Most of us have heard of the fight, flight, or freeze response. For anyone not familiar with these words, they are the survival responses that have been wired into our deepest parts, physically, mentally, emotionally, in order to survive the tiger running at us. It tends to be a burst of Adrenaline and Cortisal, that motivates you to action, (fight or flight) or floods you so much that you are frozen in fear. Fast forward 10,000 years, we don’t have so many tigers, but our brains and bodies still retain this strategy for survival. And, since the world is filled with modern day threats, poor drivers, scary husbands, scary wives, scary neighbors, or kids, and we still use the fight, flight or freeze, in order to make it through the day.
In the brain, several items are crucial to understand. Our brain wants to create connections and habits. There are PET scans of brains learning new information and the amounts of glucose and energy required are huge. So, it benefits the mind and body to habitualize reactions and responses, to be efficient. This is great if the reaction and response is an effective one, but when we have habitualized ineffective reactions and responses, we may have a problem.
One of the benefits that relationships offer us, is an opportunity to learn to manage these fight, flight, or freeze reactions. Because, nothing triggers these responses like someone we love, pissing us off. And, for most of us, we tend not to feel like flight or freeze, but rather, ‘bring it on… let’s rumble.”
So, how do we calm ourselves before we get to rumbling. Well, the newest info is that we need to start paying attention. Awareness is a key. Questions to start to pay attention to are: How is my body feeling? Am I feeling tense or tight anywhere? How is my breathing, slow and deep or fast and shallow? What am I thinking? “Fuck you you fucking fuck…” or something calmer? All these signs can tell us if we’re heading into a meltdown.
First thing if you find yourself heading down the road of a rage is to take a break. Work on breathing, HeartMath is a technique that can help. In the world of the brain, practice makes perfect, so don’t wait till your about to flip your lid. In short HeartMath uses a Freeze Frame model. Think of a stressful situation, recognize the feelings in your body. Then shift your attention away from the stress towards something fun or calming. Imagine you are breathing through your heart. Practice this daily. Repeat as often as you need to, to create a new response and to build your brain’s ‘walk away muscles.”