Last week we were looking at one of the fight, flight and freeze (FFF) responses and we looked at Frozen. Today we are looking at the fight aspect of this. If you haven’t looked at anxiety before you may not have been aware of how much the fight response is connected to this. Most of us can think that anxiety is only about being anxious and responding in those ways, yet there are many people who are responding to anxiety in the fight response. This can be seen in many different ways, the first and most obvious one is someone being very angry and responding to things in an angry, aggressive reactive way. Other people can be more subdued with the anger and show it less on the outside, but feel the anger very strongly within, these people may have learnt to find their safety in the world by using more subtle ways to control people. This way of having control over the situations or issues will help to quell their inner anger, but if things don’t go their way then the fight response is just beneath the surface. This can of course be very reactive and for the person, trying to quell their anger can feel hard and out of control at times. Some people are less aware of why they respond in the way that they do. Other people have learnt to be less in the fight response and much more aware of the need to control, so that the FFF response of fight doesn’t show or come out.
This way of living is exhausting for people, constantly on the edge of a fight. If you asked any professional fighter how this feels they will tell you it’s a massive intense feeling of anger, adrenaline, fear and anxiety all rolled into one. That’s not something any of us want to carry on a day to day basis, but also for the people that live with a person in the fight mode, it can be extremely toxic for them. Our inner instincts will be very aware of how someone is feeling and because of the our own FFF response, this will often mean we become reactive with that other person or we can spend our lives anxious and living on egg shells.
Just like any anxiety this can be changed and we can learn to relax and let go of this, but the first step in doing this is very important in this fight response. We have to admit to ourselves that we have this. We have to own it. We have to stop transferring our issues on to the things that happen in our lives or the people we live with. This can be hard as we have lived with this often, for as long as we can remember and we may be in denial over the situation: we are just an angry person, it’s our birthday sign coming through, our dad was like it, if life wasn’t so hard we would be this way. All of these are just excuses for us to stay this way, it’s time to wake up to the fact that it’s horrible living this way and it’s safe to change and let this go. You may need help, anger management or someone like myself to help you work through your issues, but start by looking at the fear. If you can dissolve or diffuse that, the anger will be much less and then also easier to deal with.
If you know or live with someone like this, they can be heavily wrapped up in denial over the issue and trying to help them can often lead to the angry reactive responses being pushed at you. The best way to help is not to rise to the bate and to say clearly this is not acceptable and don’t in any way negotiate with them when they are in the fight response. Any level of negotiation can lead to them throwing this back at you and trying to put the blame onto you, so if you don’t give them the bullet they can’t fire it back at you. Stay strong in saying no and walk away if necessary, most people in the fight response when they’re not in it, are often aware of what they have done, this is the time to talk to them. They may need anger management or even Relate or family counselling to identify the issues. An intermediary may help define the lines over their issues and also give you some support in helping you to deal with their issues. It is safe to work this through, continuing to stay in an environment like this is not good for you and if you are struggling then maybe get some help yourself to give you the strength to deal with things.
There are also more subtle or unacknowledged ways that we can be holding this fight response, for many of us we have been taught to not be angry. In our society it’s a bad thing to be seen as being angry or aggressive. This of course will cause a lot of confusion for our primeval mind, it doesn’t want to endanger you by being not what society wants, as in the past if we didn’t conform we were just killed or driven out of society. But on the other hand, we have those feelings and our mind doesn’t know what to do with them, I feel for some people, they don’t have any outward show of anger but they are constantly beating themselves up inside. For the people I see like this, they are very aware that they wouldn’t dream of speaking to anyone else like that, but they seem compelled to be harsh and horrible to themselves. I believe this is a way to deal with the fight response and for many people they have never even considered it in this way. If this is you it’s time to stop this you don’t deserve to put yourself down or beat yourself up in this way.
As always, the first step to change is to acknowledge that this is what you’re doing and instead of saying or doing those things to yourself work to make yourself feel more safe and secure. Have the zero-tolerance rule and if you wouldn’t say or do that to someone else your banned from doing it to yourself. Initially it may surprise you how much you are doing this, it’s not getting worse, honest, it’s just for the first time you have realised this is what you have been doing and now you have become more conscious of what you are doing. So now it’s not an unconscious habit anymore, doing it without thinking, it’s something you can say no to and send yourself love and support, have affirmations to read out every day and start building self-love and confidence. Re look at the blogs on confidence and start dealing with the daily FFF response in a new calm and confident way. It will really help you transform how you feel about yourself and in turn transform your life.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x