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“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
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I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
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There Are More Options Than Fight, Flight or Freeze

scared blue eye

We hear all the time about fight, flight or freeze mode. Anxiety, depression, our relationships, our jobs, the news; all have the potential to mobilize us (fight or flight) or immobilize us (freeze). I am not sure the awareness we now have of these states, serves us. I, for one, could do with a little less awareness of my heart rate and propensity to freeze when all eyes turn toward me within a group of strangers.

A story on The Moth (storytelling program located around the U.S. and a podcast), got me thinking about possibilities beyond fight, flight or freeze. A woman on The Moth told of how helpless and paralyzed she was when she was a young girl and her father beat her with his fists. He would walk away whistling after the beating and she would stand frozen.

Teammates help

Later, as a young woman, she found herself on a Greyhound bus sitting next to another young woman from a foreign country. Behind them was a scary drunk man, who harassed them for half of their bus ride. He swore at them. He tried to touch them. He went to the bathroom with the door open. Finally, the young foreign woman, whose first language was not English, shouted at the drunk, “You are a bad man! Leave us alone!” And he did, for a while. Eventually, both women stood up to the obnoxious man. The whole bus benefited from the resulting peace.

The woman who froze when her dad beat her, now realized there was another angle or option to fight, flight or freeze. It was solidarity. Joining forces with another person, gives us strength and helps us survive. Having a teammate keeps our nervous system stable. We don’t have to fight, nor do we feel so afraid that we freeze. We can use our voices and spare our body the big reactions.

Drop the rope

Another alternative to fight, flight or freeze is acceptance. I don’t mean to give up, resign to or tolerate painful suffering. I mean to feel the anxiety, fear, conflict, etc. and keep on living a vibrant life. In the tug-o-war between our thoughts and our reactions, we drop the rope.

Obviously, if you experience dangerous physical abuse every day, I don’t mean to live with it and keep on smelling the roses. That kind of abuse evokes subconscious reactions (fight, flight, freeze) and requires action. Seek help outside of yourself. As a girl, the woman in the story could not help but freeze when her father hit her. She was helpless. But as a woman, she had the option to allow her abusive history and its memories to exist without holding her back from a creative, vibrant life.

In the way or on the way

If you hate your job and you tell yourself ever day, “I hate this job. I’m stuck in it. My boss makes me so nervous”, there is an alternative to letting your heart pound, feeling Sunday night dread and withdrawing into Netflix or video games.

The alternative is to allow the anxiety or dread and move forward to greater engagement and vitality. In the name of meaning and fulfillment, we can experience anxiety. The anxiety isn’t IN the way of our fulfillment. It is ON the way. I think Dr. John Demartini said that, but I’m not 100% sure.

What makes our life engaging? What do we value that could help us get away from mental management and into focused living?woman hiking

Avoidance is not the answer

When we allow worry or fear to narrow our lives, we do not experience joy or vitality. For example, if we let our current job anxiety make us think we can not do another job, we might not even look for something better. We assume we are stuck with this lousy job because our negative thoughts limit us. Resisting something only amplifies it.

Distance helps

It is also important to remember the anxiety, fight, flight or freeze modes are not us. They are feelings and bodily reactions we experience. To move toward an engaging and meaningful life we have to see the suffering as outside of us.

Everyone experiences fear, pain, nervousness. It is a part of life. What is optional is how we react to it and how we let ourselves suffer. For example, we can say “I’m depressed” or we can say “I’m having a lot of negative thoughts that make me feel tired.” The second option keeps us separate from our thoughts. That distance allows us to see our depression as something we experience rather than who we are. We can experience negative thoughts or feelings and still engage with the world.

We might still fight, flee or freeze

We don’t have to fix all of our problems before we live. Even if we find ourselves in fight, flight or freeze mode (they are subconscious, involuntary reactions), we can still work toward a life of meaning and engagement. We can observe those states of being, stop avoiding the difficult feelings/ thoughts, form alliances with others and stay living. Drop the rope of suffering and focus on the living.

When do you fight, flee or freeze? How could a value or something meaningful pull you out of those states? 

** Images via Pixabay

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