The feelings of Fight-Flight-Freeze as indicators of HEALING!
These past weeks, I have had the privilege of speaking with so many inspiring women who are bravely facing past childhood traumas and current stressful life events with laser focus on their future bliss and calm.
Over the last month, in numerous initial sessions, there was a theme that kept repeating. When this occurs and comes into my awareness, I get the sense there is a collective release.
A readiness for newness, that the initiations that these women had experienced to share a core wound. Regardless if the wound is one of abuse, abandonment, loss or co-dependence, they are ready to shed the energy and rapid cycle upward in growth or awareness. To live within a centered calm.
The challenge is that it doesn’t feel like growth. It feels gross (my professional coaching description).
Instead, it feels as if they are experiencing the sense of being stuck, and being hit with emotional upheaval or profound grief cycle. A strong sense of having to fight for something or run away or what I heard repeatedly, “I freeze up”.
Are you a freezer upper?
When confronted with an emotional trigger, do you freeze?
Out of the three stress responses (fight, flight or freeze) the freezing gets overlooked (very much like Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton).
So going back to my exchanges in my coaching session, I asked, “ What fear is keeping you frozen or stuck?”
This is the same question I asked of each of these powerful women and the feeling that I heard numerous times was “I close up and freeze up because I am afraid of being disappointed”.
Disappointment as defined as (1) the act or an instance of disappointing; the state or emotion of being disappointed. Similar: saddened, upset, let down, disheartened, downhearted, cast down. (2) one that disappoints, as in “He’s a disappointment to his parents”. Similar: thwarted, frustrated, balked, foiled, dashed, defeated, failed.
If you look at the The Feeling Wheel, created by Gloria Wilcox, disappointed aka sad is directly one of the six core feelings; mad, scared, joyful, powerful, peaceful and sad.
Disappointed can hold sadness, guilt, depressed, lonely, bored or tired. The outer ring of the core word sad is connected to stupid, isolated and inferior. The opposite side sad is joyful, associated with cheerful and hopeful. Such great clues into what might possibly be your childhood wound or trauma. No trustworthy, available parent who is aware and present for your needs.
Boiling down the emotions that kicks you into the FREEZE zone of the survival instinct is so powerfully healing. So when fight, flight or freeze, try and get an awareness of calling, naming the feeling and then looking at the feeling wheel to get to the core of the emotion. Healing through calling in the light side of the dark emotion through affirmation calms the neural connection and network.
Let’s try another…
Lonely is within the second ring of SAD, connected to joyful, cheerful, playful and amused.
Perhaps within your early childhood experiences you had experienced intense pressure or an unsettled home environment without much joyful expression.
The affirmation “I approach my day with playful cheerful wonder!” will help in rewiring your brain and instructing your subconscious to have a new normal of joyfulness, play switch-a-roo with your experience and live a different, more light-filled emotional day!
The Wheel’s six core feelings: mad, scared, joyful, powerful, peaceful and sad are some of the emotions we all might have felt during the past year, both collectively and individually.
I rely on the Feeling Wheel personally to help me unfreeze and release the feeling and imagine that I am spinning the wheel, to uplift my emotional state and emotional health.
The healing initiation of the fight-flight-freeze response
A practice of accepting your response… because it is telling you something important.
Begin this practice and commit for 7 days!
For seven days simply write down when you are aware that you are within a defense mechanism moment (triggered).
Write down what physiological changes occurred. For example, did your heart rate increase or become rapid? Or your breathing speed up? Or did you hold your breath if you’re finding yourself in the freeze response? Can you see more clearly because your pupils dilate? Are you like the 6-million-dollar women and can begin to have bionic hearing (hearing is sharper)? Are you sweaty or cold? Or are goosebumps everywhere? Do you feel like you’re ready to go into battle?
These are some of the physical reactions to a psychological fear. Just jot them down along with how long it took for you to go back to baseline normal.
Can your response be over-reactive?
A traumatic event, or repeated traumatic life events, can exaggerate the stress response and your body creates a super highway to recreating the pattern of reacting to the initial event. Stressful life events such as a diagnosis of infertility or a high conflict divorce leave you in a reaction related triggered response.
You might have a higher stress response just waiting for your nightly injection instructions when you’re going through an IVF cycle or other treatment and not understand why.
Or, if you receive an email from your attorney regarding a court issue, your brain will react to a past trigger being on the stand during a trial.
Now, take a moment and commit to paper a memory flash that came to you when you had a similar feeling. That traumatic event is coming forward for recognition and release. Let it come into the light judgement free. Creating a relationship with your fight-flight-freeze feelings is a healing practice and a journey towards loving all of you.
When to seek help
- When your remuneration of a trigger is long lasting.
- The stress interferes with your decision-making process and interrupt your daily life activities.
- You can’t transition from awake to sleep with ease.
- You find yourself unable to relax.
- You are short tempered and “on edge”.
Mad, scared, sad or fear are your prominent emotions.
Shifting your perception to these emotional triggers as a healing tool is powerful. Let me know if you want a private one-to-one session or if you’d like to join Calling in the CALM: How to COPE when in fight-flight-freeze.
Calling in the CALM
12:00 midday Eastern on Tuesday May 11th
Are you in a constant state of fight-flight-freeze?
How can you cope?
Join me for this unique live event.
You will learn coping and healing strategies for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual bodies.
- Sleep better
- Decrease stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol)
- Increase endorphins (good vibing hormones)
To Improve calmness, it is important to have social support and this call will help you on your way to regain your inner safety, quiet your automatic protective response and feel less worry and fear.
$27.00 for the call. Join today!
PS: Here’s what clients are saying about working together!
“I enjoyed our conversation and coaching session today! I left the convo feeling extra grateful and so supported. It was great to be able to talk through the plan and remind myself of how grateful I am for so much! I look forward to talking during our next coaching session with you again! And love my new mantras :)” – S.
“So much clarity and support. I appreciate your guidance and wisdom! I know I am ready for the next step with us working through my stuck feelings.” – N.
“Thanks for your amazing support. I have felt really touched and impacted by your wisdom and the kind things you’ve said about me have really hit home. I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon.” – J.
“Thank you so much for giving me such beautiful ideas. You are a wonderful person. I’m lucky to have had a chance to talk to you. Many thanks Kristen!” – N