Fight, Flight, or Freeze

At its essence, transitions are what allow us to simply walk.  We move one foot in front of the other every time we stroll somewhere. It could be from our bedroom to our bathroom. We move from breakfast to lunch. We go from home to work and back again at the end of the day.  Our work lives require us to work on one project and then move to the next. Or as many of us experience, working on more than one project at a time. 

We acknowledge how we behave and note that we can benefit from choosing new ways of behaving in the world to make living in it easier, more fruitful, and pleasing as an end game.

We are making these transitions every day, all day, and in several different aspects of living our lives. Most of them we give little thought to and yet, when the word change comes into our reality, we cringe. Some feel the sensations associated with the flight, fight, or freeze response to a perceived threat. 

Understanding these responses will help you work through them. In all three, your defenses are up and you anticipate a threat or sense of danger.  That danger could be the perceived change that affects your comfort level.

  • Fight – You are ready to stand your ground! You might feel intense emotions and a knot in your stomach, and you are prepared to fight the danger head-on.
  • Flight – You are restless, tense, and feel trapped. You are ready to head in the opposite direction. 
  • Freeze – You feel stuck in place.  Your heart is pounding and you may not know what action to take, so you end up not taking any.

When you feel one of these stress responses, it’s important to take a deep breath and consider what is happening.  Stepping back until you feel comfortable with the change or talking to a trusted advisor before making a final decision can prove helpful.

The flip side of responding to a decision by stepping back first is when you are faced with a decision that must be made now! Your option to weigh the pros and cons is short-changed. Think on your feet.