Every one of you knows about fear. When faced with fear, you had to decide what course to take – fight or flight. You may not realize it at the moment you are starring down a fear, yet your decision on how to react will have a long-lasting effect on your life. It can change your life for the better or leave long lasting damage for years to come – depending on your decision.
What is flight or fight?
First described by American physiologist Walter Branford Cannon, the fight-or-flight response (also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attach or threat to survival.
When is it okay to choose flight over fight?
One of the main reasons we experience fear in our lives is to warn us about danger. Fear warns us that running out into traffic, walking on a train track and suddenly stopping in front of a 18 wheeler on a freeway coild result in dire consequences that will forever change our lives – if not end our lives.
When fear is warning of danger, it is completely appropriate to take flight from the situation and retreat to a “Safe place”. Use the crosswalk and wait for the signal to indicate it is your turn to cross the street (do not forget to look both ways). Stay off the train track (it is trespassing) and NEVER slam your breaks on when traveling at high speed on a highway in front of a big rig (they do not stop on a dime!)
How can choosing flight paralyzes you
There are situations when our fear is not based on physical danger to ourselves, yet we still want to choose flight to react to the situation. When we choose flight (when fight, which I will talk about later is the better choice) we often can face a long lasting debleating condition I like to call “Self-imposed mental paralysis”.
What is “Self-imposed mental paralysis”
This can be best illustrated by an example.
Let’s say you have a fear of failure, a fear of embarrassment or a fear of crowds. Maybe your fear is a fear of being mocked, ridiculed, bullied – the list goes on.
Those types of fears can be as threatening to you a being struck by lighting or in a path of a tornado. But trust me, no one ever died from any of those conditions. Remember, they will not kill you (unless you let them.)
If you are facing one of those fears and you choose flight over fight, you may be subconsciously telling yourself “I cannot do this”. That kind of thinking can start when you are confronted with one fear at first, but over time that “I can not do this” thinking can spread like wildfire to other similar fears and then onto other aspects of your life. Before you know it, you will be sitting in a corner all alone, watching others surpass you while wondering “why can’t I succeed?”
But there is a way you can succeed, all you must do is choose fight over flight!
Why choosing fight can empower you
By choosing fight instead of flight when you are facing a bonified non-life threating or dangerous fear, you are telling yourself “I got this!” You enter conquer mode and the war between you fear and your desire to overcome the fear begins.
The first few battles may not be a complete surrender by that fear, but don’t be discouraged, instead look at each battle for the small victories and then you can build upon them when you return to the battle field.
With each fight you give, you will have some victories. With each victory you are empowering yourself to fight a bigger battle and be victorious more often than failing. Eventually failure will be so few and far between when it comes to facing your fears, failure you need to use a GPS to locate you!