Fight, Flee, Freeze. These are common responses we have when we are threatened. We instinctually use one or all of these coping strategies when we are faced with a real or perceived threat to our safety. In cases of real threat, these coping styles become essential for our survival. What I am going to focus on in this post is using these coping styles in situations of perceived threat.
In my own life, I have used each one depending on the situation or who I was at that time.
- At 19 I moved out of state to try and escape my broken heart.
- At 23 I would reactively almost punch people who tried to sneak up and scare me.
- At 38 I broke down when my boss told me I was being relocated to a different program.
When I use these coping styles, I am not being present it my body and in the moment. In essence I am abandoning myself. In doing so, I recreate the emotional abandonment that I grew up with.
The relatively new compassion in me now understands that each of these styles has helped me survive, and I am thankful for them. I also understand that these styles no longer work for me.
When I use these coping styles, I leave myself, and it can be hard to come back to myself. I noticed that in these times, I feel empty and depressed. When I brought this up with a therapist, she challenged me to be in my body when perceived threats occur.
I am a bit surprised that my journey has brought me to this lesson. The lesson being, how do I stay in my body in times of real or perceived threat? The idea of this both scares and excites me. It scares me because to be in my body means to fully be alive. It excited me because the reality is; my connection to myself and the divine has come far enough for me to make take this path.
Because this concept is so new for me, I decided to make a list of things I can do when I start to notice me wanting to fight, flee, or freeze. I made a copy of this list for my purse, apartment, and office.
Here’s a short version of coping skills for staying in my body. What would you add to this list?
Light Gua sha
Look at baby animal YouTube videos
Talking on the phone