The Seven F’s: Fight, Flight, Freeze, Faint, Fun, Fix and F@*%
Our teachers in school told us that humans only have two responses to stress (fight or flight). But, I consider that there are actually seven! I’ll list what I think they are and then I’ll elaborate on just the last one.
To “Fight” would be meeting opposition with opposition. For example, yelling back / lashing out at someone when surprised or offended. (“Well, I think you’re a jerk!”) Sometimes it can take the form of “building a case” verbally against another person.
A “Flight” is to run away, to abandon the field or to “bail”. The acronym “FEAR” relates to the phrase “F#%* Everything And Run” (or it can refer to the opposite choice of “Face Everything And Recover”, which would relate to my last “F”).
To “Freeze” is to become emotionally paralyzed. As in not knowing what to do next and so doing nothing. This can occur when we have too many choices to sort out easily and so become “stuck” in indecision. It can also occur when we are re-traumatized by an event.
To “Faint” is to collapse into self-pity or apologizing/ whining. We’ve all seen the person who blames others or external circumstances to validate why they can’t take action for themselves. They may simply isolate and withdraw from conflict as well.
What I mean by “Fun” is to respond to interpersonal stress by joking or otherwise making light of something that is worthy of honest attention and dignity. This type of relationship avoidance can feel very dishonoring.
I apply the term “Fix” for the response of immediately trying to make you and/or others feel better. This person views the situation or emotion as a problem to which reasoning or an immediate offering of some type can quickly resolve. This person is often an “advice-giver”.
Lastly, to “Fuck” (for the purpose of this article) is to engage life on life’s terms, to dive in and “go for it”. You would have the attitude of “let’s wrestle with our difficulty and engage what’s real and penetrate the center of what is happening”. “Let’s play in possibility and embrace what is” is another attitude example.
When strong emotions arise there is a purity of need under the outward expression. In compassionate communication we try and identify the need of the other person in order to reach empathy for them within ourselves. We are connected to other people by our needs and that engagement fosters understanding. Feeling our own needs and reaching for connection is an evolved way of living a hero’s journey.
The first five responses are symptomatic of being “off” or not connected with my own center. Ideally, I would rather center myself (connect inwardly) because I want to act in congruence with my core values, my essence who I really am and I want to show up for my partner and myself as integrated with my values. As I gain in skill this connecting happens more and more rapidly.
I also do want my woman bring me her pain so I can feel her. Her feeling less than happy is need-to-know information for me. I can dig down into myself and feel her beautiful need and connect with her / dance with her struggle. We learn about our power and our own essence by doing this.
So next time there is relationship tension observe your response and see if you can shift into a willingness to engage and embrace what is up. Be fearless and honest with yourself. Perhaps you’ll end up sexualizing the issue? As long as it is making love with the texture of what’s real rather than a palliative effort. Surprise your partner and go for it!