Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

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What is the Antidote to the Fight-Flight-Freeze-Fawn

No matter how much we might try and avoid difficulties and pain, the path of living involves not just the joyful and pleasant, but the painful and unpleasant problems as well. 

Have you noticed that avoiding what might be in the path of your life can create resistance that shows up in anxiety, insomnia, and body tension?

There is always a place for escaping, for enjoying simple pleasures or Netflix for a while. 

But what if we could look at our difficulties as not only things to overcome, but a pathway to deeper freedom?

True freedom is the capacity to work with the difficult emotions as well as embrace the easy ones. 

Firstly notice: What is your reactive pattern to stress? Is it to fight, to get the hell out, to freeze and become paralyzed or to ease and appease (fawn, aka people-pleasing)?

Once you can see it, you have an opportunity not to be it. 

Now you have to replace an old pattern with a new one, one that feels better, more empowering, more open and less restrictive. 

This is a muscle you can build. It is the muscle of staying present. Not necessarily staying present in a difficult situation, but present to what is happening in you and around you. 

From here, new doors can open, new responses can arise when we step out of habit and into presence. 

Presence is not only the antidote to stress but can transform the way you respond to all difficulties.

Change always starts with awareness.  You can use these questions to get honest and reflect on your difficulty with presence: 

  1. What is my present reaction to the difficulty or the person?
  2. How has this helped or not helped the situation?
  3. What is it exactly that I am reacting to? Is it something deeper that gets triggered in me?
  4. Is there something here I can let go of controlling?
  5. What would it look like to stay present with the truth (the facts) of what is happening without my judgement of it?
  6. How can I bring compassion to all of me here?

And lastly: 

How can I see the other person as someone who also has a tender heart, just like me, and move toward the situation in a way that will free us both?

Presence always leads to compassion in the end. Sometimes I think it is compassion itself.  I have never seen anyone not arrive at this place, although sometimes it can take a few times, or a few years.

I hope this blog finds you well and helps you to move through any difficulties that have arisen in your life where ever and however you are.

Speaking of life, here is the latest question I am asking myself and others as as guiding light to bring you closer towards what is healthy and good:

“What makes you feel alive?”

I’d love to hear your answers.

Take care,

Madeleine

5 thoughts on “What is the Antidote to the Fight-Flight-Freeze-Fawn”

  1. Learning that even at 56 years of age, finding myself and liking the person in the mirror makes me feel alive.

    Reply
  2. When I sit down and practice my piano pieces. My daily impression of myself rests on the time I spend on my piano — walking outdoors up the hill. Two things that make me really feel I’m alive!

    Reply

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