Fight, Flight, Or Freeze

If we fail to apply conscious thought to a situation, we are in danger of entering a state called fight, flight, or freeze. Psychologists describe this as a very primal response that is built into all humans.

Imagine a distant ancestor walking through the wilderness and being confronted by a wild animal. Many people would simply freeze in their tracks. For others, the mind goes to one of two possibilities … fight for your life, or run for your life. There is not a lot of thinking involved.

Unfortunately, those who put projects off until the last minute, or multi-task excessively, or over analyze can also find themselves in a situation where the productive mind shuts down. They are left choosing between fight, flight, and freeze.

Freezing consists of doing nothing, avoiding the problem altogether, or pretending it doesn’t exist. This is about as effective in the personal or professional life as it is in the jungle face to face with a hungry tiger. Fight might mean pulling an all nighter or doing something substandard just to get it over with. And flight may involve further procrastination or escaping into an easier project. Obviously, none are good solutions.

Leave the fight, flight, or freeze reaction back in the stone age where it belongs. Instead, be intentional with your thinking.


The above is used by permission from the book Three Years Of Tuesday Mornings: 156 e-mails about business and life by Steve Fales.

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