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How to Fight Back the Human Instinct to Flee When You Panic

How to Fight Back the Human Instinct to Flee When You Panic
From Lifehack - December 15, 2017

In 2003, Aron Ralston went hiking alone in southeastern Utah. An experienced outdoorsman, the trail didnt seem to present any danger for him. Things were going well until he slipped, dislodged an 800-lb. boulder, and was pinned to the canyon wall by it. With limited supplies and no way to call for help, he realized that the only way hed leave the canyon alive was if he amputated his arm. Using a dull multi-tool and leverage, he managed to free himself after five days.1In 2003, Aron Ralston went hiking alone in southeastern Utah. An experienced outdoorsman, the trail didnt seem to present any danger for him. Things were going well until he slipped, dislodged an 800-lb. boulder, and was pinned to the canyon wall by it.With limited supplies and no way to call for help, he realized that the only way hed leave the canyon alive was if he amputated his arm. Using a dull multi-tool and leverage, he managed to free himself after five days.1

Aron could have lost his wits and died in the canyon. He had to be willing to fight for his life.

Wed all like to stay calm under pressure, but the reality is that some of us panic, while others among us have the drive to fight for what they want.

Fight or Flight Keeps Us Alive

When faced with challenges, people tend to panic. Our brains do everything they can to keep us alive. When were afraid, it sends us the signal to either fight or flee.

When you are afraid, your amygdala sets off a chain reaction in your brain.2 Your amygdala is responsible for making you fight or flee, and it can even play a part in self-defeating behaviors and resistance.3

When your amygdala perceives that youre in danger, it sends a distress message to your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus overrides the normal way your brain handles incoming information. It activates the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers what you feel when you are afraid.4

We usually respond to a distress signal by fighting or fleeing. When your survival is at stake, you react without thinking. Your brain either tells you to stay on the path and fight through it, or give up.

The Pitfall of Flight

When you are in physical danger, your flight response can save your life. Its not that flight is bad, but sometimes our brains tell us to flee in situations that arent life-threatening.

You may feel the urge to flee when you face something that seems overwhelming. You might tell yourself a negative story about how you wont succeed if you continue on your current path. With that mindset, failure is almost guaranteed. You dont believe that you can make it, so you wont.Flight can keep us from reaching our potential.

People who always choose flight give up quickly. At the first sign of a challenge, they jump to another task. This is the person who runs away from difficulties in their personal and professional lives because they dont think they can deal with them.

Make Fighting the Only Option

You may have the impulse to run away, but you can re-frame your thinking. Next time you panic over some challenge at work, choose to fight by telling yourself a positive story. Replace your negative self-talk with hopeful internal dialogue.

Even if your positive story doesnt end up being true, it can be enough to keep you going. People who beat the odds often do so by visualizing an excellent outcome. When you know that your intention is to keep going, it makes you more persistent and keeps you motivated. Hope carries people through the toughest times.

Fight Like Youre in a Video Game

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