We don’t like the fight or flight response!
We agree with it and we see it in action everyday, however, knowing about it doesn’t change anything! You still get anxious emotions, the anxiety disorder still stops you from doing things, you still beat yourself up (in your mind) because you say “Even though I know about the fight or flight response, why can’t I shake off this anxiety and depression?“
Knowing about how the Autonomic Nervous System learned to keep mammals safe hundreds and thousands of years ago, does little to answer the common questions asked by people with anxious feelings and over-whelming emotional reactions, questions like:
- Why did I get this?
- How can I stop the panic attacks?
- How can I silence my racing mind?
- How do I stop the fight or flight response firing off to silly things?
- Why am I exhausted all the time?
- Will the anxiety ever end?
What is the fight or flight response?
Try to do this… Try and consciously make your heart beat faster….. No, most people can’t make it happen! However, when you get anxious it does beat faster, therefore, the part of you that is controlling your heartbeat is unconscious – indeed it is, it is controlled by our Unconscious Nervous System or Autonomic Nervous System.
It is this “other than conscious” part of you that is millions of years old and just tries to keep you alive and safe, and, on the whole, it does it brilliantly, you just digest your food without thinking about it, you repair wounds, fight infection, breathe, and generally stay alive without even considering it. Yet we still feel that our conscious thinking mind is in control, that it us our thinking mind that is “us” well, it’s not, that is just something called your ego – which worries about things “out there” and has no control over “things in here”.
We are not going to go into much depth on what this acute anxiety response is, because there are thousands of websites that detail the symptoms and discuss the chemistry and physiological ways the body respond to it. The head line summary is:
From a caveman perspective – our central nervous system goes into auto-pilot when we face danger, the 3 main choices we had back then were to fight our way out, freeze and hope we are not see, and finally, to run away, therefore, the body (in milliseconds) primes us for any of those actions by flooding us with chemicals and doing sensible internal jiggery-pokery to enhance our chances of survival.
Because we mammals learned to do this before we had the capacity to talk, the language the body uses to inform us and help us to decide which action is best is our emotions – that’s why you can’t think yourself out of anxious feelings! If you would like to know more about how the body responds to stress you can read more about these symptoms of the fight or flight response here….
These old instinctual responses still fire off today, however, our unconscious gets a little confused about what danger is – is it a lion stalking us or our boss telling us off?
A new way of looking at this autonomic acute stress response
If you want to explore this fight or flight response (sometimes called the fight, flight or freeze) fighting or fleeing concept in terms or overcoming anxiety and regaining control over your emotions, it makes sense to change the context a little – we think this description outlines it well.
Your instincts (gut feelings) automatically guide you towards things that are good for you and away from things that are bad for you – and this happens from a survival / animal perspective and is communicated to you via the agitation of your internal organs (not thoughts) – all of this happens unconsciously – although your conscious mind thinks it can control this (it can’t) – and unknowingly makes things worse!
Working with your fight or flight response
As you work through the Calmness in Mind Anxiety & Depression Treatment Program you will be taught how you work at a biological, psychological and physiological level, with this new understanding you are shown how to interrupt anxiety and panic – then you are taken through a sensible and logical process that gently removes the barriers that were agitating your emotions. We teach you how to rewire your brain and phase out unwanted emotional reactions and replace them with a whole range of more self-respectful thoughts and emotions.
This journey of personal growth and self development pulls you out of anxious emotions, increases your self-worth and confidence and gently moves you to a place of calmness, confidence and motivation to start living life again in a new and empowered way.
You can delay – or you can start taking control of your fight or flight response today – it’s up to you really!