Are You Living in Fight or Flight?

For many of us, when we are practicing and things get hairy, we unknowingly slip into survival mode and our days are spent living in fight or flight. We lose touch with our rational thinking and have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. We are convinced that there are no solutions available to us and we just want to keep our heads above water. We are surrounded by a negative cloud and we tend to believe the worst case scenario is waiting for us around any corner.

We can’t ask for what we want because everyone will judge us.

They will pull work from us if we complain.

They will say we’re not partner material.

They will fire us.

It will never change.

There’s no point speaking up.

They’re never going to let me lighten my workload.

That’s just the way it is.

There is no fixing it.

While all of this thinking could certainly be true, when we are living in fight or flight mode, flitting from project to project just trying to make it through the day, we start to believe that all of those statements are factual. We start to believe that those are the only truths available to us.

When we are living in fight or flight, our brain operates from negativity bias.

It sees everything on the horizon as an animal that is ready to kill us and it sees any deviation from the norm as a high risk. For these reasons, it becomes very difficult for us to realize that all of those statements, while they could be true, the opposite could also be true. It becomes very difficult for us to see that we are only looking at one possible outcome.

This is why so many of us just. keep. going. hoping that someday it will change.

We forget that we cannot tell the future and that while the worst case scenario could certainly happen, the best case scenario is also equally possible. When we are in the middle of a crisis at work feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, it is very difficult to generate any feelings other than resignation and hopelessness. It’s no wonder it feels like an impossible task to make changes or to ask for what we want.

Our brain is not wired to look for positive potential outcomes when it is fighting to survive!

When we find ourselves overwhelmed by negativity and overcome by the challenges before us, the only thing we can do is watch our survival brain at work. Watch our brain convince us that the worst case scenario is the only possible outcome and recognize that our brain is not offering us any other alternatives but to just keep going. This awareness can be all it takes to raise us out of the negativity overwhelm back to a neutral state where we can make clear-headed and unbiased decisions. We have to recognize what our brain is doing and realize that what it is offering to us is only 1/2 of the possibilities before us.


Many of my clients put in the work to shift out of panicked, fight or flight practicing to create a strategic path toward balance and clarity. If you want to stop drinking from the fire hose and take back your own agency, join us. This work changes everything.


Once we start seeing that there is, in fact, more than one potential outcome, and more than one path forward, we take back our power. From that space we can start to see and evaluate clearly the options ahead of us. At the same time we move out of victim mentality and stop believing that everything is happening to us and recognize our own power in the moment. We can choose to believe that things just might work out, that we can use our voice, live authentically and just maybe everything will be okay.

(Because drinking from the firehouse day in and day out never ends well for anyone. )


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