When my fight or flight response kicks in, it kicks in hard. I tense. I snap. I retort. I forget to breathe and direct my thoughts to something that will ease me.
I know the response is there to protect me from danger, and I know that I’m very rarely ever in danger. But the response kicks in when I feel threatened or not heard. It kicks in when I feel unsure or uncomfortable.
The important thing to remember is that I don’t need to fight or flight in these moments. In fact, I can choose whether I fight or flight at all. I don’t have to react to the response. I can acknowledge it and do something else.
I read in a (great) book, My Stroke of Insight, that it takes roughly six seconds of breathing through the adrenaline rush of fight or flight before the hormones decrease and I can choose a non-reaction. For those six seconds I might be biologically compelled to run or go to war, but after those six seconds it’s just my mind that thinks I need to act on the response. My body is ready to let it go.
Which means it takes only six seconds of breathing, or distraction, to move through the response. In the moment, it may seem insurmountable and un-ignorable, but it only takes six seconds of my not reacting to allow me to not react. Even I can do that.
I don’t have to react to fight or flight. I don’t have to react to flight or fight. I can remember that – the next time – for just six seconds.
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