How we react to stress tells a lot about us.
It shows something very basic about our nature.
About how our nervous system works on a deep level.
Understanding it can help us to cope with stress better.
There are three basic ways we respond to highly stressful situations.
We either run away from it.
We fight it.
Or we freeze in the middle of it.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
When we are prone to flight, we find we are always running away from the challenges and the opportunities.
If we are more likely to fight it, we are always ready for action and eventually burn out.
When we have the tendency to freeze, we stay stuck where we are.
It is not uncommon for people who are fighters to appear to be angry much of the time.
They may not actually feel angry, they just present that way.
They have to because they need to be ready for the next fight.
These people usually have a lot of energy, and face things head on.
Those who tend to freeze are just the opposite.
They hold things in.
They keep quiet.
They don’t react when someone is yelling a them.
They appear to be very patient and kind to others.
They are mellow and easy going.
We all have elements of all three of these ways of being.
However, one of the them is usually dominant.
It is usually easy to tell which one someone is by seeing the person when they are under emotional stress.
How do they respond when their boss yells at them?
How do they act when they get bad news from their lover?
Do they fight their way through a crisis or move away from it?
Knowing what is our own dominant response can be very helpful.
If we usually freeze under stress perhaps we can learn to cultivate a little more fighting energy.
If we usually flee a stressful situation maybe we can learn to stay put and not react to it as much.
Or maybe we usually fight our way through and if we learn to cultivate moving more we can redirect some of that energy.
No one way is better than other.
There is no right way or wrong way.
Yet as we cultivate the difference responses to stress, we can find more appropriate ways to deal with different situations.
We learn how to navigate and respond to stress in ways that serve us.
Over time, we become the masters of how we respond to stress instead of being a slave to just one way of responding.
Can you see what type are you? Can you start to cultivate a different response to stress?
~ Sam Liebowitz, The Conscious Consultant