An Emotional Hijacking and a Crash Landing: Steven Slater’s personal plane crash is international news. He’s become the poster boy for publicly unleashing pent up frustrations, after a rude angry passenger hit him with her carry-on.
The Jet Blue flight attendant aired his job frustrations over the plane’s PA system before dramatically disappearing down the emergency escape slide.
Apparently he remembered to throw his baggage down before exiting. The thought of him fleeing across the tarmac with his luggage is as serious as it is farcically funny.
Slater’s been fired, Jet Blue is pressing criminal charges, and he’s facing legal fees, court dates, and maybe even jail time. His moment of madcap emotional release will be costly, and he’ll likely have episodes of wishing it never happened.
It must have been fun while it lasted and we’ve all been there, either fantasizing about it or engaging in our own regrettable meltdown. Sometimes all it takes is a moment of clarity to prevent a costly emotional hijacking.
Own your issues. Stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in our life; it comes from our thoughts about what’s going on. There’s usually a thought loop circling that may go something like this,” I deserve an apology. I don’t deserve to be treated this way, etc.” It’s that loop that fuels the meltdowns. Thoughts are the power switch we can adjust to dial down our emotional response.
Look at the other side. There’s no good excuse for bad behavior, but examining what might be fueling an opponent’s attitude is an important tool for defusing it. The whole premise of The Art of War is that knowing the enemy is a powerful tool for gaining control of any battle.
Monitor the moment. Slater felt under-appreciated and overworked, his mother is gravely ill, a passenger hit him in the head with her suitcase, and BOOM, the emotional cocktail exploded. It’s usually more than just one incident that pushes us over the edge.
Stop and breathe. Unless we’re fleeing a burning building, a few moments of deep breathing sends necessary oxygen to the brain. It also gives us a moment to gain control and avoid an outburst we’ll regret later.