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Fight, Flight, Freeze, Relax, Focus, Flow

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Our first response to danger is most often to do nothing. When we develop a sense of “learned helplessness” with regard to a specific life situation, our minds go into screen-saver mode, and we freeze our actions. Although this may be of some benefit to animals avoiding a predator, it comes with a hefty cost when it shows up in our daily lives.

Doing nothing will only give us more of what is already here. If that is not something that we want, we are bound to get more of it. This is, in the words of Frank Herbert: “The little death that brings to total obliteration.” We are playing dead, hoping that the danger will pass. In most of life’s challenges, however, not to decide is to decide. When we freeze in fear, we are selecting the option with the least power of all. Like a centipede curled up in its self-protection mode, we have neither mobility nor intelligence.

When you continue on in a career, relationship or living situation that is not beneficial to you, regardless of how your ego defines it in terms of excuses, you are frozen in fear. Afraid to change because you are concerned that what you may experience as a result of the change will be worse than your current situation, you keep things as they are. When you take this path, you are not living as our true self. That nagging feeling of unhappiness that you keep blaming on other things is your inner intelligence telling you that it is time for something new; time to break the inertia of the past and boldly go into novel undertakings.

Yes, change is dangerous, and yes, it is scary. The cost of not changing something that needs to change is, however, far more dangerous for your spirit. Your true self calls to you every day, perhaps in the form of depression, perhaps through some other negative emotion. Either way, it is essential that you wake up from your belief that you are unempowered to do anything different and step forward into the spotlight of new possibilities.

When we break free of the bonds of frozen habitual patterns of behavior that have not been bringing us to joy, the feeling is incredible. Nothing else comes close. The sense of relief that washes over us at this turning point, this epiphany, is the most wonderful feeling of all. It gives meaning to the circumstances that gave birth to the drive to change, and when we look back at the prison cells that we once locked ourselves in, we are thankful for them. The longer the imprisonment and the tighter the shackles, the more we love and appreciate our freedom.

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