We hear lots of talk about the fight and flight response, over the next few weeks we are going to look at this in more detail. I am going to start with one of the fight or flight responses which is less acknowledged and talked about. The freeze aspect, which can be over looked when we consider anxiety and stress. The instinct within us when we’re faced with a challenge, or life and death situation is to either stop and fight, run away or hide and freeze. Today were going to explore more about about how this freeze response in the fight flight or freeze (FFF) response can affect us.
Frozen in fear is something we have all heard of and even talked about. This is a very real situation which can impact how we feel and can cause lots of underlying anxiety issues. In my work, I feel that more people are trapped in this frozen state than any of the other FFF responses, this is because it is something that can be more hidden within us and initially less noticeable than the other FFF responses. It’s so much easier to see if someone is still fighting with their past, being angry and aggressive is easy to notice. The same goes for people still running in fear, its less noticeable than the fight response, but if you know what your looking for again it can be seen. But the freeze response is much harder to see and can go unnoticed for a long time. For people who just spontaneously find they have become very anxious or angry and can’t find a noticeable trigger, then I believe it’s could be down to a hidden frozen part which has just been triggered and surfaced. If this is the case it will have changed into being an anxious or angry part of ourselves, as it can no longer be classed as frozen or hidden as it isn’t anymore. This can happen in a second and be very spontaneous we may never know what triggered the change within us but because of the dynamics of our mind it can only be one of these, it’s either hidden/frozen or it has to be noticed as one of the other fight or flight responses. This is down to the fact that our mind is black and white with things and it can’t see it, or store it in any other way.
Let me explain this a bit more detail, as individuals we are highly complex beings and our minds are the most amazing thing we can even try and comprehend. Look at all we have made and created in our world. Our minds have done this, so of course we are way more powerful than the things we have created. Which when think about it things like space ships, computers, scientific discoveries, it’s literally mind blowing how powerful our minds truly are. Our mind is there as our internal protector, if we lose our minds then we have nothing, so to keep us mentally safe our minds are always trying to protect us. Just see your mind like a kind loving parent protecting us from what the world is really like, not wanting us to see, hear or experience horrible things. The freeze part of the FFF response is just like this, your mind in a trauma and crisis situation will hide these feelings and lock them away from you in the hopes of protecting you. Amazing in the crisis, but if these are left un-dealt with, then sometimes life can trigger these frozen feelings to the surface and if this happens it can seem like they have just appeared from nowwhere.
On the other hand, some people can be aware of this frozen state, they may say they feel numb or detached or distant from things and feel it more difficult to connect with life, people, feeling and experiences. Sometimes we do know life has been hard and that there is a point where we may have frozen in fear, but other times we are not sure. Either way, it doesn’t matter but it is time to unfreeze yourself and start living more in the now. We can be frozen in our breath, this can be like when something shocks us we can take a sharp intake of breath and some time we have to let this go. In others, it can be we have a stiff neck or another tense parts of ourselves, these could all be linked to this frozen in fear state. Sometimes it can be in our minds and if this is the case we can feel like we are watching the world from a more distance view point or feel cloudy and foggy, which can also cause us to feel numb and disconnected.
If you are struggling with anxiety and can’t seem to get to the bottom of it, then its time to explore the frozen in fear parts as this may well be where it is coming from. Often just starting the process of understanding that is is happening can help us to take the first steps to change, if it feels severe then it’s worth finding someone like myself to help you work things through. There are lots of things you can do to help with this too, it’s important to acknowledge where you’re at with this and find your frozen parts. If its in your body start Pilates and Yoga, try stretching and relaxation and while you’re doing this, start to acknowledge where the blocks are. Then keep sending the messages to that part of you that’s its safe to relax and let go, you’re only stuck this way because your mind still thinks it needs to protect you. Once you start accepting your safe to relax and let go, your mind will begin to follow. If its in your breathing, then again yoga would be good, even high intensity exercises may help, you can also be aware when your holding your breath at certain times and start saying in your mind I am safe to breath. Once you start looking you may be quite surprised how often you catch yourself holding your breath or how tense you are, its not increasing! It’s just your starting to recognise this and taking time to relax and breath will help. If it’s in your mind then you need to work on being present, when you find yourself becoming disconnected or distant to things start focusing not on being distant, focus on what is happening in the now.
Over the next few weeks I will be looking at the different aspects of FFF response and help you to understand how your feeling and find ways to help you let this go.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x