What are fight or flight instincts? Every time one feels fear, the natural impulse is to quickly weigh options and go in one direction or another. It is totally one’s choice which point on the continuum of Fight or Flight we will act or react. A continuum is similar to a number line. On one end is the Fight reaction. On the other end is the Flight reaction. Every time one feels fear, we either choose the option of Fight or we choose the option of Flight or somewhere in between.
For example, back in the Cave Man days, when a Cave Man heard a twig snap, he would quickly look around. He might say, “Phew! No big deal! It’s just a squirrel. Back to work!” And he goes back to doing whatever he was doing.
But let’s say that the Cave Man heard a twig snap again. He looks around. This time, he sees a Saber Tooth Tiger. The Cave Man says, “Awwwwww! It’s a Saber Tooth Tiger! What am I going to do? Do I try to fight it in some way, or do I run like crazy and try to get away?” The Cave Man must choose to either fight the Saber Tooth Tiger in some way or to escape from it in some way and hopefully live to tell the tale.
The fear and excitement feelings he is experiencing activates his Fight or Flight Instinct. Those fear and / or excitement feelings are simply your body giving you the energy to do a good job.
Fear and excitement causes the same feelings in your body
Think about a time when you were really scared. What part of your body did you feel those fear feelings? Most likely, you experienced those feelings beginning in your gut area. You might even describe them as those nervous butterfly feelings.
Now think about a time when you were really excited. Perhaps it was your birthday or you were about to go out on your first date with a new person. What part of your body did you experience those excitement feelings? Once again, you most likely felt those feelings beginning in your gut area. You might even describe them as those nervous butterfly feelings. Sound familiar?
It is extremely important to note that fear feelings and excitement feelings are exactly the same feeling in the pit of your stomach – your gut area. When we feel fear, it starts out by us getting an ache or that fluttery nervous butterfly feeling in the pit of our stomach. Then it may spread to other parts of the body and turn into our shoulders tensing, our teeth chattering, our hands and armpits sweating, our heart palpitating, and we may even urinate in our pants. Excitement feelings start out exactly the same way with that fluttery nervous butterfly feeling in the pit of our stomach.
The only difference between the two feelings is that the fear feelings cause one to say or think or feel, “Oh, no!” The excitement feelings cause one to say or think or feel, “Oh, boy!” Those feelings are our Fight or Flight Instinct kicking in. It is simply our body giving us the energy to do a good job.
All human beings possess this Fight or Flight Instinct when faced with fearful and exciting situations. All animals have it too. That instinct is that adrenaline rush feeling that gives you or others the energy they need to either fight, to persevere and try hard, or to escape.
Channel that fight or flight feeling to enhance your public speaking abilities
Are you a person who enjoys public speaking or do you fear it? Some people are blessed with feeling totally comfortable when they have to get up in front of others to tell a story or to give a speech or report of some kind. Other people would rather eat nails than have to be a public speaker.
If you are one of the ones who feel fear or anxiety as a public speaker, your Fight or Flight Instinct becomes activated. It is a very wonderful tool that you can use to help you do a good job.
Don’t allow yourself to be nervous by thinking, “Oh, no! I’m going to fail!” or “Oh, no! They’re going to laugh at me.” That will only serve to make you want to take the Flight option by refusing to perform or running away or even freezing-up when faced with that large audience. That option doesn’t serve you at all.
Instead, be your own personal cheerleader. Channel those feelings into that adrenaline rush feeling and tell yourself, “Oh, boy! I’m going to be great!” or “Oh, boy! They’re going to love me!” or “Oh, boy! I know I can do this!” This way, you have chosen to take the Fight option by Fighting to do the best job you possibly can. As a result, you may not be perfect, but you might be. Additionally, you really will do a much better job than you would have if you had chosen to put yourself down. Plus, it will feel like a whole lot more fun.
A way to harness a few moments of superhuman strength
Do you want to know one of the coolest parts about the Fight or Flight Instinct that we are all born with?
A little old lady could see her grandchild pinned underneath a car. Instantly, her Fight or Flight Instinct gets activated. She will get that adrenaline rush. This adrenaline rush can actually give her superhuman strength for a few seconds, long enough to allow her to lift up the car with one hand and pull out her grandchild with the other hand. Later on, she could come back to that same car and push and pull it with all her might and not be able to budge it even a quarter of an inch. If she takes time to think about it, it won’t work. It’s only that quick, reflexive adrenaline rush that gives her those few seconds of super human strength.
All of you possess that ability within you to have superhuman strength. You are so much more amazing than you know. You were all born with that Fight or Flight Instinct that you can utilize throughout your life.
