ON FLIGHT, FRIGHT, OR FRIGHT

I’ve heard instructors mentioning 3 times now in the last week how they’re “not freeze or flight guys.” I think there is some misunderstanding, misconception and misinterpretation about the fight/flight/fright response. One can be experienced and not freeze Monday through Thursday but still freeze on Friday. Nobody is a “freeze guy” or “fight guy” or “flight guy.” It is circumstantial, no one is immune (some are better at managing it but not immune to it, that escapes no one) and can be affected by any combination of a number of intangibles: mood, state, scenario, coherence, time-of-day, wakefulness, current physiology, past experience, hell…whether you had breakfast or not that morning.

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Are there ways to get the neo-cortex back online upon freezing? Yes, but not the scope for this post. It’s not a choice in that one decides the day before, “Tomorrow I’ll have a conflict and I’m going to decide to flee.” The point is that constant vigilance needs to be paid and no one is universally one or the others. Education helps one understand this biological process. One can freeze, one can fight, one can flee based on circumstance, need, ability, training and experience, among others…just as one can have these effects dictated by the reverse: circumstance-controlled, inability, lack of training or lack of effective training and inexperience. Often the correct choice is made for us and that gives the greatest chance of survival by our evolutionary internal wiring, helped along greatly by our ability to stay calm, manage ASR and understand the process itself. And, while so many mock freezing and fleeing, they can be of huge tactical/strategic benefit in the survival process. If “fight” is the only response you’re blessed with, you may best do some self-evaluation and consider a paradigm-shift in thinking. Great toolboxes have innumerable tools inside with which to handle an indefinite number of varied problems.

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