Four Fs

Today many articles are written about the Fight or flight response to stress.  Over the years they added a third reaction to stress, freeze.  I call it ‘deer in the head lights’ reaction.  Rather than fight or flight, freezing is my reaction trying to assess before moving in any direction.

Here is an article that describes these fairly well…

I kept studying stress responses.

This article gave an interesting perspective on the freeze response.  Freeze, numbing, and dissociation all fall under this response. (Beware of the picture, it is a bit disturbing.)

The last one I learned about during counseling.  Fawning.  I did it but didn’t know that it was a stress response.  When I behaved this way, I called myself a worm.  No spine.  Bending and twisting walking on egg shells, all to achieve an imaginary safety that didn’t actually exist.  The hard thing about recognizing the fawning stress response is the fact that it masquerades as obedience, compliance, or other healthier reactions.  I finally unmasked fawning when I realized that when I felt deeply resentful doing something, I was most likely fawning rather making a healthy choice.  I spent years in counseling and learning about fawning and how to stop it was difficult.

Interesting thing about all 4 responses that they all have to do with stress.  All have some basic similarities in fighting back.

  1. Take a deep breath let it out, give yourself time to look at your options. Unless it really is a highly dangerous situation, take time to reflect and avoid the knee jerk reactions.
  2. Set healthy boundaries.
  3. Set goals and check to see if your reaction gets you closer to your goals.
  4. If you do decide to fight, flight, freeze, or fawn make it a choice and not a past blinded reaction.
  5. If you can’t separate all this stuff out?  Seek out a trauma counselor that understands healthy ways to take back your life.

Stress is a part of life but doesn’t need to be your puppeteer.

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