How to defeat the fight or flight reaction and be happy instead

Lois was under enormous stress. Stress causes humans to desire to either get away from the situation or to beat it into submission. Fight or flight, we call it. When thinking about where she wanted to be, she could not come up with anything more productive than punching Clark or running off.

When stress has you stuck, it may help to think about where you don’t want to be. She did not want to be stuck in a life-sucking relationship. Nor did she want to spend another week in that depressing town.

Life is too short to hate your circumstances, but few people seem to believe they have choices. Let me be clear: you have choices. You also have fears that cause stress and prevent your brain from seeing your choices.

Lois eventually found her path by deciding where she wanted to be. And you realize that meant taking action.

Two possible actions include fighting and flying away. I'm not sure about this, but those two may be the only actions one can take besides "sit there and take it," which is action via inaction and terribly depressing, don't you agree? 

The problem with fight or flight is that we so often wish we'd done something other than fight; when we're being booked for assault, for instance. And we wish we'd done something other than run off when that face in the mirror screams, "COWARD!" back at us. 

To get a better path, like Lois did, do a couple things. (1) Accept responsibility for getting in the place you find yourself. Resist with all that is in you the temptation to blame anyone else. (2) Ask yourself if you have some limiting belief that gets you into spots you'd rather not be in. For instance, many of my clients find they struggle to take the next step toward a big dream because they've told themselves a lie (often since childhood) that goes something like, "I am stupid/do not deserve/am not worthy/always fall short of the goal/always come in second." 

Limiting beliefs are powerful emotional hooks--realities that result from years of developing negative neural pathways. (This is why we must accept responsibility for our situation.) People often train their brains to believe the illogical ruminations that began as emotional pain in childhood. A kid's mom pops off and the rest of her life, she believes she's worthless. A dad thinks he's pushing his son by always demanding more and the kid believes he isn't up to the challenges life offers (this was my personal lie, by the way).  

Holding limiting beliefs happens more than you'd imagine. I have found only one client out of over 3,000 who did not seem to have a limiting belief, and he was a bonafide narcissist. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure that if you're sane, and you have not taken steps to break it, you hold some kind of limiting belief. But I could be wrong.

If you do hold one, you can let it go. Drop the negative thought by calling it a lie as soon as it enters your mind. Arrest it and toss it out.

Don't stop there. Replace negative neural pathways with positive thought-paths.

It takes about six months to build a new neural pathway. if you wait three months to start, it will still take six months, so get started.

Say something positive about yourself that counteracts your limiting belief. Think your second best? Tell yourself one hundred times per day, "I am smart" (relax, it only takes five minutes). 

Two conditions. You have to believe it and you have to feel safe while saying it. if you're not safe, get somewhere safe as fast as you can. If you don't believe it, start with a pleasant memory of a time when you did something very well that you do believe. Some award you won, obstacle you overcame, something positive--hold onto that as a believable example of a time you won and remind yourself of it. 

Eventually, you will feel less like fighting or running away. Really, you'll just find yourself in position to want to run away or duke it out a lot less often. Instead, you will be happy.