Perhaps some of you can think of a time when you reacted quickly to save a pet or a child or a brother or sister, or you saw someone else do that. Perhaps they ran faster than they thought they were capable of to push someone out of the path of a car. Perhaps they were able to pull someone out of a hole or kept them from falling in a ditch or over the edge of a cliff. Perhaps you heard about a situation like that on the news or on that show called “It’s A Miracle” on PAX TV. Perhaps someone has used their own Fight or Flight Adrenaline Rush feelings to save you.
What goes on inside our bodies when we feel fearful?
What is really going on inside the body and mind of someone who is feeling that strong emotion of fear?
When someone feels fear, they are feeling vulnerable in some way. They are feeling lackful in some manner. They are afraid that they are not going to be able to handle the situation in a safe or face-saving way.
For example, let’s say that someone is trying to peer pressure you into smoking or drinking. They may even use some bullying-type tactics to get you to agree.
Inside of you, the recipient of this peer pressure or bullying, you are feeling fear or vulnerability. You may be afraid to say no because you are fearful that the person giving you negative peer pressure will say you are not cool. You may be afraid they will call you a goody-goody or a wimp or a wuss. In that case, you are feeling a sense of lack. You are feeling vulnerable and backed into a corner.
What you don’t realize is that often, the people offering the peer pressure, are feeling fear as well. They are afraid to be the only one doing the wrong thing; therefore, they feel the need to have other people do exactly what they are doing. This way, they will not be the only ones getting in trouble.
What is the best thing to do when we feel fearful?
What is the best thing to do when we suddenly find ourselves feeling that emotion of fear?
When somebody feels fear, they actually have three options from which to choose. Option #1 is to give in to the Fight instinct in some manner. Option #2 is to give in to the Flight instinct in some manner. Option #3 is to choose to Self-Mentor in some way.
If you wish to feel both empowered and powerful rather than powerless, choose option #3 by finding some way to self-mentor.
When people are afraid, they often find themselves getting kind of short of breath. So, Step One is to remember to breathe. That is an excellent way to Self-Mentor. Take a deep breath. Breathe deeply. Try this now. Take three deep breaths and notice what is happening inside your body. In all likelihood, you noticed your heart rate slowing down, your body may have felt lighter, your brain felt a greater sense of calm, and you felt more relaxed.
Have you ever watched a TV special on Self-Defense classes? In Self-Defense classes, one of the first things they teach is to remember to breathe. For example, let’s say that someone grabbed you from behind. You might get so startled and frightened that you find that you temporarily lose your ability to scream or call for help. What is the solution? Take a deep breath which will help you to visibly calm yourself down. Then from deep in your diaphragm, your lower stomach area, let out a whoop or let out a loud NO!
Another form of Self-Mentoring is to listen to your instincts and intuition. You could call this your inner wisdom. Albert Einstein says that we use less than ten percent (10%) of our brainpower. Therefore, that means that we have ninety percent (90%) of our brainpower still available for us to use. That little old grandmother used part of the 90% of her brainpower to have that few seconds of super human strength to save her beloved grandchild from the car. Geniuses tap into that 90% of their brainpower to accomplish whatever goals that they wish to accomplish. The good news is that you don’t have to be a genius to tap into that 90% of your brainpower. You simply have to get quiet and listen to your inner wisdom inside.
What are some other ways to self-mentor?
What are some other ways to Self-Mentor? You can give yourself a pep talk. You could talk things out with the other person with whom you have the conflict. You can find a trusted person to talk with like a family member, a favorite teacher, or a best friend. You can do something enjoyable to take your mind off the negative thoughts and feelings. You can sign up for Peer Mediation, if that option is available at your school. You could consult with a Guidance Counselor or Therapist.
Click this link to view stories, role-plays, and discussion questions created for class called 3 C’s: Conflict Resolution, Character Education, Communication Skills
- 3 C’s help you be bully free
5 Important Self Defense Moves For Women by Rebecca M. Jacobs
6 Steps for Self Defense by Bob Blackburn
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Tip #5 of 12 – Save Your Tears For A Safe Place To Avoid Being A Target For Bullies
Crying and venting sometimes feel necessary in order to release negative feelings; however, it is important that your child not allow a bully to witness those tears. Finding a private place to cry helps you to NOT become a target for a potential bully.
Tip #6 of 12 – Spend Time With Friends To Avoid Being A Target For Bullies
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Tip #7 of 12 – Practice Your Talents And Skills To Avoid Being A Target For Bullies
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Tip #8 of 12 – Tell An Adult You’re Being Bullied To Avoid Being A Continual Target For Bullies
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Tip #12 of 12 – Self-Mentor Rather Than Getting Revenge Is The Best Way To Deal With Bullies
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