stopped a few meters in front to pick up passengers. I screamed at him and threatened that he will not move.

At this time, I had created a scene, yet the man didn’t even recognize my presence, let alone apologize. Instead, he unleashed unprintable insults and even attempted to beat me up. Of course, in Lagos, the passengers will always support the driver, so you can imagine the quantum of insults and embarrassment I got in less than 5 minutes that the incident lasted.

But that wasn’t all. When I got back to my car, I met no valuable left. The car had literally been swept by street urchins. I broke down.

It was then I realized how emotionally foolish I was. Leaving the car at the bus stop with the engine running, doors unlocked!! In fact someone could have driven it away. Guess what? I lost a new phone, laptop, cash… name it, and I missed the flight too.

Hmmm… difficult to forget. A damage that cost about N5,000 (USA$13.14) to fix. I know, someone will say you were not smart enough. Perhaps yes! But here is the point, and this summarises the import of this story.

Any time you react to provocation based on impulse, the outcome will always end in regret, no matter how smart you are. In emotional intelligence, it is called Amygdala Hijack or Emotional Hijack. Sometimes, the consequence could be lethal and irreversible.

Here is another story. About two years ago, a responsible gentleman in Lagos argued over his N50 balance with an Ikeja-bound bus conductor and died in the process. Given the rate of currency exchange today, 29 November 2020 (18:29 UTC, GMT-6), that N50 Nigerian Naira, is the equivalent of 0.13 cents, because the Nigerian Naira has been highly devalued. Imagine being engulfed by rage, arguing and losing one’s life over less that 25cents.

Anytime you suffer Amygdala Hijack, also know as at Attack of Rage, you may live to regret it, or lose your life in the process.

The question is, how do you react when provoked? What words come out of your mouth when offended by colleagues, okada men, danfo drivers, business partner, relatives etc? Do you express or explode? Do you respond or react? Words, sometimes, could be more hurtful than injuries.

Now here is the good news. Everyone has an imaginary “Mental Pause Button”. Once you are provoked, Press that “mental pause button” in your mind!!! Do not talk or react for SIX (6) seconds. At that point, just take a deep breath, while slowly counting up to SIX. By the time you breathe out. The action you will take will be rational, and will not lead to regret.

The 6 seconds pause may just be the difference between death or life, friendship or enmity, peace or war. Our Emotions are subject to our individual control. Learn to manage your mental pause button. Choose emotional intelligence.

Do not allow one moment of ‘madness’ to destroy your day or even your future! Do not become a victim of rage, but be the master of your emotions.


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