OPTION TO FLIGHT OR FIGHT

September 23 , 2021 /

OPTION TO FLIGHT OR FIGHT

Years ago I developed a little scheme for helping people to deal with that I called, reactive emotions that usually got them nowhere, except mired in their own misery.  I offered another option. Imagine someone making a snide remark or remember the last time someone said something to you that prompted an immediate, spontaneous “fight or flight” response. For example, someone calls you by name and says, “_______, you know what?  You’re a jerk!”  Your immediate, reactive response is often prompted one of two spontaneous emotions. Either you feel hurt, go silent and withdraw, choose not to respond, OR you respond with an equal or stronger comment such as “Look who’s calling who a jerk, you stupid, silly person!”  Flight or fight.
  There is a third possibility but it has to be conscious and intentional and it’s this.  You could respond by saying, “That’s interesting. Tell me why you think that.”   You might say, “That’s all well and good but it’s not in our nature to respond that way.”  And, you’re right.  It’s not.  We have to take control and put it there.  Then both the conversation and the relationship may continue, if that’s your desired intention.  If that is not your wish and you want it to end right there, that’s also a choice but we seldom think of this scene involving choices because the emotions rule out conscious and intentional choice.  Albert Ellis, who died in 2007, developed a school of psychotherapy in 1955 called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy based on using rational thought as a mediator to emotional response. Try it sometime as an experiment and see what happens.

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