Personal Growth

Growth Strategy: #40 Fight, Freeze or Flight

Personal Growth

Growth Strategy: #40 Fight, Freeze or Flight

Personal Growth

Growth Strategy: #40 Fight, Freeze or Flight

1 Feb 2024

Life's unpredictable nature often thrusts us into situations that trigger our most primal reactions: fight, flight, or freeze. Understanding these responses and learning how to navigate them can mean the difference between stagnation and transformation.

The focus this week is on dissecting these responses to adversity, providing you with insights and strategies to not only cope with crises but to emerge stronger and more capable. It's not just about survival; it's about leveraging these instincts to foster resilience and achieve personal growth.

Good for: Being aware of how you deal with challenges and crises

Best used by: You

I've been through my share of crises, each teaching me invaluable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and the profound strength of the human spirit. Reflecting on my journey, I recall a particularly challenging period when I had to decide to close my first business, with little income throwing me into the depths of uncertainty.

Initially, I found myself in the freeze state, overwhelmed by the sudden change and buried my head in the ground. However, I realised that this pause, albeit uncomfortable, offered me a moment of clarity. It was in this stillness that I discovered the courage to embrace the fight response, not through confrontation but by confronting my fears and actively seeking solutions.

I ended up closing the business, however, this opened up the possibility for new and more fruitful opportunities. This experience taught me the power of resilience and the importance of embracing each response as a step towards growth.

It underscored the essence of my coaching philosophy: crisis can indeed become a catalyst for growth, transforming challenges into opportunities for personal and professional development.

Here are the key differences and pros and cons of each approach.

The 'fight' response is characterised by confronting the crisis head-on, channelling one's energy and resources towards facing the challenge directly. It is particularly beneficial when facing challenges that require direct confrontation or action to overcome. It's about harnessing your inner strength and resilience to address the problem head-on.

Pros: This approach can lead to empowerment and resilience, as actively engaging with the problem often results in growth and learning.

Cons: It may also escalate conflict or stress if not managed wisely, leading to burnout or adverse outcomes.

The 'flight' response involves withdrawing from the crisis, seeking safety or avoidance as a means to protect oneself, in circumstances where the threat is overwhelming or when there's little to be gained from confrontation. It allows you to disengage, regroup, and perhaps approach the situation from a different angle or with a fresh perspective.

Pros: It can provide the necessary distance to reassess and approach the situation with a new perspective or strategy.

Cons: Avoidance can result in missed opportunities for growth and resolution, potentially leading to a pattern of evasion.

The 'freeze' response is a state of paralysis in the face of crisis, where an individual feels overwhelmed and unable to act. It offers a moment of pause, a breathing space in which to assess the situation fully before making a decision, but can also lead to procrastination.

Pros: This pause can sometimes prevent rash decisions, allowing time for more information to emerge.

Cons: Prolonged inaction can exacerbate the situation, leading to feelings of helplessness and stuckness.

I believe understanding our responses to a crisis is pivotal in dealing with life's challenges. Each of these responses has its appropriate time and place, serving as a testament to our innate survival mechanisms.

Recognising which state you're in at any given moment can be incredibly empowering, offering a lens through which to view your reactions and next steps.

Imagine you're facing a crisis at work or in your business—perhaps a major project failure or conflict with a colleague. How you respond can significantly impact your personal and professional growth.

This awareness is a cornerstone of resilience, enabling you to meet life's challenges with agility and strength, and ultimately, to emerge from adversity stronger and more equipped to face the future.

If you've enjoyed this insight and wish to explore more, subscribe for weekly growth strategies.

Remember you can find more reflections and thought-provoking questions like this on the Reevew personal growth toolkit at

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Reevew is part of SFE Group Crown Hse,

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© 2024 All rights reserved. Reevew is part of SFE Group Crown Hse, 27 Gloucester St, London, WC1N 3AX