or Loving Action
by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
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Flight, or Loving Action
Fight or flight
- our automatic response to danger. When fear is present, adrenaline
pours into our system to prepare us to fight or flee - from the
tiger, the bear, the lava from the volcanoĖ.
Fight or flight
- today we automatically respond this way to the present dangers,
the deep fears that come up in relationships: rejection and engulfment
- fears of loss of other and loss of self.
we feel rejected and fear the loss of the other, we fight for love
not to go away by defending, explaining, blaming, attacking, complying,
fixing, or we flee through withdrawal. Often, when we feel engulfed
and fear losing ourselves through being controlled by another, we
flee through resistance or withdrawal, or fight by attacking, defending,
or explaining. Just as our ancestors fought or fled from physical
danger, we fight and flee from emotional danger. The problem is
that, while fight or flight is appropriate in the face of physical
danger, this same behavior in the face of emotional fear causes
deep problems in relationships.
When we respond
automatically to the fears of losing ourselves and losing another,
we behave in the very ways that create fear in the other. Our fight
or flight reactions create fear in the other person - the same fears
of losing themselves or losing us. Our fighting and fleeing activates
othersí fear of rejection and engulfment, creating a vicious circle
of fighting and fleeing.
automatic reactions to emotional danger were learned long ago, when
we were very small and had to rely on fight or flight as part of
our survival. Today they are now longer necessary for our survival,
and need to be replaced with loving actions toward ourselves and
What does it
mean to take loving action in the face of anotherís fight or flight
behavior? Where do we get the role modeling for what it looks like
to take loving action in the face of anotherís unloving behavior?
Most of us had parents who did not role model loving action in the
face of conflict. We have not seen much of it on TV or in movies.
How do we learn to take loving action in our own behalf when in
conflict with another - action that takes care of ourselves without
violating or threatening another?
This role modeling
exists in the form of our spiritual Guidance. Tapping into this
Guidance is not as hard as you may think - it just takes practice
and a deep desire to move out of fight or flight and into loving
The steps we
can take to move out of automatic fight or flight and into loving
1. Start to
attend to your feelings, the physical sensations within your body
that let you know when you are anxious or afraid.
2. Stop and
breathe when you feel fear or anxiety in the face of conflict, or
in the face of anotherís fight or flight behavior. Give yourself
some breathing time to make a conscious decision rather than go
on automatic pilot.
3. Open to learning
with the source of spiritual Guidance that is always here for all
of us by asking with a sincere desire to know, ďWhat is the loving
action? What is in my highest good and the highest good of the other?Ē
Asking this question with a deep desire to learn opens the door
to receiving information. It does not matter whether you are asking
this of your own highest self within, or from an external source
of wisdom. The information will come in the form of words, pictures,
or feelings when you sincerely want to be loving to yourself and
4. Take action
on the information you receive.
loving action are:
1. Move into
compassion for the other person, recognizing that he or she would
not be in fight or flight without being in fear. Asking the other
person, again from a deep desire to learn, what he or she is afraid
of that is causing this behavior may de-escalate the situation and
lead to understanding and healing.
2. If the other
person is not open to calm discussion and exploration of the conflict,
disengage from the interaction, speaking your truth without anger
or blame. For example, you might say, ďI donít want to fight with
you. Iím going to take a walk and letís try to talk about it later.Ē
Or, ďThis isnít feeling good between us. Letís take a break and
get together later.Ē
3. If the other
person has withdrawn from you, loving action may be to do something
fun or nurturing for yourself.
and learning together or taking some time apart to reflect on the
issues or self-nurture will break the cycle of each person going
into fight or flight in reaction to the other personís fight or
flight. It takes conscious practice to stop going into automatic
behavior, but the payoff is well worth the time it takes to practice
Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books,
including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" She is the
co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn
Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course:
or email her at:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone sessions available.
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