Ladies, you have been trained and re-trained on how to defend yourself. From awareness of your surroundings - to self-defense - to weapon use and so on and so forth.
Then, just when you least expect it you are confronted with a real life threat. But, instead of kicking butt, you just stand there - frozen.
What the heck happened? Where did all that training go?
Good question huh? Let’s look into this a little more and learn why instead of reacting we freeze.
In a real threat, what ‘should’ happen when confronted is, your survival instincts should kicked in.
There may be a time when you are out on that big stage called 'survival of the fittest' and have to defend yourself. No one will be there to give you cues on what to do. It will be up to you to "perform" like your life depends on it ... because it may just be the performance of your life.
It’s a given, you may not perform that karate kick just exactly the way you were instructed to do in class; nor will you hit your target where you intended to. But no matter what, you must react - you can't just stand there in the glare of the spotlight trying to think of what to do next. You have to perform what you’ve rehearsed.
You've heard it called lots of things. The ol ‘deer in the head-lights’ syndrome'. It’s almost like someone flips a switch and there you stand with that blank-stare thing going on.
Good news, as with any disorders, conditions, symptoms or whatever you want to call it, psychologists have a name for this phenomenon. It’s called hypervigilance. And its very common when someone is placed in a defensive situation.
Seems there are factors going on in those pretty little pea brains of ours (that was said with love by the way) that cause us to 'freeze' in a hostile or threatening situation. One such factor is, not really knowing what to do in the situation and, the other not trusting our abilities. (Great, so now we have a battle going on in our heads before we even begin to fight the one outside.)
Do you remember the flight or fight thing that goes on inside of us when confronted with danger? That's our body's automatic response - pre-wired by the way, that prepares us to either fight or ... well run like heck to survive. In a slit second, our brain will analyze the situation before us, and just like an iPod on shuffle mode, it will pick a solution based on knowledge, experience and training, and then respond in kind.
A shot of adrenaline and other stress hormones rush through our bodies and, for a short time, you are more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The downside, as a result, your ability for creative and logical thinking will be dramatically impaired at the same time.
Both short term memory and long term memory are major factors in how you will react. A well-trained person’s most appropriate response will be drawn from your “short term memory”.
If you are unsure in a situation your long term memory (remember just like the iPod?) will scroll through all of your past experiences and training for an appropriate response. This is where the 'freeze' part comes from - when your brain comes up empty or takes too long to come up with a solution.
So, what is the remedy for freezing in a situation?
Practice self-defense and plans-of-actions in your mind - a lot.
Remember the old adage "repetition re-enforces"? This means, the more you do some thing the more it becomes second nature. The more you envision yourself doing something, again, the more it becomes part of you.
Our brains are like a computer. We must program our brains to be able to know what to do in any given situation.
Just as you would practice your lines over and over again for a performance before going out on stage; imagining yourself saying those lines, you must also practice "what-if" scenarios in your mind for disaster’s stage. Play them out using different tactics and methods so you have "options" for each.
Life is a big stage.
Practice, practice, practice.
- Survivor Jane
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