When faced with a threatening situation do you run the opposite direction or is it full steam ahead no matter what the cost? This response is known as fight or flight.
The fight-of-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, refers to a psychological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The fight-or-flight response was first described in the 1920’s by American physiologist Walter Cannon. Cannon realized that a chain of rapidly occurring reactions inside the body help mobilize the body’s resources to deal with threatening circumstances.
A threatening circumstance is subjective and dependent on an individual’s threshold for stimulus. For some the threat can be real or perceived. This too depends on the individual’s ability to process information rationally and in a timely fashion. A threat can be as simple as a missed communication or as complex as perceived or actual physical danger. It is the perceived or actual degree of the stimulus that determines how we react.
The first stress response to a real or perceived threat would be “fight”. To fight is to encounter the threat head on; not backing down either verbally or physically. Willing to sacrifice both life and limb without giving thought to the danger which could be involved.
The second stress response to a real or perceived threat is “flight”. To flee the real or perceived threat. To avoid the encounter by removing one self from the proximity of the threat.
Instincts Versus God’s Word:
Do you find yourself being bombarded by those things which push the proverbial buttons in your life. Those buttons which evoke anger, fear, jealousy, or pride. Those buttons which initiate the fight-or-flight response. When faced with a difficult decision or perceived threat, I am sure you have heard the old saying “Go with your instincts”. However, do your instincts (fight-or-flight) line up with the word of God? Are you fighting when you should be fleeing or perhaps are you fleeing when you should be fighting. Is this a threat or is this a necessary trial with a purpose and you find your self asking Why Does Everything Have to Be So Hard?
When to Fight:
There is a time when we should fight; a time when we should stand for what is right. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. However, the battle should be fought while wearing the proper garments as defined in What Are You Wearing Today?. In addition to the proper attire we should prepare for battle; exercise our minds, practice problem solving, learn to ask the right questions, and most importantly constant prayer. Then while under attach we are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to fight as God instructs rather than flee which we would do instinctively.
When to Flee:
God’s word also reminds us there is a time to flee. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” We should also remember to flee from idolatry: 1 Corinthians 10:14 ” Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry”. Finally, we are told to flee evil desires. 2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” So those urges we instinctively fight against are what we should actually flee from according to God’s word.
Mountains out of Mole Hills:
Often times not all perceived threats are actual. Often it is our perception and we are often tempted to make mountains out of mole hills. We must make sure our minds are stayed on Christ so the proper perspective is maintained at all times. With Jesus in our hearts and the Holy Spirit guiding us we have the power to discern what is real versus perceived and all fear is removed from our daily lives.
Perhaps sometimes we just need to Lighten Up …
Love Lee ♥
- Reduce Stress By Changing How You Think (forbes.com)