Fight or Flight: The False Dichotomy

 All our lives, most of us have been told that there are only two possible responses to fear stimuli: fight, or flight. You can either punch that clown, or run away.

This is unmitigated bullshit. There are, in fact, five possible responses to fear stimuli: fight, flight, freeze, flop, or friend. Let's unpack these other three options a little bit:

Freeze. Pretty self-explanatory, but there is an added benefit to this option: it gives you a moment to think about what to do next. The downside to freezing is that sometimes it's hard to unfreeze and move forward. But sometimes, the best thing to do is hold still with your eyes closed until the clown goes away.

Flop. Just go limp, physically or mentally. Demonstrate that you aren't a threat, in the hopes that the aggressor will leave you be. The mental counterpart to the physical flop is to hold your tongue and let them think they won the argument. Flopping is a good option when the point of contention is minimal to the point of being petty, like whether or not pickles belong on a hamburger. Flop says: "You're not right; I just don't care."

Friend. This one is my favorite. Deflect aggression by bringing up things you have in common, or directing the conversation toward common goals. Reach out to them as a fellow human and try to connect with them on some level. Sometimes this takes a great deal of Patience, as we must recognize that others are on their own Path and level of Enlightenment. 

Of course, sometimes flight or even fight is the best option for the situation. Just know that there are other options, some of which may better fit the circumstances we are faced with in our daily lives. 


Reverend CJ Carlin


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