How Do I Change My Flight Reflex to a Fight Reflex?

Someone on Quora had asked me:

“How do I change my flight reflex to a fight reflex? I am squeamish: I tend to give up when confronting a dilemma, and I don’t want to hurt anyone. How do I develop a healthy fight response? Winning attitude – How do I develop a winning attitude?”

This is how I responded:

I think what is going on here is that when you are faced with adversity, you want to know how to overcome it, instead of repressing back and hiding. Correct?

It’s kind of hard to do, especially if you’re naturally the type of person who enters flight by nature. It is a lot easier to avoid conflict, than to overcome it.

It takes some creativity to really master this. A lot of practice as well. What we have to work on is thinking of solutions to the problems that arise, without saying anything that is offensive. It takes a lot of creative thinking to really figure this out, backed with some wit. Also, we have to make sure to not come across as sarcastic, as that is quite easy to do.

Also, we have to not let the attack affect us. Because, then we just feel sad and hopeless. I know when I get attacked, I usually think over the words they say, wondering if it really is true or not. I wonder what other people think when they go off and tell them about these things too. Then I get sad and want to hide under my covers.

I’m a coward sometimes. However, I try to do what I can to be brave. I grew up facing adversity my whole life. Luckily, I had grandparents who loved me to death. But when I was at school, I would always have people hold their eyes out mocking me, or say things like ching chong chang. As I grew older, the attacks were less upon my culture, but more upon who I was. I was this nerd who kept to himself after all. As socially awkward as it gets. All of it really hurt. A lot.

As I grew older, I kind of knew that I would always be picked on, so I thought of witty responses. Then, as time went by, I started attacking other people and responding with things that made them feel stupid. I guess I used personal attacks to respond back with an even more personal attack, but it was so true to the core, that it made people hate me.

Eventually, I stopped doing that and started to try to ignore them. It was hard and didn’t work out too well for me. I’m just the type of person who has to respond, at least most of the time. Now, what I do is I try my best to smile, and say, “Thank you, I appreciate that you pointed this out for me.” If I can, I’ll even give them a hug.

I found that people tend to make attacks because they tend to find joy off the reaction they cause. By creating a reaction that is completely unexpected, I tend to find that these people just move on to their next victim. Sure, they might say you’re crazy to other people, but they won’t call you crazy to your face anymore.

It’s better to share love and joy, instead of getting into a battle you can’t win. Even if you do win, it won’t feel good. Maybe temporarily, but then it’s not worth it. It really isn’t worth selling yourself short, just to attack back someone else.

I used to listen to a lot of Anthony Robbins. He talks about this thing called a pattern interrupt. When he would do therapy with people, and they got in the middle of a sad story, he would just say something completely off, like, “Are you hungry?” They say huh? It interrupts the pattern of what they want to say, so then the pain dissipates. This allows him to do therapy a lot better and get to the root issue of the problem. A smile is a great pattern interrupt, especially since their intended reaction is for you to feel bad.

Just know, deep down, people love you and they always will. There is just this one person who is grumpy about life, maybe because their cat died, they were picked on their whole lives, or they are just an unhappy person because of some tragic event in the past. We can’t change that. All we can do is prevent them from continuing their actions.


Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.

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