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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
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
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
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
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
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…
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
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live

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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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