Does anyone know how to chose “flight” instead of “fight” when faced with a fight or flight response? I understand that I “am in control of my emotions” but when I have a break and go into this mode I always chose fight. I ruminate on choosing flight the next time and try to do this but somehow it isn’t as if my body acts without my consent when I feel this way. It sounds silly but when this happens it’s as if I forget I have another option. I figure if I can’t turn off the flood of emotion (feels like my whole body and mind are buzzing or like I have superpower feelings when this happens) I can at least chose flight which seems to do much less damage. When I am upset it is easy to walk away but when I go Into fight or flight mode (seems almost random how small things can set it off) it is as if I am not present in my body. Then i come back to reality and all I feel is apathy and usually cannot speak .or move much until my emotions and sensations come back to baseline. I need to regain control so I can run when’s this happens instead of fight. I can’t keep hurting people. Please help I cannot continue on this way
Hi @Lastchance. I’m not sure I’m the best to answer this question as I’m not a professional, but I’m going to try anyways.
When it comes to fight/flight/freeze/faun, I don’t think we really have much of a choice. At least, not in the moment. It’s just the way your body naturally reacts, and as you said, it’s without your consent. It’s something that I think you’ll struggle with for most of your life, although there are probably things you can do to make it better. I have to tell you that what you described in how your body takes over is how I feel to a T when my response acts up, except my response is generally freeze/flight.
The only thing I can think of that might help is mindfulness. Start studying the times that you had a negative reaction. Study the things that brought on the “fight” in you, and study the emotions you felt before and after. Acknowledge them, and then start to study your feelings during the hours you’re awake, and eventually, when you figure out what brings on the reactions, you might be able to help control it a little bit. It will take a long time, and it will take being honest to yourself in everything. Also, if studying your emotions and reactions on your own takes you down a dark path, then don’t do that anymore. The goal with this exercise is to move forward, not go backwards. That’s why it’s important to have a professional who understands these reactions behind you while you are trying to get better. It’s not easy to do alone, and doing it alone can make you worse, depending on the situation and your natural reactions.
The thing that would help best is to find a therapist or counselor who specializes in whatever caused you to begin having the fight or flight response in the first place. A good counselor would be able to help you recognize what sets you off and would be able to give you the exercises you need to get better. What I suggested is only one exercise in a line of exercises that might help.
This is such a good question (and one I’ve wondered many times) but unfortunately such a difficult question also!
As someone above has said, fight/flight/freeze/fawn is an involuntary stress response, which is our bodies way to try and keep us safe so I don’t believe there is a way that we can change what our reaction is.
I understand your frustrations, when I was younger I was always a flighter myself and it got me into some tricky situations, there was no way I could change it so when I was facing stressful situations I would continue to flight. If you have the means to see a professional it could be really helpful, no they won’t be able to change your reactions but a therapist/psychologist/counsellor etc. may be able to help you unpick what the stressor is that’s causing this fight reaction and make a plan to help you.
My experiences of therapy have been mixed but working with a therapist to understand what was causing these reactions helped me to be able to adapt and work towards anxiety management, for me this was done through identifying the stressor, avoiding these situations and then with the help of a professional slowly exposing myself to it again in a way that was gentle with a plan in place so I felt comfortable and able to keep myself safe.
If it isn’t possible to see a professional right now, it may help to try reflect on the times where you have had this fight reaction (if you can). It may sound cliche but things such as keeping a journal of what happened and if you can remember what happened prior may be beneficial to you, as well as other strategies such as practicing mindfulness.
Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful or specific but thank you for opening up and I hope that you find the support you need!