Fight, Freeze, Flight or Invite
how do you deal with the hard issues?
I’m a Fighter
When it comes to conflict — I’m a fighter. I even have thought of myself as a warrior until many, many, many of my friends gently and not so gently reminded me how wrong I was. They have also urged me to stop thinking of myself as a fighter too.
One friend explained it to me this way,
Renee, you can’t help but love people. You are a guide for us holding a mirror of mindfulness. What you do is invite us to be better people.”
I simultaneously cried and was pissed. I wanted to be a warrior. I wanted to be the Mama Bear. As I digested the words and other friends that shared, I quietly came to the conclusion that I am a loving matriarch. I’m not very mama bear like. I’m really just a mom doing laundry, baking cookies and listening. I don’t really want to fight — it just came so naturally dealing with what life threw at me.
You did not just say that!!
I am a vault. People tell me things all the time. I just have that kind of personality that gives people the idea they can say or do anything to me . . . and I will just absorb it. Good things and very bad things.
In my mind I play a game of Freeze Tag. I can’t even imagine that I am now the keeper of someone else’s secrets . . . I manage this with stopping and freezing my mind — I create a frozen space where the words can’t come any closer to me.
In the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, the lead character Hannah often freezes when she comes up against conflict . . . or rape. I identified with her character as did many other women I have spoken with, we dissociate with the event. Protection by emotionally removing ourselves from the event. Have you ever had a moment when you are an observer to your own life? You see it happening yet you can’t stop it. That. That is what I’m trying to explain.
It is often traumatic events that trigger a freeze response but it can also be those comments that just catch you so off guard your mind can’t process quickly enough what just happened. This is happening more and more in our society as people no longer filter what they say and feel very justified in sharing their thoughts that should probably stay inside their head. I have countless examples . . .
Just walk away Renee . . .
A great song from 1966. This is the flight reaction. Simple. We seek the nearest exit and take it. We choose not to deal with our issues. Sometimes we slowly back up, waltz, skip, sprint or just swagger away.
Flight or fleeing is not a solution.
Hiding under the covers, is not a solution.
Ignoring a situation by turning way or tuning out, is not a solution.
My invitation to you
When things happen in our lives, especially these days, it is no longer working to fight, flee, or freeze. It is making us very unhealthy. Instead, I would like to suggest the concept of invitation.
When someone does something that is inappropriate we need to call them out with compassion and curiosity. I prefer privately.
We need to get back to keeping our privates, private.
This includes outing people on social media — double clutch on that and ask yourself all the ways that this could be handled and go with what is best choice for everyone involved. Slander by tweeting or a scathing Facebook post may not be the more helpful or mature action.
Ask them to explain why they think the way they do. Asking is not accepting. Having a conversation about really hard subjects is not accepting the other’s point of view . . . it is just listening.
If we can’t listen and respect one another, we can’t find common ground.
We need to dig deep, peel back the layers until we can find the shared Divinity that lives in both people entering the discussion.
But I can’t . . .
I have people in my life that are toxic. I don’t expect that anytime soon they will see the Divinity in themselves or anyone else BUT when they do, I will be ready to enter into a healthy discussion. What do I do in the mean time? I make really hard choices that are in alignment with my soul. I practice being humble and kind. I understand that we are all one and when one of us is hurting, we are all hurting. I lean on my curiosity and compassion.
Trump, Opiates, #metoo
The holidays, the end of the year, Trump, sex trafficking, people dying everyday . . . life can seem like blanket of despair. It is a downer just thinking about it all, but you know what? We have a way out. One choice at a time.
Choose love over fear.
Choose kindness before snark.
Listen more, talk less.
Seek first to understand, then understood.
Drop competition, pick up collaboration.
Invite yourself to see the world from a new perspective.
People can change.
When we enter into a moment knowing that we are love, that we are worthy because that’s how the Divine made us, that we have everything we need — fear, greed and spite have no place in our lives.
We are all sacred, we need to believe and act accordingly.
We are all walking each other home.
Having someone to validate your ideas is always nice. Thank you Adam. Find your own Adam.
Renee is a part time essayist and full time mother, she lives in Illinois but her heart is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mindfulness is the heart of her parenting and writing at renee.love.