Sometimes we have opportunities to recognize patterns in behavior that seem to always be disruptive to who we are or want to be. I recently discovered one particular pattern and learned that people operate with different levels of mental functioning.
For example, I found myself having to handle situations with anger when a more civilized approach was always preferred. I needed for this person to make decisions, plan ahead, use good judgment, address challenges and be responsive to avoid future conflicts. No matter how many attempts to change my behavior, I found myself conditioned to get angry to get any response from this very critical person in my life. In order to have this person respond I had to create chaos, anger and elicit unnecessary emotions. It was an obvious pattern to me and one I needed to try to understand and hopefully change.
My having a lot of experience with different people, handling conflict with others and working with children put this pattern in a very odd place for me. WHY do I need to resort to anger to get a necessary response from this one adult individual? Always wanting to avoid this pattern it seemed that nothing I tried with a civilized, calm, planned approach has ever worked with this person. So I set out to try to understand it and perhaps on this journey learn an approach that would substitute the anger and still be as effective.
When someone only operates on reflex it is very hard to accomplish much around them with a thoughtfully planned approach. I have always been a driven planner so living with this for as long as I have feels like nails on a chalk board.
Our Fight/flight/freeze skills were inborn for us to use during times of crisis or trauma. They are meant to help us survive a dangerous situation. There are events in our life that can prolong the need to use these skills becoming habit forming. For example a continuously ill child or a long drawn out stressful situation. If these events continue to trigger these problem solving techniques they can eventually become conditioned for daily use.
The biggest problem with it becoming a practice is that a healthy life can not be created with fight, flight or freeze skills. These three tools arent the best practice to achieve long term solutions and accomplish goals. The constant adrenaline and physical changes it creates can become the relied upon source for handling conflict. (Click below for more about the physical changes)
Fight, flight or freeze isnt intended for daily problem solving however some people only use this tool during all conflict situations. It becomes the most natural state we rely on that becomes the tool. Overuse creates extremely unhealthy functioning both physically and mentally. Too much reliance on this response to conflict prevents one from allowing high functioning skills to develop. For example Equanimity is a powerful tool one can use.
Feel free to read my blog on Gratitude and equanimity. As is everything in life...a practice can be habit forming. Knowing and understanding our patterns is the first step. Learning the tools to practice in life are the key to handling conflict, achieving long term solutions and goals. I am still learning to practice equanimity. Trust me...it is not always easy.
click here for physical reaction
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