Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn?
Understanding Women’s Unique Coping Mechanisms
When we think of stress, “fight or flight” is normally what comes to mind.
But what happens when neither of those options feels like an option?
There are two lesser known responses that women, in particular, demonstrate when under stress.
Have you ever found yourself feeling paralyzed or disconnected during a stressful situation?
It’s that “deer in the headlights” reaction which means you’re exhibiting the “freeze” stress response. And while it's not as well-known as fight or flight, it's a common reaction for women and children.
We're often taught to keep our emotions in check and put others' needs before our own and to be strong, brave and put-together, even in times of stress
This is the “fawn” stress response which is a coping mechanism that’s often ingrained from a young age. It’s a reaction that involves hiding your true emotions and presenting a calm exterior, pretending everything’s ok - and while this can be a useful skill, it often leads to “people pleasing” and suppressing ourselves.
Why is this important to know and understand for your female clients?
If your client experienced any sort of trauma as a young child, when they were still operating mostly unconsciously as they were learning, growing and developing in the world, and were put in a situation that they were not mentally, emotionally or physically able to handle, they would have experienced the “freeze” stress response.
In that split-second moment, the front part of their brain would have shut down and because they were so young (and “under-developed"), they would have made “assumptions” about themselves, others and the world. It’s like if they were a butterfly and forced out of the cocoon before they were ready and had to find a way to survive.
These assumptions became their deep, ingrained “truths” imprinted into their unconscious programming that shaped every thought, decision and behaviour from that moment on.
What does that all mean?
It means that their self-doubt, lack of confidence, and feelings of unworthiness (that are the real reasons why they don’t follow through with things and get the results that you know they could), are so deeply entrenched that simply doing affirmations or changing a belief is not going to be enough.
Even if they didn’t have anything traumatic happen (and trauma doesn’t just mean verbal, physical or mental abuse - it can also come from an accident, loss, health problems, rejection or being excluded), the science of Epigenetics is proving that we are inheriting past stresses and traumas from previous generations that then play out in our lives when we’re triggered. This is why we don’t understand why we feel the way we feel because there’s not a big significant event that we can link it back to, to "logically" make sense of it all.
When you have the right tools that are specifically designed for women, the story and how we came to feel or believe the things that are keeping us stuck and sabotaging our lives, are just the story and don’t need to be understood or justified.
I spent decades trying to understand “why” I felt not good enough despite having a wonderful childhood and never wanting for anything.
It didn’t make sense that I would feel that way, and so I resigned myself to having to live a life where I was never truly happy.
Thankfully I didn’t fully give up and my deep desire for happiness prevailed and today I know that I’m good enough, in every cell of my being, as sure as I know my own name and never have to “convince” myself otherwise.
Get to know your clients “go to” stress response:
Love to face things head on
Isn’t afraid to speak up and doesn’t back away from confrontation
Can be quite aggressive in their behaviour and inadvertently push people away
Flight / Flee
Withdraws and hides
Will avoid people and situations at all costs
Can be quite highly strung and anxious
“Deer in the headlights” reaction
Inability to speak or act
Can feel helpless and hopeless
Extreme “people pleasing” putting others needs ahead of their own to the detriment of themselves
Can become submissive
Can feel inferior
When you do, you’ll be better able to help her by understanding the deeply ingrained patterns and cycles that will cause the sabotage and stop her from achieving the results from your program, that she desperately wants, and you want for her.
It will show you the mindset barriers that need to be addressed FIRST, so that the “doing” part becomes easy.
Interested in becoming accredited in the same process I use, so you can offer that service to your clients?
click this button to book a call with me