Fight or Flight Print #5
"Fight or Flight IV"
The Summer 2019 Fight or Flight digital drawing series came out of my love for the human psyche and a recent experience…
Throughout my entire life, I’ve been an emotional person. I was raised that it was a good thing, that I felt my feelings to the extreme and that was a beautiful thing. As an adult for the last 10+ years, I’ve taught myself how to self regulate negative feelings. It’s not the coolest thing to cry at the drop of a hat when your feelings are hurt in the real life adult world. As we all are, I’m a constant work in progress. Every day has it’s ups and downs but it’s how we respond to that fearfulness that’s everything.
In college I double-majored in Studio Art and Psychology. While I love a good “Hidden Brain” NPR podcast episode, I hadn’t necessarily studied psychology articles in years. When I had an emotional tiff with someone a few months ago, I asked myself this -
What is it that makes some people fly away and retreat from something negative while others lean in, fighting to the death, giving it everything they’ve got? Fight or Flight. We’re not running from saber toothed tigers anymore, so it’s a more psychological than physical response of our everyday stressors. Basically boiling it down to emotional regulation and emotional reactivity, which is either prone to anxiety and / or aggression.
My challenge to myself and to you is the next time you’re faced with fear, what will you choose? Will you self regulate? If you’re naturally a fleeing personality, will you stay and lean in and stand your ground? If you’re typically more aggressive and prone to fight, will you decide to walk away instead of having the last say? We have a choice to grow every day.
I’ll leave you with some nerdyness I came upon…
“By recognizing the symptoms and signs of being in fight or flight, we can begin to take steps to handle the stress overload. There are benefits to being in fight or flight—even when the threat is only psychological rather than physical. For example, in times of emotional jeopardy, the fight or flight response can sharpen our mental acuity, thereby helping us deal decisively with issues, moving us to action. But it can also make us hyper vigilant and over-reactive during times when a state of calm awareness is more productive. By learning to recognize the signals of fight or flight activation, we can avoid reacting excessively to events and fears that are not life threatening. In so doing, we can play "emotional judo" with our fight or flight response, "using" its energy to help us rather than harm us. We can borrow the beneficial effects (heightened awareness, mental acuity and the ability to tolerate excess pain) in order to change our emotional environment and deal productively with our fears, thoughts and potential dangers.” - Dr. Neil, MD., "The Body Soul Connection"